It's been 11 years since the Chinese communist regime began to persecute members of the Falun Gong spiritual practice. Thousands have lost their lives at the hands of a brutal crackdown on the practice. But as NTD's Ben Hedges reports, members of the U.S. Congress say it must end now.
"We know that what the Chinese government is doing to the Falun Gong is genocide."
They gather on the West Lawn of the US Capitol for the eleventh year in a row.
[Chris Smith, US Congressman]: "Falun Gong are a non-violent group of people who believe in this very important spiritual exercise."
According to Xinhua news -- the Chinese regime's official mouthpiece -- the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance that Falun Gong practitioners adhere to, are not compatible with the, quote, "socialist ethical and cultural progress" that the Chinese regime claims it is trying to achieve. Former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a brutal crackdown on Falun Gong on July 20th, 1999, shocking the international community.
[Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, US Congresswoman]: "We stand with the Falun Gong practitioners and their family members who have suffered prosecution, persecution, intimidation, imprisonment, torture and even death in the past eleven years, solely because of their adherence to their personal beliefs."
On March 16th, 2010, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen... calling on the Chinese regime to "immediately cease and desist from its campaign to persecute, intimidate, imprison and torture Falun Gong practitioners." The resolution was passed by 412 votes to 1.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis co-sponsored the resolution.
[Gus Bilirakis, US Congressman]: "I'm for religious freedom and freedom of expression, and all they want to do is practice their religion, what they believe in, and they should have a right to do so."
And so did Congressman Chris Smith.
[Chris Smith, US Congressman]: "The resolution re-asserts US Congressional solidarity with and support of the Falun Gong, and holds the country of China, its government, to account. We are, many of us, calling on this administration to do more."
To do more for people like Jennifer Zeng, who was persecuted at the hands of the Chinese communist regime for her belief in Falun Gong. She spent one year in a forced labor camp.
[Jennifer Zeng, Persecuted Practitioner]: "We were beaten, shocked by electric batons on every part of our body, even sexually assaulted. We were subjected to sleep deprivation, sometimes as long as one month, and we were also there as part of the slave labor system that encompasses hundreds of thousands of people."
Yet protest against the atrocities have always been peaceful.
"These are the same principles that Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi used to promote peaceful actions for freedom."
"Dear brothers and sisters, help us free China to bring freedom to all."