The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: The Free Practice of Falun Gong Should be Protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The thirty-eighth session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention rendered the following opinion regarding the cases of illegal arrest of Falun Gong practitioner Li Ling (former director of Guta District Labour Bureau) and Pei Jilin (resident of Jilin City, Jilin Province): The free practice of Falun Gong should be protected by Article 18 on freedom of belief and Article 19 on freedom of opinion and expression of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The working group requests the (Chinese) Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of these two persons, and bring it in conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to a report on March the 15th 2004 from Falun Dafa Information Centre, some Falun Gong practitioners submitted the case of illegal arrest of Li Ling and Pei Jilin for practising Falun Gong to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (the Working Group). After over 5 months of investigation, the Working Group rendered the above opinion, which will be reproduced in the Working Group's report to the Commission on Human Rights at its sixty-first session.

In the process of its investigation, the Working Group transmitted the reply provided by the Chinese Government (the Government) to the source (Falun Gong practitioners) and received its comments. Based on the facts and circumstances of the cases, in the context of the allegations made and the response of the Government thereto, as well as observations by the source, the Working Group rendered the above opinion.

Below is the primary content of the investigation:

1. Information provided by the Source:

The source informs that Li Ling, former director of Guta District Labour Bureau, was arrested on 28 May 2002 at her home by members of the police. She was sent to the First Detention Centre of Jinzhou City. Later, she was sentenced to four years imprisonment. On 15 November 2002, she was sent to Dabei Prison, Liaoning Province, where despite her critical health condition, she was forced to do heavy Labour. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

It was further reported that Li Ling was previously arrested in late 1999, when she went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. The Beijing Dongcheng District Court then sentenced her to one and half years in jail.

Pei Jilin, aged 50, resident of Jilin City, Jilin Province, employee of the No. 101 Factory of the Jilin Chemical Company, was arrested on the night of 16 June 2002 at his provisional home in Jilin City by members of the Police and taken to the Wenmiao Police Station in Jilin City. It was reported that he managed to escape from the police station, but he was arrested again and sent to a Labour camp.

It was further reported that Pei Jilin was previously arrested in three occasions under charges of being a Falun Gong practitioner: In October 1999, he was detained for 15 days in the Baoziyan Detention Centre on his way to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. In December 1999, he was arrested again. After his release, on 1 October 2000, Pei Jilin went to Beijing again to appeal for Falun Gong and was re-arrested. Then he was sent to the Jilin City Liaison Office in Beijing, where Pei went on a hunger strike to protest his detention. Three days later, he was escorted back to No. 3 Detention Centre of Jilin City. One month later, Pei Jilin was sentenced to three years of forced Labour. Later, he was transferred to Jiutai City Labour Camp in Jiutai City. In September 2001, given that his health was in a critical condition, he was released until being detained in 2002.

2. Replies from the Government:

The government in its reply informed that on 27 October 1999, Li Ling and others demonstrated illegally in a public place without making a previous applications required by the law. On 17 January 2000, the District People's Procuratorate brought a prosecution before the Eastern District People's Court, charging Li with breaking the law against illegal demonstrations. The court tried the case, found that Li's conduct amounted to illegal demonstration and sentenced her, under article 296 of the Chinese Penal Code, to 18 month's imprisonment. Li appealed and Intermediate People's Court upheld the original Judgement. After her release on completion of her sentence, Li again disrupted public order, making use of a heretical group to undermine law enforcement. The Guta District People's Procuratorate in Jinzhou City brought a prosecution, charging Li with the crime of using a heretical group to undermine law enforcement and sentenced her to four years' imprisonment. Li appealed. On 4 November 2002, the Jinzhou Municipal Intermediate People's Court ruled that the facts established in the original judgement were clear, the evidence was true and ample, the offence had been correctly identified, the sentence was proportionate and the trial procedure ha been in accordance with the law; it rejected the appeal and upheld the original judgement.

These cases were in open hearings; the prosecutorial organs presented a large volume of evidence and testimony which the courts accepted once the witnesses' had been confirmed for the record and challenged by the defendant and her counsel. In both cases, since the defendant did not appoint counsel, the courts designated defence counsel for them and amply safeguarded their procedural rights and interests.

On 5 October 2000, Pei Jilin was assigned by the Jilin Province Re-education Through Labour Committee to three years' re-education through Labour for disrupting the social order. Because, during his term of re-education, he contracted high blood pressure and became physically weak the re-education facility allowed him out to seek medical treatment in October 2001. While outside receiving treatment, Pei continued to disrupt the social order. On 18 June 2002, Jilin Municipal Re-education Through Labour Management committee assigned him to a further two years' re-education on account of his unlawful activities.

3. Response from the Source:

In its response the source states that to avoid international criticism, the Government has carried on a campaign of misinformation about Falun Gong. Contrary to the Government's claim of Li Ling's right to a fair trial being safeguarded, she was given show trials instead of fair trials. The legal counsel contacted by the Government coerced her instead of defending her. The source adds that after Li Ling's first imprisonment, she wrote a letter of appeal, clearly stating that her appeal for Falun Gong was the real reason of her arrest and detention. The second sentencing of Li Ling was a secret one, took place sometime between May and November 2002 and her family was not informed of her trial.

As for Pei Jilin, also a Falun Gong practitioner, the source contends that reeducation through Labour punishments in China are based on instructions of the Chinese State Counsel, and are therefore, administrative measures, with no safeguards provided for the right to fair trial.

4. The Working Group observes that the Government has not denied that Li Ling and Pei Jilin were detained in connection with the practice of Falun Gong.

5. As there is no evidence that they practised Falun Gong as a violent, non-pacific belief, as far as the cases under consideration are concerned, its free practice should be protected by article 18 on freedom of belief and article 19 on freedom of opinion and expression of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

6. When it is a matter of the peaceful exercise of these liberties, its restriction can imply a violation of norms of international law. In these cases, both in the accusation of participating in an illegal demonstration regarding Li Ping, as in the accusation of social disturbing regarding Pei Jilin, it has not been stated that acts of a violent nature would have been committed. Consequently, the Working Group esteems that Li Ping and Pei Jilin were detained by the mere fact of their practice and defence of Falun Gong in a peaceful manner and in exercise of the rights to freedom of belief, to freedom of opinion and expression and to assemble and to demonstrate, which are guaranteed by international human rights law.

7. In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion:

The deprivation of Li Ping and Pei Jilin is arbitrary, as being in contravention of articles 10, 11, 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and falls within category II of the applicable categories to the consideration of the cases submitted to the working group.

8. Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of these two persons, and bring it in conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Working Group encourages the Government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

You are welcome to print and circulate all articles published on Clearharmony and their content, but please quote the source.