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Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Speaks at the Falun Gong Rally in Washington DC (excerpt)

July 30, 2002 |  

Washington, D.C.
July 23, 2002

The following is an excerpt from Rabbi David Saperstein's statement:

"It is with a profound sense of both honor and responsibility that I join in this gathering today in support of Falun Gong."

"... And few spiritual or religious peoples in the world today face the degree or depth of persecution as do the members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China. Indeed, there is no place for me to be this afternoon, save here."

"This is particularly true here in this land of freedom and refuge. America was the first to enshrine the universal ideal of religious freedom and liberty. Based in part on the Jewish Bible's vision of humanity as created in the image of God, endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights -- from this nation radiated the view of universal human rights and the guarantee of legal protections for all who wished to exercise those fundamental rights. The American people have a particular responsibility to speak out whenever others face religious intolerance and persecution."

"Today, China's already harsh campaign to decimate and discredit the Falun Gong spiritual group continues unabated, with ongoing reports of torture, rape, detentions, disappearances and killings.

When over 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners have reportedly been illegally arrested and detained, America must speak out;
When more than 500 have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 18 years, America must speak out;
When more than 1,000 have been forced into mental hospitals, an act condemned by World Psychiatric Association, America must speak out;
When over 20,000 have been illegally sent to labor camps without trials, America must speak out; and
When scores, if not many hundreds, have died in prison as a result of brutal treatment, America must speak out."

"... Despite widespread arrests and harassment of members, with thousands shipped to "reeducation through labor" camps, large numbers of people in China have continued practicing Falun Gong."

"The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has called for the American government to engage more actively the issue of religious persecution in China and to document, respond to, and do whatever possible to deter persecution. This call began when I served on the Commission and has continued since I left. It did so believing that when human beings are harassed, imprisoned, even tortured for engaging in the free exercise of religion, America must speak out. "

"So long as spiritual or religious groups ...lack fundamental freedoms, we as Americans must speak out. And so long as even one Falun Gong practitioner faces persecution, as they do each and every day, we as Americans will continue to speak out. We do so today, committed to the hope and vision that as a result of the efforts of people of conscience across the globe, like those gathered here, someday soon, no person in China shall face such injustice and all will be able to follow the dictates of their conscience in living out their spiritual and religious lives in freedom, safety, and peace."