California: Pass Senate Joint Resolution 10 for Falun Gong

The following is an open letter from Friends of Falun Gong to the legislature of California:

California Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR 10) expresses the California legislature’s condemnation of the Chinese government-sanctioned persecution against Falun Gong, a group of meditators that for 18 years continues to suffer unspeakable human rights violations in Chinese secret jails.

SJR 10 was passed unanimously in the judiciary committee and seemed to be set for routine passage by the full senate—until the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco sent a letter to legislators threatening negative consequences for the “friendship” and trade relations between California and China. Certain legislators then blocked the passage of the bill by not scheduling it for a vote.

We know why the Chinese Consulate would intervene—it wants to hide the very persecution that SJR 10 publicly condemns. But why would California’s elected officials so easily bow to the Chinese Communist Party’s threats?

It certainly isn’t that allegations of persecution are unfounded. The facts of the persecution are broadly recognized.

Falun Gong, a meditation practice rooted in ancient culture, came to the public in China in the early 1990s when qigong became popular. Because of its powerful healing effects and its values of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, the practice spread quickly. By the end of the decade, upwards of 100 million people were practicing it throughout the country.

However, then-General Secretary of the Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, intolerant of any thought that did not fit within communist ideology, initiated a brutal persecution, arresting hundreds of thousands of practitioners. Torture, murder and rape were committed in the name of thought reform. Only under Chinese communist dictatorship is Falun Gong persecuted. It is practiced freely all over the world and by thousands of citizens in California, many of whom escaped persecution in China.

One of the most alarming developments in the persecution is forced organ harvesting from living prisoners. Nobody wanted to believe this at first, and still some people deny it despite mountains of proof. The evidence includes admissions from Chinese surgeons themselves. Hospitals advertise short wait times for organs, possible only by having a ready bank of live donors. The number of transplants shot up shortly after the persecution began, yet China has no voluntary donor system.

In 2016, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 343, demanding open investigation into forced organ harvesting. Of its 185 cosponsors, 24 of them were from California.

Other states and governments have passed similar legislation. Just to name a few: Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maine, Spain, Italy, Israel, Taiwan, the European Union and the United States House of Representatives have all passed similar bills. However, most of these bills used much stronger language than SJR 10 and specifically called out organ harvesting, which was struck out of the California bill after the Consulate’s letter. In every one of these cases, the local Chinese consulate pressured or threatened legislators to remain silent. The legislation passed anyway and the threats all proved empty.

Meanwhile, the persecution is losing steam on the ground in China. Times have changed, and current leaders do not want the baggage of participating in genocide. Many judges, local police, and workplaces no longer persecute Falun Gong practitioners.

Presently, some members of the California Senate have abandoned their moral standing, allowing a foreign government to determine our legislation and corrupt our democratic process. Giving in to this pressure actively undermines democracy and subjects Californians to the censorship and wishes of a foreign dictatorship.

California’s relationship with China is important and complicated. But the Chinese Communist Party is murdering its citizens. How could we be friends with a murderer who blackmails us for simply speaking the truth? Blocking SJR 10 amounts to aiding and abetting criminals. The California Senators that are blocking this piece of legislation need to stand up to the Chinese Consulate’s threats rather than allow themselves to be silenced so easily. Otherwise, how can they claim to honorably represent their constituents?

Alan Adler,
Executive Director
Friends of Falun Gong