Dear Mr XXX
Thank you for your letters of 14 June to The Lord Chancellor, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean and Baroness Amos regarding the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese authorities. I have been asked to reply.
We have been deeply concerned at the treatment of Falun Gong leaders and adherents since the exercise-based Qigong group was banned in July 1999. Believing the movement to be a threat to state security, the Chinese authorities have engaged in a repressive programme of "re-educating" ordinary adherents and handing down excessive sentences against the Movement's leaders. There have been numerous reports of harsh treatment in custody or during interrogation.
Through our policy of dialogue with the Chinese, we have made it clear that such actions are unacceptable and in direct contravention of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in October 1998 but has yet to ratify. Falun Gong has been raised at the highest levels with the Chinese authorities. The Prime Minister did so with Chinese President Jiang Zemin on 19 October 1999. Robin Cook, when Foreign Secretary, pressed Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, in New York on 12 September for swift action to improve respect for human fights in China.
We also raise the Chinese authorities' mistreatment of Falun Gong adherents during the regular UK/China human rights dialogues with China. During the last round held in Beijing on 12-14 February. in addition to rehearsing our general concerns, we also expressed concern at the manner in which Falun Gong demonstrators were man handled in Tiananmen Square on - -1 October 2000 and on I January. We sought details on a number of individual Falun Gong. [...]
More recently, Audrey Glover, Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights, during a visit to China on 9 July called on the Chinese authorities to cease the use of administrative detention, a system used against Falun Gong adherents which allows for detention without trial.
Dialogue does not prevent us from being critical of China's record in public. When the then-Minister of State, John Battle, addressed the UN Commission on Human Rights (CUR) 01122 March, he expressed the Government's concern at the situation in Tibet, the continued detention and harassment of democracy activists, religious practitioners and Falun Gong adherents and at the excessive use of the death penalty in China. His remarks provoked an immediate right of reply from the Chinese delegation, which condemned his comments.
The Chinese authorities can be in no doubt about the strength of our feelings on this important issue. We will continue to press them to respect the human rights of all Chinese citizens including Falun Gong adherents.
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