On February the 10th, the French Falun Gong Association held a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, urging the European Parliament to be concerned about the incident regarding the arrest of Falun Gong practitioners because of the Chinese government’s pressure during Hu Jintao’s visit to France. Belgian member of the European Parliament Nelly Maes and Italian MEP Gianfranco Dell’ Alba attended the press conference and were interviewed by the media.
When talking about the Paris incident, Nelly Maes, who was once a Belgian member of the European parliament’s committee on Human Rights and Foreign Affairs and is currently a member of the committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, said, “I feel very sorry about it. It involves several serious questions. I think we should give higher priority to human rights than trade."
"The infringement of Falun Gong is obviously a human rightsabuse. I have never seen any group that is as peaceful as Falun Gong. When visiting China, I asked Chinese authorities many questions about Falun Gong. As soon as they heard of Falun Gong, they started to be angry. It made me feel doubtful. In my opinion, Falun Gong practitioners didn’t commit any crimes, and they were not supposed to be treated like this, neither in China or in France as well, of course.”
When talking about how the international society helps improve this kind of situation, she said, "I think we must put human rights in the first place, and be sincere. All the governments that intend to avoid this topic should be condemned."
Italian Member of European Parliament Gianfranco Dell’ Alba is a member of the Sino-Italian Relationship Delegation of the European Parliament. When talking about his views on the Paris incident, he said: "I think this is a dangerous event, which represents certain viewpoints of the government: China now sounds like a superpower, so we should obey Communist China’s wish, and should not talk about human rights, freedom of belief as well as freedom of speech. This is the same as the incident that Falun Gong was rejected to participate in the Paris Spring Festival Parade, and is a serious issue. We have already brought up this issue to the European Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and the European Commission, and asked them to investigate this matter."
He thought that French police arrested Falun Gong practitioners because of China’s pressure, and he is willing to do his best to support the principle of democracy, "I thought that Chinese government had pressured French authorities to do so. The Chinese government and its embassies in various European countries have long been trying to stop people from being concerned about China’s human right issues. Should there be any Chinese delegation visiting the European Parliament, I’ll try my best to emphasise this matter to them. Our delegation will have an official visit to Beijing in March, and I will also use this opportunity to raise this topic to them. The Chinese government might think that they have overpowered many people, and conceal their abuses about human rights. Fifteen years have passed since the Tiananmen incident. It is unacceptable for people turn a deaf ear to the incident. We keep trying our best to prevent them from doing things at will…We should respect democratic opinion. However, I think it is even more serious that we not only forgot all what happened in China, but also allowed these matters to happen in Europe. It is really intolerable."
In talking about how the European Parliament should monitor implementation of the principles of democracy and freedom, when facing this kind of event, he stressed, "One of the European Parliament's principles is to advocate civil rights and freedom. Therefore we cannot, on one hand, request the European Union’s members to observe the system of democracy and freedom; but on the other, accept the fact that they agreed to the Chinese government’s human rights abuse for economical deals. Therefore the European Parliament always supports the deeds of striving for civil rights and freedom."
"I am very happy that this morning the European Parliament passed a resolution regarding the preparation for the UN Human Rights Conference in Geneva. The resolution urged the European Union to initiate a motion at this year’s Human Rights Conference to condemn the human rights abuses in China and a series of other countries. In the resolution, the persecution of Falun Gong was mentioned in the text about China. Let’s see if the EU member states would make some active responses to European Parliament's initiatives."
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