Truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance seem to be “eternal values” that “we should cherish, we should preach, and seek to live up to,” the UK’s Lord Philip Hunt of King Heath said ahead of the 30th World Falun Dafa Day on Friday.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, a practice of meditative exercises with an emphasis on moral character, was first introduced to the public in China on May 13, 1992. That date has since been adopted by its practitioners as “Falun Dafa Day,” with celebrations held on or near that date.
Speaking to NTD on Wednesday about the upcoming anniversary of the discipline’s public introduction, Hunt expressed his appreciation of the practice’s doctrine of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
“When you look at all the challenges facing the world today, it seems to me those are eternal values, which we should cherish, we should preach, and seek to live up to,” he said. “And that’s why I very much support the Falun Gong [practitioners] in their wish to exercise those beliefs, to have freedom of expression, and to be protected against the awful things that have been happening to them in China.
Hunt was referring to the ongoing persecution against Falun Gong in China that has lasted for almost 23 years.
Following its introduction to the public, Falun Dafa gained an estimated 70–100 million followers within just a few years.
Paranoid about the number of adherents, and believing Falun Gong was a threat to its atheist ideology, in July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of Jiang Zemin launched a large-scale persecution with the aim of crushing Falun Gong.
Inside China, overnight 100 million people became enemies of the state as tens of thousands began to be shipped off to detention centres and labour camps.
In 2019, an independent people’s tribunal unanimously concluded that prisoners of conscience had been—and continued to be—killed in China for their organs “on a significant scale.” It noted that adherents of Falun Gong had been one of the main sources of organ supply.
The tribunal published a 160-page report on March 1, 2020, reaffirming its previous conclusion, stating that there was “no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the Tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing.”
Having campaigned against forced live organ harvesting in China for a number of years, Hunt said he is “incredibly impressed with the way Falun Gong have upheld their beliefs and values in the face of such awful discrimination and dreadful acts against them,” and “the dignity with which they have really held themselves up.”
Hunt told NTD he believes Friday’s celebration, as well as the reflection, is “one of both significance and poignance.”
Coming from a public health background, Hunt has championed the effort in the UK Parliament to stop forced organ harvesting, what he describes as “one of the most terrible crimes” he believes he has ever encountered.
His latest accomplishment was successfully pushing the government to ban British citizens and residents from travelling abroad for commercial dealings of organs—a practice already forbidden within the UK.
Hunt said with an increasing awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong, many British lawmakers have been campaigning on the issue “on a very regular basis” and will continue to do so, “whatever the challenge, whatever the obstacles.”
The Labour peer said one of the most interesting aspects of his campaign is that it enjoys cross-party support.
“I’ve had huge support from Conservative peers, from non-aligned crossbencher peers, from Liberal Democrats peers, and from my own party, the Labour Party. We’ve all come together to do what we can to improve the situation for Falun Gong, and in particular, to see an outlawing of forced organ harvesting. And we aren’t going to give up. We’re going to continue to press our government to do what it can to put pressure onto China. And we’re going to work globally with many other parliamentarians and organisations to stop this appalling practice.”
Jane Werrell of NTD and Simon Veasey contributed to this report.