On 29 November 2001 Michael Gahler, a German Member of the European Parliament, hosted a seminar with the title "Dialogue about Falun Gong and Human Rights in China". This seminar was attended by MEPs and representatives of Amnesty International, the Jubilee Campaign (a group representing religious rights in China), representatives of other human rights groups, Falun Gong practitioners and official Chinese newspaper journalists.
The session was introduced by Mr Gahler who said that the main idea of the seminar was to start a dialogue between the Chinese regime and the representatives of Falun Gong.
The session started with a speech by Amnesty International who pointed out the worsening human rights situation in China not only with regard to Falun Gong but also with regard to other groups.
This was challenged by the Chinese journalists who said that the human rights were in fact improving. One of the MEPs answered this statement by saying that in all important aspects - freedom of belief, association, assembly, etc. - the situation was much worse.
After that a representative of the Jubilee Campaign made a statement highlighting the brutal persecution of spiritual groups in China, including Falun Gong, the Christians, the Muslims and the Tibetans.
Following this the Falun Gong practitioners made their statements. The first practitioner set out the background to the events in China and the reasons of the persecution. He also gave examples of the brutal torture and persecution that is happening.
Then another European practitioner played a video of the events last week when European practitioners went to Tiananmen Square. He explained how they were brutally handled when they were arrested for simply saying that Falun Gong is good on Tiananmen Square.
A third practitioner then gave a very moving account of the persecution that her parents in China were suffering - how her 50 year old mother was given electric shock treatment and suffered in jail. She also explained how her cousin, who was not a practitioner, was forced to sign statements saying that Falun Gong was bad, even though he knew that Falun Gong was good.
The seminar then evolved into a discussion between the Chinese journalists and everyone else. The MEPs present were very supportive of the Falun Gong practitioners and would even answer the Chinese journalists’ questions themselves without the Falun Gong practitioners having to say anything.
After the seminar some of the participants talked to the practitioners and said that they found the seminar very moving.
29th November 2001
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