FAO: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
24th February 2004
Over the past several years the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue has been held in secret without the public having any idea of what was discussed. Why there might be such a lack of transparency is unclear but either way these secret discussions have proven to be totally ineffective in terms of improving the human rights situation in China. The next EU-China Human Rights Dialogue will be held in Dublin on 26th and 27th February and I call on the Irish Presidency to take the innovative step and make the meeting open to the media and the public.
So far the Irish government have shown compassion and understanding of their moral duty in providing asylum to Falun Gong practitioners. The government should however also be voicing strong condemnation of the on-going persecution of Falun Gong in China. According to NGO reports the verified number of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in China has now reached more than 880 people. New reports of brutal tortures continue to be received everyday from China.
The Irish government should use their Presidency of the EU to take a stand and make a strong request urging China to desist in its persistent abuse of Falun Gong practitioners' rights immediately.
In recent times a disturbing pattern has started to emerge in Europe whereby the Chinese authorities seem to be influencing EU countries' policies towards Falun Gong. In the last few months there have been several serious cases in Iceland, Germany, and France where local police have arbitrarily detained peaceful Falun Gong practitioners.
In the past, EU countries have been very supportive in pushing China to improve its human rights record and EU member states should hold tight to this tradition of freedom and respect for human rights. This proud custom should not be compromised for economic and trade interests as seems to be the emerging trend. The rights of Falun Gong practitioners to the freedom of expression, demonstration and their right to attend community cultural events in EU member states should be as equally guaranteed as those rights belonging to other citizens.
I would, therefore call on you again, Taoiseach, to make this EU-China Human Rights Dialogue an open and transparent event, where the Chinese authorities are held accountable for their persistent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
I look forward to a positive response on this matter.
Patricia McKenna MEP
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