"European Friends of Falun Gong" Letter Asks for Public Apology from French Authorities

29th January 2004

Dear Mr President,

We would like to express our deep concern at the way certain Falun Gong practitioners were treated by the French police during the Chinese New Year celebrations in Paris on Saturday 24th January.

About 20 of them, including 7 from the UK, were arrested, handcuffed and put in police vans while standing on the Champs Elysees and were detained by the police for up to five hours until after the afternoon’s parade had finished. The police explained that they had been arrested because they were wearing yellow scarves and fleeces with Falun Gong words on them.

The practitioners were among hundreds who had arrived in Paris from all over the world to join in the celebrations of the Chinese New Year along with hundreds of thousands of people, including a large delegation of Chinese government officials.

The treatment of those detained was excessive in the extreme, bearing in mind the previous impeccably peaceful behaviour of Falun Gong practitioners at other events around the world, where they have appealed against the Chinese government’s brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China; the French authorities were fully aware of this peaceful reputation, which makes it all the more shocking and disappointing to hear of the arrest and detention of practitioners in this way. It is our belief that the French authorities gave in to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Paris to crack down on any dissenting voices during the parade.

We believe therefore that the French authorities should make a public apology to the Falun Gong practitioners for an episode which contravenes the basic democratic right of all citizens to demonstrate peacefully. It is totally unacceptable that the French authorities should allow the same sort of human rights abuse currently taking place in China to be transferred to the streets of one of the largest democracies in the western world.

We hope you can help to avoid any repeat of this action in the future by bringing these events to the attention of the French government. Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely
Mr John Dee (Vice-Chairman)

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