There Should be Equal Protection by Law for Falun Gong Practitioners in China

It is a basic human right that the every person should enjoy equal protection under the law. The Chinese government should equally protect Falun Gong practitioners, who are also Chinese citizens, because this is the government's responsibility. Furthermore, it is stipulated in the Chinese Constitution that "The state respects and protects human rights." The anti-Falun Gong movement violates "equality before the law" and it must be stopped.

1. The principle of equality to all before the law stipulated by the UN

Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed in 1948 at the United Nations stipulates, "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."

Article 26 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, "All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." Article 14 states, "All persons should be equal before the courts and tribunals."

These are the universal laws on equality before the law. The principle of "equality before the law" includes the following: 1. All people are equal before the law; no one is above the law, and no one is prejudiced; 2. All people have the right to be protected by law, and to be equally protected by law is people's basic human right; 3. The law should prohibit any form of prejudice regardless of the circumstance; 4. The law should guarantee that all people receive equal and effective protection and they are not subjected to prejudice because of their ethnicity, skin colour, language, religion, political or other beliefs, nationality, social status, property, birth, and others; 5. All people are equal before the court and tribunal, in both criminal and civil trials, administrative and other forms and trials. There should be no privilege and no prejudice, which is required by the procedure; 6. "All people" includes all natural persons in the world. Because of racial discrimination and inequality of the genders, the United Nations passed International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1966 and 1979, respectively.

2. Regulations on equality before the law in Chinese laws

Article 33 of the Chinese Constitution stipulates, "All citizens of the People's Republic of China are equal before the law. Every citizen enjoys the rights provided in the Chinese Constitution and the law and at the same time must perform the duties prescribed by the Constitution and the law."

China's Criminal Law, Civil Law and Administrative Law and Civil Procedure Law have detailed information on equality before the law. Article 6 of the Criminal Procedure Law states, "In conducting criminal proceedings, people's courts, people's prosecutors and the public security organs must treat all citizens equally in their application of the law and no privilege whatsoever is permissible before law." Article 4 of the Criminal Law stipulates, "Treat all criminals equally before the law and no one is permitted to have privileges to transgress the law." Article 8 of Civil Procedure Law states, "In civil proceedings, the litigants shall have equal litigant rights. In handling a civil case, the People's Court shall ensure and make it convenient for the litigants to exercise their litigant rights; in the application of the law, the litigants are deemed as equals." Article 3 of the General Principles of the Civil Law states, "Parties to a civil activity shall have equal status." Article 3 of the Contract Law states, "Contract parties enjoy equal legal standing and neither party may impose its will on the other party." Article 7 of the Administrative Procedure Law states, "Parties to an administrative case shall be equal before the law."

From China's Constitution and other laws we can see that equality before the law has the following implications: 1. All citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, job, family background, religion, education, social status, political history, property, length of stay enjoy equal rights and freedoms endowed by the Constitution and all other laws, and they must equally carry out their responsibilities as stated in the Constitution and all other laws; 2. Judicial departments should treat equally all citizens when applying the law, and they should protect the citizens' legal rights and prosecute any citizen's violation of the law; 3. No organisation or individual should have privilege to override the Constitution or any other laws, nor should they be prejudiced in any way. I will not discuss the shortcomings of equality before the law in the Chinese Constitution and other Chinese laws.

3. The persecution of Falun Gong tramples the principle of equality before the law

A citizen's basic rights (constitutional rights) are based on the right of equal protection by law. This right is not usually exercised alone, instead, it is applied along side other basic rights. The violation of equal protection of the law inevitably forms threats and barriers to citizens' other basic rights, and will result in violation of citizens' other rights. For such citizens, because they are deprived of equal protection of the law, they cannot get effective help regarding other violations of their rights, or they simply cannot get any help at all. Therefore they become second-class citizens, "outcasts of the law" and are prejudiced against. Any form of legal document, no matter how beautifully written, would become a mere sheet of paper. This is a phenomenon that goes against the law of civilisation of mankind.

Jiang's campaign against Falun Gong is in essence a crime of genocide, a horrible calamity. "Throughout history, genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity." (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) Genocide always first appears as violation of equal protection by law, and genocide is also the most severe violation of this principle. It is only natural that people who believe and practise the principle of equality before the law and uphold Falun Gong practitioners' right to protection by law.

In China, the practice of Falun Gong was banned without any legal procedure or legal cause, and the persecution did not go through any proper legal department, yet it runs a façade of following "legal procedures." Falun Gong was declared a "cult" and Falun Gong practitioners are forced to give up their practice. They are deprived of their right to exercise and uphold their freedom of belief and all of their human rights. Falun Gong practitioners who persist in their belief are placed in a perilous and cruel situation and have lost their right to be protected by law. Falun Gong practitioners' right to equal protection by law is being severely violated. According to the Chinese Constitution, I have listed 17 violations, 18 if violation of equal protection by law is included. Detailed incidents are too numerous to list.

-- Right to citizenship. The passport is a person's identification of his or her nationality. However, many Chinese citizens travelling abroad who practise Falun Gong are facing a situation where the Chinese consulate refuses to extend their passport; in some cases they have even refused to issue passport to Falun Gong practitioners' children and thus deprived them of their citizenship. The police departments in China often refuse to issue passport to Falun Gong practitioners inside China.

--Right to elect and to be elected. Falun Gong is the biggest political taboo in China. "Politically correct" and "politically firm" are prerequisites for candidates for any officially organised activities. Supporting the anti-Falun Gong movement is a major part of the requirement of being "politically correct" and "politically firm," which essentially deprives Falun Gong practitioners of their right to be elected. In fact, many National People's Congress representatives and members of Politburo were deprived of their position because they practise Falun Gong.

