Efforts to End Forced Organ Harvesting in China Lead to Unanimous Resolution in Virginia House

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.—When the TV screen inside Virginia’s General Assembly showed the vote of 82-0 on Feb. 11, Wang Chunyan, a 66-year-old Chinese refugee who just became a U.S. citizen a year ago, stood in silence.The vote in question was a House resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) more than two-decades-long persecution of adherents of the spiritual group Falun Gong. “[T]he House of Delegates strongly condemns the imprisonment, torture, slave labor, and state-sponsored forced organ harvesting used against Falun Gong practitioners in China and demands an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party,” the resolution stated. “[A]ll Virginians stand in solidarity with Falun Gong practitioners in their pursuit of freedom of belief,” it stated. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice composed of moral teachings centered around the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, and a set of meditative exercises. It expanded in popularity in China in the 1990s, resulting in 70 million to 100 million people practicing by the end of the decade. Deeming such popularity to be a threat to its authoritarian rule, the CCP in 1999 launched an expansive persecution campaign targeting the practice and its adherents. Since then, millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in prisons, labor camps, detention centers, and other facilities, where they have been subjected to torture, forced labor, and forced organ harvesting. Wang Chunyan before a Board of Supervisor meeting in Spotsylvania, Va., on Mar. 23, 2021. (Sherry Li/The Epoch Times) Before fleeing to the United States, Wang was one of the victims of the persecution. Throughout 2021, the retired businesswoman and her friends collected over 5,000 signatures in support of local resolutions on the same issue in over 20 Virginian counties. “The unanimous passing [by the Virginia House] exceeded my expectations,” Wang told The Epoch Times. “In the face of a brutal Chinese communist regime, 82 delegates said ‘no,’” she added. “I was overwhelmed by the kindness.” Recollections Despite it being a moment of triumph, the House votes also triggered some painful memories for Wang. An overwhelming moment from last November flashed in her mind. Wang was at a Board of Supervisors meeting in Palmyra of Fluvanna County on Nov. 3. A resolution (pdf) alerting county residents and the medical community of state-sponsored forced organ harvesting was on the meeting agenda. Due to her limited English, she often relied on her friends and fellow Falun Gong practitioners to speak about the CCP’s expansive suppression of the spiritual practice. At this meeting, her friend Alex Wang informed the board members about various abuses suffered by practitioners at the hands of the communist regime. As he spoke about how the persecution tore apart millions of Chinese families, Wang could not help but think of her own husband who passed away almost 20 years ago. “It was like my almost healed wounds were torn open again,” she recalled. Her world was turned upside down when her husband of 21 years died. In January 2002, two-and-a-half years into the regime’s persecution, Wang had left home in an effort to evade the detection of local police who were bent on arresting her for persisting in practicing her faith. As a result, Wang’s husband Yu Yefu, who was not a practitioner, was often harassed by police looking to track down Wang. One day, a policeman visited Yu at his workplace to find out Wang’s whereabouts. The officer hit Yu, who fought back. Before leaving, the policeman said he would take revenge. Several days later, Yu was found at home unconscious with the gas turned on. The official cause of death was determined to be gas poisoning. But the family suspected foul play given that he was found with a head wound. He died at the age of 49. Traditionally in China, the eldest son occupied a special position in the family, bearing primary responsibility for the welfare of the parents and other family members. Yu was the elder son and someone the entire family looked up to and relied on. Upon learning of his death, his 37-year-old younger sister suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Within weeks, his mother became paralyzed out of grief and remained in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Unable to cope with the loss, his father killed himself a year later, saying, “I am joining my son.” Ten days after her husband’s death, Wang was arrested. A lawyer said she could be released if she gave up her practice of Falun Gong. She refused, was therefore sentenced to two years in prison. The judge also ordered that her two cars and office space for her business be confiscated. She also lost her qualification to be a business owner because of her prison sentence. As a result, her business selling chemical production equipment folded for good. Detention Because she refused to renounce her fait

Efforts to End Forced Organ Harvesting in China Lead to Unanimous Resolution in Virginia House

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.—When the TV screen inside Virginia’s General Assembly showed the vote of 82-0 on Feb. 11, Wang Chunyan, a 66-year-old Chinese refugee who just became a U.S. citizen a year ago, stood in silence.

The vote in question was a House resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) more than two-decades-long persecution of adherents of the spiritual group Falun Gong.

“[T]he House of Delegates strongly condemns the imprisonment, torture, slave labor, and state-sponsored forced organ harvesting used against Falun Gong practitioners in China and demands an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party,” the resolution stated.

“[A]ll Virginians stand in solidarity with Falun Gong practitioners in their pursuit of freedom of belief,” it stated.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice composed of moral teachings centered around the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, and a set of meditative exercises. It expanded in popularity in China in the 1990s, resulting in 70 million to 100 million people practicing by the end of the decade. Deeming such popularity to be a threat to its authoritarian rule, the CCP in 1999 launched an expansive persecution campaign targeting the practice and its adherents.

