A sea of yellow filled the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on June 20 as 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered to protest the persecution of the practice in China and the cause of that persecution: the evil of communism, The Epoch times reports. Speaking to the rally were five members of Congress as well as representatives of several nongovernment organizations and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Twenty-three members of Congress sent letters of support.
The practitioners held banners calling for the end of the persecution and for awareness about the dangers of communism, with some reading “Communism’s Ultimate Goal: Destroy the Human Race,” “The Evil Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World,” “Humanity’s Only Hope Is to Return to Tradition,” and “Humanity’s Only Hope Is to Improve Morality.”
When Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) addressed the audience, before she said a word from her prepared remarks, she stopped and gazed out at the banners. She then said she knows about the evil specter of communism from her own experience in Cuba and the repression of all freedoms there. “The ultimate goal of communism is the destruction of the human race—I know that personally to be true,” she said.
Alan Adler, executive director of Friends of Falun Gong and host of the event, raised the question of why the Chinese Communist Party has wanted to persecute a peaceful group of meditators for nearly two decades. He said the answer must lie in “the hidden agenda of communism.” Adler said, “No matter what forms communism may take, it has one goal: the destruction of humanity,” adding that communism destroys tradition and cuts us off from the divine above and in ourselves.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) addressed the practitioners with heartfelt remarks. He said he would not be a longtime supporter of Falun Gong based merely on the right of people to express their viewpoint; rather, he identifies with the core principles of Falun Gong. Practitioners of Falun Gong seek to live according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
“I am proud to stand with you and always have been,” he said.
In the front row of the body of practitioners, about 35 participants held portraits of practitioners who were killed by the regime, typically from being tortured. Speakers at the event, including Rohrabacher, acknowledged these practitioners and others who have lost their lives. Falun Gong practitioners first held a rally on Capitol Hill in July 2000, commemorating the beginning of the persecution on July 20, 1999. They have returned each year since.
Congressman Donald Payne (D-N.J.) departed from his prepared remarks in saying, “I will be [at these annual rallies] every year until the practitioners of Falun Gong are persecuted no more.” Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) also gave speeches at the rally. Poe was appalled at the killing of practitioners to obtain body parts to “sell for money.” He said, “That’s the worst human rights violation in the world.”
Ros-Lehtinen mentioned that a similar resolution to the one she sponsored and passed in the House in 2016, H.Res.343, is being sponsored this year by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and now has 14 cosponsors. The resolution expresses “solidarity with Falun Gong practitioners who have lost lives, freedoms, and rights for adhering to their beliefs and practices,” and condemns “the practice of non-consenting organ harvesting.” Letters of support to the rally from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) mentioned that they are cosponsoring S.Res.220.