Swiss parliamentarians: “You can count on us!”

Swiss politicians welcomed some one thousand practitioners who had come to Geneva to demonstrate in the presence of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Their statements reveal an excellent appreciation of the true nature of Falun Gong.

For three days, from 20 to 22 March, nearly one thousand Falun Gong practitioners and sympathizers form 40 countries demonstrated and practised the exercises in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, where the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on Human Rights is in session until the end of April. The main event of the first day was an impressive march through the city to pay tribute to the victims of the repression in China. The marchers were welcomed on the Place des Nations by several of the Canton of Geneva’s elected representatives and messages from Swiss parliamentarians. The politicians were unanimous: “You can count on us.”

Thomas Büchi, a Geneva representative of the Radical Party, noted that the persecution had raised the question of what exactly Falun Gong is. “For my part, I have discovered an extraordinary method, a means of self-awakening under the guidance of the three cosmic forces, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. This practice is the quintessence of very ancient teachings which have been made accessible to people of our time; it comprises very simple exercises which help the body’s energies to circulate and principles which enable human awareness to progress to a higher level.” He added that it is this that explains the “stunning success” of Falun Gong. “It is incomprehensible that such terrible cruelty is practised on people who are only searching for the way to go by asking the fundamental human questions: who am I, where do I come from, where am I going?” He praised the “active non-violence” of Falun Gong practitioners in China, which activates people’s consciences.

Under the broken chair, which has become “a worldwide symbol of opposition to oppression,” Thomas Büchi formally called on China to halt the self-mutilation that the repression of its own people represents.

Marie-Paule Blanchard, an elected representative of the Alliance of the Left, recalled that Geneva’s Grand Conseil (the cantonal parliament) had before it a draft resolution requesting an official intervention against the persecution of Falun Gong in China. “Dictatorships kill thousands of innocent people but they cannot kill ideas,” she said. Erica Deuber Ziegler, an elected representative of the same Alliance (ed: which also incorporates the local communist party), said that she could not understand how “a Government can be in conflict with values like compassion or truthfulness (…). This stirs up indignation in anyone who upholds democratic rights. So why has the West been so silent for the past three years?” Ms. Deuber gives economic interests as the explanation. “Tibet has already paid the price of that silence and been subjected to what amounts to genocide.” Ms. Deuber was formerly an admirer of the People’s Republic of China. “Today we are all disappointed by the Chinese revolution, and infuriated by the day-to-day spectacle of its exactions.”

The ecologist politician, David Hiler, brought with him the support of Geneva’s Green Movement. “China has been violating human rights for decades. Today, it is committing the further absurdity of attacking people whose aims are spiritual. (…). In 1989, although personally I was indignant at the Tiananmen massacre, I felt I was powerless. Today, the whole world is hearing about the persecution, and China seems embarrassed. I want to say here that I have great admiration for the non-violent activities of the Falun Gong practitioners, including the Western practitioners who have the courage to go to Beijing to demonstrate their solidarity. They are taking risks to bring about change in the world.”

Ruth Genseth, a national councillor and Basel’s ecologist representative in the Federal Parliament, recalled in her message to the Geneva demonstrators that an official delegation from Switzerland had visited China in January 2002, and had “pilloried the arbitrary case-law used against members of Falun Gong, the torture of practitioners in prison and the ill treatment that led to death.” But she asked the Swiss authorities “to commit themselves to a firmer stand” against the repression in China, by proposing to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games if the failure to respect human rights continues.

“I support the long fight of those who are working to enable the members of Falun Gong to pursue freely the road they have chosen in life,” national councillor Patrice Mugny, Joint Chairman of the Swiss Green Party, wrote to the demonstrators.

“I am appalled by the accounts of the severe persecution to which the members of Falun Gong are subjected by the Chinese authorities, and I support the steps taken to demand full respect for human rights, in particular, freedom of conscience and the physical safety of these men and women,” wrote Jean-Jacques Schwab, a socialist representative from the Canton of Vaud on the National Council.

“Why can the ancestral principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, which are vital for all of mankind, not be defended in China? (…). The techniques of (…) this form of qigong bring health and self-control and demonstrate overall respect for the person as a being. Is this really what so terrifies the Chinese authorities?” wrote the Fribourg parliamentarian Madeleine Genoud-Page, who feels a very strong concern with regard to this “very alarming and unjust repression.”

“The application of human rights includes respect for all minorities and all movements. Let us put an end to the oppression of Falun Gong practitioners,” wrote Roland Michel, Mayor of the Jura municipality of Glovelier.

Lord Moyne: Falun Gong is an international cause

Lord Jonathan Moyne, a former member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords was with the Swiss politicians on the Place des Nations: “All China’s accusations against Falun Gong are devoid of any basis. Falun Gong has become an international cause because it is an international scandal to see so many inoffensive people persecuted and tortured to death. When at least 70 million practitioners are prevented from living according to their beliefs, Falun Gong must be the biggest human rights story in the world.” Lord Moyne noted the important role of qigong in human principles and considered that in a China devastated by its economic problems and strained social relations, the values of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance constituted an opportunity. If the chaos persisted, however, foreign investment would dwindle. “Falun Gong is not only going to give China a conscience – and China needs it badly – but it is also going to save China from itself,” Jonathan Moyne predicted.

Reported by Swiss practitioners

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