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Letter: Religious freedom and human rights

Letter: Religious freedom and human rights

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In August, 49 members of the Virginia General Assembly of both parties wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, asking for "forceful and sustained action by the United States" to help end the 21-year-long persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This ruthless campaign has included not only horrific torture, but also the non-consensual organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. (see

I commend the Roanoke area state legislators who had co-signed the letter: State Dels. Christopher T. Head and Sam Rasoul, for their speaking up on religious freedom and human rights.

Falun Gong is a spiritual meditation practice of both mind and body based on the three universal principles: truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Prior to 1999, the Chinese government survey found 70-100 million people picked up this practice which was effective in improving people’s health. Falun Gong’s popularity made the former CCP head Jiang Zemin jealous and paranoid. Jiang then ordered the persecution in July 1999, followed by what Amnesty International calls a “massive propaganda campaign” to erode the public sympathy for Falun Gong, both inside and outside China.

A number of survivors of the torture and persecution reside in the Commonwealth, and their stories are quite heart-wrenching as our legislators had noted in their letter to Secretary Pompeo. Additionally, the 2019 independent tribunal chaired by the former prosecutor of former Yugoslavia genocide case, concluded: “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply.”

This past July 20 marked the 21st anniversary of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. And sadly it is still ongoing. Like our state legislators who sent the letter, "I hope we can all take some action “to ensure that next year we are not observing 22 years of persecution.”

Nita Seib, Roanoke

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