(Minghui.org) On July 12, 1,500 Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world held a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, calling for the end of the persecution and for bringing those responsible to justice. Several U.S. Congressmen and women and representatives from non-governmental human rights organizations spoke at the rally. They praised practitioners' peaceful resistance to the persecution and emphasized that those responsible be punished. Twenty congressmen that could not make it to the rally sent letters of support.



The rally

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the senior congresswoman from Florida, is the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has attended the Falun Gong rally in Washington, D.C., every July for several years. She praised practitioners for their efforts in protecting human rights and condemned the brutal persecution.


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, senior congresswoman from Florida and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

She said: “The leaders in Beijing have continued their brutal post-Arab spring crackdown, fearing that it could be the Chinese people who could rise up next to confront their captors. These Communist thugs have a particular interest in repressing Falun Gong practitioners who pursue Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, the antithesis of what China’s rulers stand for. The 610 Office, established in 1999 to carry out the repression of Falun Gong, is eerily similar to the Gestapo and the KGB in its propaganda and ruthless methods.

“Indeed, Falun Gong adherents have been systematically arrested, tortured, sent to forced labor camps for 're-education,' placed in mental institutions for brainwashing, and subjected to organ harvesting. This abhorrent policy has resulted in over 3,400 deaths, and to this day, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong followers are held in labor camps.

“The peaceful men and women of Falun Gong are among the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world.

“These murders, kidnappings, and other egregious human rights abuses serve as a reminder of the lengths and depths the cruel old men in Beijing will go to in order to retain their bloody grip on power. Authorities have imprisoned anyone willing to speak out to defend victims of these heinous acts, including human rights lawyer Mr. Gao, who remains incarcerated at a remote facility and unable to regularly contact his family.

“The cowards in Beijing are so scared of Falun Gong’s tranquil teachings that their internet censors have blocked Chinese citizens from searching for it or even discussing it in web chats or via email. This loathsome persecution of Falun Gong must stop and it must stop now!”

To close her speech, she said: “America must stand with Falun Gong and all the repressed! Beijing must release Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience, immediately. Set China free! Beijing must release Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience, immediately.”

Mr. Christopher Smith, the senior congressman from New Jersey and the chair of the House Human Rights Committee, also spoke at the rally. He condemned the persecution and praised practitioners for their courage. He said that their courage and efforts have earned them respect from all over the world. “The U.S. government and Congress and all aspects of our society stand with solidarity with those victims and with those seeking to liberate the Falun Gong practitioners inside China,” he said.


Mr. Christopher Smith, the senior congressman from New Jersey and the chair of the House Human Rights Committee

Mr. Dana Rohrabacher, the senior congressman from California, eloquently spoke of the evil nature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the solidarity of the American people.


Mr. Dana Rohrabacher, the senior congressman from California

“In our soul and heart, we realize that in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance, you are standing for the goodness in the universe. But you are confronted with one of the worst evils that this humankind has ever experienced,” Rohrabacher said. “Those of us with liberty are grateful to you for your courage, and we will stand in solidarity with you.

“I can assure you that in the hearts of the American people, we are with you, will stand with you, and are grateful to you for what you’re doing,” he said.

Quoting from the most recent State Department’s Human Rights Report, Congressman Sam Farr from California said, “Overseas and domestic media and advocacy groups continued to report instances of organ harvesting, particularly from Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs.

“I deeply respect the courage of those who peacefully protest against violence … Peace and justice are not only values, they are the calls to action that we must live out every single day,” Farr said.


Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Ted Poe from Texas said: “I have personally heard your stories that testify to the strength of human courage. You are heroes in the truest sense of the word.”


Congressman Ted Poe from Texas

He said: “The Communist regime in Beijing has done all it can to crush you. They’ve systematically burned and destroyed your books. They told lies about you in the state-controlled media. Local officials threatened to and then did take away your jobs. They tried to re-educate you with psychological torture. Party leadership established an office whose sole mission was to eradicate you.

