The U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 605 (full text) on March 16, 2010 (news). The voting was preceded by a 13-minute-long floor debate during which Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the resolution's author and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs spoke, as did Representatives Diane Watson (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), all in support of the declaration. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who could not attend the debate in person, submitted statements for the record. Below are the five Congressional members' full remarks in the order in which they were presented.
DIANE WATSON (D-CA)
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution...This resolution recognizes the continued persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China on the 11th anniversary of the government crackdown on the spiritual movement. I would like to thank my friend, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen), the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, for introducing this legislation and for her dedication to this issue.
Since 1999, the Chinese government has undertaken a harsh campaign of suppression against the Falun Gong movement, banning its presence in China and banning it as an "illegal cult." According to the 2009 annual report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Chinese authorities "conducted propaganda campaigns that deride Falun Gong, carried out strict surveillance of practitioners, detained and imprisoned large numbers of practitioners, and subjected some who refused to disavow Falun Gong to torture and other abuses in reeducation through labor facilities." According to the State Department's latest human rights report on China, the Falun Gong's core leadership was "singled out for particularly harsh treatment," and simply believing in the discipline--without publicly practicing any of its tenets--was enough for practitioners to be punished or imprisoned.
Falun Gong is a spiritual movement combining meditation and breathing exercises, with a doctrine loosely rooted in Buddhist and Daoist teachings. The Chinese government banned the group's existence and its practices in 1999, after thousands of practitioners gathered in Beijing to protest the government's restrictions on the group's activities. Chinese authorities are obsessed with eradicating the group because they believe it could pose a challenge to one-party rule and has the potential to generate social unrest and instability.
This resolution calls upon the Chinese government to immediately end its decade-long campaign to prosecute, intimidate, and imprison Falun Gong practitioners solely because of their personal beliefs. It also calls on China to release those practitioners being held in prisons and labor camps throughout the country. Finally, this resolution expresses sympathy to Falun Gong followers and their family members for the suffering that has been inflicted on them at the hands of the Chinese government.
I strongly support this resolution, and urge my colleagues to do the same."
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL) (video of the speech)
"I am proud to rise, Mr. Speaker, as the author of this resolution, which addresses one of the most flagrant examples of systematic persecution against a particular group currently taking place. The Chinese Communist regime's obsessive and relentless hunting down of Falun Gong practitioners, which is a spiritual discipline based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, says a great deal about the insecurity and the paranoia of the current rulers in Beijing.
“The Falun Gong spiritual discipline is based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “Yet these innocents are brutally targeted by the Chinese regime. The stark reality which this resolution addresses gives new meaning to the phrase 'Butchers of Beijing.’”
While this resolution gives a detailed accounting from authoritative international sources of the last 11 years of Beijing's bloody crackdown on Falun Gong, there are two particular areas, Mr. Speaker, which I would like to address in greater detail. First is the issue of the penetration of agents of an alien Communist regime right here inside the United States to wage a campaign of repression against U.S. citizens. And, second, is the issue of coercive organ transplants involving a "bloody harvest" from Falun Gong practitioners inside China.
How could one believe that diplomats of a foreign regime would collude with secret agents and thugs to suppress the constitutional right of our fellow citizens right here in America? Well, Mr. Speaker, clear evidence indicates that that is exactly what is happening with Chinese agents persecuting American Falun Gong practitioners in our own country.
Just ask Bill Fang, who was assaulted on the streets of Chicago back in 2001, as he was peacefully demonstrating in front of the Chinese consulate. That assault led to a criminal conviction in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Or, just ask Judy Chen, the proud mother of two United States Marines then serving in Iraq, who was manhandled in May of 2008 by thugs with reported Chinese regime ties while she was handing out Falun Gong literature in front of a public library in Flushing, New York.
It is high time for our State Department to get tough and to let the Chinese regime know that any of its staff members who engage in activities in the U.S. incompatible with their diplomatic status, including encouraging such illegal acts, are persona non grata in the United States.
On the issue of organ transplants, Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that this resolution cites the recommendation of the U.N. Committee on Torture, calling for an independent investigation "into the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants."
I would like to further point out that expert testimony given before a subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee appears to corroborate the charges of coercive organ transplants in China. A hearing was held before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on September 29, 2006, entitled "Falun Gong: Organ Harvesting and China's Ongoing War on Human Rights." Committee witness Kirk Allison, Ph.D. of the University of Minnesota testified: "In my meeting with practitioners in June 2006, evidence included transcripts of queries to identified hospitals and physicians on organ availability. Falun Gong sources were characterized as being of high quality and often available in as short a time as a week, and in some cases with a guarantee of a backup organ should the first fail."
