July 19, 2002

Since a "crackdown" on Falun Gong began in 1999 there have been documented reports of 431 persons who have died in custody or from extensive torture inflicted in custody. Other sources have cited that as many as 1600 persons may have died at the hands of the Chinese authorities since July 1999. Currently, there are more than 25,000 Falun Gong practitioners that have been detained and tortured by the Chinese government. It is clear to say that Falun Gong practitioners in China are living in a state of intense fear and persecution because of their peaceful beliefs of Truth, Tolerance and Compassion.

As early as 1948, Church Women United has recognized the need for governments to respect the dignity and worth of every person in every area of life. Church Women United's statement on the "Respect of Human Personality" states, "... we affirm certain basic freedoms, namely, freedom of conscience; of belief, including political and economic; freedom of movement, association and assembly; freedom of press and speech; and in the freedom of the mind in searching for truth."

Church Women United is a movement that is dedicated to finding peace in times of strife and distress. We commend those who are gathered in Washington D.C. and around the world, for their persistence and courage in asking the United States government and its people to stand up against the uncivilized and inhumane treatment of people of faith in China.