(Minghui.org) On May 23, 2023, the U.S. Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus (IRFC) held a briefing on “Religious Persecution of Falun Gong by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)” in the House of Representatives’ Rayburn Office Building.

During the briefing, three Falun Gong practitioners described the recent tragedies their parents suffered in China for practicing Falun Gong, including lengthy prison sentences and death as a result of torture.

In a subsequent round table meeting at the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building, U.S. State Department Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain, listened to the account of Falun Gong practitioner Lydia Wang, who shared the persecution she and her family suffered.

Congressional briefing on “Religious Persecution of Falun Gong by the CCP” on May 23, 2023
A round table meeting at the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building on May 23, 2023


U.S. Congressman: Action Needed to Halt Persecution

Rep. Gus Billirakis, co-chair of the IRFC, expressed his dismay at the persecution faced by Falun Gong practitioners, who have been primary targets of the CCP. He condemned the persecution, which includes intimidation, censorship, imprisonment, forced labor, torture, live organ harvesting, and even death, all for simply upholding their beliefs.

Rep. Billirakis pointed out that Falun Gong practitioners have been a major source of illegally obtained organs for the communist regime. Inside CCP prisons, concentration camps, and detention centers, Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to unimaginable torture.

“We must take action within our power to stop the persecution from continuing. The United States and our allies must be strong advocates for protecting the basic human rights of all individuals,” remarked Rep. Billirakis. He emphasized that no one should be imprisoned or killed for their beliefs, and the CCP should be held accountable for its human rights violations.

Several bills have been introduced in the United States in response to the CCP’s brutal persecution of Falun Gong. Rep. Billirakis highlighted the passage of the Stop Live Organ Harvesting Act of 2023, of which he is a co-sponsor, by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2023. Additionally, he co-sponsored the Protect Falun Gong Act.

He affirmed his commitment to working with like-minded colleagues in the U.S. Congress to ensure the passage of these bills.

Rep. Billirakis spoke at the briefing


Florida Engineer’s Father Sentenced to Eight Years

Zhou You, a software engineer residing in Florida and a Falun Gong practitioner, testified during the briefing that his father, Mr. Zhou Deyong, was recently sentenced to eight years by the CCP.

Mr. Zhou Deyong, a senior geological engineer at the Shengli Oilfield in Dongying, Shandong Province, was arrested by the police on April 23, 2021 during a police sweep. He underwent three hearings within two years at the Dongying District Court before being convicted.

Following his father’s arrest, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Representative Bilirakis, as well as eight other Florida Representatives wrote to U.S. President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CCP Chairman Xi Jinping multiple times regarding this case.

“My father is 62 years old. He has lost all of his teeth and is unable to eat meat, vegetables, or even rice. His diet is limited to soup every day,” said Zhou You. He added, “Please help my father and all Falun Gong practitioners who are being persecuted in China.”

In his spare time, Zhou You, a YouTuber with 210,000 subscribers, created a special episode about his father’s experience. The episode was watched by 120,000 people, and he received encouragement from kind individuals around the world.

“I will not give up. I will continue my efforts to rescue my father,” Zhou You affirmed.

Zhou You, a software engineer from Florida, talked about his father’s recent eight-year prison sentence by the CCP on May 13, 2023.


New York Architect: Mother Tortured to Death in Detention Centre

Simon Zhang, an architect from Brooklyn, New York, shared the tragic account of his mother, Ms. Ji Yunzhi, who was persecuted to death last year at the age of 65.

Ms. Ji, a resident of Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, was arrested at her home on February 1, 2022. She endured beatings and abuse while in custody. When she initiated a hunger strike to protest the persecution, she was forcibly fed and repeatedly slapped in the face. Seven weeks later, she passed away in a hospital.

Her family noticed that her esophagus had been cut open and her face and shoulders were covered in blood. They weren’t allowed to get close to her. Despite her family’s objections, the authorities forcibly cremated her body in a heavily guarded crematorium.

Simon said, “During the last 23 years, my mother was constantly monitored, harassed, arrested, tortured, and abused. All she did was uphold the principles of Falun Gong -Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. She steadfastly refused to renounce these principles, even in the face of physical and mental torment.”

His mother had longed to visit the United States and be able to freely practice Falun Gong here. However, the CCP denied her a passport, and now her dream will never be realised.

Simon Zhang, an architect from Brooklyn, New York, shared the tragic account of his mother Ms. Ji Yunzhi, who was persecuted to death last year at the age of 65.


Shen Yun Dancer’s Mother Arrested for the 11th Time and Sentenced to Four Years

Steven Wang, a Shen Yun dancer, and his sister, Lydia Wang, also shared their family’s persecution.

Lydia recounted that their parents and four siblings began practicing Falun Dafa in 1996, embracing its principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance to cultivate themselves. However, their once-happy family was torn apart when the persecution started in 1999.

Their mother, Ms. Liu Aihua, endured more than ten arrests and detentions over the past 24 years, spending over a decade in prisons. She was secretly arrested again on July 7, 2022, less than a year after she was released from a previous prison sentence. She was sentenced again to four years in prison on March 10, 2023. Her only “crimes” were spreading information about Falun Gong and possessing Falun Gong books at home.

Lydia also shared that her father passed away on September 20, 2009, after his health was destroyed by torture in prison.

To avoid being sent to brainwashing centres and being forced to have an abortion, Lydia was forced to move outside of China, separating from her first daughter, who was just 15 months old at the time. She was also forced to divorce her husband.

Steven Wang, a Shen Yun dancer, and her sister, Lydia Wang, shared their family’s persecution during the briefing.


Think Tank Director: CCP’s Persecution of Falun Gong Expands to the U.S.

Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Centre for Religious Freedom, also gave a speech during the briefing. With her extensive experience in international religious freedom, including serving on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and as a representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Shea shared crucial information with the congressional staffers in attendance.

Shea highlighted that the CCP has extended its persecution of Falun Gong to the United States, a campaign that has been ongoing for years. She pointed out that the FBI arrested two CCP agents this year, who operated a police station in Manhattan and persecuted Falun Gong practitioners. She referred to an indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice on April 5, which charges the two men with acting as CCP agents and obstructing justice. The indictment specifically mentions Falun Gong thirteen times. This serves as the most recent evidence of the CCP’s aggressive global crackdown on Falun Gong.

Shea also urged the U.S. State Department to take measures to prevent U.S. agencies from participating in the CCP’s live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. She emphasised the need for comprehensive action at the national level, stating, “We must restrict all organ transplant medical institutions, hospitals, and universities from engaging in the CCP’s live organ harvesting atrocities, and the State Department must take immediate action.”

Nina Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, spoke at the briefing.

2022 U.S. Department of State Report on Religious Freedom Highlights Persecution of Falun Gong in China