(Minghui.org) “Why does the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) persecute Falun Gong, a faith which searches for inner peace as its core belief? It is because the CCP fears freedom of conscience,” said Professor Mark Thomas, a Political Science professor at La Salle University, during an event at Philadelphia’s Chinatown on July 16.

Next to the landmark archway, practitioners held a rally to raise awareness of the suppression that started in China on July 20, 1999. State Senator Christine Tartaglione’s office director Carmen Sousa also came to support the event.

Carmen Sousa (fourth from left), director for State Senator Christine Tartaglione, joined a rally to expose the persecution in China on July 16, 2022.

“We Cannot Pretend Not to Know, Not to See”

Professor Thomas pointed out that the event was held within walking distance of the birthplace of American independence and landmarks such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the National Constitution Center. He said it is important to get the message out, loud and clear.

“It is the same persecution which we abhorred when Nazi doctors used Jews in medical experiments. It is the same persecution we protested when the Soviet doctors tortured dissidents. It is a form of genocide!” he explained, “We did not tolerate it in Nazi Germany. We did not tolerate it in the Soviet Union. Why do we allow the American government to tolerate it in China when the CCP commits crimes against humanity by harvesting organs from Falun Gong followers?!”

Professor Mark Thomas from La Salle University, spoke at the event.

“We are also here to raise people’s awareness of how the Chinese government takes innocent people, removes their organs against their will and then sells them to the highest bidder! Such practice is abhorrent!” he added.

“Needless to say, this violates basic rules of human decency, let alone violates international law and the International Convention on Human Rights. Such torture and exploitation must stop now! We cannot pretend not to know, not to see,” he continued, “Our brothers and sisters suffer. When one part of the human body hurts, the whole human body hurts!”

Through listening to the speeches and talking with practitioners, Ms. Carmen Sousa learned how practitioners in China are mistreated for their belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. She said she would share the information with more people and hopes the tragedy will end soon.

Testimony from Witnesses

During the rally three practitioners recounted their stories ranging from torture, forced labor, to organ harvesting.

Ms. Tian Zhongfeng almost became a victim of forced organ harvesting.

Ms. Tian Zhongfeng, 78, began practicing Falun Dafa in 1995. After the CCP started to suppress Falun Dafa in 1999, she was sent to brainwashing centers four times and kept at brainwashing centers three times, where she was badly tortured.

When she was detained in a labor camp in 2006, she underwent physical examinations and samples of her blood were collected. This was not done to non-practitioner inmates. A nurse forcibly injected her every day and reported to the higher officials every morning that everything about her was normal. It was not until Ms. Tian accidentally overheard a police guard talking about her that she realized she was a potential organ donor.

When Ms. Tian called out for help from patients and medical staff, one kindhearted doctor offered to help. She prescribed a medication that made Ms. Tian unsuitable to be an organ donor. Although officials gave up on her, they nonetheless injected her with poisonous drugs before releasing her. After she returned home Ms. Tian said she recuperated by doing the Falun Dafa exercises and reading the teachings—she was able to survive the persecution.

Ms. Shen Lichun spoke at the event.

Ms. Shen Lichun had several illnesses. She had to wear winter coats and cotton-padded pants even in the summer. She attended a nine-day lecture given by Falun Dafa’s founder in July 1995. Soon afterward, all her illnesses disappeared. Because of her belief, however, she was sent to labor camps and prisons, and she was incarcerated for nearly 11 years.

Besides detention and torture, Ms. Shen said she was also forced to do slave labor to make profit for officials. “Very often we did not sleep until 2 a.m., while being forced to get up at 4 or 5 a.m.,” she recalled, “We worked day and night. If the assignments were not finished on time, we would be shocked with electric batons.”

Under the severe physical labor and mental abuse, plus low quality food, Ms. Shen was dizzy nearly all the time with chest pain and memory loss. Furthermore, her blood pressure was not stable and her stomach was swollen, making it difficult for her to bend down. In the end, she had heart failure and was sent to emergency rescue at a hospital and was given nitroglycerin.

Ms. Zhang Chunying called to release detained practitioners.

Another speaker was Ms. Zhang Chunying from Heilongjiang Province. Because she practiced Falun Dafa, she was harassed and detained numerous times. She thanked the American government for its help so that she can freely practice her belief here.

She is worried about practitioners in China who are still persecuted for their faith. On June 22, 2022, seven practitioners in her hometown were tried and were sentenced with fines. They are Li Lizhuang, Tang Zhuyin, Huo Xiaohui, Li Yanqing, Ding Yan, Jiao Qihua, and Zhao Lihua.

Li Lizhuang, 48, was a chief surgeon from Harbin Medical University. Because he practices Falun Dafa, he was sent to labor camps twice and imprisoned once. One time guards handcuffed him to a metal chair in solitary confinement. They then tied him up even more for a long time. He was also deprived of sleep for 8 consecutive days. The guards used various torture methods on him to entertain themselves.

“Falun Dafa was introduced to the public 30 years ago, and the persecution has gone on for 23 years,” Ms. Zhang said, “By suppressing innocent practitioners who want to be better citizens through the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the CCP has destroyed China. Quitting the Party is the only way for a bright future.”

“Do Not Blindly Follow the CCP”

Many residents and tourists stopped to watch the event and talked with practitioners.

Passerby learned about Falun Gong and signed petitions calling to end the persecution in China.

Mr. Khalio supported practitioners by holding a banner.

Mr. Khalio said he heard about Falun Dafa and the persecution 8 months ago. After listening to witnesses’ testimony today, he decided to stay and support them. He held a banner for about one hour and then stayed and listened to all the speeches until the event ended.

Xiao, in his 80s, has lived in Chinatown for more than 20 years. Having been through numerous political campaigns in China, he was moved to tears when he recalled the atrocities. “My older brother was a military officer in the Whampoa Military Academy. Because of that, several members of my family lost their lives because the CCP targeted us,” he said, “From the Great Famine to the Cultural Revolution, my family has suffered over and over again.” He explained that the pain they experienced was beyond description and thus he deeply understood what Falun Dafa practitioners were facing today.

Under the name of the United Front, the CCP attacks families like Xiao’s and then afterward works with them, creating a “positive image” for outsiders. Ordinary citizens are often fooled by this and overseas Chinese, especially those in various organizations or associations, are often turned into agents who work on behalf of the CCP. “I hope these people could look at facts and be clear on this. Blindly following the CCP will lead us nowhere,” he added.

During the event, 22 Chinese people agreed to quit the CCP organizations, which also include the junior organizations, the Youth League and the Young Pioneers. Many passersby signed petitions to reject the CCP and called for an end to the brutality against practitioners including forced organ harvesting.

Background: What Is Falun Dafa and Why Is the CCP Persecuting It?

Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) was first introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China, in 1992. The spiritual discipline is now practiced in over 100 countries and regions worldwide. Millions of people who have embraced the teachings, which are based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and have learned the five exercises, have experienced improved health and well-being.

Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), perceived the spiritual discipline’s growing popularity as a threat to the CCP’s atheistic ideology and on July 20, 1999, he issued an order to eradicate the practice.

Under Jiang’s personal direction, the CCP established the 610 Office, an extralegal security organization with the power to override the police and judicial systems and whose sole function is to carry out the persecution of Falun Dafa.

Minghui.org has confirmed the deaths of thousands of practitioners as a result of the persecution over the past 23 years. The actual number is believed to be much higher. Countless practitioners have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith.

There is concrete evidence that the CCP sanctions the harvesting of organs from detained practitioners, who are murdered to supply China’s organ transplant industry.