Students for Falun Gong (SFFG) members attended the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington, D.C. to help raise awareness of the ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa in mainland China. While the IRF Roundtable has an 8-year history, this is the first year the IRF Summit has been held open to the public. SFFG members attended the event on July 13-15 and clarified the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong through different avenues during the 3-day conference.
SFFG members attended various plenary sessions and breakout room events over the course of the summit, which allowed them to engage with a wide variety of conference attendees and inform more people about the persecution of Falun Gong. At every corner of the summit venue, the Students for Falun Gong team received solidarity and support from current and former government officials, national security experts, various organizations, and summit attendees. Among them were Commissioner Nadine Meanza at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, former EU Commissioner and Slovak Minister Jan Figel, former United States Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, President Thomas Farr of the Religious Freedom Institute, CEO Jeremy Frith from Barnabas Aid, President and CEO John Boyd and Vice President James Chen from the Institute for Global Engagement, BPSOS President Thang Dinh Nguyen, and Public Policy Scholar Farahnaz Ispahani from the Wilson Center.
Students for Falun Gong was among one of 46 booths in the main exhibit hall at the International Religious Freedom Summit. IRF attendees of various ages and professions visited the booth to learn more about the persecution of Falun Gong. Most people who stopped by the Students for Falun Gong booth were already familiar with the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong. Those who did not know anything about Falun Gong and its persecution were shocked to hear about the brutal torture and and live organ harvesting performed on practitioners in China.
Students for Falun Gong was also one of the youth-led organizations that represented the Youth Leaders Track throughout the IRF Summit. During the conference, the SFFG team hosted an 80-minute presentation to give audience members an in-depth overview of the essence of Falun Gong, the persecution of its adherents, and the past 22 years of peaceful resistance. About two dozen audience members attended the presentation and had a lively discussion with the speakers following the talk. Many audience members were concerned and worried upon learning about forced organ harvesting, commenting on the horrendous nature of the crime and how unethical it was for Americans to pay for such an organ transplant.
Over the course of the summit, SFFG was able to clarify the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong to religious leaders, embassy members, Parliament members, entrepreneurs, media spokespeople and press, young interns in international studies, and more.
Everyone who stopped by the Students for Falun Gong booth was very supportive of Falun Gong. Many expressed support, solidarity, and prayers for the Falun Gong practitioners in China. Many attendees also wanted pictures with the banner at the booth that read “Freedom for Falun Gong” and expressed profound gratitude towards the team members for being young voices for Falun Gong in America.