AFP: Falun Gong demonstrates in front of Foreign Office

AFP: Falun Gong demonstrates in front of Foreign Office
Two week-long hunger strike in front of the Chinese Consulate

Followers of the Falun Gong movement demonstrated on August 17th in front of the German Chancellor's Office in Berlin. Now they are protesting in front of the Foreign Office. They demand of Foreign Minister Mr. Joschka Fischer to condemn the Chinese government's "brutal handling" of the Falun Gong movement.

Around fifty German and Chinese followers of the Falun Gong movement demonstrated outside the Foreign Office in Berlin against the persecution of the spiritual movement in China. With their placards they demand of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens Party) to take an official stand against and condemn the Chinese government for the "brutal handling" of the Falun Gong movement. For a short two weeks now, several members of the movement have been congregating in front of the Chinese consulate in Berlin, conducting a hunger strike.

Some of the demonstrators handed a letter to the German government's human rights associate, Mr. Gerd Poppe, stating their demands. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said that the German government has taken note of the human rights violations in China "with great sorrow." The aim of the protesters is the freedom of and support for 130 female practitioners who have been incarcerated in a forced labor camp in northeastern China. Over three weeks ago, these 130 individuals had begun a hunger strike, said a Falun Gong spokesperson. Their labor camp term had already expired, but they have not yet been released.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said that the German government has been in contact with the Chinese leadership on two fronts: through political channels and also within the frame work of [China's] disregard of agreements with the European Union; that China has been pressured to put an end to human rights abuses and is urged to free the Falun Gong practitioners who are incarcerated in forced labor camps, prisons and detention centers.

China outlawed Falun Gong in 1999. Since then, according to figures from Falun Gong, over 10,000 members of the group have been sent to Re-education-through-labor Camps and 272 have lost their lives. Additionally, the Falun Gong movement accuses the Chinese government of murder and torture in connection with these cases. The movement quotes the numbers of followers in China to be between 70 and 100 million. Exact figures, however, are non-existent. [...]

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