Since then, millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in prisons, labor camps, detention centers, and other facilities, where they have been subjected to torture, forced labor, and forced organ harvesting.

Epoch Times Photo
Wang Chunyan before a Board of Supervisor meeting in Spotsylvania, Va., on Mar. 23, 2021. (Sherry Li/The Epoch Times)

Before fleeing to the United States, Wang was one of the victims of the persecution.

Throughout 2021, the retired businesswoman and her friends collected over 5,000 signatures in support of local resolutions on the same issue in over 20 Virginian counties.

“The unanimous passing [by the Virginia House] exceeded my expectations,” Wang told The Epoch Times.

“In the face of a brutal Chinese communist regime, 82 delegates said ‘no,’” she added.

“I was overwhelmed by the kindness.”

Recollections

Despite it being a moment of triumph, the House votes also triggered some painful memories for Wang.

An overwhelming moment from last November flashed in her mind.

Wang was at a Board of Supervisors meeting in Palmyra of Fluvanna County on Nov. 3. A resolution (pdf) alerting county residents and the medical community of state-sponsored forced organ harvesting was on the meeting agenda.

Due to her limited English, she often relied on her friends and fellow Falun Gong practitioners to speak about the CCP’s expansive suppression of the spiritual practice. At this meeting, her friend Alex Wang informed the board members about various abuses suffered by practitioners at the hands of the communist regime.

As he spoke about how the persecution tore apart millions of Chinese families, Wang could not help but think of her own husband who passed away almost 20 years ago.

“It was like my almost healed wounds were torn open again,” she recalled. Her world was turned upside down when her husband of 21 years died.

In January 2002, two-and-a-half years into the regime’s persecution, Wang had left home in an effort to evade the detection of local police who were bent on arresting her for persisting in practicing her faith. As a result, Wang’s husband Yu Yefu, who was not a practitioner, was often harassed by police looking to track down Wang.

One day, a policeman visited Yu at his workplace to find out Wang’s whereabouts. The officer hit Yu, who fought back. Before leaving, the policeman said he would take revenge.

Several days later, Yu was found at home unconscious with the gas turned on. The official cause of death was determined to be gas poisoning. But the family suspected foul play given that he was found with a head wound. He died at the age of 49.

Traditionally in China, the eldest son occupied a special position in the family, bearing primary responsibility for the welfare of the parents and other family members. Yu was the elder son and someone the entire family looked up to and relied on. Upon learning of his death, his 37-year-old younger sister suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Within weeks, his mother became paralyzed out of grief and remained in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Unable to cope with the loss, his father killed himself a year later, saying, “I am joining my son.”

Ten days after her husband’s death, Wang was arrested.

A lawyer said she could be released if she gave up her practice of Falun Gong. She refused, was therefore sentenced to two years in prison. The judge also ordered that her two cars and office space for her business be confiscated. She also lost her qualification to be a business owner because of her prison sentence. As a result, her business selling chemical production equipment folded for good.

Detention

Because she refused to renounce her faith, Wang was arrested and sentenced twice in China, spending a total of seven years in prison.

While in detention, she suffered a range of torture aimed at forcing her to give up her belief. During the first month of imprisonment in the Dalian Detention Center in northeast China’s Liaoning Province in 2002, three prisoners took turns beating her with a three-foot-long whip made with two iron rods of about one-inch diameter twisted together. The beating lasted for about three hours until she ran and hit her head against the wall out of desperation. The torture session left her back soaking in blood.

At the center, Wang was forced to perform slave labor, producing toilet seat covers for eight months. The remaining four months at the detention facility were spent working on making Christmas ornaments.

Wang’s second year in detention was at the Liaoning Women’s Prison where she was forced to make clothes destined for export to Europe. Slave labor days were long, from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week. And sometimes, Wang had to work even more hours to meet deadlines.

Even outside of detention, Wang was not free from the Chinese regime’s oppression. Discrimination and humiliation followed her wherever she went, as a result of the CCP’s expansive disinformation campaign against Falun Gong that turned many in China against the practice’s adherents.

Before her first arrest, Wang owned a successful sales business with annual revenue of over a million yuan (over $150,000). After she was released in 2004, Wang realized that she lost a lot of friends. Her acquaintances would avoid eye contact even when they bumped into her on the street. Her socioeconomic status dropped to the bottom of society.

Epoch Times Photo
Wang Chunyan gathers with Falun Gong practitioners in Washington to mark the 22nd year of the start of the persecution in China, on July 16, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Organ Harvesting

At the November Board of Supervisors meeting in Virginia’s Fluvanna County, Alex Wang turned to the subject of forced organ harvesting—a grisly state-sanctioned practice involving detained Falun Gong practitioners being killed for their organs for sale on the transplant market. A 2019 independent people’s tribunal found that the practice had taken place for years on a substantial scale, and continues today.

As her friend was speaking about the untold number of Falun Gong practitioners killed as a result of his practice, Wang thought of the blood test she took while in Liaoning Women’s Prison in January 2003.