--Freedom of speech, of print, assembly, gathering, parade and protest. Since July 20, 1999, Falun Gong practitioners were deprived of every single right to keep, abide by and uphold their belief. The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security published two notorious documents, which deprive Falun Gong practitioners of their right of speech, print, assembly, gathering, parade and protest.

--Freedom of belief. Freedom of thinking, conscience, religion and belief are absolute rights and are not restricted by any law. Any form of legal restriction on these rights are illegal and against humanity. Although Falun Gong is not a religion, the practitioners are still entitled of freedom of belief. Jiang Zemin calls Falun Gong a "cult" and millions of practitioners are deprived of their freedom of belief as a result. How can the government machinery be used to deprive people of their belief? This only exposes Jiang regime's own brutality, ignorance and fanaticism, in one short phrase, their evil nature.

--Personal freedom. In China, a person can be monitored by his work unit or residential community authorities simply because he practises Falun Gong; in a more serious situation, he can be abducted and sent to a so-called "study class," which is in fact a brainwashing class; even worse, he can be sentenced to up to four years of forced labour or sent to a mental hospital without any legal procedure; worse still, he can be put through a staged trial and then be sentenced to an indefinite years of forced labour.

--Dignity. When you indeed experience the tremendous benefit and the profundity of the Buddha Law, when you constantly purify yourself according to the principles of Truth-Compassion-Tolerance, to be a better and better person, you are persecuted with various brutal means, which include hate propaganda, torture, beating, suppression, humiliation, slander and framing. You are forced to not only give up Falun Gong practice but also to curse Falun Gong. What do you have left when your dignity is so trampled?

--Protection of the integrity of private residence, correspondence and freedom of communication. Illegal search or break-in of private homes, retention of private letters, tapping of home telephones are commonplace mistreatment for Falun Gong practitioners. Even some practitioners abroad suffered similar mistreatments.

--Right to criticise, to make suggestions, to appeal, and to file a lawsuit. When being mistreated, Falun Gong practitioners tell the government about the truth of Falun Gong; they offer suggestions and constructive criticism regarding the government policies on Falun Gong; they appeal against the unjust treatment they are subjected to, and expose and file lawsuits against those who committed crimes in violation of the law, but their pleas fall on deaf ears. Very often they even receive retaliation.

--Right to receive compensation. During the anti-Falun Gong movement, Falun Gong practitioners throughout China and their families suffered persecution and loss, because government departments and personnel severely violated their civil rights. Many were injured, disabled and even killed in the persecution. According to government policies, they are entitled to compensation, yet it is very difficult for them to obtain in China.

--Right to work. Government departments, state-run enterprises require Falun Gong practitioner-employees to give up their practice; otherwise they would be illegally laid off, expelled or transferred from their work unit. Under pressure from the government, many private businesses and foreign businesses require their employees to sign a guarantee promising not to practise Falun Gong, or they will not be hired.

--Retirees' social benefits. Retired Falun Gong practitioners are threatened to have their pension cut off if they do not stop practising Falun Gong.

--Right to education. Schools and scientific institutions require students who are Falun Gong practitioners to write a guarantee to promise not to practise Falun Gong; otherwise they would be suspended or expelled. They also refuse to admit prospective students who are Falun Gong practitioners, no matter how well qualified they are.

--Freedom to participate in scientific, cultural and other activities. Like in any other sector, Falun Gong has benefited Falun Gong practitioners in science and arts sectors tremendously. Before the persecution started in 1999, groups of Falun Gong practitioners could be seen doing Falun Gong exercises throughout China. After the persecution, terror shrouded places that used to be peaceful practice sites.

--Women's rights and benefits. Female Falun Gong practitioners suffered fiendish abuse during this persecution, including all kinds of sexual assaults; pregnant practitioners were forced to have an abortion; lactating practitioners were illegally sentenced to forced labour and prisons; some were sent to mental hospitals and injected with nerve-damaging drugs; they were humiliated and beaten, which resulted in many deaths. According to incomplete statistics, female victims account for 52% of the more than 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners who were tortured to death and whose deaths have been verified through civil means.

--Protection of marriage and family, mothers and children. Falun Gong practitioners' personal freedom is not effectively protected, and some practitioners' marriage suffers from the persecution. Some government departments, including police departments and civil affair departments, even refuse to issue marriage certificates to Falun Gong practitioners. Families are used as a form of pressure to force practitioners to give up their practice. Some practitioners' families broke up as a result of the persecution. A young female practitioner was even tortured to death along with her baby boy. Some young children are also persecuted for practising Falun Gong, being detained, beaten and expelled from school.

--Proper rights of overseas Chinese. During the persecution, the Chinese government illegally detained overseas Chinese practitioners during their visit back home. They were illegally sent to forced labour camps, sentenced or expelled from China, and are refused entry to China for family visits.

--Judicial rights. The Ministry of Justice issued an order prohibiting lawyers to accept Falun Gong practitioners' cases, and lawyers are not allowed to defend Falun Gong practitioners; the "610 Office" dictates the sentencing of Falun Gong practitioners; practitioners' appeals and lawsuits are totally ignored; judicial departments refuse to file cases of abuse, torture, and murder of Falun Gong practitioners.

The anti-Falun Gong movement has been going on for over five years. Falun Gong practitioners inside and outside of China have persevered in clarifying the truth, regardless of how difficult it is, and they have united the forces of justice inside and outside of China. On the other hand, Jiang's political villains group is about to be brought to justice. Time is calling for the victims' victory. Falun Gong practitioners' courage and righteous faith will bring a bright future.

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