Statement by the Falun Gong Association of the Czech Republic

Delivered at Prague Castle, Seat of the President’s Office, on the Occasion of the Visit of the Czech President Mr Vaclav Klaus to China

We are practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese discipline of mind and body. In China this practice has been banned and persecuted for almost five years. We make this statement in connection with the coming official visit of the President Mr Vaclav Klaus to the People's Republic of China.

Every step made by the Czech Government can become a historic moment when the Government leans either toward the defence of human rights or toward “quiet acquiescence” with the abuse. Actually, human rights and trade with China are tightly connected and that is why we think that upholding human rights is a necessary prerequisite to a successful realisation of all projects with China which we may wish to commit ourselves to undertake.

As Czech citizens we do not want our country to lose an opportunity to develop economic cooperation with China. Yet the key question remains: is our trade with China morally correct if we do not initiate a dialogue on the theme of human rights? The policy that has been applied thus far, which maintained dialogue on that taboo theme (and only at the level of economic cooperation), will naturally not lead to an improvement in the area of human rights. Should the Czech companies not keep to correct principles while doing business with China, they might become equally guilty of human rights abuses and of the abuse of freedom as is the Government of China.

The continuing persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong in China is not only a problem of that country. This persecution was initiated by Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and its implementation takes place at all levels of the Chinese Government. From the verified number of death cases of practitioners has reached 923 but the actual number of victims is in several thousands.

In China people have no freedom of expression and no access to objective information. We in Europe have. We cannot consciously act wrongly. We therefore sincerely believe that we shall not give up on human rights in order to have economic gain in the short term.

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