Minnesota Senator Calls For an End to the Persecution of Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Minnesota State Senator Jim Abeler (R) recently wrote an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing his concern about the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
In the letter, Sen. Abeler urged President Xi to stop the persecution and condemned the state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting in China.
The letter was copied to President Trump and representatives and senators in Minnesota.
A local Falun Gong practitioner interviewed Sen. Abeler, who said:
“I think that human rights issues should go back into part of our political dealings with foreign countries. And I hope that this can become part of that discussion. Hopefully, the Trump administration would agree that this is horrifying and keep bringing it up and get some news about it.
“In a constructive way, this could be something the bipartisan groups could actually agree on and start to rebuild the trust in Washington, but also rescue these innocent people who didn’t do anything wrong except have a faith.”
What follows are some of the questions that Sen. Abeler answered during the interview.
Q: What motivated you to write a letter directly to President Xi Jinping?
Senator Abeler: Well, a Falun Gong practitioner came and told us about this horrible goings-on in China, and I had not heard about it. When I heard that they were harvesting organs from people who were still alive, I couldn’t imagine such a barbaric thing. And so the practitioner said that we could do something about it, and so we set about working on this letter.
Q: What was the response from your colleagues when they heard that you were writing this letter?
Senator Abeler: They were very supportive. We have 103 signatures, and more would have signed it, but we just ran out of time. So people are universally appalled that this would go on – Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green Party, Communist Party – it’s all horrible. There’s nobody in America who thinks this is anything short of murder. And we’re all against murder. We’re all against torture. And so it was a pleasure to lead up this project and to help us try to change this horrifying action.
Q: Would you tell other parliamentarians – from around the world – to follow your example of direct engagement with the Chinese President?
Senator Abeler: I would tell them to do the right thing and to stand up against this sort of thing. There’s a lot of political pressure to be nice to China because they’re a big trading partner. But it seems to me that you have to do the right thing. One of my mentors taught me: 'It’s never right to do the wrong thing; it’s never wrong to do the right thing; it’s never too late to do the right thing.' And so I encourage everybody who’s considering this to join the furor about this torture and become part of the solution. I think if enough legislatures and countries and leaders would work on this, China would be embarrassed and stop.
Q: What makes these crimes against humanity an important issue for the U.S. and its citizens? How about for Minnesotans?
Senator Abeler: It’s just so horrifying. You know, Minnesota trades with China. And maybe Minnesota could – this will maybe help to make a statement to China. I don’t know if we did any real work about affecting the trade people. We didn’t talk to DEED about it, which is the Department of Economic Development that handles some of the Minnesota trade stuff, international trade. But is seems like, if the governor was interested in this, he could make a thing out of it, too. I don’t know if you’ve pursued that. It might be worth it.
Q: I know that the University of Minnesota has the largest Chinese student population in North America, so I was thinking – I don’t know, if we train the doctors here, that might have some negative impact there with the forced organ harvesting.
Senator Abeler: I think that the Chinese students can have a lot of influence. Students can do a lot. So maybe the next step is that we need more voices. The legislature has spoken. We agree that this is—there’s not a bad enough word for it. Abhorrent doesn’t seem like it carries enough weight, but it’s abhorrent. And, so, if the Chinese students would make a point to get ahold of the governor and Shawntera Hardy, who is the commissioner at DEED, and try to make this an issue. One state can make a difference if they would. So probably the next step is to try to get ahold of the governor and see if they’re willing to proceed with this. I think the governor would be comforted by 103 bipartisan signatures on a letter.
Q: A few weeks of independent, international inspections could likely provide a clear answer whether in China prisoners of conscience, such as Falun Gong practitioners, are killed for their organs or not. Why do you think the Chinese government would rather endure a decade of criticism and evidence-revealing reports, instead of simply allowing such inspections?
Senator Abeler: Because it’s of no consequence to them. “So, gee, I’m being embarrassed, but I’m making a billion dollars.” I’d be pretty embarrassed to make a billion dollars. There has to be some teeth. They have to lose the money. So embarrassment alone isn’t enough, because that didn’t work. So now you have to take the money, which is where the State Department would have a rule: If you can’t prove that most of the donors aren't involuntary and alive, then we’re not going to let you go there for an organ transplant. And hopefully other countries would join the same thing. Medical tourism sounds so nice, unless you realize the liver came from a 34-year-old guy who still had expectations to be alive.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say that I didn’t ask?
Senator Abeler: I think it’s time for the federal government to really become a part of this. It’s time for the business climate, the business community, to do the right thing and face up to this.