WASHINGTON DC -- In a bi-partisan letter sent to President Obama yesterday, sixty one members of Congress urged the President to "speak very clearly and specifically" in support of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
"We applaud these members of Congress," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang, "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."
Initiated by Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), the letter highlights how Falun Gong practitioners were first targeted by the Chinese regime ten years ago and how an extrajudicial security force known as the "6-10 Office" was established to stamp out the traditional Chinese practice. "The '6-10 Office' ruthlessly implements the ban [on Falun Gong]," the letter states, "through massive propaganda campaigns intended to demonize Falun Gong and...supervises the arbitrary detention, beating, torutre and 'transformation through reeducation' of Falun Gong practitioners."
Calling Falun Gong a practice that includes the study of moral teachings, meditation, and physical exercises that is "entirely peaceful," the Congressional letter says the campaign against Falun Gong in China represents "one of the most unjust and cruel persecutions of our times." The letter urges President Obama to give "all possible public and private diplomatic support to Falun Gong practitioners in China."
The letter arrived at the White House almost two weeks before a series of events in Washington DC that are planned to mark July 20th -- ten years after the day the Chinese Communist Party first launched the campaign to "stamp out" Falun Gong.
In the early morning hours of July 20th, 1999, hundreds of Falun Gong volunteers were detained by Chinese police, and many were pulled from their beds in the middle of the night. Over the next several days, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were detained around China. Many were held in stadiums and other public facilities for lack of space at police stations or detention centers. The campaign against Falun Gong escalated, and by 2000, reports of arbitrary arrest, torture and killings of Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of Chinese officials were commonplace. As indicated in the Congressional letter and by human rights groups, they remain so today.
For the full text of the Congressional letter, see Congressional Letter to President Obama.
For more information on the origins of the persecution of Falun Gong, see Origins.
For a timeline of the past ten years, see Timeline.
For a report on the state of persecution in China today, see 2008 Annual Report.