She didn’t know then the reason for the blood test. It didn’t make sense to her to receive physical examinations alongside being tortured. However, when reports about forced organ harvesting first broke in 2006, she realized that the blood test was used for identifying organ compatibility.

At that 2021 meeting, all of these traumatic memories hit Wang in waves, and she tried her best to hold back her tears.

But the words of John Sheridan, chair of the board of supervisors, lifted Wang out of sorrow. She recalled him saying that her presence was the best evidence of the CCP’s abuses because she was a survivor of the persecution. That day, the board unanimously passed a county resolution decrying the CCP’s organ transplant abuses.

Wang told herself then that she was hurting for a good cause.

‘Second Home’

Coming to the United States felt like a second life for Wang.

After serving her first two-year prison term, Wang was arrested again in August 2007 for raising awareness about the persecution in China. After her release five years later, she knew she had to leave China. By that time, over 20 of her close friends had died due to the persecution. To avoid the same thing from happening to her, Wang fled to Thailand in May 2013. On her first day of arrival, she applied for United Nations (U.N.) refugee status.

While she was waiting for her application to be processed in Thailand, Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) wrote letters to the U.N. refugee program to help with her case, urging her case be fast-tracked.

Wang was resettled in the United States two years later. When Wang arrived at New York’s John. F. Kennedy airport in November 2015, a Customs and Border Patrol officer told her that he knew about her case because other Falun Gong practitioners rallied for her rescue in New York City.

“America is a second home to me,” said Wang, who now lives in Fairfax County in Virginia.

“I feel an obligation to return the favor to my fellow Americans, to inform them of the evil of the CCP so they won’t be fooled by it,” she added.

Driven by her newfound mission, she traveled to over 20 counties across the state in 2021. She would visit local officials in the mornings and go to shopping centers in the afternoons to collect signatures in support of the passing of resolutions condemning the persecution and state-sponsored forced organ harvesting.

“I need some support,” she would say as she reached out to strangers in shopping malls.

The 66-year-old would then show people print materials describing her story of detention and torture, or give people flyers about Beijing’s suppression as her English level wasn’t advanced enough to adequately describe what she had gone through in the persecution and her seven years in prison.

To Wang’s surprise, many people expressed their sympathy and signed right away to support a local resolution in support of Falun Gong. People, she said, welcomed her with open arms as a fellow Virginian. Backed by signatures from over 5,000 Virginia residents, over 20 local resolutions were passed in 2021.

Epoch Times Photo
Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) of Virginia introduces Wang Chunyan to the members of the General Assembly in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 25, 2022. (Screenshot of Virginia General Assembly Livestream via The Epoch Times)

Awareness

On Jan. 25, Wang experienced another warm welcome from her adopted home—this time by legislators in Virginia’s lower house.

That day, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) introduced Wang to all House delegates present during the regular session: “Chunyan Wang, a Falun Gong practitioner, who was imprisoned in China for seven years, tortured, and forced to labor making jackets to be sold in the U.S. and Europe.”

Kory was aware of the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China before she had heard Wang’s story. “Four years ago, I had an intern, a student from VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University], who was a Falun Gong member. He had escaped, and the rest of his family was still imprisoned and died while he was working for me,” the delegate told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Wang Chunyan (C) showcases the slave labor jacket she smuggled from Liaoning Women’s Prison in northeast China when Del. Kaye Kory introduces her to members of the Virginia General Assembly during the regular session in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 25, 2022. (Screenshot of Virginia General Assembly Livestream via The Epoch Times)

Del. John Avoli (R-Staunton), who sponsored the resolution, told The Epoch Times that he was proud of its unanimous passing and described the Chinese regime’s forced organ harvesting as “deplorable and needs to be addressed.”

Dr. Tatiana Denning, a family physician in Virginia and a health columnist for The Epoch Times,’ spoke to the House Rules Committee on Feb. 8 in support of the resolution.

She first heard of forced organ harvesting from her patients, a couple who practice Falun Gong, in 2017. “Surely it can’t be that bad. Or I would have heard about it in the news,” she recalled thinking to herself. However, she later researched the issue and concluded that organ harvesting was happening and occurring on a large scale.

“Can you imagine if, after the fact, you learned that someone else was probably killed so that you could have your organ?” she told The Epoch Times, referring to those who receive organ transplants in China.

“I don’t know how you could live with yourself. It would just be devastating.”

The House resolution urges Virginia residents and the medical community to be “fully informed” about the risks associated with transplant tourism to China, to prevent Americans from “unwittingly becoming accomplices” to Beijing’s state-sponsored organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.

Denning underscored this point.

“For the sake of, not just the person that’s losing their life, but the person that has to live with what they’ve been a part of and what they’ve been complicit unknowingly with, I think it’s important to let Americans know.”


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Terri Wu is a Washington-based freelance reporter for The Epoch Times covering education and China-related issues. Send tips to [email protected]