The Standard (Hong Kong): Rights lawyers look to UN over plight of Falun Gong

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Human rights lawyers are preparing to ask for United Nations intervention to stop the alleged persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the mainland.

[Practitioners] of the controversial [spiritual] group claim they have suffered at the hands of mainland authorities ever since they were outlawed in 1999.

A pro-Falun Gong organization based in Washington, the International Advocates for Justice that comprises more than 40 lawyers from 35 countries, is expected to initiate the petition which they hope will lead to an investigation by the United Nations International Court of Justice.

Of the more than 40 lawyers in the International Advocates for Justice, which mainly deals with human rights issues related to the Falun Gong, three are followers of the faith, according to its director Theresa Chu.

"We aim to petition the UN General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice stating that China's persecution of Falun Gong members is a violation of international law," said Chu in an interview.

The International Advocates for Justice claim that China's persecution violates the Genocide Convention adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, which states that any genocide - whether committed in time of peace or war - is a crime under international law and therefore punishable by the UN. Chu said she is confident the court will rule in favor of Falun Gong.

The court, established in 1946 and commonly referred to as the world court, comprises 15 judges and was formed to settle disputes and examine human rights issues.

Despite its international stature, the court's decisions are purely symbolic as it has no actual power to enforce its rulings.


Dozens of Falun Gong practitioners staged a protest Tuesday outside the High Court, which is hearing a judicial review over the Immigration Department's refusal to allow entry of four Taiwanese Falun Gong followers to a convention staged by the [group] in the territory in 2003.

Despite morning showers, the demonstrators gathered at the entrance of the Central MTR station to support the judicial review applicants by marching to the High Court.

They were dressed in bright yellow T-shirts and carried banners with messages such as "China: Stop Persecuting Falun Gong" and "Release All Imprisoned Falun Gong Practitioners."

At least 10 police arrived and began to walk alongside the group. Some inspected the banners and scribbled down details of their content and dimensions.

"Our superiors want to know," replied one policewoman when asked why she was documenting the nature of the banners.

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