The systematic killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs is almost too ghoulish to imagine. It seems incomprehensible that in the 21st century such barbaric acts could occur, a cruelty comparable to imperial Romans throwing Christian martyrs to be eaten by lions. The stark reality which this resolution addresses gives new meaning to the phrase "butchers of Beijing." The Beijing regime of today engages in the barbaric repression of some of its own people simply because they seek to practice a peaceful spiritual discipline. Several hundred have reportedly died, and hundreds of thousands remain in detention in reeducation through labor camps. How can anyone seriously call these the actions of a responsible stakeholder? I strongly and enthusiastically urge my colleagues to support this resolution."
LYNN WOOLSEY (D-CA)
"First of all, I would like to thank the two women who are here bringing this resolution to the House floor. It's so very important. I rise today in support of H. Res. 605, a resolution recognizing the continuing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
“People are being sent to jail, to work camps and are assaulted for their practice of Falun Gong. The Chinese Government must put a stop to this inhumane persecution.”
In 2002, Mr. Speaker, I authored a resolution expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the Chinese Government's oppression of Falun Gong in the United States and in the People's Republic of China. Sadly, 8 years later, the persecution continues. People are being sent to jail, to work camps and are assaulted for their practice of Falun Gong. China has claimed that the Falun Gong practitioners are "disturbing social order" and have labeled the practice an evil cult.
International media reports have found that over 100 Falun Gong followers have died in the custody of the Chinese Government. All people, even those in China, have the internationally recognized freedoms of association and religion. The Chinese Government must put a stop to this inhumane persecution. I urge my colleagues, stand up for human rights and vote "yes" on this resolution, H. Res. 605."
CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ)
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 605, defending the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners, savagely persecuted by the Chinese government, and thank my good friend Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN for introducing this resolution.
On the tenth anniversary of the Falun Gong's inspiring silent protest at Zhongnanhai many people still do not understand the savagery of the Mao-style campaign which the Communist Party unleashed in 1999.
“Falun Gong practitioners have been great witnesses of courage and peace.”
The story of a typical Falun Gong arrest is horrific: first the government beats them, later it tortures them, molesting and sometimes raping women, sends them to forced labor camps and then brainwashing classes, all the while a high-profile publicity campaign defames and humiliates them. And it has been documented that it has killed at least 3,000 of the Falun Gong.
Members of Falun Gong will not pretend to accept Marxism-Leninism, and so the government brands them an "evil cult." They practice non-violence, and the government assaults them with cattle prods. Their hearts are remarkably serene, and so the government engages in psychiatric torture.
The Falun Gong are one of a wide array of religious faiths and spiritual groups in China, yet members of Falun Gong are the majority of all reported cases of torture and half of China's labor camp population--well over one hundred thousand of them.
Many of the Falun Gong have fled to America, and the government has followed them here, cyber-attacking their American Web sites, installing agents in their midst, and raising crowds to harass and beat them, as happened last year in New York.
Mr. Speaker, one of the invaluable things about this resolution is that it officially documents this Chinese-government sponsored violence on American soil, exercised against American citizens.
We need to learn more about whether our government is doing everything it can to protect the Falun Gong here in America.
I was in China last July, trying to visit human rights activists in the run-up to the Olympics. I remember going into an Internet cafe and trying to look up Falun Gong. You know the story: nothing. Search engines had been doctored. I wonder, if I were not a U.S. Congressman, would that search have gotten me identified, tracked, and tortured? After all, even foreign journalists who ask about Falun Gong have been arrested, and some have been beaten.
And would U.S. companies have been involved in identifying me? Sadly, we know it for a well-documented fact, from a six-hour hearing I held in 2006, that some leading U.S. IT companies are involved in censoring the Chinese Internet and turn over personally identifying information to the Chinese Internet police, making it possible to track and imprison dissidents.
I mention this because many members of Falun Gong are great heroes of Internet freedom. Several members have come to my office and demonstrated how they help millions of Chinese men and women break the so-called "Great Firewall of China" with which the Chinese government tries to cut its citizens off from the global Internet.
Mr. Speaker, Falun Gong practitioners have been great witnesses of courage and peace. Again I thank Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN for introducing this resolution."
GUS BILIRAKIS (R-FL)
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 605, which condemns the Chinese government's targeted, persistent and egregious persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. This resolution was introduced last year to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party's campaign to suppress the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Sadly, the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and anyone associated with them, including lawyers who try to defend their human rights, continues today.
