On July 16, 2009 I was asked to speak at the rally marking the tenth anniversary of persecution and oppression of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist government. The rally was held in front of the U.S. Capitol. I joined members of Congress including Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), William Clay (D-MO), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA), as well as representatives of numerous human rights organizations, to commend the perseverance and courage of Falun Gong practitioners and to pledge continued advocacy for democracy and freedom for all people in China.
Statement by Faith McDonnell
Falun Gong Rally at the U.S. Capitol, July 16, 2009
10th Anniversary of Repression & Persecution by the Chinese Communist Party
Faith McDonnell speaks at the Falun Gong Rally (epochtimes.com)
Thank you so much for inviting me to express my solidarity with you today. I am honored to be at the U.S. Capitol with you and to assure you of the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s continuing commitment to work for the human rights and religious freedom of all who are oppressed by the Chinese Communist regime.
This year, 2009, is a time for solemn reflection and commemoration. Last month we recognized the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. We wept again for those whose valiant fight for freedom and democracy was crushed by the tanks of the Chinese Communist Government, but we understand that the spirit that inspired that longing for freedom and democracy can never be crushed.
Now today we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Chinese Communist government’s banning of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999. We face some very grim statistics on more than a hundred thousand Falun Gong practitioners who have been sentenced to prison and reeducation-through-labor camps, and on the almost 3,000 who have died from torture or other forms of persecution. As the great human rights advocate Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby said recently, “By civilized standards, it is incomprehensible that anything so innocuous and peaceable could provoke bloody repression.”
By civilized standards. China’s Communist government is striving to appear civilized these days. They were chosen to host the Olympics, after all! And in talks with the Obama Administration, they seem to have gained brownie points by discussing global economic, security, and environmental issues. But it is not civilized for a brutal regime to repress, persecute, imprison, torture, and kill peaceful practitioners of Falun Gong, Christian house church leaders and members, or courageous attorneys fighting for human rights and freedom. It is not civilized for a brutal regime to force women to have abortions and sterilization. And it is not civilized to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees, or secretly to sell weapons to the genocide practitioners in Sudan.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy urges the Obama Administration and the United States Congress to reject the policy of appeasement. Appeasement enables the murderous thugs of the Chinese Communist Party to continue to harass, arrest, imprison, persecute, torture, and kill the most peaceful and honorable citizens of China – those who believe in democracy and freedom, those who follow Jesus Christ, and those who practice the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Appeasement enables the Government of China to defy universal covenants on refugees and forcibly repatriate desperate North Korean refugees to almost certain death.
In closing, I know that you are also participating in a Million Minutes of Meditation campaign on the National Mall this weekend. Let me encourage you with the example of another prisoner of a Communist regime. The poet Irina Ratushinskaya was a political prisoner and Christian dissident imprisoned in the Soviet Union. She was kept in solitary confinement in near-freezing temperatures for long periods of time. But in a poem she wrote when she was finally released from the gulag, she said that she could tell when people were praying for her.
Believe me, so it happened often:
In solitary confinement on a wintry night
Suddenly an embrace of warmth and happiness,
And a note of low would sound.
And then I sleeplessly know,
Leaning against the ice cold wall-
Now, now they are remembering me,
They are begging the Lord for me.
My dear ones, thank you
All, who remembered and believed in us
In the cruelest prison hour.
We, surely, could not have
Gone through all from end to end,
Not bowing our head, not faltering,
Without your lofty hearts
Illumining our way.
This weekend as people all over the world, from all faiths, meditate, think about, and pray for those who are suffering because of the Chinese Communist government, I hope that they, too, will feel a sudden embrace of warmth and happiness, and that our lofty hearts will help them to go through all from end to end, not bowing their heads, not faltering, and that we will through our prayers, meditations, intervention, and advocacy, illumine their way.
Thank you, and God bless you.