Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-3305

July 7, 2003

Dear (name omitted):

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for a lawsuit filed against former Chinese Communist leader Jiang Zemin in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important matter and apologize for the delay in my response.

I have long been concerned about the communist Chinese government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in the People's Republic of China as well as in the United States. I share your concerns about the oppression they are facing simply because they don't subscribe to the official government line on religious matters.

China continues to have a deplorable record in its treatment of political and religious minorities. In particular, the PRC government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners has served as a horrifying example of the intolerance for those who simply desire to live in freedom and to practice their faith freely. I am particularly concerned that some of this persecution has ended up on American soil.

As you may know, I have long been a critic of China's treatment of Falun Gong and other persecuted groups. I have also cosponsored bills that express Congressional disapproval of the PRC's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners. While I can support the sentiment embodied in the lawsuit filed against Jiang Zemin, I am careful not to get involved in what remains the proper authority of another sphere of government.

The U.S. Constitution contains a separation of powers principle that elucidates the proper role of each branch of government. By dividing government power into equal, but independent responsibilities, each branch of government is intended to serve as a check and balance on the other, thus preventing one from obtaining too much power that could potentially threaten our personal liberties.

Our Constitution gives the Judiciary the power to try federal cases and to interpret our nation's laws in each of those cases. America's Founders set up our government in this manner to prevent one branch from obtaining too much power and to rightfully divide the responsibilities and authority of each domain of government. Though I support protecting the religious freedom of Falun Gong practitioners, I am leery of personally involving myself in what currently resides in a separate branch of government, in a court of law.

I will continue to support any legislative effort in Congress that protects religious freedom. The Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of religion, the right to assemble, and the right to speak freely, and the people of the United States strongly value protecting the ability of all people to live without fear and in accordance with their personal beliefs. State and local governments, as well as the federal government, must do everything possible to ensure that our constitutional rights are protected.

Rest assured, your religious freedom is very important to me. I will continue monitoring the situation and doing what I can in advocating on behalf of Falun Gong's religious freedom. This is one of the essential freedoms whereby America was founded.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I find it disturbing that members of Falun Gong are facing persecution by the Chinese regime, particularly on U.S. soil. As American citizens, you deserve the full rights, freedom, and protection as any other citizens.


Richard Burr
Member of Congress