“It has now been 13 years since the Chinese government started to try and eradicate the Falun Gong. But Falun Gong is still practiced by thousands. You never wanted to take over the world. You were not a political movement. You just wanted to be left alone. Your request was simple: let me live my life how I choose. I have the right to believe what I want to believe.

“The Communist regime and its henchmen need to go. Its persecution of the Falun Gong shows that it is not concerned about the welfare of its own people.

“You see, what government is meant to do is serve the people. Government is set up to organize a society so that its people can live freely. So it institutes a rule of law, establishes order, and protects the innocent. At least that’s what it should do. But it’s not what the Communist government of China does. The Communist government has a different purpose: keeping itself in power. It felt threatened by the Falun Gong, so it cracked down on it. This was a mistake. The practitioners of Falun Gong are peaceful without political ambitions. But they couldn’t see that. The irony is that by their actions they created a political movement where there was none. They could’ve let you be. They could have let you practice freely what you believe and we wouldn’t be here today. But now there are protests like this one taking place around the world. The Communist government’s own abusive practices created a global movement that testifies about its own brutal and vicious nature.

“We gather here today to remember. We remember the persecution that happened to many of you here. We remember those arrested, never seen again, but not forgotten. We remember those who were tortured even to the point of death. They did not die in vain. We remember so that no one will forget. One day, in this world or the next, the Communist leaders are going to be held accountable for their actions. I also believe that this corrupt government that tortures its own people will one day crumble. And on that glorious day, I hope that the Chinese people will finally be able to worship how they please.”

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the chair of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development, writes that, “Speaking out against human rights violations and focusing the world’s attention on critical human rights issues is the only way to bring an end to these abusive behaviors.” Menendez did his part by introducing Senate Resolution 232, which discusses the persecution and the movement to quit the CCP.


Ryan Sellinger, assistant to Senator Robert Menendez, read the senator's letter

Several representatives from non-government organizations also spoke at the rally.

Dr. T. Kumar from Amnesty International USA said, “The thing I want to ask the U.S. government and President Obama is: 'Why are you silent in advocating for the release of tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners here? Falun Gong practitioners never harmed anyone; they only did their meditation on their own. That’s the point we should ask the Chinese [regime]: 'Why do you want to hurt and harm people who never hurt you or anyone else?'”


Dr. T. Kumar from Amnesty International

Dr. Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn from Freedom House said in her speech: “Those of us who enjoy freedom have a moral responsibility to be the voice of the voiceless and forgotten ones, those who are suffering in some dark prison cell or torture chamber. As I speak today, Freedom House stands in strong solidarity with members of the Falun Gong community and all our courageous brothers and sisters around the world who struggle to peacefully practice two of the most fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--that of free expression and of belief.

“As the 13th anniversary of the Communist Party’s launch of a massive crackdown on the Falun Gong approaches on July 20th, Freedom House remains deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations committed in China—against Falun Gong practitioners, their families, and the lawyers who defend them. The ongoing repression of the Falun Gong and other spiritual movements in China cannot be understood in a vacuum. It is part of a broader, more systematic, and pervasive intimidation campaign by the government to suppress free speech, free expression, free assembly, and free association—ALL of which are fundamental human rights that most of us who live in democracies take for granted.”


Dr. Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn from Freedom House

Faith McDonnell from the Institute on Religion and Democracy said that the “amazing” book Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party gave the Chinese people suppressed by communism the truth. Speaking directly to the practitioners assembled, she said, “You who know the truth about the lies, tyranny, and terror of communism are a shining light.”

“In a world in which more and more people in more and more nations, even, I fear, the United States of America, are being deceived about Communism and Socialism, and are relinquishing their freedom to allow the government to take care of them—you who know the truth about the lies, tyranny, and terror of Communism are a shining light. I hope that you will speak the truth about this evil to your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends who have not experienced persecution and lack of freedom, and remind them how grateful they should be to live in a country where they are still free.

“Thank you for speaking the truth, and may you continue to grow and be blessed in your knowledge of the truth.”

In addition to the speakers, five senators and 16 representatives sent letters of support to the rally.