(Clearwisdom.net) Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong (PFOFG) was founded in Ottawa by an all-party group of senators and members of Parliament concerned about adversities facing followers of Falun Gong. It is the first such group of Parliamentarians in the world lending focused support to the practitioners of Falun Dafa, that has suffered a decade of persecution in communist China.

"Our first goal is to make sure Parliamentarians are better informed about issues related to Falun Gong," said PFOFG chair Bill Siksay. "One of the key purposes of [PFOFG] is to encourage respect for fundamental human rights in China." The founding PFOFG membership comprises two senators and eighteen MPs from all parties represented in Parliament.

Mr. Siksay said the group's first step is to meet with the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC). Future activities may include sponsoring programs and events with FDAC on Parliament Hill such as the May 27 China human rights forum hosted by MP Scott Reid, a PFOFG director.

"We are extremely delighted to learn that this group has been formed," said FDAC president Li Xun. "The concern by Parliamentarians sends a strong indication of the significance of the matter. It will send an encouraging message to the practitioners in China."

Ten years ago, Canada also took the lead as the first country to publicly condemn the persecution. Canada filed an official protest with the Chinese foreign ministry shortly after mass arrests and detentions of practitioners began on July 20, 1999, as reported by The Globe and Mail.

Parliamentarians' efforts and Canadians' concerns over the years have led to the release of practitioners in China and compelled former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin to raise the issue of the persecution with Chinese leaders.

Support has continued despite ongoing attempts by the Chinese embassy and consulates to vilify Falun Gong, including displaying hate materials in their visa offices, controlling Chinese-language media to turn public opinion against the practice, and pressuring Canadian officials not to support practitioners.

Mr. Li believes the PFOFG "will play a significant role in the Parliament" as it reflects the wish of Canadians as well as advances Canada's leadership role taken as early as 1999 when the persecution began.

"Canadians who practice Falun Gong have asked for our help," said Mr. Woodworth in a news release. "The very least Parliamentarians can do is stand up for human rights whenever they are called upon to do so."