Since 1999, 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been sentenced to prison, over 100,000 were sentenced to re-education through labor camps, and at least 3,000 died while in police custody. They have been sent to special high security psychiatric hospitals for the "criminally insane" against their will where torture has been widely reported. Lawyers trying to defend their rights have been harassed, beaten and attacked by police officers in order to intimidate them. One of China's most prominent human rights advocates, Gao Zhiseng, who has defended the rights of many individuals attacked for their religious beliefs, was detained by police in February 2009 and his whereabouts are still unknown. The government continues to deny any involvement in his case.
The Government of China censors all media in China and actively opposes any information exposing its brutality and injustice. But the truth is clear to us today. This resolution is a testament to the millions of victims of the Chinese Communist Party that the Chinese government cannot hide the truth, and its victims will not be forgotten.
This resolution also stands as a statement of the U.S. Congress's continued support for the inalienable right to freedom of religion and expression recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that applies to all people everywhere. To be taken seriously as a participant in the twenty-first century global economy, China must take the rights of their citizens seriously. Egregious injustices, such as those suffered by the Falun Gong practitioners and others targeted by the Chinese Communist Party, are unacceptable in a civilized world and must end today."
RUSH HOLT (D-NJ)
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 605. I am pleased to cosponsor this resolution, which recognizes the continued persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. The peace-loving people who practice Falun Gong have endured the Chinese Government's coordinated campaign to delegitimize and eradicate their belief system for over a decade. In China, Falun Gong has been officially labeled an `evil cult,' and its practitioners have suffered censorship, extrajudicial arrests and detentions, involuntary reeducation through labor, torture, and even death for their personal beliefs.
Disappearances of Falun Gong practitioners are not uncommon and are especially difficult for family members who must live in uncertainty about the fate of their loved ones. I recently was informed by one of my constituents about the heartbreaking case of Jiang Feng, who simply vanished after going through airport security at Shanghai's Pudong Airport and before he made it to the gate for his flight to Newark, NJ. Jiang Feng and his wife, Mei Xuan, both are Falun Gong practitioners and were arrested in the 1999 crackdown. Because of repeated imprisonments, the couple has been separated for most of their decade-long marriage. Mei Xuan is a well-known musician in Shen Yun Performing Arts, which rekindles the traditional Chinese arts and portrays current events, including the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. She was expecting finally to reunite with her husband here in the United States. Now, she awaits word on his whereabouts and his fate, fearing the worst.
Stories like Mei Xuan's are far too common. As Americans and members of the international community, we have a responsibility to speak out against persecution and to stand up for the truths and unalienable rights that we hold dear. Falun Gong practitioners, and all those seeking to exercise the universal right to freely practice the religion of their choice and to express their beliefs openly, deserve profound U.S. leadership on their behalf. I am pleased to vote for this resolution and to give voice to all those who continue to suffer needlessly and cannot speak for themselves."
FRANK WOLF (R-VA)
"Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 605, a resolution recognizing the continued persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China on the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party campaign to suppress the Falun Gong spiritual movement. The resolution also calls for an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
The Chinese government’s abuse of the Falun Gong is well-documented. The State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report, found that that the Government of China, “continued to restrict severely the activities of groups it designated as ‘evil religions,’ including several Christian groups and Falun Gong….There are reports that dedicated government offices were responsible for coordinating operations against Falun Gong.”
Just last week, the State Department released its annual Human Rights Report which included numerous examples of the Chinese government’s persecution of the Falun Gong including the following: “Family members of activists, dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners, journalists, unregistered religious figures, and former political prisoners were targeted for arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment.” The report continued, “Police continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and used possession of Falun Gong material as a pretext for arresting political activists. The government continued its use of high-pressure tactics and mandatory anti-Falun Gong study sessions to force practitioners to renounce Falun Gong.”
Among the most notorious human rights abuses of the Chinese government last year was the arrest and subsequent disappearance of top Christian human rights attorney, Gao Zhisheng. Gao had defended house church Christians and Falun Gong members which earned the ire of the government. According to the State Department, “At year’s end his whereabouts remained unconfirmed…” Prior to his arrest Gao had published a letter in which he went into great detail about the torture he experienced during his previous detention. Gao has paid dearly for his defense of basic human rights including those of Falun Gong practitioners.
China has become increasingly brazen in its human rights abuses. In the face of this repression, America has a responsibility to continually affirm that we stand with the defenseless—with those whose voices have been silenced. President Reagan understood this well. He famously described the U.S. Constitution as a covenant we have made not only with ourselves but with all of mankind. This Congress and this administration must be unwavering in our support of all persecuted peoples, be they Coptic Christians in Egypt, Baha’is in Iran or Falun Gong in China."