United States: Letter From Friends of Falun Gong to More than 1,250 of the Largest US Corporations

Friends of Falun Gong USA, a non profit organization dedicated to ending the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, has written letters to more than 1,250 of the largest US corporations. Many of the corporations have business dealings in China and the goal of the letter was to encourage these companies to play no role, direct or indirect in the State-run persecution of Falun Gong.

In the letter, Alan Adler, FoFG executive director, called for companies to educate themselves about the facts of the persecution, asked that they resist pressure from Chinese officials to make their employees to sign "behavioural standard statements,” and asked that they seek assurances none of the goods they purchase were made in labour camps. In addition, Mr. Adler said "we hope that you will play a proactive role in assuring your company plays no part in the persecution of a group of innocent people, and that you will balance well the need to run a successful, profitable business in China with your responsibilities as an American company to advance and protect American values of freedom and human rights."

The full text of the letter follows.

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Dear Sir or Madam:

Friends of Falun Gong USA is a human rights organization concerned with the Peoples Republic of China's four year persecution of its citizens who practice the peaceful spiritual and exercise system know as Falun Gong. We do not advocate for the practice but instead concern ourselves only with helping people pursue their beliefs in peace.

We are writing to more than one thousand of the largest U.S. corporations because so many are increasing business dealings with China. Whether it be providing goods and services to the people of China or moving manufacturing operations there, this trend is so significant that we feel obligated to share what we know about this persecution.

Please know outright that we won't be suggesting you stop doing business with China or that you sever all ties to the nation. We understand that companies exist to make money and that circumstances in China offer many corporations an opportunity to do so. We understand that U.S. corporations in China can have the effect of bringing prosperity to the country, lifting millions out of poverty and improving quality of living. We also understand that more exposure to western ideals and values can lay the seeds for a more open society in the future.

However, we do feel it necessary to remind U.S. corporations that, for all its loosening, China remains ruled by a communist regime that to this day employs brutal, torturous methods to break its own citizens it comes to view as a threat.

The situation in China today for Falun Gong practitioners is particularly grim. The PRC has established an intense propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it. The Falun Dafa Information Center, a Falun Gong spokes-group, has verified details of 824 deaths in custody. In addition, the Strait Exchange Foundation in democratic Taiwan cited in its December 2002 report more than 1,600 extra judicial executions, and called this the largest persecution of a spiritual organization in the world today. Further, experts estimate more than 100,000 currently languish in forced labor camps, all without fair trials.

This persecution is a "blatant and rampant" violation of fundamental human rights, according to Human Rights Watch in its January 2002 book Dangerous Meditation: China's Campaign Against Falun Gong. In it they stated "none of the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners detained, arrested or convicted have been held in connection with violent actions or threats of violence. Instead, their 'crime' is their belief in Falun Gong and their efforts to promote the practice. As such, their treatment violates fundamental human rights--freedom of conscience and belief, freedom to associate with others who share one's beliefs, and freedom to exchange information within and across borders."

So what can U.S. corporations do to ensure they do not play a role in this persecution? We suggest the following actions.

* First, acknowledge the truth: the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist regime is happening, rampant, severe, and wrong. We hear of so many that choose to bury their head in the sand and pretend China is like the U.S. rather than face facts. Those who take this approach become silent accomplices to this brutal crackdown.

* Second, educate yourselves to the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong from unbiased sources like the U.S. State Department and respected human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and ourselves. For example, our organization offers free membership with one of the key benefits being frequent, accurate updates on recent happenings delivered by email. We further suggest that you use caution when weighing the validity of what can only be called slanderous propaganda advanced by state-run news agency outlets, or spoken from the mouths of communist party officials.

* Third, resist calls from government officials to force your employees within China to sign so-called "behavior standards statements" indicating that they will neither practice nor advocate Falun Gong. Such statements are clear violations of international human rights standards.

* Fourth, seek assurances that none of the goods you purchase in China were made in forced labor camps. While this task may prove difficult, doing anything less is tantamount to supporting a modern day slave labor system.

There are many other things U.S. corporations dealing with China can do to assure that they do not support the Chinese government in its suppression of human rights; our suggestions above are by no means all inclusive. What we hope is that you will play a proactive role in assuring your company plays no part in the persecution of a group of innocent people, and that you will balance well the need to run a successful, profitable business in China with your responsibilities as an American company to advance and protect American values of freedom and human rights.

If you would like to learn more about the persecution of Falun Gong, please take time to visit our web site at www.fofg.org, or better yet, pick up the phone and call us at the number listed in the footer. We have volunteers across the country who would be delighted to come and speak to you about these important issues. And of course, if you feel compelled to make a donation, please know that we are a 501-(c) non-profit organization.

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