Irish and Swedish MEPs Raise Questions to the EU Council

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Irish and Swedish MEPs Raise Questions to the EU Council


By John Cushnahan (PPE-DE)

To the Council

Subject: Falun Gong

Has the Council registered its strong disapproval to the Chinese authorities regarding their treatment of Falun Gong practitioners? If so, what response has it received?


BY Cecilia Malmstrom (ELDR)

To the Council

Subject: Human Rights in China

Since the invasion of Tibet in 1949, the communist regime has been guilty of extensive violations of human rights. More than a million people have been executed in the effort to stifle dissent and occupy Tibet. In recent years, the violations have intensified and the situation in Tibet is now reminiscent of the period during the Cultural Revolution of the 60s and 70s.

As the repression in Tibet takes place, the Chinese regime has also escalated its persecution of the practitioners of Falun Gong. The government looks uneasily on a movement, which in the space of a few years has grown bigger than the XX Party, though it has no political ambitions. Innocent people are thrown into jail, others are persecuted and many have been killed in the Chinese Government's raids on the Falun Gong.

The EU's relations with China have for a number of years been based on 'critical dialogue'. Nevertheless, China continues to commit violations of the most basic human rights. No opposition is allowed and anyone trying to point out alternatives to the communist dictatorship is severely punished. There are no signs of any improvement in democracy or freedom of expression. The EU and its Member States maintain contact with China at several levels. Unfortunately, however, human rights issues have not been given a position of prominence in the talks taking take place. In previous years, in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the EU Member States have elected not to support a resolution against repression in China.

In the light of developments in China, does the Council consider that the EU should review its policy of 'critical dialogue' with that country and thereby the initiative this year for a resolution condemning China's violation of Human Rights in the UN Commission on Human Rights?

P-0444/01 and P-0481/01

Joint Reply
(10 July 2001)

The restrictions on freedom of religion and belief in China are a recurrent item on the agenda of the EU-China human rights dialogs. The issue was identified by the Council, in its conclusions of 22 and 23 January 2001, as one of the specific areas in which the EU considers that the dialog process should secure success.

The EU has on several occasions expressed its deep concern to the Chinese authorities regarding the measures taken against followers of religious and spiritual movements, including Falun Gong practitioners. This matter was also discussed at the last round of the human rights dialogue, which took place on 22 and 23 February in Stockholm. In fact, on 2 February, the regime in Beijing carried out a change in procedure in preparation for the upcoming round of the EU-China human rights dialogue. The EU side gave the Chinese authorities a list of individual cases requesting that clemency measures be taken, and in that context orally mentioned the names of Falun Gong followers Li Xiaobing, Li Xiaomei and Yu Changxin.

There is little information on the fate of Falun Gong practitioners. The Hong Kong-based information centre for Human Rights and Democracy counted 98 such deaths nation-wide between July 1999 and mid-January 2001. It should be noted that 46 have occurred since October 2000, suggesting an increase in the incidence of mistreatment of followers in recent months. According to the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, around 450 have been sentenced by courts, several hundred have been committed to psychiatric institutions, and as many as 10,000 are currently serving "re-education" labour sentences.

The EU's position is that it does not want to engage in a discussion on the nature of the movement, but that about the lack of respect for fundamental freedoms in China, including the freedom of expression, religion and association, and about the ongoing violations of human rights, in particular of Falun Gong followers. In the same conclusions, the Council agreed on the approach to be adopted with regard to the United States' decision to table a draft resolution on human rights in China at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Human rights.

(Note: John Cushnahan is an MEP from Ireland; Cecilia Malmstrom is an MEP from Sweden)

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