|Congressman Smith and his colleagues asked Pres. Obama to give "all possible ... support to Falun Gong practitioners in China." (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)|
On the eve of ten years since the beginning of a Chinese regime-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong, members of the U.S. Congress are calling on President Obama to speak out against the injustice.
The letter, sponsored by Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), was signed by 59 other members of Congress. It asks President Obama to give “all possible public and private diplomatic support to Falun Gong practitioners in China”. Congressman Smith's office expects to publish a statement about the letter on Friday, the same day they expect President Obama to receive the letter.
The text of the letter details the serious plight that Falun Gong practitioners in China have faced since 1999, when the persecution against them began. It is dated July 8, about two weeks prior to the 10-year mark of the day the persecution began, July 20, 1999.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a peaceful, spiritual practice of mind and body based on the principles of truth, compassion and forbearance. Falun Gong originated in China, but is now practiced in 114 countries, according to Falun Gong Web sites.
Thousands Dragged From Bed
According to eyewitness accounts of that time, Falun Gong practitioners were literally dragged out of bed and rounded up by police and security forces, beginning at the crack of dawn, in the thousands throughout China. Since then, Falun Gong practitioners in China have been the victims of a relentless campaign of state-sponsored persecution that has included physical and mental torture, abuse, harassment, intimidation and murder.
Many survivors of persecution have escaped to the U.S. and other countries to tell their stories. Crystal Chen, a 36 year-old Falun Gong practitioner who was persecuted in China recently came to the U.S. as a United Nations refugee. Chen feels encouraged that so many members of Congress have stepped forward to help.
“I feel they are very supportive to Falun Gong practitioners and especially of those still suffering in China,” said Ms. Chen, who added that she wants Obama to put human rights first and advise the Chinese regime to do the same. She said the letter is a signal not just from Congress, but from the American people.
“All the members of Congress who signed the letter are representative of the whole country—of all American citizens,” said Ms. Chen. “So the president should take action, too."
A Duty to Speak Out
“Our government has a duty to speak out on behalf of all those whose fundamental human rights are violated,” says the letter in part. “Our government should speak very clearly and specifically on their [Falun Gong’s] behalf to the Chinese government.”
The letter also goes into detail about an extrajudicial security force called the “6-10 Office” that was created to persecute Falun Gong on June 10, 1999 (hence 6-10). According to the letter, the 6-10 office uses “massive propaganda campaigns intended to demonize Falun Gong” and tries to “compel practitioners to renounce their faith”. The 6-10 Office also supervises the arbitrary detention, beating, torture, and brainwashing to persecute Falun Gong practitioners, the letter says.
The Falun Dafa Information Center, which has painstakingly documented the persecution of Falun Gong over the last ten years, lauded the members of Congress who signed the letter.
"We applaud these members of Congress," said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang in a press release, "for articulating in no uncertain terms that the United States government will not tolerate the arbitrary arrest, torture and death of Falun Gong practitioners—peaceful, law-abiding citizens—as a result of a systematic Communist Party-run campaign. We hope President Obama and his administration will heed their call."