Lawyers' Open Letter to the Government of France

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Ten lawyers attending the Stockholm conference on Genocide cosigned an open letter to the French government to express their strong concern after hearing about the detention of Falun Gong practitioners in Paris.

An Open Letter to the Government of France:

We, human rights attorneys from the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain, are deeply disturbed to hear that scores of practitioners of Falun Gong spiritual movement were detained yesterday by the police in Paris. It appears that these individuals were singled out for detention simply because they were wearing yellow scarves or yellow shirts, indicating that they were practitioners of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual meditation exercise now banned in China. We understand that the individuals who were detained were peaceful and had not harmed or threatened anyone. This incident occurred during the official state visit to France by Hu Jintao, Secretary General of the Communist Party and President of the People's Republic of China. We regret that the French government failed to demonstrate its support for human rights in China and to urge that the Chinese government respect freedoms of conscience, expression, and association. The French government, through these acts of repression, has not only sent the wrong message to the Chinese government, it regrettably appears to have violated basic principles of civil and human rights. The French government's action raises disturbing questions about whether France is willing to restrict hard-won freedoms solely to appease the Communist Chinese state.

While together here at an international conference on genocide in Stockholm, Sweden, in affiliation with the Stockholm International Forum, we would like to call on the government of France to immediately initiate an investigation of this incident, and to ensure that essential human rights to freedom of association and freedom of belief are fully respected. France has been known as a democratic country with a long-standing history of liberty and freedom. What occurred yesterday brings doubt to the free world that France intends to respect that history.

Stockholm, January 28, 2004

Signed by:

Lana Han
Georges Henri Beauthier
Theresa Chu
Carlos Iglesias
Joshua Sondheimer
Mikala Hallund
Terri Marsh
Erkki Kannisto
Clive M. Ansley
Peter Bergquist

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