Senate Resolution 232 calls for the immediate cessation of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign of suppression against the Falun Gong spiritual practice, and expresses solidarity with Chinese citizens who are peacefully pursuing freedom and dignity for themselves and their country.
Supporting this resolution sends a strong, moral message that the American people will not stand silently by in the face of egregious human rights abuses.
Falun Gong is a traditional spiritual practice of the Buddhist school that involves meditation and a moral philosophy centered on the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. In the 1990s in China, an estimated 70 million people benefited from the practice, which was at one time celebrated openly by Chinese authorities.
However, as the practice grew, Chinese leaders feared that Falun Gong was a source of ideological competition on account of its independence, popularity, and traditional spiritual content. On 20 July, 1999, the Communist Party launched a campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong. Since then, Western journalists and human rights groups have documented the widespread extralegal imprisonment, systematic torture and death in custody of Falun Gong believers in China.
According to the U.S. State Department’s 2009 country report on human rights, adherents of Falun Gong have been estimated to comprise as much as half of China’s official reeducation-through-labor camp population, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Research by journalist Ethan Gutmann suggests that upwards of 400,000 Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are currently detained in China; in some labor camp facilities, over 80% of detainees are Falun Gong practitioners. The Congressional Executive Commission on China states that the scope and intensity of the ongoing crackdown on Falun Gong is “unrivalled” since the commission began its work in monitoring human rights in China.
In addition to extrajudicial imprisonment, torture and killing, Amnesty International reports that Chinese authorities launched a “massive propaganda campaign” to demonize and erode public sympathy for Falun Gong, thereby justifying its persecution.
Falun Gong adherents have responded to this campaign of suppression using entirely peaceful means. Inspired by a belief in the power of truth to enliven people’s consciences and drive out hatred and violence, they have sought to educate Chinese citizens on the true nature of their spiritual practice, the persecution against it, and the wider history of the Communist Party of China. As a result of these efforts, in late 2004 a movement began in China that has seen tens of millions of citizens symbolically disavowing their affiliations to the Communist Party, whose policies and practices they can no longer support in good conscience.
By making a specific, unequivocal statement opposing the persecution of Falun Gong, the United States government can enhance its credibility as a champion of justice and human rights in the world. Moreover, Resolution 232 is consistent with the foreign policy objective of engaging not only with foreign governments, but also with their people. Although China’s leaders may not appreciate censure, the Chinese people – and posterity – will. A China in which Falun Gong’s values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance can be freely practiced will be a more responsible, transparent, and stable international partner.