I was strolling down the sidewalk in the heart of the beautiful old town St. Augustine, Florida last week when my friend and I noticed a peculiar form of protest occurring. Several people, all of varying race, gender, and age, were sitting down cross-legged in the middle of a grassy park, each holding a lit candle. As I got closer to the individuals, I was able to read a sign they had posted that said something along the lines of “16 years of Falun Gong Persecution in China.” On another poster was a diagram of a human body depicting various organs labeled with selling prices. Not sure of what any of this meant, I went home that night and did some research.

Falun Gong [also known as Falun Dafa] is a Chinese spiritual practice founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992.

According to the practice's official website,

It is a discipline in which “assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance)—is the foundation of practice. Practice is guided by these supreme qualities, and based on the very laws which underlie the development of the cosmos.”

Originally, the Chinese government backed and supported Falun Gong as the exercises and meditations it taught its followers had health benefits deemed advantageous to the people of China. However, as the practice gained widespread support throughout the country, the Communist Party of China grew skeptical of the influence the practice then held. Therefore, in July of 1999, the leader of the Communist Party of China at the time, Jiang Zemin, took drastic action to take down Falun Gong as the party felt its massive following threatened their control over the people of China. First, he released a series of hateful propaganda which attacked the founder of the practice, Li Hongzhi, and the beliefs of all its followers. Zemin’s goal was to make the rest of the country hate the Falun Gong; taking down a hated group is much easier than bringing down a group loved and respected by all.

As of July 20, 1999, the official persecution and suppression of the Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist regime began. Zemin’s next step included the capturing of many Falun Gong practitioners and sending them to labor camps and detention centers. Others were and still are harassed; their entire practice banned from the country. With most of the party being wrongfully imprisoned, the Chinese government saw a window of opportunity to both make large amounts of money, and get rid of their “enemies.” The Falun Gong prisoners became nothing more to them than an organ bank, and they remain the same to this day. As of March 2006, the Falun Dafa Information Center has exposed the truth of the organ harvesting, so it’s no longer just a rumor.

While wrongfully imprisoned, blood tests are administered to the prisoners in order to match them up to a potential organ buyer overseas. Once a match is made, the organs are harvested without any anesthetics while the person is still alive. Organ harvesting of Falun Gong victims is well known and condemned by nearly every other nation across the planet. In May of 2006, the World Medical Association released a "Resolution on Organ Donation in China:"

Whereas, the WMA Statement on Human Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation stresses the importance of free and informed choice in organ donation; and…Whereas, there have been reports of Chinese prisoners being executed and their organs harvested for donation. The WMA demands that the Chinese Medical Association condemn any practice in violation of these ethical principles and basic human rights and ensure that Chinese doctors are not involved in the removal or transplantation of organs from executed Chinese prisoners. The WMA demands that China immediately cease the practice of using prisoners as organ donors.

However, the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners has persisted for many years after the above statement. A recent documentary, and winner of the 2014 Peabody Award for documentaries, titled Human Harvest, sought to bring light to the continued crimes against humanity committed in China. The film is not yet available in the USA, however, you can watch the trailer here. The opening line is a testimony from a Chinese doctor about his first encounter with live organ harvesting as a medical student. He said, “When I cut through...blood was still running... that is to say, this person was not dead.”

This grotesque crime against humanity is occurring today in China. The Falun Gong practitioners have suffered unjustified persecution for their beliefs for 16 years and that is simply far too long. As fellow human beings, it is necessary that we take a stand against these horrific crimes in any way that we can. Here you can sign the petition, as I have, which will contact your district’s House representative on your behalf and request that he or she take action. Perhaps, if a mass of people sign this petition, our voices will be heard in Washington D.C., and justice will be brought to the Falun Gong practitioners in China.