July 20 marks the 23rd year of the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline with meditative exercises and moral teachings.
It grew in popularity during the 1990s with up to 100 million people practicing in China by the end of the decade. Perceiving this as a threat, the Chinese regime launched a nationwide campaign in 1999 to eradicate the practice.
Millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been held in prisons and detention centers across the country, where they are subjected to torture and forced organ harvesting.
Forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners should be a central concern when discussing human rights issues with China, say leading human rights advocates attending the International Summit on Religious Freedom 2022 in Washington, June 28-30.
“We have to focus on that, first of all, [because] it’s one of the most appalling crimes you can imagine,” Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the US Committee on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told NTD’s China Insider program.
“But it is also very concrete. It’s something that people, when they hear about it [will get] shocked and sickened,” Swett added.
According to Swett, upon hearing about the grisly crime, people understand that “their medical schools, their hospitals could be indirectly complicit, because they train Chinese doctors and they participate in programs with them.”
“It can cause people to increase their level of moral outrage…and be better prepared to really focus on the full range of abuses in China,” she said.
Lord David Alton of the UK House of Lords also called the practice outrageous and said he and colleagues from all parties were working on legislation to impose harsher penalties on anyone involved in the swab. of organs.
“It discourages people from traveling to do it [organ transplant] from the UK,” Alton said.
Not China’s internal problem
Swett rejected the Chinese regime’s rhetoric that human rights issues are its domestic problem and that no other country should interfere.
She quoted the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying, “No country can tell the rest of the world, how we treat or mistreat our own citizens is none of your business.”
“The rights of their citizens are under international law, not Chinese law,” she added.
According to Swett, Beijing makes excuses “because they don’t like their sins to be displayed before the world”.
“And they go to great lengths to pressure and bully others into not doing it. But the very fact that they are so sensitive, so defensive and so hostile to any effort to tell the truth tells us that they are a bit afraid of the world knowing the truth,” Swett said.
Mary Beth Long, former US Undersecretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, also echoed Swett’s arguments.
“The way China treats its human rights has security implications for all of us,” Long said.
“These artificial lines of internal and external, as human beings we cannot buy it, not when it comes to our basic human rights. like religious freedom,” she added.
Call to action
Swett further urged world leaders to take action against human rights crimes in general, and the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong adherents in particular.
“We need more government leaders at the highest levels to speak out about this persecution, speak out against it, and hold China accountable,” she said.
Nadine Maenza, former commissioner of USCIRF, shared the same view, saying: “The US government must use all the levers at its disposal to push against China, and uphold human rights, to make come from other countries with him”.
“We could … link religious freedom, link human rights to foreign policy goals,” she added.
“We are safer when religious freedom and human rights are better in the world. And with things deteriorating and continuing to get worse, it creates all kinds of conflicts in the world that we’re going to have to deal with.
Meanwhile, Long suggested integrating the Chinese regime’s human rights into the US national security strategy.
“It’s non-negotiable and should never be negotiable as part of our national security or our policies,” she said.
“If China chooses to be a positive contributor in the global workspace, it must recognize this fundamental right as to how it plays out with our economic relations, our trade relations, our involvement in each other’s sporting activities. “Long said.
“Once you become an irresponsible international actor, like North Korea, if you can’t protect the very values that are integral to our very existence on this earth, then you have to be isolated,” she said. added.