CECC Annual Report Raises Numerous Concerns Over Persecution of Falun Gong

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The U.S.-China Relations Act established the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in the year 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress.

CECC’s annual report for 2016 was released October 6 and among many other things states, “the Chinese Communist Party and government further restricted the limited space for peaceful expression, religious activity, and assembly with harsh consequences for rights advocates, lawyers, and civil society, and continued to implement the world’s most sophisticated system of Internet control and press censorship, affecting both domestic and foreign journalists.”

“The Chinese government and Party continued to embrace rule by law—that is, using the law as a means to expand control over Chinese society while disregarding the law when it does not accommodate Party imperatives or advance Party objectives.”

“During this reporting year, Chinese authorities continued to use ‘black jails’ and other forms of extralegal and extrajudicial detention to suppress individuals such as those petitioning the government over grievances, Falun Gong practitioners, and rights advocates.”

Speaking about the release of the report, CECC Chairman Chris Smith noted, “Detained Falun Gong practitioners, and other prisoners, were reportedly victims of the horrible crime of organ harvesting.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Continues Persecution of Falun Gong

The report states, “The Commission noted reports of continued harassment and abuse of Falun Gong practitioners as part of a campaign launched in 1999; this included official propaganda and censorship targeting the group, and harassment, arbitrary detention, abuse, and prosecution of individual practitioners. The campaign has been directed by policies issued by top-level government and Party officials and is overseen by the ‘610 Office,’ an extralegal, Party run security apparatus with branches at provincial and local levels.”

“As in previous years, authorities continued to pressure Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their beliefs in a process termed ‘transformation through reeducation.’ To this end, officials reportedly subjected practitioners to extreme physical and psychological coercion in prisons and in administrative detention facilities such as ‘legal education centers’ and compulsory drug detoxification centers. Human rights organizations and practitioners have documented coercive and violent practices against Falun Gong practitioners during custody, including electric shocks, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, forced feeding, forced drug administration, beatings, sexual abuse, and forcible commitment to psychiatric facilities.”

In its “Notes to Section II – Religion Freedom”, the report mentions, “Based on data collected by the Falun Gong practitioner website Clear Wisdom, there were at least 19,095 incidents of harassment, being taken into custody, or detainment for belief in Falun Gong. Data collected by Clear Wisdom documents 158 Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to prison in China between November 2015 and April 2016. More than 90 percent were reportedly tried without an open trial, among other alleged violations of legal procedure. Courts imposed sentences between 3 months and 10 years as well as heavy fines.”

“Black Jail” Used to Detain Falun Gong Practitioners

The report states, “’Black jails’ are detention sites that operate outside of China’sjudicial and administrative detention systems.” “Local-level government and Communist Party officials reportedly used ‘legal education centers’—a type of ‘black jail’ —to detain individuals such as Falun Gong practitioners, in an effort to force them to renounce their beliefs, and petitioners, in order to prevent them from making complaints to the central government.”

“In one example, in October 2015, authorities in Jiansanjiang, Fujin city, Jiamusi municipality, Heilongjiang province, detained a farm worker in a legal education center that reportedly closed around April 2014. In addition, Shi Mengwen continued to serve a three-year prison sentence in Jiansanjiang in apparent connection with his advocacy—along with three other Falun Gong practitioners—for the release of Falun Gong practitioners who had been arbitrarily detained at the Jiansanjiang ‘legal education center.’”

The report noted the widespread use of “black jails” and referred to a report entitled “China: ‘Changing the Soup but Not the Medicine?’: Abolishing Re-Education Through Labour in China” by Amnesty International dated December 13, 2015.

China’s State-Sanctioned Organ Harvesting From Living Falun Gong Practitioners

The report states, “International observers, including the U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament, expressed concern over reports that numerous organ transplantations in China have used the organs of detained prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners.”

The report states, “In June 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing concerns about organ harvesting in China.”

In its “Notes to Section II – Religion Freedom”, the report describes, “U.S. House of Representatives, ‘Expressing Concern Regarding Persistent and Credible Reports of Systematic, State-Sanctioned Organ Harvesting From Non-Consenting Prisoners of Conscience in the People’s Republic of China, Including From Large Numbers of Falun Gong Practitioners and Members of Other Religious and Ethnic Minority Groups,’ H. Res. 343, 13 June 16.”

The report also referred to an article by T. Trey et al. titled “Transplant Medicine in China: Need for Transparency and International Scrutiny Remains,” in American Journal of Transplantation (accepted for publication 13 August 16).

The report notes that “The authors of the August 13, 2016, article echoed the concern raised in House Resolution 343 and further pointed out that verifiable evidence to date did not show that ‘ethical practices have replaced unethical ones.’”

The report states, “Ahead of an August 2016 global conference on transplantation, its organizer, the Transplantation Society, rejected 10 out of 28 clinical papers submitted from China for presentation at the conference because of concerns over the sources of the transplanted organs discussed in these papers.”

The Report Expresses Concern Over Restriction of International Travel by a Prominent Falun Gong Practitioner

The report states, “On August 6, 2016, Chinese customs officials in Guangdong reportedly prevented Falun Gong practitioner Wang Zhiwen from traveling to the United States, canceling his passport on orders from public security authorities.

“Authorities detained Wang in 1999 in connection with a Falun Gong protest in Beijing municipality. He served 15 years of a 16-year prison sentence.” He received an “early release in October 2014, after which authorities reportedly kept Wang under constant surveillance.”

The Party Harasses Lawyers Defending Falun Gong Practitioners

The report states, “Officials continued to subject Gao Zhisheng, who was among the first attorneys to represent Falun Gong practitioners, to harassment, restriction of movement, and denial of necessary medical treatment. In 2006, authorities sentenced Gao to three years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years, for ‘inciting subversion of state power.’

“Authorities reportedly harassed and tortured him during his suspended sentence, which a Beijing court revoked in December 2011, ordering Gao to serve the original three-year sentence. During his detention and imprisonment, Gao was held in solitary confinement, given little food, and beaten, including with an electric baton.”

The report notes, “Courts and public security officials also committed numerous violations of legal procedure in cases involving Falun Gong practitioners this reporting year. Defense lawyers were often unable to provide adequate defense for Falun Gong practitioners: authorities in some cases denied client meetings, adequate notice of trial, and adequate time and opportunity to present a defense during trial. Authorities also have pressured families into dismissing independently hired attorneys.”

The Report states, “Lawyers defending Falun Gong practitioners continued to do so at great personal risk: The Ministry of Public Security reportedly harassed and threatened law professor Zhang Zanning following his representation of Falun Gong practitioner Wu Hongwei in November 2015.”

“The Ministry of Justice also investigated Zhang, reportedly due to his representation of multiple Falun Gong practitioners in court.”

For the full text of the report, please visit the CECC website at http://www.cecc.gov/