United States: Mary Kay Spokesperson Claims the Controversial Pledge No Longer in Use, No Job Terminations Occurred

According to Agency France Presse's report from Washington on November 11, 2003, a few days ago, a high-powered US congressional trio advised the Dallas, Texas based cosmetics giant Mary Kay Inc. to stand up to China's demands that sales associates swear not to join the banned Falun Gong spiritual group. But a company spokesman told AFP that the policy was already being changed and that no one had been fired because of refusing to sign the pledge (see also http://faluninfo.net/displayAnArticle.asp?ID=8065).

According to sources in China, in September of 2003, during Mary Kay's Shenzhen branch head's inauguration, Falun Gong practitioners told coworkers of their cultivation practise and the benefits from practising Falun Dafa. Tipped-off by a reporter, three Falun Gong practitioners were arrested. Afterwards, the "610 Office," which was established by Jiang Zemin to specifically persecute Falun Gong, further pressured the company demanding that it comply with the office's directives. They threatened the company that otherwise the regular operation of Mary Kay in China would be affected. Under pressure from the "610 Office," a Mary Kay subsidiary in Shenzhen City required that all employees either sign a "behavioural standards statement," or be forced to leave the company. Several employees have already lost their jobs because they refused to sign such a statement.

According to the report, representatives Tom Lantos, Chris Smith and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all well-known human rights advocates, wrote to Mary Kay CEO Richard Rogers to demand action.

"It is unconscionable that Mary Kay Inc. would decide to play a front-line role in enforcing the Chinese Government's brutal campaign against a particular spiritual movement in China," the letter said.

Lantos said he had established that Chinese authorities had ordered the Mary Kay sales force to sign a "behavioural standards" statement in August or face being fired. "We are shocked that an American company, particularly one which purports to put 'God first,' would be willing to participate in the Chinese government's brutal campaign to identify and persecute members of a particular spiritual movement."

According to the report, Mary Kay Inc. spokesman Randall Oxford told AFP that the firm was already in the process of changing the statement put to employees before receiving the Lantos letter. "When we learnt how the pledge was being interpreted, we knew we had to change it and we are in the process of doing that now," said Oxford.

He further claimed that no-one had been fired because of their refusal to sign the statement, but that one person saw their employment in China where Mary Kay has a 120,000 strong sales force, terminated because of "multiple illegal activities."

The Clearwisdom Website has information that more than 822 practitioners have been tortured or beaten to death in China over the past four years since the persecution began on July 20, 1999.

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