Dear Mr Yan:
Thank you for your letter of 19 October 2002 to the minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Downer, concerning the detention of your sister Yan HaiYu in China. I have been asked to reply on Mr. Downer's behalf.
The Government is concerned about Yan Haiyu's situation and will seek information on her welfare from the Chinese Government, through the Australian Embassy in Beijing.
Australia considers that China's ban on Falun Gong breaches fundamental rights of assembly and free expression. Australia also believes China's treatment of Falun Gong members in China contravenes the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed, but not yet ratified, and the convention Against Torture.
Australia has expressed its views to China many times, and at the highest levels. Australia has raised China's treatment of Falun Gong in various rounds of the bilateral Human-Rights Dialogue, most recently in August 2002. Regrettably, China's response at those talks did not suggest any softening of its position was likely. But the Government will continue to pursue the issue.
Thank you for bringing your views to the attention of the Government.
China Political and External Section
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