Persecution of Falun Gong

The persecution of Falun Gong is the antireligious campaign initiated in 1999 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to eliminate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong in China, maintaining a doctrine of state atheism.[1] It is characterized by a multifaceted propaganda campaign, a program of enforced ideological conversion and re-education and reportedly a variety of extralegal coercive measures such as arbitrary arrests, forced labor and physical torture, sometimes resulting in death.[2]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who co-sponsored a Congressional resolution condemning organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents, speaks at a rally in Washington D.C.

Falun Gong is a modern qigong discipline combining slow-moving exercises and meditation with a moral philosophy. It was founded by Li Hongzhi, who introduced it to the public in May 1992 in Changchun, Jilin. Following a period of rapid growth in the 1990s, the CCP launched a campaign to "eradicate" Falun Gong on 20 July 1999.[3]

An extra-constitutional body called the 6-10 Office was created to lead the persecution of Falun Gong.[4] The authorities mobilized the state media apparatus, judiciary, police, army, the education system, families and workplaces against the group.[5] The campaign was driven by large-scale propaganda through television, newspaper, radio and the Internet.[6] There are reports of systematic torture,[7][8] illegal imprisonment, forced labor, organ harvesting[9] and abusive psychiatric measures, with the apparent aim of forcing practitioners to recant their belief in Falun Gong.[3]

Foreign observers estimate that hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in "re-education through labor" camps, prisons and other detention facilities for refusing to renounce the spiritual practice.[4][10] Former prisoners have reported that Falun Gong practitioners consistently received "the longest sentences and worst treatment" in labor camps, and in some facilities Falun Gong practitioners formed the substantial majority of detainees.[11][12] As of 2009, at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been reportedly tortured to death in the persecution campaign.[13] Some international observers and judicial authorities have described the campaign against Falun Gong as a genocide.[14][15] In 2009, courts in Spain and Argentina indicted senior Chinese officials for genocide and crimes against humanity for their role in orchestrating the suppression of Falun Gong.[16][17][18]

In 2006, allegations emerged that many Falun Gong practitioners had been killed to supply China's organ transplant industry.[9][19] An initial investigation found that "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and concluded that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners".[9] Ethan Gutmann estimates 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were killed for their organs from 2000 to 2008.[20][21] Following additional analysis, the researchers significantly raised the estimates on the number of Falun Gong practitioners who may have been targeted for organ harvesting.[22] In 2008 United Nations Special Rapporteurs reiterated their requests for "the Chinese government to fully explain the allegation of taking vital organs from Falun Gong practitioners and the source of organs for the sudden increase in organ transplants that has been going on in China since the year 2000".[23]