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Congressional Commission Urges Chinese Regime to Release Falun Gong Adherent

A U.S. government panel calls for the immediate release of a Falun Gong practitioner who is serving a lengthy prison term as part of the Chinese communist regime’s ongoing campaign to wipe out the faith group.

Cui Fenglan, a school librarian from the northern Chinese city of Harbin, has been detained by the Chinese authorities since May 2016 due to her faith. Six months later, a Harbin district court sentenced her to 15 years in prison.

“Eight years ago today, #CuiFenglan was detained and later given a harsh 15-year sentence simply for being a #Falun Gong practitioner,” the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said in a May 16 statement on X, formerly Twitter. Beijing “should release her immediately and end its 25-year campaign to eradicate the #Falun Gong.”

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual practice that incorporates slow-moving exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The practice’s benefits to physical and mental health have led to widespread popularity, with at least 70 million people taking up the practice by the end of the 1990s, according to official estimates at the time.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, saw Falun Gong’s popularity as a threat to its totalitarian control over Chinese people. In 1999, it unleashed a sweeping campaign to eliminate the practice, mobilizing the nation’s security organs to locate and target adherents.

Ms. Cui is one of the victims of the ongoing persecution.

Related StoriesSuppression of Faith Has Backfired on CCP: Researcher4/26/2024Suppression of Faith Has Backfired on CCP: Researcher‘He Was Alive’: Tormented Chinese Doctor Recounts Harvesting Organs in Back of Van8/10/2023‘He Was Alive’: Tormented Chinese Doctor Recounts Harvesting Organs in Back of VanAccording to the record on CECC’s political prisoners’ database, Ms. Cui was taken away by plainclothes police officers in May 2016 when she picked up packages in Harbin city. Chinese authorities claimed the ornamental gifts Ms. Cui sought to collect were marked with three Chinese characters: truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

In November 2016, Xiangfang District Court held a trial for Ms. Cui without informing any of her family members or her lawyer, resulting in her having to defend herself in court, according to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that documents the CCP’s persecution of the practice. She was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for her faith. While Ms. Cui appealed the decision in 2017, it was rejected by the district court in Harbin, which, like other courts across the country, was under the strict control of the CCP.

Ms. Cui is currently incarcerated at Heilongjiang Women’s Prison, one of China’s most notorious detention facilities, where the regime has allegedly been brutally persecuting Falun Gong adherents, including using all forms of torture, according to Minghui.This is not the first time Ms. Cui has been targeted for her faith. According to a February 2017 Minghui report, Ms. Cui was arrested and detained on multiple occasions, and in 2001, she was sentenced to one year in Wanjia Labor Camp, which is allegedly “known for using various torture methods in trying to force Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their beliefs.”In one incident, the guard beat her face with a bench, which left a scar on the corner of her mouth, the report said.Ongoing PersecutionOver the past 25 years, millions of Falun Gong practitioners like Ms. Cui have been detained or thrown in forced labor camps, brainwashing centers, and jails across the country, according to Falun Dafa Infocenter. It reported that over 100,000 have been subjected to torture and abuse while in custody in an attempt to force them to recant their beliefs.Falun Gong adherents gather at a candlelight vigil in memory of Falun Gong practitioners who passed away because of the Chinese Communist Party's ongoing 24-year persecution of the spiritual discipline at the National Mall in Washington on July 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)Falun Gong adherents gather at a candlelight vigil in memory of Falun Gong practitioners who passed away because of the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing 24-year persecution of the spiritual discipline at the National Mall in Washington on July 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)In 2023 alone, courts in China sentenced 755 adherents to prison or imposed other punishments, nearly 70 percent more than the previous year, according to data collected by Minghui. Many of the convicted received lengthy sentences.To date, more than 5,000 practitioners have been killed as a result of the persecution, according to statistics collected by Minghui. The actual death toll, however, is believed to be much higher, given the difficulty of getting related information out of China and the regime’s state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting. A growing number of lawmakers in Washington, Brussels, and other countries have condemned the CCP’s brutal campaign against Falun Gong, which some rights advocates have urged to recognize as genocide. In January, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the ongoing persecution of the practice, demanding “the immediate and unconditional release” of Falun Gong practitioners in China and calling for the EU and its member states to “support and facilitate an international investigation into the persecution.”

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