European Parliament Vice-President Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott Expresses Concern about the Human Rights of Falun Gong Practitioners

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On April 15, 2009, European Parliament Vice-President Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott hosted an international hearing on religious belief in China and the ten-year persecution of Falun Gong. Mr. McMillan-Scott said, "I strongly believe everyone should have right and freedom to their religious beliefs. This is indeed what is stipulated in China's Constitution. Unfortunately, in the whole of China, freedom and independent religions are persecuted."

On April 25, 2009, Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott gave a speech via telephone to a rally in New York commemorating the "April 25" peaceful appeal and expressed his support of Falun Gong practitioners' just endeavour in safeguarding human rights, freedom and dignity. He also expressed that he would write to the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, asking him to pay attention to, and investigate the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and to urge him to take actions to stop the persecution. (See Attachment)

Prior to this, on April 2, 2009, the European Parliament passed a resolution, strongly condemning crimes against humanity and human rights abuses committed by Communist autocratic states.

European Parliament has always been concerned about the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners

The European Parliament has been concerned about the human rights situation in China for a long time. In a resolution passed in February 2001, they condemned the Chinese authorities' violation of Falun Gong practitioners' right to religious beliefs and hoped that the authorities would allow Falun Gong practitioners to exercise their basic rights such as the freedom of thought and freedom of expression and assembly in accord with China's Constitution.

On January 25, 2006, the European Parliament, formed with 46 member states, passed a resolution at the general assembly in Strasbourg France, condemning the crimes of Communist totalitarian regimes.

In September 2006, the European Parliament again passed a resolution, strongly condemning the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist regime, including torture, detention and imprisonment. It is especially concerned about the organ harvesting of detained Falun Gong practitioners. The European Parliament demanded that the Chinese government immediately stop the persecution of Falun Gong and release all Falun Gong practitioners in detention.

Attachment:

Open Letter from European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott

TO:

H.E. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General
United Nations
New York, April 25, 2009

Dear Secretary-General:

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the most systematic persecution of one group since the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

As a European Parliament vice president and longest-serving member of its Foreign Affairs Committee, I have for three years campaigned to draw attention to the brutal and systematic persecution by the Chinese regime of practitioners of Falun Gong, a Buddha-school spiritual movement with, at one time, 70 to 100 million adherents.

They have been persecuted--simply because Falun Gong is popular--by the most paranoid, brutal, and arbitrary regime in world history, which has killed 70 million of its own people, 38 million through deliberate starvation.

I write to urge you to initiate an inquiry into the systematic process of imprisonment without trial, escalating torture, and the murder of thousands of innocent people under torture. This goes beyond man's inhumanity to man: It amounts to genocide under Article 2 of the Genocide Convention. The age of impunity is over, and those who know what is taking place in China look to you to take action.

As U.S. Supreme Court Judge Felix Frankfurter said when told in 1942 by the Pole Jan Karski of what was happening in the Nazi death camps, "I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him. There is a difference."

Secretary-General, there is plenty of evidence of genocide in China if only you would care to look or to listen to the U.N. rapporteurs on torture and religious freedom.

Falun Gong is a spiritual and meditation movement that echoes traditional Chinese beliefs that humans are connected to the universe through mind and body. The Chinese Communist Party describes it as a "cult," whereas international jurisprudence suggests that a "cult" should include financial commitment, alienation from family, disciplined organization, brainwashing, anti-social behaviour and the like, none of which apply to Falun Gong. Like all qigong (spiritual exercise) groups, Falun Gong has a "master" whose exercise book, published in 1992, remains the only financial commitment for most.

My campaign began in May 2006, when I visited China on a fact-finding mission in preparation for a report on human rights and democracy for the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee. In Beijing, at great personal risk to them, I interviewed two former prisoners, Falun Gong practitioners Cao Dong and Niu Jinping.

Cao Dong was subsequently arrested and convicted of "meeting a distinguished foreigner." He was sent to Tianshui prison, where he was tortured to recant his religious convictions and to denounce his meeting with me.

