Washington DC: Falun Gong Practitioner Addresses Congressional Human Rights Caucus Briefing on Human Rights in China (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) On June 3, 2004, the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a Member's briefing on China's current human rights situation in the Rayburn House Office Building. Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Erping Zhang was invited to the briefing and gave a 7-minute speech on the persecution of Falun Gong.
Erping Zhang, representative of U.S. Falun Gong practitioners, in a media interview
Erping Zhang testifying in the briefing
The briefing site
Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, co-chair of the briefing
The bipartisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus consists of nearly 200 House Members, and its mission is to raise public awareness of global human rights violations. The Caucus is co-chaired by ranking members of the House International Relations Committee, Congressmen Tom Lantos and Frank Wolf. The briefing on June 3 was co-chaired by Representatives Mark Steven Kirk and Lynn Woolsey. Congressman Lantos also attended the briefing. A representative of the Department of State, Falun Gong practitioner Erping Zhang, and representatives from several groups which have been persecuted by the Chinese regime testified at the briefing.
In his speech, Mr. Zhang first described the Jiang group's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners over the past 5 years. He said that to date, more than 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners are still being detained in labor camps, prisons and mental hospitals for not giving up their belief in Falun Gong. 108 Falun Gong practitioners have been sentenced to 5 to 13 years in prison for using the internet to expose the truth of the persecution. Of these, 20 practitioners are professors or graduate students. At least 968 Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted to death, of which more than 50 were revealed this year. Because of the intense information blockade, the actual number of deaths is far more than this. He referred specifically to the cases of Xu Jinzhi, a 56-year-old female practitioner who died in police custody last Tuesday, and Wei Xingyan, a graduate student of Chongqing University who was publicly raped by police last year. Meanwhile, Mr. Zhang emphasized that the mental torture and brainwashing inflicted on practitioners was even more painful than the physical torture.
Erping Zhang also informed members of the Caucus and guests of the briefing about the court proceedings in the lawsuit against Jiang Zemin. Mr. Zhang pointed out that Jiang is the chief perpetrator of the persecution of Falun Gong and it is Jiang who personally orchestrated the persecution, which didn't reflect the will of the Chinese government. Therefore, Jiang should not be exempt from any charges in this case.
Reportedly, Jiang is panic-stricken about this lawsuit and has used all means at his disposal to pressure the U.S. government to dismiss the case. Mr. Zhang pointed out that this case would be a test of U.S. government officials, legislators and judges' commitment to justice. Mr. Zhang also added that this lawsuit and other lawsuits filed in other nations against those responsible Chinese officials have had a very positive impact by forcing other individuals involved in this persecution to consider their own future. If this lawsuit is dismissed, it would encourage the persecutors to recklessly continue what they are doing.
As for Jiang's crime of genocide, Mr. Zhang said in his speech that the determination of genocide does not depend on the number of victims, but rather on the intent to annihilate a group of people, and the systematic effort to carry it out. He emphasized that this persecution was very systematic and well planned. At the very beginning of this persecution, Jiang established and gradually developed a giant network that included the media and public security system in order to implement his persecution policy. Consequently, one may not see any obvious problem on the surface of Chinese society, even while tens of millions have actually been deprived of their basic human rights. In China, very few people are immune to the impact of this persecution, and this persecution, which targets people's fundamental conscience, has accelerated Chinese society's corruption and moral decline. Mr. Zhang said: "We hope every Chinese can realize that the Falun Gong issue relates to everyone, for not only is it an issue of fundamental human rights enshrined by the Chinese Constitution, but it is also an issue of morality and conscience."
Erping Zhang also talked about the situation of U.S. citizen Charles Lee, who has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for planning to expose the truth of the persecution of Falun Gong to the Chinese people. According to U.S. consulate officials in Shanghai, Charles has been beaten up, forced to attend brainwashing sessions and forced to do slave labor.
The co-chair of this briefing, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk asked the representative of the State Department about Charles Lee's recent situation, including his health, prison conditions and whether or not he had been visited regularly by U.S. officials. Department of State representative Liz Dugan said that the charges against Charles Lee were unfounded. Rep. Kirk also expressed his hope that there would be a media breakthrough on the reporting of Charles Lee's situation. He also said that Congress had the responsibility to help China improve its human rights situation before Beijing hosts the Olympics.
Another co-chair of the briefing, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, said that the Falun Gong issue was the touchstone of China's human rights.
In his speech, Mr. Zhang hoped that the U.S. Congress could pass Concurrent Resolution 304, which condemns the Chinese government's persecution and more specifically the exportation of the persecution to U.S. soil.
"However difficult it may be, whatever the result may be, one who can stand up for justice will bring the world courage and light. This will be the best way for us to defeat evil and darkness," Mr. Zhang concluded.