Austria: The International 'Zhen, Shan, Ren Art Exhibition' held in Graz

On the evening of July 5th, 2007 an international art exhibition entitled “Zhen, Shan, Ren” officially opened in Graz, the capital of Steiermark province. The “Ars Cara” arts and culture club put on the exhibition - their motto is “Arts for Human Rights”. Ars Cara had great success showing the same exhibition last year throughout Austria. It was supported and recognised by politicians, NGOs and a kind and caring public.

This time, Café Kaiserfeld, located in the centre of the city, served as a gallery to show these special works of art. The various artists were trying to not just create beautiful artworks but to at the same time direct attention to human rights violations and persecution suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China at the hands of the Communist regime there. The artists, many of whom are of Chinese origin, were persecuted and tortured by the regime because of their beliefs, want to stop the persecution in China by depicting it through their art.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, teaches the principles of “Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance”, which translates into “Zhen, Shan, Ren” in Chinese. It is really criminal and dehumanising to persecute a group of people who try to live their lives according to these principles. It is an insult to justice and humanity that more people are not paying attention to this in Western countries. The same principles also give people the strength to withstand such terror. It remains an unanswered question why anyone should be against truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.

Café Kaiserfeld in Graz allocated a separate room that has been renovated just for the exhibition; in this elegant interior space, guests are treated extremely well. The room is especially attractive because it opens to the sidewalk and the street and many people pass it daily, on their way to the city centre. There is a large picture window allowing everyone to see the exhibit even without coming inside. We hope that this will allow us to reach many people’s hearts through the art.

Mr. Dietz, a representative of the provincial government gave a beautiful and inspiring talk, explaining how honoured he was to welcome the exhibit to the city of Graz. He also stressed the importance of explaining such great injustice through art forms. He said that the exhibition does not seek to sell paintings but is intended only to touch the hearts of the audience.

He was delighted to hear about the exhibition and immediately agreed to give a speech at the opening. He said that usually visitors at a private viewing receive a pricelist no matter whether the artist is a professional or an amateur. He regretted that most artists and the general public are willing to overlook human rights violations and injustice if economic interests are concerned. He thanked us for giving him the opportunity to give this speech, expressed his hope that the persecution would soon come to an end and wished the club and all practitioners the best.

Dr. Raimund Kirner, an Austrian Amnesty International representative also gave a talk about the situation in China. In his speech, he stressed the obvious clash between the 2008 Olympics, normally conducted in the spirit of peace, fairness and universal brotherhood and the human rights situation in a country that is synonymous with human rights violations. The West expected the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 to lead to an improvement of the situation; however, reality has proven that the opposite is the case.

As early as April of this year, the Chinese Ministry for Public Security issued instructions for gathering intelligence internationally prior to the Olympics. The instructions list forty three categories of ‘undesirables’ who will be excluded from participating in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. This constitutes only one of many examples of the lack of scruples exhibited by the Chinese Communist Party and of their continued efforts to persecute and suppress people.

Dr. Kirner also explained that the Bruno Kreisky Institute has conferred the highly regarded Bruno Kreisky Award for Human Rights on the Chinese human rights attorney, Mr. Gao Zhisheng. Unfortunately, Mr. Gao Zhisheng was not able to accept the award in person. He is currently under strict house arrest after having been sentenced to three years of detention for ‘subversion’, and his very life has been threatened due his extraordinary efforts on behalf of human rights.

He is currently being held at an undisclosed location and nothing is known about his whereabouts. Dr. Kirner welcomed the efforts of “Ars Cara” to improve human rights through the art exhibition and was grateful for the opportunity to give a speech.

The audience was very touched by the beautiful programme which was rounded out harmonically when some of the members of the European Choirs sang “Coming for You”. In this peaceful environment, many of the guests were lost in conversation.

Mema-TV filmed the opening of the art show and conducted interviews with Dr. Kirner and other audience members. We expect that the programme will be shown several times on regional TV channels throughout the coming week.

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