Global Coalition Against Article 23 Holds a Forum at the United Nations Building

On March 18th 2003, almost one thousand people attended the Global Coalition against Article 23 appeal outside the United Nations Building in Geneva. On the afternoon of March 19th, a “Forum on the Global Protest Against the Article 23 Legislation” was held inside the UN Building. This was the second forum on human rights violations in China held during the 59th UN Commission on Human Rights, and it portrayed a worldwide concern for the situation in China and called on the Chinese government to start to respect human rights.

Kay Li from “CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation” hosted the forum. The forum was attended by Tao Wang, the Chairman of the “Global Coalition against Article 23”, a representative of the “Committee for Threatened Ethnic Groups”, the chairperson of the International Belief Alliance, a Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesperson, and a Swiss Human Rights lawyer, Maray Bayon. All of these participants made a statement.

Tao Wang, the Chairman of the “Global Coalition against Article 23”, introduced the purpose of the coalition. He also talked about why Mainland China is pushing Hong Kong to pass Article 23 and the attitudes of Hong Kong and the international community in their efforts to oppose Article 23. He stated, “We are not to discuss how to modify Article 23. Rather we completely don’t want Article 23.”

Swiss human rights lawyer Maray Bayon provided further details on the terrible nature of Article 23 from the perspective of the law. She used simple examples to tell the audience of the possible effects of Article 23 on Hong Kong citizens. Furthermore, Miss Bayon pointed out that some parts of Article 23 are not in accordance with international laws. According to Miss Bayon, Article 23 of the Basic Law would jeopardise the freedoms of expression, the press, publication, and assembly in Hong Kong and would thus threaten the basic human rights of all Hong Kong people. The lawyer kindly reminded the public that every foreigner stepping into the territory of Hong Kong would be limited by Article 23 and may be charged accordingly.

Mr. Manyang, a representative of the Committee for Threatened Ethnic Groups and also a supervisor of an international company, said that his life experiences have taught him that the social stability and economic prosperity in Hong Kong are closely related to its freedom and democracy. As far as he is concerned, Hong Kong has no problems with treason, sedition, or subversion. In his opinion, Hong Kong’s prosperity lies in its respect for human rights and freedom, because if there were no human rights, there would be no social stability, and if there were no social stability, there would be no economic prosperity.

Zhao Ming from the International Belief Alliance used his personal experiences in China to talk about the possible damage of Article 23 from another angle. Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin began the persecution against Falun Gong because he was jealous of the number of practitioners exceeding the membership of the communist party. Due to the fact that he had no valid reason to persecute Falun Gong, he slandered Falun Gong and created laws, which go against the Chinese constitution, so that people would stop practising. Based on these laws, Zhao Ming, as well as countless Falun Gong practitioners in China, have been sentenced to forced labour camps and tortured. Over 1,600 have died as a result of brutality in custody.

A Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesperson also made a statement at the forum. He said that Article 23 would cause damage not only to Falun Gong practitioners, but also to every individual and group. At the end of the forum, all those who attended raised various questions about Article 23.

Chinese version available at http://www.yuanming.net/articles/200303/18519.html

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