Dear [name omitted]:
This is in response to your letter of December 8 to Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, concerning the situation of the Falun Gong in China. Regrettably, our receipt of your letter was delayed, most likely' due to the slowdown in the mail service caused by the anthrax threat.
State Department officials in China and Washington follow the persecution of the Falun Gong in China very closely and with great concern. The numerous reports of mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners, including many deaths, are deeply disturbing. We have raised our concerns over China's treatment of the Falun Gong repeatedly with Chinese authorities both in Washington and in Beijing. Moreover, at the December 2002 session of the U.S.-China Human Rights dialogue held in Beijing, and at the previous session held in Washington in October 2001, Assistant Lorne W. Craner raised the cases of several individuals detained for Falun Gong activities, and called for their release.
We have made clear on numerous occasions our strong opposition to the detention of individuals solely for peaceful association and assembly. The steps the Chinese government has taken to restrict freedom of thought, conscience and belief are troubling. These rights are protected by such international instruments as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We have documented our concerns over the mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners in our annual country reports on human rights practices and international religious freedom. (These reports can be found on the State Department website: www.state.gov.)
We will continue to raise the issue of human rights and religious freedom with the Chinese Government through diplomatic channels, in addition to making our position clear in public statements.
We hope this information is useful to you. If we may be of future assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
John V. Hanford
Ambassador at Large for Office of International Religious Freedom
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