For the last four years the world has witnessed the most brutal, unjust catalogue of torture and cruelty ever perpetrated against one group of people. The Chinese governments persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, which has resulted in the deaths in custody of nearly 600 practitioners, and the arrest and subsequent torture of thousands more in prisons, forced labour camps and mental hospitals across China, represents a policy of such outrageous violence that it has rightly provoked condemnation from all corners of the globe.
Falun Gong practitioners struggle against this prejudice and injustice will continue for as long as it takes for the Jiang Zemin regime to realise that it must ultimately lose its battle against the forces of Truth, Compassion and Forbearance. The strength of feeling worldwide among ordinary people is too great to allow evil to triumph over good.
We need only remember the wave of public support for Zhao Ming while he was in prison for over two years in China until a little over a year ago. It was the will of the overwhelming majority of kind-hearted people which ensured his release. Think of the acts of extreme bravery and dedication of both the western and Chinese practitioners who risked their freedom and their lives to appeal in person to the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square in November 2001 and again in Hong Kong in March last year.
All these acts of selflessness in the face of extreme danger bear witness to the huge volume of support, which the world has extended to the cause of the Falun Gong practitioners in China.
However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Chinese government shows no signs of changing its stance on Falun Gong. On the contrary, it has shown an increasing tendency in recent months to widen its net of deceit to other countries, which it has tried to encourage to become complicit in the crackdown. China has tried to influence the future of Hong Kong by forcing through the controversial Article 23 anti-subversion legislation, which would increase Chinas influence over the former British colony despite its promise of self-governance for fifty years after the handover.
The so-called One country two systems principle is now under serious threat from the Chinese government and its attempts to influence the Hong Kong judiciary in the recent court case involving 16 western and Hong Kong practitioners bears witness to its desire to exert an unhealthy influence over Hong Kong, with the ultimate aim of stamping out free thought, and strengthening its evil grip on Falun Gong practitioners both at home and abroad.
We only have to remember the Icelandic governments decision to ban Falun Gong practitioners from flying to Reykjavik last June. This case occurred as a result of direct intervention by the Chinese authorities. How can such small and vulnerable countries not give in to the political and economic power of a country the size of China? But remember that it was the strength of will of individual citizens of Iceland, which brought about a change of heart by their government. They showed that we can all have an influence on how governments act.
However, we cannot act alone. We must remain steadfast and courageous against the Chinese regime, while at the same time continuing to press those in positions of power to keep up the pressure on Jiang Zemin, and on Hu Jintao when he takes over complete control of the Chinese decision-making structure in the near future.
Here at the United Nations, thoughts have naturally turned to the impending attack on Iraq by the US and its allies, but we must encourage all nations within the UNs scope to increase the pressure on China to comply with the International Covenant on Human Rights, of which it is a signatory.
Chinas record on human rights is truly appalling - this is undeniable. However, all too often in the past nations have turned down the opportunity to cast the Chinese government as the villains of the piece in favour of their own political and economic well-being. This trend must be reversed if the persecution and torture are to be ended.
We appeal in the strongest possible terms for all nations of the UN to help bring to an end the persecution. We appeal to everyone with a human heart to unite in the face of extreme adversity, and to show the Chinese government that it will not succeed in its unjust struggle against good.
Finally we appeal once more to the Chinese government to bring to an end the most shameful period of its countrys long and distinguished history. The persecution can only have a negative effect on the Chinese nation as a whole, and it has no place in a world which needs good to flourish and evil to be confined to the past. We appeal to you to release all the Falun Gong practitioners immediately and stop the inhumane torture and murder of thousands of innocent Falun Gong practitioners now.
European Friends of Falun Gong, March 17th 2003.
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