A Seminar on Human Rights in China was Held in the Norwegian Parliament

Norwegian Parliament was the venue for a seminar on the human rights situation in China, which was hosted by Parliament members and co-arranged by the Norwegian Falun Dafa Association. Many parliament members, along with representatives from human rights organisations and persecuted groups attended the seminar.

Prominent guest speakers were the Executive Director of the Association for Asian Research Mr Erping Zhang, renowned Canadian attorney Mr. Clive Ansley, the Executive Director of the Laogai Research Foundation Mr. Harry Wu and the State Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Vidar Helgesen. Representatives of other NGOs were also in attendance. Peder Giertsen from the Norwegian Falun Dafa Association was speaking for Falun Dafa practitioners, together with Jane Dai and her daughter Fadu.

The seminar was opened by MP Mr. Modulf Aukan. He related how he became involved with the human rights situation in China after meeting Falun Gong practitioners several times. He said that in the current situation where economics has taken centre stage, human rights are submerged. However, he wanted to put human rights in the spotlight with this seminar.

Next speaker was Vidar Helgesen, the State Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign affairs. He introduced the human rights dialogue that began in 1997 between the Norwegian and Chinese governments.

Renowned Canadian attorney Mr. Clive Ansley gave a speech entitled ‘The Rule of Law vs. Rule by Law’. He said that although China has had a legal system since 1979, this certainly does not mean that you can expect a just ruling in a Chinese court. The court and law system in China is politicised. Everything, including court rulings, is decided on a political level.

Erping Zhang, Executive Director of the Association for Asian Research, was the next speaker. He spoke about freedom of speech and the information blockade in China, where everything is controlled by the central government and the media is a tool for the political leadership. He also spoke of the so-called ‘Golden Shield’, an effort by the Chinese government to control what goes on the Internet and what browsers can access. With the help of Western companies that deliver the equipment, they install monitors and filters. The websites of Falun Gong and Reporters without Borders are among the half a million blacklisted websites.

Executive Director of the Laogai Research Foundation Mr. Harry Wu spoke next about the slave labour camp system in China. One of the points he addressed was that you need permission from the government before you do anything, if not you can be arrested and be sent to a labour camp, where you will be brainwashed and set to work. Many products imported from China to Western countries are made in slave labour camps.

A representative of Amnesty International in Norway talked about their efforts to stop torture and executions. She said that there is a lot of known torture and many executions happening in China, but there is no debate around it.

The speakers for the Falun Dafa Association in Norway gave a very clear presentation about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Mr. Peder Giertsen began by telling the participants what Falun Gong is, how it became so popular and why the persecution started in 1999. He explained how Falun Gong benefited society so much, and how people who practise Falun Gong also personally benefited a lot from the practice. He used himself as an example in that regard. After his speech Jane Dai and her daughter Fadu told their short but gripping story about how their family was destroyed by this persecution. Just because they wanted to be better, kinder people, her husband was killed and her sister-in-law was sent to a labour camp. The listeners were very touched by her speech.

Representatives from the Norwegian Mission in the East and the International Tibet Support Network then revealed the situation of Christians in China and the situation in Tibet. A representative from the Norwegian Labour Union then talked about their work with their equivalent in China.

The seminar was closed by parliament member Mr. Bjørn Jacobsen, who said he had learned a lot from this seminar. They need to learn more in order to do things better, in that regard this seminar is just a start. He cited a few lines from a very famous poem by Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland: "You should not bear so heartily well, acts of injustice not striking yourself. I am calling out to the end of my breath; You must not just live on and forget.” * But the question was if this is possible when money talks. Globalisation makes what happens in China not only an internal affair, but something that concerns the whole world. Norway has a tiny voice, but can still make others listen.

*From the poem “Du må ikke sove”, Den Røde fane, 1937.

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