Speech from Non-Governmental Organisation Friends of Falun Gong Europe on World Human Rights Day

Friends of Falun Gong Europe is a Europe-based, nonprofit human rights organisation founded by Europeans concerned about the persecution of Falun Gong. Their mission is to support the freedom of belief of persons who practise Falun Gong. This speech was given at a press conference opposite the London Chinese Embassy on December the 10th, World human Rights Day.

Today is a very important day in the calendar of world events. World Human Rights Day marks the day on which people all over the world remember those who, for reasons of their political or religious beliefs, are suffering persecution at the hands of the government of the country to which they belong.

In the case of Falun Gong practitioners in China, the most severe persecution imaginable has been going on for over five years now. Despite condemnation from many quarters, the Chinese Government, mainly at the instigation of former President Jiang Zemin and also under the present leader Hu Jintao, has conducted a policy of persecution against Falun Gong which has seen over 1000 practitioners die as a result of torture in police custody, and many thousands more still languish in prisons, labour camps and mental hospitals, suffering unspeakably horrific conditions of squalor, torture and deprivation, with little or no prospect of an end to their misery.

The governments of the world are aware of this situation. Our own government holds annual talks with Chinese Foreign Affairs representatives both in China and the UK to discuss China’s appalling human rights record; delegations are sent to China on a regular basis to see the situation for themselves. But still nothing changes.

Why is this? Are the findings of these government reports simply swept under the carpet to avoid causing embarrassment to the Chinese Government, with the consequent loss of important contracts for British companies which this may result in? We believe this is part of the problem, especially at a time when British companies are so closely involved in the huge economic growth in many major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, and in the wake of the forthcoming Beijing Olympics in 2008. I am sure the British Government has one eye on the need not to antagonise China at such an important time in global development, as I am sure other governments do too.

However, it is important for the future of mankind that governments take a longer-term view of the consequences of turning a blind eye to the atrocities currently going on in China. Government intransigence on the human rights issues of Falun Gong practitioners in China has led to the filing of countless lawsuits against Jiang Zemin and other Chinese Government officials for their part in the persecution of the last five years. Those lawsuits are now ongoing in many countries including the UK and America, and it is to be hoped that the high moral and legal standards of western democracies will see these lawsuits succeed in bringing to justice those who have committed some of the most heinous crimes against their fellow man ever known.

It is a sad indictment on those western democracies that so many individuals have found it necessary, after years of appealing to the Chinese government to end the persecution and years of lobbying their own governments to put pressure on China to change its stance on Falun Gong, that recourse to the law appears to be the only way that anything can be changed. These lawsuits may or may not succeed; that we do not know until the law takes its course. Clearly we wish them every success, as indeed would any right-minded person.

However at the same time, we must not sit back and wait for the outcome, while the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity continue to torture and murder thousands of people for doing no more than exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression. We must carry on putting pressure on the Chinese Government to end the persecution and to release those being held in prisons the length and breadth of the country.

We appeal to President Hu Jintao to end the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners immediately; to stop the killing and torture of innocent citizens of his own country, who pose no threat of any kind to his government or his people; to bring to an end the misery of many thousands of practitioners outside China, many of whom are here today, whose relatives are suffering torture at home and whose futures are uncertain. We appeal to the Chinese Government to unconditionally release all the Falun Gong practitioners currently being held against their will.

President Hu Jintao, please don’t make me have to make this speech again this time next year.

European Friends of Falun Gong
10th December 2004

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