(Minghui.org) The United States Department of State (DOS) issued a press release on December 20, 2019, to announce that it has re-designated China and several other countries as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Protection of religious freedom is a top priority for the U.S. government, explained Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, in the statement: “The United States continues to work diligently to promote religious freedom and combat abuses. These recent designations continue that important work.”

Consistent progress has been made in the past few months. “In October, we placed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials” for human rights violations. In December, “the U.S. Government announced designations of 68 individuals and entities in nine countries for corruption and human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act.”

Significant Impact

In May 2019, a DOS official notified several religious groups that the U.S. government is tightening visa approval of and may deny entry to human rights violators. The same official said that Falun Gong practitioners could submit a list of perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong. 

Notice from Minghui.org has called on Falun Gong practitioners “all over the world to take immediate action to collect, compile, and submit to Minghui.org information on the perpetrators, their family members, and their assets, so as to locate and verify their identities.”

This news spread to China and reached the justice system at all levels. Some government agencies that participated in the suppression of Falun Gong removed staff members' photos from hallways to keep them from being collected and reported to Minghui. As he was releasing a detained Falun Gong practitioner, a police officer said, “I did not beat you, right? Please do not report me because my children plan to go travel out of the country some day.”

A Falun Gong practitioner in Washington D.C. shared similar feedback with a State Department official, who was delighted to see that their efforts have effectively curbed human rights violations in China.

Minghui Is a Credible Information Source That Can Be Referenced

In November 2019, it was learned from a renowned human rights organization based in Washington D.C. that the State Department was growing their staffing and prioritizing sanctions, including barring from entry and freezing assets of human rights violators. 

A State Department official explained that the Department will follow up with appropriate laws, which may apply not only to perpetrators themselves but also to their family members. Even after such individuals or their family members have entered the U.S., their visas could be revoked and they would be deported.

Instead of paying attention to the number of cases that each perpetrator was involved in, detailed evidence of their involvement in each case would be more important, according to another DOS official. Just one case with solid evidence of the person’s involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong would qualify the perpetrator for visa ineligibility. The official also confirmed that Minghui is a trustworthy information source that can be referenced. 

Persecution cases published on Minghui.org primarily come from first-hand information reported by victims or witnesses. Acknowledgment of the credibility of Minghui from the DOS and the U.S. government in general indicates that the consistent efforts by Falun Gong practitioners to raise awareness of the persecution have been recognized by the international community.

“Following Orders from Superiors” No Longer an Excuse

The DOS also made a change in July 2019 in designating human rights violators. In cases of torture or beating, officers-in-charge in an organization where such violations occur are automatically held responsible. Previously, an individual would only be held liable for issuing orders or directing actions to execute a crime.

The new procedure is similar to one of the Principles adopted in the Nuremberg Trials: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

Prior to the Nuremberg Trials, this excuse was known as “Following Superior Orders.” In reality, technical assistance by scientists and doctors was an important component in the crimes that were committed. That could explain why doctors were among the first to be tried.

Joint Efforts by the “Five Eyes”

In late November 2019, Falun Gong practitioners in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand submitted a newly compiled list of perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong to their respective governments.

These five countries have formed an intelligence alliance known as the “Five Eyes.” Reports in China show that these five countries are often considered safe havens by corrupt Chinese officials because no extradition treaty exists or has yet taken effect between China and these countries. This means that, once these officials arrive in any of these countries, they are unlikely to be extradited.

These countries can deny visa approvals and freeze assets of the individuals (and their family members) on the lists submitted by Falun Gong practitioners, effectively preventing their escape to a safe haven.

28 Countries Consider Magnitsky Act

On March 14, 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging EU human rights sanctions to punish state and non-state human rights’ violators. Inspired by the US Magnitsky Act, similar legislative frameworks are also in place in Canada and several EU countries. This resolution called for sanctions to be established at the EU level “to impose asset freezes and visa bans on individuals involved in grave human rights violations.”

The Dutch House of Representative passed a motion on November 21, 2019, requesting the Netherlands government to enact its own version of the Magnitsky Act, unless an EU version is passed by January 31, 2020. Other European countries are also planning similar legislation to curb human rights violations through visa denial and asset freezing. Officials from Canada and the U.K. have discussed these issues with the U.S. State Department in joint efforts to sanction human rights violators.

Publication of List of 100,000+ Perpetrators

In November 2019, Minghui.org published a list of 105,580 perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong. The list contains the perpetrators' personal information and crimes committed against Falun Gong practitioners and is intended to aid the U.S. State Department in identifying known human rights violators. According to Minghui, “The purpose of compiling this list is to stop the persecution, preserve what is good, and uphold justice.”

As described in the Minghui 20th Anniversary Report, extensive use of torture is used on practitioners to try to force them to renounce their belief in Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. 

According to the report, beating is extremely common. Practitioners are struck with maces, whips, bamboo rods, and plastic or wooden batons. Often, several methods of torture are used at the same time. For example, a practitioner might be shocked with electric batons while being suspended by their arms.

In addition to physical abuse, Chinese Communist Party officials often send perfectly healthy practitioners to mental hospitals, brainwashing centers, or drug rehabilitation centers for psychiatric abuse. Across China, practitioners have been held in such facilities and injected with or force-fed nerve-damaging drugs. Many practitioners were held in these places for months or years, and the long-term misuse of psychiatric drugs has led to blindness, hearing loss, paralysis, memory loss, mental illness, and internal organ failure.