We as European Friends of Falun Gong would like to express our deep concern at the treatment of certain Falun Gong practitioners by the French police during the recent Chinese New Year celebrations in Paris.
A large delegation of Chinese officials had arrived by invitation from the French government to attend the parade on Saturday 24th January and other activities over several days. On the 24th, seven practitioners from the UK were arrested, handcuffed and manhandled into police vans while standing on the Champs Elysees and were detained for up to five hours until the afternoon’s parade had finished. The police’s explanation was an interesting one – they were under instruction to arrest anyone wearing yellow scarves or fleeces with Falun Gong logos or writing on them. A further twenty or so from other countries were also arrested on the 26th and 27th January at other events for exactly the same reason.
It is deeply disturbing that a group of peaceful, law-abiding citizens should be treated in this way in a country which claims to be one of the largest democracies in the western world. In fact the French government and police are well aware of the peaceful reputation of Falun Gong practitioners wherever they have appealed in the past against the Chinese government’s persecution of Falun Gong. In fact they had been given no logical grounds to have acted in this way. We believe that these excessive actions against practitioners in Paris were partly the result of pressure brought to bear by the Chinese embassy in Paris who wanted to avoid any disruption to the celebrations and the French authorities were doubtless keen to avoid any embarrassment for their lucrative guests. This would be completely consistent with other incidents in the last couple of years in other countries.
We would therefore appeal to the French government to issue an unconditional apology to the practitioners who were arrested last week, and to give a total assurance that this kind of flagrant abuse of civil liberties should not be repeated in the future. It is totally unacceptable in today’s society that a democratic country can be allowed to behave with impunity in this way, and can lower itself to carry out similar abuses of human rights against Falun Gong practitioners as are being carried out by China itself.
European Friends of Falun Gong
3rd February 2004
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