Welcoming Ceremony and Press Conference for
Mrs. Zhang Cuiying in the Reception Room of the Old City Hall
Dear Mrs. Zhang, dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
In my capacity as mayor of the City of Goettingen, I heartily bid you welcome in the old reception hall, the Dorntze in Goettingens Old City Hall. This is the fifth time that the City of Goettingen has partnered with Amnesty International as host for and defender of international human rights affairs.
Since 1995, the following have been guests of our city:
- The sister of Chinese human rights activist Wei Jingsheng, Ms. Wei Shanshan.
- The Israeli lawyer Ms. Felicia Langer who intervened against human rights abuses
- The Iranian intellectual Faraj Sarkouhi who had already been condemned to death for making remarks for independence.
As way of introduction I would like to say that the well-known Ms. Zhang Cuiying is an artist, an Australian citizen of Chinese descent and is a member of the internationally recognized meditation group Falun Gong.
Ms. Nicole Fontaine, President of the European Parliament, reiterated the European Unions stance against the suppression of Falun Gong. Recently, Ms. Fontaine wrote to the French Falun Dafa Association and repeated the viewpoint taken by the European Parliament against the suppression of Falun Gong in China. The letter reads as follows:
[ ] The European parliament has considered this matter very carefully. When the European Parliament ratified its resolution regarding human rights on April 5, 2002, we reminded all nations with our appeal to abstain from suppression of peaceful religious communities or ideological minorities, especially, that China must end her persecution of Falun Gong. [ ]
I must admit that prior to this I had little knowledge of Falun Gong and the brutal suppression in China.
It seems inconceivable that the leadership among the Chinese authorities could act in such a manner, to hunt, hurt and kill people, simply because they wish to conduct their daily lives and cultivate their bodies according to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, based on an ancient Buddhist cultivation system. Statistics show that 50,000 followers of the meditation system have been incarcerated; 10,000 are slaving away in Forced Labour Camps and 400 have already been tortured to death. And that is happening in China, whose president, Jiang Zemin, is expected as guest of honour at a banquet in the historic Emperors Palace in Goslar/Germany.
What is it that frightens the Chinese leadership to such an extent that they had to forge ahead with this unprecedented mass persecution since 1999?
Reports about human rights abuses are not given enough of the necessary attention and recognition they demand. Too many media reports about wars, brute force and catastrophes abound. What these media reports ignore, though, is the fact that many of the acts of terror and brute force arise out of transgressions against human rights. Perhaps by our efforts we can make it possible today to clearly point out this inter relationship and therefore contribute to peoples understanding.
We are very fortunate indeed that since 1949, Article 4 of the constitution has guaranteed us to freely practice our religious belief system, to have freedom of conscience and freedom to express a worldview. We have become accustomed to this freedom, although prior to 1945 we had gotten to know a different era. Thats why now I think we not only have a specific reason to be appreciative and grateful, but that it must also be our duty to point out and make people aware of human rights transgressions.
Human rights privileges and a democratic order are not to be taken for granted. That makes it vital to include dialogue about human values and virtue in a guide for our societies. These values are truly the basic laws that direct our democratic order. Human dignity, freedom of religion, tolerance and equality before the law are included in this. But in addition we must also include the values represented by Falun Gong, Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.
I wish you success in your undertaking and wish for open ears and open hearts!
April 4, 2002
(Original text in German)
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