Iceland Ombudsman: Government Broke Law by Denying Falun Gong Entry

On December 5th, the Ombudsman, a position designated to monitor the state administration and local authorities, released its opinion on the Falun Gong entry denial case from June 2002: The government broke the law by denying Falun Gong practitioners from crossing the border, and authorising Icelandair to carry out the decision by refusing to permit Falun Gong members to board Icelandair planes.

This is the second positive decision made by the Iceland government-monitoring institutions. On June 5th 2003, the Data Protection Authority stated that the Justice Ministry acted unlawfully when it blacklisted members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement ahead of the state visit of Chinese president Jiang Zemin to Iceland.

From June 11th to 16th 2002, the Icelandic government, which gave in to the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) pressure, used the blacklist that the Jiang regime submitted to them and refused to allow sixty Falun Gong practitioners entry into Iceland. This resulted in strong objections from the international media and the Icelandic people. On the day when Jiang arrived, 450 parliament members and noted public figures acted together and published four, full-page advertisements in the biggest newspapers in Iceland to apologise to Falun Gong practitioners. The advertisements used three Chinese words meaning "apology" as the title, while the English title was "WE APOLOGISE!" Around three thousand people spontaneously held a large-scale assembly and protest in the capital. They held up Falun Gong banners and sealed their mouths with black tape to express symbolically that the Icelandic government had violated the people's will, and that they were dissatisfied with the government's mistreatment of Falun Gong.

After the incident, practitioners from Europe, U.S. and Canada formed a Falun Gong -- Iceland Dialogue Committee (FIDC) to dialogue with Iceland government officials. They later filed a complaint with the Parliamentary Ombudsman concerning the Icelandic authorities' unjust actions towards Falun Gong practitioners barring their entry to Iceland before and during the visit of former head of China Jiang Zemin to Iceland in June 2002. The noted human rights lawyer and Icelandic Supreme Court Lawyer Ragnar Adalsteinsson provided legal consultation for Falun Gong practitioners.

The Ombudsman, appointed by Iceland Parliament, conducts independent investigations into complains about unfair or improper actions or poor service by the government.

The Ombudsman's opinion immediately received wide attention from Iceland media, including Iceland TV, Fretabladid (the largest Iceland newspaper) and Iceland Review.

Mr. Peder Giertsen, spokesman of FIDC, welcomed the Ombudsman's decision.

He said, "We condemn the Chinese Communist Party for pressuring the Iceland government and providing a blacklist of practitioners. We will continue to clarify the truth of Falun Gong to the Iceland government and disclose the CCP's lies and persecution. We will continue to dialogue with the Iceland government on issues such as damage to practitioners involved and submission of the 'blacklist'."

On December 12th, Fretabladid reported that the Ombudsman believed that the Iceland government broke the law by denying Falun Gong Practitioners entry in 2002 during former Chinese president Jiang Zemin's visit.

The Icelandic government did not have adequate legal rights to deny Falun Gong practitioners entry into Iceland during the official visit of the president of China to Iceland in 2002, reported Fréttabladid.

The Iceland Review wrote: "According to an opinion, just released by an ombudsman appointed by parliament, the government neither had the legal rights to prevent [practitioners] of Falun Gong from entering the country nor to authorise a private entity, Flugleiðum hf. (Icelandair), to carry out the decision by refusing to permit Falun Gong [practitioners] to board Icelandair planes."

Fretabladid said that practitioners were planning a peaceful appeal to protest the CCP's persecution during Jiang's visit.

However, before and during Jiang's visit, many Falun Gong practitioners who arrived in Keflavík were deported immediately while another 26 were transported to an elementary school in Njardvík where they were kept for future deportation.

At the time, the government's decision was harshly criticised, according to Fréttabladid. Iceland was the first western nation to ban the Falun Gong from entering its country.

"The Icelandic government received a list with the names of Falun Gong [practitioners] worldwide and this list was used to prevent the Falun Gong [practitioners] from boarding Icelandair planes at 10 airports in Europe and the US." Iceland Review reported.

The Ombudsman said that it would be up to the justice system to decide whether the Icelandic government is liable to pay damages to those involved.

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