BELGA DEADLINE: Belgian Falun Gong wants to make an appeal to Verhofstadt

BELGA DEADLINE: Belgian Falun Gong wants to make an appeal to Verhofstadt

Brussels 18/02 (BELGA): The Belgian Falun Gong Association (BFGA) calls upon the Belgium government and the international organizations in Belgium to raise attention of the persecution and the violence to which adherents of the religious movement in China are exposed. [Please note that Falun Gong is not a religious movement, although it is a spiritual practice - Clearharmony Editors] The BFGA have initiated a petition, which will be handed over to Premier Guy Verhofstadt before he leaves for China at the end of March.

The Belgian group of the movement banned in China launched an appeal on Tuesday on account of the arrests of foreign Falun Gong practitioners on Tianamen Square in Beijing last Thursday. Among them was a 30 year old Belgian. The protesters, who wanted to raise attention of China’s policy against Falun Gong, were all expelled from the country.

According to BFGA some were handled quite harshly. In China a ban has been issued on the practice of Falun Gong in 1999. According to reports by international observers Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in China are being tortured, sometimes even fatally. According to the Belgian Falun Gong Association 365 Falun Gong adherents have already died in Chinese prisons through torture. Over 20,000 have been deported to labour camps. Foreign followers are arrested.

The Chinese government, which is being held responsible for these actions, also tries to block the growth of Falun Gong abroad. In this regard last month a photo exhibition was held at the Chinese embassy in Brussels that questions the practices of sects. A twisted image about Falun Gong would have been given, according to BFGA “an attempt to hide the true nature of the ways of persecution in China”. Also it would have said that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China is supported in the West.

Agalev Senator Michiel Maertens, who visited the exhibition, said on Tuesday to be shocked by the way the Chinese government portrayed the story about Falun Gong. The exposition didn’t show an objective view according to him. “The pictures were meant to influence the Chinese people in Belgium. Besides, for the cruel images that were shown there was no evidence available that the scenes were related to Falun Gong” according to Maertens in a talk with BELGA on Tuesday. The senator calls it a brainwashing method which he will surely bring to the attention of the Minister of Justice, Marc Verwilghen and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louis Michel.

Parliament member Ferdy Willems of Spirit plans to question Minister Michel about the matter on Tuesday. Besides other countries where human rights are violated, he will specifically point out the particular situation of Falun Gong in China. Willems however states that not much can be done about the situation by Belgium. “The only thing that can help here is continuous protest”, according to the parliament member.

Amnesty International also states that they condemn the persecution of spiritual movements: “the actions against Falun Gong are part of that repression”, according to Amnesty International on Monday. The organization is concerned that the actions of the Chinese government against the religious movement go hand in hand with “excessive violence”. The human rights organization therefore wants to stimulate the Belgium government to call upon the Chinese authorities to, among others, respect the fundamental freedoms and to stop the human rights violations of adherents of movements like Falun Gong.

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