During the 61st Session of United Nations Human Rights Commission, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights announced last year's many human rights reports and human rights dialogues between the Commission and China, including reports on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The excerpts from the seven Special Rapporteurs' reports regarding the People's Republic of China are as follows:
On 14 June 2004, the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance sent a communication to the Government of China in connection with information received according to which, since 20 July 1999, when the Chinese Government banned Falun Gong, over 1,600 practitioners of Falun Gong had been tortured or beaten, several hundred had been given prison sentences of over 20 years, others had been interned in mental hospitals and a high number of practitioners had been sent to labour camps without trial. An unspecified number of practitioners were allegedly being held without trial. It was also reported that at least 907 practitioners had died while in detention. (1)
|Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Ms. Asma Jahangir||Special Rapporteur on torture Theo van Boven|
Reports indicated that the campaign against the Falun Gong continued unabated across China. According to information received, practitioners of Falun Gong continued to be subject to ill-treatment and torture by State officials in their attempts to force the practitioners to renounce their belief in Falun Gong. It was also reported that individual practitioners who had been subjected to torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment whilst detained had not been provided appropriate and effective remedies. In particular, the system of administrative detention, reeducation through labour (RTL), reportedly continued to be imposed on Falun Gong practitioners. It was reported that RTL involves detention without charge or trial, and without judicial review, for between one and three years ¡V which can be further extended by one year. People receiving terms of RTL allegedly have no right of access to a lawyer and there is no hearing for them to defend themselves.
On 15 October 2004, the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, wrote a letter to the Chinese Government in which they expressed their concern. Over the past five years, hundreds of cases of alleged violations of the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners have been brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteurs. Many of these allegations have been reported back to the Chinese authorities and were reflected in reports of the Special Rapporteurs to the Commission on Human Rights.
The Special Rapporteurs were concerned that reports of arrest, detention, ill treatment, torture, denial of adequate medical treatment, sexual violence, deaths, and unfair trial of members of so-called "heretical organisations," in particular Falun Gong practitioners, are increasing. They were concerned that these allegations may reflect a deliberate and institutionalised policy of the authorities to target specific groups such as the Falun Gong.
According to information received, on 10 June 1999, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party established an office for dealing with the Falun Gong, commonly referred to as the 610 Office (for the date of its establishment), and officially later as the State Council Office for the Prevention and Handling of Cults. This institution reportedly was given a mandate to repress Falun Gong and other "heretical organisations", and is operating outside of the rule of law. Reports indicate that the Falun Gong was officially banned on 22 July 1999 through a decision of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and since then several decisions, notices, regulations and other judicial interpretations have been issued by the Government and judicial authorities to legitimise the official repression against "heretical organisations", including the Falun Gong.
In addition, according to reports, a media campaign was launched against the Falun Gong and Falun Gong practitioners in June 1999. It is believed that this campaign followed a protest gathering in Beijing on 25 April 1999, involving more than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners.
Further reports indicate that in February 2001, the Central Committee of the Communist Party called for a Central Work Conference of high-level party officials. The purpose of this meeting was reportedly to adopt a plan calling for the formation of local "anti-cult task forces" in all universities, State enterprises and social organisations, to reinforce the "610 Office" and strengthen local control over the Falun Gong.
An analysis of reports received by the Special Rapporteurs indicates that the alleged human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners, including systematic arrest and detention, are part of a pattern of repression against members of this group. Most of those arrested are reportedly heavily fined and released, but many are detained and ill-treated in order to force them to formally renounce Falun Gong. Those who refuse are sent to re-education through labour camps, where reportedly torture is used routinely, resulting in many deaths.
The Special Rapporteurs were further concerned at reports that few Falun Gong practitioners are prosecuted. When charges are laid they reportedly include allegations such as "disturbing social order", "assembling to disrupt public order", "stealing or leaking State secrets" or "using a heretical organisation to undermine the implementation of the law". According to the information received, those prosecuted have been unfairly tried and many have received lengthy prison sentences. In this respect it is reported that on 5 November 1999, a Notice issued by the Supreme People's Court instructed all local courts to do their "political duty" in bringing to trial and punishing "severely" those charged with "crimes of heretical organisations", "particularly Falun Gong", and to handle these cases "under the leadership of the Party committees".
(1) To date 2164 Falun Gong practitioners are verified to have died as a result of persecution.
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