Australia: "Freedom is a Universal Human Value that we Should be Promoting at All Times," says Senator Barlett

Following a visit to Australia from former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour and Vice-president of the European Parliament Macmillan-Scott, Falun Gong practitioners once again held a rally in Canberra on October 17th, 2006, urging the Australian government to fulfill its promise to conduct an investigation into allegations of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Mr. Barlett speaks at the rally

Australian Senator Andrew Barlett, who recently announced to join the "Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China" (CIPFG) attended the rally and made a speech to express the support and encouragement of the Australian Democrats. He also expressed that they are deeply concerned about the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong. He pointed out that freedom is a universal human value that we should be promoting at all times. Mr. Barlett said, "I'd like to express my support and encouragement to you and also let you know that your concerns both about the organ harvesting and about the wide spread and extreme persecution of the Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese government are being heard, they are being recognised. I can't speak for other political parties or other individual politicians, but I can certainly assure you that the Australian Democrats strongly support campaigns to expose the human rights abuses in China, whether it is of Falun Gong practitioners, Democracy campaigners in general or other people who are the subject of persecution."

Mr. Barlett believes that freedom is a universal human value that we should be promoting at all times. He emphasised that other politicians in other parties are also concerned about the human rights abuses against Falun Gong. He said, "Our party's name is Democrats because we believe Democracy is a core value, is a core right and is something that all people should be able to practice. The essential component of democracy is freedom and freedom is a universal human value that we should be promoting at all times, not just when it is convenient. I would like to emphasize - while I can't speak for people from other political parties, I do want to make sure you are aware that people from other political parties are also concerned, and that a significant number of people in the Parliament have deep and strong concerns about these extremely serious human rights abuses and allegations that are occurring and they are looking at opportunities to draw more attention to the reality of what is happening."

He expressed that the impact of this incident on Australia should not be ignored. He said, "This is something that affects Australia and Australians. It is not something that we can just forget about it because it is happening in another part of the world. Australian citizens are being courted up in this persecution and families of Australian residents are being courted up in this persecution, and of course our country has had historically, and still has now, very strong social and economic links to China, and you can't just pursue the positive aspects and ignore the difficult questions."

Mr. Barlett said that the Australian Democrats will keep up their efforts on the Falun Gong issues. He said, "So I encourage you to keep going and to persevere, as I am sure you will, because it is only by concerted action and by increasing the number of people who are aware of the situation that you will get long standing and significant change. I am sure if we all keep pushing in our own ways that change will happen, and obviously the sooner it happens the better for those potential victims of such serious abuses. So thank you for your efforts, and I certainly promise you on behalf of the Democrats that we will continue to put forth our efforts into trying to get major reform and change on this crucial issue."

Mr. Barlett was elected as an Australian Senator in 1997 and is a former leader of the Australian Democrats. He has expressed concerns about the persecution of Falun Gong many times.

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