Ambassador Mark Palmer hosted the rally on Capitol Hill to condemn five years of systematic persecution against Falun Gong in China.
“[Former Chinese leader] Jiang Zemin has terrorized the Chinese people for so long, [and] he must go,” said Ambassador Mark Palmer, a 26-veteran of the U.S. State Department and Vice-chairman of the Board for Freedom House.
“It will happen,” Palmer told a crowd of over 1,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong who had traveled from more than 20 different countries to attend a series of events to be held in Washington DC over the next several days, beginning with the rally on Thursday.
The rally began with the introduction of over 120 children and young adults who had biked to Washington DC from as far away as Canada as part of the “Save the Kids Ride” project.
Inspired by an Australian toddler whose father was tortured to death in China because he practiced Falun Gong (report), “Save the Kids Ride” aims to raise awareness about how the persecution against Falun Gong in China also targets children by breaking families apart, forcing children to undergo state-run indoctrination or even subjecting them to physical abuse and torture.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (right) and Congressman Joseph M. Hoeffel III delivered speeches commending Falun Gong practitioners for their courageous, non-violent appeals to end the persecution in China.
Ros-Lehtinen has introduced several bills in the U.S. House of Representatives addressing the systematic “eradication” of Falun Gong carried out by Jiang and his faction of allies within the Chinese Government.(news)
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen talks with Yeong-ching Foo. Ms. Foo’s fiancé Dr. Charles Lee is a U.S. citizen currently jailed in China due to his Falun Gong practice
Also speaking at the rally were Faith J.H. McDonnel, the Director of the Religious Liberty Program at the Institute of Religion and Democracy (website), Jennifer L. Windsor, Executive Director for Freedom House (website) and Ann Buwalda, Director of Jubilee Campaign USA (website).
United States Senator Paul Sarbanes (R-MD) and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dennis Moore (D-KA) each sent statements to be read at the rally by Congressional staff or volunteer rally organizers.
Dan Fefferman, the Executive Director with the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (website), also sent a statement that was read at the rally.
Falun Gong-related activities will continue in Washington DC with over 3,000 expected on Friday to participate in a human “Great Wall of Courage,” extending from the World War II memorial to the Chinese Embassy. Also on Friday, live demonstrations of torture methods used against Falun Gong practitioners in China will be exhibited in several locations throughout U.S. Capital.