The U.S. State Department this week released its annual 2020 Human Rights Practices Report, produced during the Trump administration, almost all of whose officials have been removed. The section on China denounces abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against spiritual minorities, highlighting the brutal persecution and atrocities committed against practitioners of the Falun Gong discipline and against human rights lawyers dedicated to defending victims of persecution.

The report asserts that the People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian state. The CCP has the supreme authority, and its hierarchical members occupy all positions in the intelligence, security, and decision-making apparatus. Today Mr. Xi Jinping holds the three leading positions: general secretary of the party, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him ultimately responsible for all the atrocities committed by the dictatorial regime.

The report emphasizes the regime’s systematic persecution of spiritual minorities as genocide: “Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups.”

According to the report, these crimes continue to this day and include: “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

On illegal arrest and detention, the report mentions that the Chinese authorities used arbitrary detention of individuals to intimidate political and religious advocates also to prevent public demonstrations: “Forms of arbitrary detention included ‘legal education’ centers for political activists and religious adherents, particularly Falun Gong practitioners.'”

Practitioners of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, have been the target of persecution by the CCP since 1999. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, millions have been illegally detained in prisons, labor camps, and other facilities of the CCP. They have been tortured, drugged, forced to renounce their faith, and killed. 

The persecution campaign centers on implementing a system of atheistic propaganda and smear campaigns against Falun Dafa, a program of ideological conversion and forced re-education, and a variety of illegal coercive measures, including arbitrary detention, forced labor, physical torture, forced organ removal, and death.

The State Department report also mentions forced organ removal: “…activists and some organizations continued to accuse the government of forced organ removal from prisoners of conscience, including religious and spiritual followers such as Falun Gong practitioners and Muslim detainees in Xinjiang.”

Human rights lawyers were also targeted by the CCP, who suspended or revoked many lawyers’ legal licenses for taking on sensitive cases, including defending pro-democracy dissidents, local church activists, Falun Gong practitioners, or government critics. 

The report cites several examples of practitioners persecuted, disappeared, and killed simply for defending the rights of persecuted individuals. It also cites Falun Gong practitioners’ specific cases, such as that of Mr. Bian, an outstanding teacher at Kailuan No. 10 High School in Tangshan City, Hebei Province. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012 and sent to Shijiazhuang Prison just for practicing the discipline. 

Subsequently, because Mr. Bian’s daughter, Ms. Bian Xiaohui, sought justice for him, she was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in April 2015, and a month later, Mr. Bian’s wife, Ms. Zhou Xiuzhen was sentenced to a four-year term. The arrests, torture, harassment, and stress that Ms. Zhou endured caused her death on April 19, 2020.

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