(Minghui.org) Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. But due to its popularity and traditional values, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has persecuted its practitioners since July 20, 1999, spanning 21 years.

More than 4,500 Falun Gong practitioners are confirmed to have lost their lives to the persecution, although the true number is likely many times higher. Hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been confined to forced labor camps, tortured physically and mentally, and even killed for organs.

Falun Gong practitioners across the world conduct activities around the anniversary of the persecution on July 20 to raise awareness of the situation in China. Former and current officials, members of parliament, members of state legislatures, and other dignitaries have openly expressed their support for Falun Gong and condemned the persecution. The following are reports from Austria, Belgium, and Italy.

Elected Officials in Austria Support Falun Gong

From July 18 to 21, Falun Gong practitioners held a series of events to mark the 21st anniversary of countering the persecution. Six officials sent letters of support to Falun Gong practitioners, condemning the CCP’s persecution. A Vienna city councilor spoke at the July 21 event.

Practitioners held a rally in front of Stephansplatz on July 18 and a candlelight vigil in front of the famous Black Death Memorial Column on Graben Street to commemorate the practitioners who have died in the persecution. They also held a rally and candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Embassy for 24 hours on July 20.

Support from Members of the National Council and Vienna City Councilor

Dr. Gudrun Kugler, Member of the National Council

“[The CCP] commits crimes in the serious and systematic violation of human rights against Falun Gong practitioners,” stated Dr. Gudrun Kugler, Member of National Council (MNC), in her letter.

“Therefore, we should work together to end this cruel persecution. I am happy to support citizens’ opposition to the CCP’s live organ harvesting, and therefore on June 23, I submitted a bill to the Human Rights Commission. The bill was supported and approved by all parties.”

Dr. Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, Member of the National Council and the Human Rights Committee

Dr. Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, Member of the National Council and the Human Rights Committee, wrote, “You can rest assured that I will continue to support you in reaching your goal to end the inhuman persecution of Falun Dafa. I will not stop reminding Chinese leaders that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also applies to authoritarian countries.”

MNC Petra Bayr, spokesperson for global development

MNC Petra Bayr, spokesperson for global development, wrote, “Cultural and religious freedom are human rights. Freedom of speech is a human right. Human rights are universally applicable and indivisible, and must be respected in each country.”

MNC Faika El-Nagashi, civil society spokesperson

MNC Faika El-Nagashi, civil society spokesperson, wrote, “Human rights violations around the world are systemic. The purpose is to maintain power, suppress criticism through fear, and prevent system changes. The human rights situation in China is worrying–this has been comprehensively documented over the years.”

MNC Petra Wimmer, spokesperson for family affairs of the Social Democratic Party

MNC Petra Wimmer, spokesperson for family affairs of the Social Democratic Party, wrote, “I express my condolences to the relatives of Falun Dafa practitioners who died in torture, prison, concentration camp, or illegal organ trafficking. The attention of the international community can arouse people’s attention to these issues, thereby increasing the pressure on the Chinese government to stop [the persecution].”

Christoph Wiederkehr, Vienna City Councilor, condemned the persecution in his letterHungerländer, Vienna City Councilor, speaks at the July 22 event.

Public Support for Practitioners’ Efforts to End the Persecution

Falun Gong practitioners demonstrated the exercises, collected signatures, and reenacted the CCP’s state-sanctioned live organ harvesting to raise awareness of the atrocity.

“This is crazy! I never thought that something like this could happen,” a man from Hungary said about the CCP’s organ harvesting. He said he would let more people know about the crime.

Reenactment of the CCP’s live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitionersDemonstrating the Falun Gong exercisesThe practitioners’ activities catch the attention of passersbySigning a petition against the persecutionA practitioner speaks in front of the Chinese Embassy.

Events in Belgium

Falun Gong practitioners conducted activities in Brussels on July 16 to protest the persecution. Over 600 former and current members of parliament and members of state legislatures from 36 countries signed a joint statement condemning the persecution.

Several Belgian officials signed as well, including Member of the European Parliament for Belgium Petra De Sutter, Senators of the Belgium Parliament: Mark Demesmaeker, Bert Anciaux, and Freya Perdaens, and Members of the Chamber of Representatives: Michael Freilich, Tom Van Grieken, and Nahima Lanjri.

Exercise demonstration in front of the European ParliamentPractitioners talk with passersby about Falun Gong and the persecution in front of the European Parliament

A practitioner representing the Belgian Falun Dafa Association talked about how the country’s government is supporting practitioners: “The Belgian Senate passed Resolution 162 condemning the CCP’s live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic minorities.”

A man named Joel said, “I am a Jew. I think no one should be persecuted because of religion or a certain way of life. This is not right. I have some friends from Tibet, China, and there is persecution there.

“The problem with China is that you don’t know what is going on there because they [the CCP] censor information. This is why many people in Europe do not know the persecution in China. These persecutions should not happen.”

Practitioners held a peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in the afternoon.

Practitioners protest the persecution in front of the Chinese Embassy

Support from Italian Dignitaries

Falun Gong practitioners protested in front of the Chinese Embassy and Piazza Montecitorio beside the Italian Chamber of Deputies on July 20 and 21.

Several members of parliament participated in the July 21 event. In addition, 24 Members of the Italian Parliament and other dignitaries signed a joint statement along with more than 600 dignitaries in over 30 countries.

Lucio Malan, Senator of Forza Italia and Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said, “The extreme terrorist act of using human organs to trade is unbelievable, truly terrible and even difficult to tell. But we must learn about it because this fact can help us understand that a regime that has no respect for people can do whatever extreme things.”

Also joining the rally was Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senior Diplomat, and Chairman of Global Committee for the Rule of Law (GCRL). He condemned the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong, as did several other former and current members of parliament.

Relevant articles in Chinese: Protest in Austria, and protest in Italy.