US lawmakers slam China for ‘brutal’ Falungong persectuions

The Standard

A Taiwanese man who said he was detained in China due to his Falungong beliefs called for greater US attention, saying that Beijing’s efforts against the group were expanding internationally.

Chung Ting-pang was seized at an airport in the mainland in June and freed 54 days later. He told a panel in Washington that he was the 17th Taiwanese Falungong follower targeted in China, which has also “hired spies overseas” to uncover personal information about the spiritual movement’s members, AFP reports.

China “does not only persecute Falungong practitioners in China, they have also extended the persecution overseas toward Taiwan,” he told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which examines human rights. “I hope that the US Congress and President [Barack] Obama publicly ask the Chinese Communist Party to stop the persecution of the Falungong,” he said.

Xinhua said Chung was freed after he confessed and showed remorse on charges of endangering national security, although Chung said the statement was made under duress. Chung said that he was interrogated about sending television equipment to Falungong practitioners in the mainland, although he insisted that his visit was to see family in Jiangxi province.

China banned the Falungong – which is loosely based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian philosophies – in 1999 after authorities became alarmed over the group’s size and organizational capacity.

Human rights groups say that Falungong members have faced intense pressure to renounce their beliefs, including through prisons. Activists say the Falungong inmates have been targeted for organs harvested in executions.

Senator Sherrod Brown, the co-chair of the commission, criticized China over its treatment of the Falungong as well as minorities such as Tibetans and Uighurs.

“China cannot keep responding to diversity as a threat to be suppressed. This is not an effective strategy,’’ said Brown, a member of Obama’s Democratic Party from Ohio.

Representative Chris Smith, a Republican co-chair of the commission, called China’s campaign against the Falungong “severe, brutal, ugly and vicious.”

Smith reiterated recommendations from the commission’s annual report, which called on China to allow Falungong practitioners to practice freely and permit lawyers to represent citizens who raise challenges.

Original article