Niu Jinping appealed to me on behalf of his wife, Zhang Lianying, who had been in Beijing Forced Women's Labour Camp since June 2005 and so severely tortured that she suffered a coma in April 2007. The two were subsequently imprisoned again as part of Beijing's pre-Olympic roundup.

Another of my contacts was Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, sometimes known as the "conscience of China," who represented a number of Falun Gong practitioners after his investigation into their persecution in 2005.

Well-known in China for publicly denouncing the regime, especially for corruption, he wrote an open letter to the European Parliament through me in September 2007, and another to the U.S. Congress. He was then sentenced to prison on a charge of "subversion."

After being temporarily released into house arrest, he was imprisoned again, and in 2008 so severely tortured that he twice tried to commit suicide. After his wife and children escaped through Thailand to the U.S.A. in January 2009, Gao was abducted by security forces, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Gao's friend Hu Jia, an environmental activist, was another of my contacts who was arrested and imprisoned in 2008 after he gave evidence by telephone to the European Parliament's Human Rights Committee. He was then awarded the European Parliament's annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Expression. Hu Jia's wife, Zeng Jinyan, was named one of the 100 most important people on earth by Time magazine for her blogs in support of Hu Jia's activities.

These are only a few examples of some thousands that demonstrate the extent of the Communist regime's paranoia against any activity that could threaten or destabilize the Party.

On April 25, 1999, 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners spent a day in peaceful protest in Beijing after police brutality against fellow practitioners in Tianjin City. People who were there have told me that this event was almost certainly organized by the security forces as a justification for the persecution that then began.

Falun Gong practitioners are usually imprisoned under "administrative detention" with no trial: Often they refuse to give their names to protect their families. As members of a banned "evil cult," they suffer particularly harsh treatment, often at the hands of other prisoners and even Falun Gong who have recanted [and are forced] to demonstrate their rejection of the practice.

Former prisoners I have met, having ipso facto recanted, have suffered total sleep deprivation for a period of weeks, have then been forced to stand motionless for several days, being prodded with sharp objects to keep them awake, followed by progressively brutal treatments involving electric prods--always including the genitals--excrement, and general beatings.

Zhang Lianying, who suffered a coma, wrote me a list of the 50 progressive tortures she suffered, which I submitted to the U.N. Rapporteurs on Torture and Religious Freedom, Dr. Manfred Nowak, and Mrs. Asma Jahangir, both of whom I have met on a number of occasions.

Manfred Novak believes that some two-thirds of those undergoing "re-education through labour" in China's prison camps, modelled on the Soviet Union's gulag, are Falun Gong practitioners. ... Falun Gong [practitioners] outside China maintain contact with prisoners and record their torture and torturers where either can be identified: Records exist of more than 3,000 who have been tortured to death since 1999.

Of particular concern is that only Falun Gong--who neither smoke nor drink--are routinely blood-tested and blood-pressure tested in prison. This is not for their well-being. They thus become the prime source for the Peoples' Liberation Army's lucrative live-organ transplant trade: More than 40,000 additional unexplained transplants have been recorded recently in China since 2001.

Although using body parts from executed prisoners has been routine in China (in one province alone there are 16 specially-converted evisceration buses) many believe, as I do, that live Falun Gong prisoners are quarried for their body parts. Indeed, Cao Dong told me that after his best friend disappeared from their prison cell one evening, he next saw his dead body in the morgue with holes where body parts had been removed.

Ten years later, the campaign of brutal repression of Falun Gong--once encouraged by Beijing for the well-being reportedly experienced by its adherents--shows no sign of easing.

In my view, the persecution of Falun Gong amounts to genocide as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

It is clear that Falun Gong [adherents] are to the communist regime what the Jews were to the Gestapo. Although millions died in the gulag, it was from starvation, not systematic torture and liquidation as in China today.

In your capacity as Secretary General of the United Nations, and on this 10-year anniversary, I urge you to take action to put an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

Signature: (Edward McMillan-Scott)

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