On the 9th of February 2004, Fingal County Council passed a resolution condemning China’s persecution of Falun Gong and strongly arguing that the Chinese Government release the two Chinese students Liu Feng and Yang Fang and help them return to Ireland to continue their studies. At the same time, two other councils, the South Dublin Council and the Dun Laoghaire Council, passed similar resolutions. The three resolutions were passed unanimously, followed by a very interesting supporting debate. They have also decided to send a copy of the resolution to the three County Councils, as well as to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Chinese Embassy.
Mr. Sean Dolphin, the President of the Council, expressed his view that though Ireland is a small country, he hopes Irish people know what kind of persecution is going on inside China and that everyone should try their best to let the Chinese Government hear our voice: Stop persecuting Falun Gong! Mr. Dolphin also added, “Ireland will take the Chair of the European Union from the 26th of February this year and administer the human rights dialogue between the European Union and China. We hope our Foreign Minister and Prime Minister can raise these matters with the Chinese Officials to ensure that they know our attitudes on such an issue.”
Councillor Ms. Ruth Coppinger said, “I am aware of China’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The resolution which we have passed today is related to two Chinese students, Liu Feng and Yang Fang. They are still being detained inside China, and we urge that they get them back to Ireland as soon as possible.”
Liu Feng and Yang Fang both studied at Irish colleges. They came from Dalian and Shenyang Province in China. During the Christmas break in 1999, Liu Feng and Yang Fang went back to China for a short holiday; they were arrested because they peacefully appealed against the persecution of Falun Gong. They were released later but were banned from coming back to Ireland to continue their studies. In 2002, Yang Fang planned to return Ireland again, but she was prevented from getting on the plane and was sent back to her hometown of Shenyang. In the same year, Liu Feng was planning to return to Ireland as well. However, he was kidnapped while shopping and later sent to Dalian Yaojia Detention Centre. According to information from the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, after being illegally detained in Dalian Labour Camp for some time, Liu Feng was sent to hospital outside the labour camp. This exposes one of the methods used by the police to cover up their crimes after torturing Falun Gong practitioners to the edge of death. Therefore, Liu Feng’s situation is very worrying.
On the issue of many western countries trying to keep good relationships with China’s trade unions and ignoring human rights issue, Ms. Coppinger stated, “The benefits of trade shouldn’t out-match human rights affairs. This is very important. I believe that our government, Europe and North America should not turn a blind eye and ignore the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and their beliefs inside China.’
Councillor Mr. Robert Kelly has known Falun Gong for three years. He is very interested in the popular exercise practice, which teaches people to meditate and cultivate their hearts.
A spokesman for the Irish Falun Dafa Association expressed that the aim of this resolution is very good. In its context, the urgent appeal to stop China persecuting Falun Gong is stated clearly, as well as the request that the two students return safely to Ireland to continue their studies.
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