Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Questioned about Progress in Ending the Persecution Against Falun Gong

In parliament on April 28th 2005, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs was asked about the progress at European Union level he has made with regard to ending the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, the approaches which have been made to Chinese authorities with a view to ending this persecution, and whether he will make a statement on the matter.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): As stated previously on many occasions, the Government continues to take concerns about human rights in China very seriously. We have an ongoing dialogue with the Chinese authorities at both national and European Union level. Human rights issues are on the agenda of all bilateral meetings with senior Chinese leaders.

The EU-China human rights dialogue, established in 1996, is the agreed formal framework through which the EU raises its concerns about individual human rights cases, including those of Falun Gong practitioners and more general issues, such as the protection of freedom of religion and expression, which have a particular impact on practitioners of Falun Gong. The 19th round of the EU-China human rights dialogue took place in Luxembourg on 24th and 25th February 2005. At that meeting, the EU raised strong concerns about the persecution of persons on the grounds of their peaceful expression of belief, in particular members of Falun Gong. The EU also raised the cases of a number of Falun Gong practitioners with the Chinese representatives.

During his recent visit to China, from 17th to th 22nd of January 2005, the Irish Prime Minister discussed a wide range of issues, including human rights, with the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He stressed the importance that the Government attaches to China’s continued progress in this area. The possibility of developing bilateral co-operation on furthering human rights norms was raised with the Chinese side.

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