German District Government Apologises to Falun Dafa Practitioners

According to a public announcement made by the German Falun Dafa Information Centre, Falun Dafa practitioners will withdraw a lawsuit filed at the Administrative Court against the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Sachsen state. This is because the District Government of Braunschweig has issued a public apology for the police’s infringement of Falun Gong practitioners' basic human rights when Jiang Zemin visited Goslar last year. The German Falun Dafa Association and the appeal plaintiffs acknowledged the apology of the District Government of Braunschweig and expressed thanks for their sincere promise to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

An Apology and the Withdrawal of the Appeal

During Jiang Zemin’s state visit to Germany in April 2002, German police interfered with Falun Gong practitioners’ peaceful demonstrations under pressure imposed by the Chinese government. Several cases of infringement of Falun Gong practitioners' basic human rights occurred. The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Berlin has expressed apologies to Falun Gong regarding this matter.

On the first anniversary of Jiang’s visit, the German Falun Dafa Association and several Falun Gong practitioners filed a lawsuit to the administrative court against the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the corresponding ministries in the states of Sachsen, Niedersachen and Brandenburg. The court was asked to verify if the acts taken by the police on Falun Gong practitioners during Jiang’s state visit were legitimate. The purpose of this action is to prevent such things from happening again in the future.

Goslar is an ancient city located in Central Sachsen. During Jiang’s stay, manhole covers were sealed shut and a concert was cancelled. The appeal filed against the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Sachsen is mainly to investigate human rights infringements committed by Goslar’s police, including the confiscation of SOS flyers distributed by Falun Gong practitioners to let people know more about the human rights abuses happening under Jiang’s orders. Since Goslar’s police force was managed by the District Government of Braunschweig, the lawsuit was handed over to that District Government.

In the letter of apology, the District Government of Braunschweig wrote:

“During Jiang Zemin’s visit to Goslar in April 2004, the police did not infringe the basic human rights of Falun Gong intentionally.”

“The series of acts taken by the police in Goslar were not directed against Falun Gong. These acts had no intention of damaging or undermining the reputation of Falun Dafa.”

“The District Government of Braunschweig feels regretful that individual cases of human rights infringement should have occurred during that period.”

“The District government of Braunschweig would like to apologise for the confiscation of the SOS flyers printed in German.”

The attorney representing the plaintiffs said the District Government of Braunschweig also indicated in the apology letter that they would stop similar matters from happening in the future. If there is another state visit, they will communicate with Falun Gong beforehand so as to avoid violations of basic human rights.

Protests in China and Germany are Different

Karoline Koerper, a college student in Heidelberg, South Germany, is one of the plaintiffs who filed an appeal against the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Sachsen. When Jiang Zemin visited Goslar in April 2002, she distributed leaflets to tell people what kind of person Jiang Zemin really is and how he instigated the persecution against Falun Gong. However, the German police took away her flyers under pressure from the Chinese government. This infringed Karoline's right to stage a protest, which is endowed by German law.

Karoline told the reporter that Falun Gong practitioners continued to negotiate with the District Government of Braunschweig after the appeal was filed. The two sides held a frank and sincere dialogue. The District Government of Braunschweig sensed that the acts taken by the German police were inappropriate. Therefore, they issued an official letter of apology. Dafa practitioners also felt that they had achieved their aim: To obtain justice and to demonstrate that there was nothing wrong with their protest during Jiang’s visit. It was unnecessary to pursue the legal process any further. Therefore, the appeal was withdrawn.

Karoline continued, “German police violated the law by confiscating my flyers when I distributed them in Goslar. However, they apologised to me soon after they realised their mistake. In contrast, my Chinese friend Xiong Wei was arrested by the police and sentenced to two years of labour “re-education” because she distributed flyers in Beijing. I have been to China, hoping to tell the people over there that Falun Gong is good and should not be suppressed. I went to Tiananmen Square with several western friends. There were a lot of policemen in the Square, and I got separated from my friends. I took out a small banner, opened it up, and sang in Chinese “Faun Dafa is Good”. The police moved towards me immediately, grabbed me and fiercely pushed me into a police car. My western friends were also arrested. All of our personal belongings were confiscated. Each of us was interrogated separately, and then deported back to Germany within 24 hours. Making a protest in China and in Germany is totally different.”

The Next Step of the Lawsuit

Mrs. Waltraute, a representative of the German Falun Dafa Association, said the apology that the District Government made for the police officers’ confiscation of Falun Gong banners illustrated that practitioners’ acts and manners were all appropriate and legitimate. She also revealed that the letter mentioned that the police would hold further talks with the Falun Dafa Association to ensure that incidents violating the basic human rights of Falun Gong practitioners will never occur again.

After Jiang’s visit, two German human rights organisations (the International Human Rights Association and the Association for Threatened Peoples) wrote a joint letter to the German Chancellor. It is mentioned in the letter that the general public has witnessed Chinese undercover policemen incite the German police to forcefully remove people. This is absolutely unimaginable in German society.

Regarding the apology letter, Mrs. Waltraute said it is a pity that no apology letter has ever been received from the Chinese government. There have been so many Falun Gong practitioners brutally tortured or persecuted to death but nobody has ever offered an apology for it. Instead, more people were persecuted. Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese President, should take full responsibility for his large-scale human rights violations in China. She said Falun Gong practitioners are preparing to file a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin for crimes of genocide and anti-human behaviour.

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