U.K. Annual Human Rights Report On Falun Gong
The U.K. Annual Human Rights Report 2002, which came out this week, continues to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in China. The report indicates, "...there are credible reports of many thousands of Falun Gong adherents detained without trial for 're-education'. There is evidence of misuse of psychiatric institutions to detain and 'treat' Falun Gong adherents and other dissidents."
The report points out, "We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in China. The last year has seen continuing harassment of dissidents, some religious practitioners and Falun Gong adherents."
The Chinese Constitution entitles people to the right of freedom of religion and belief. But as the report indicates, when attempting to exercise this right of freedom, the Chinese people have encountered great difficulty.
In China, torture and mistreatment remain serious problems that have been reported in police stations, detention centers, prisons and drug rehabilitation centers. Although torture and mistreatment are illegal, in practice many perpetrators acting in an official capacity are excluded from prosecution.
In addition, the report also points out "There are continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and association."
When referring to the UK-China Human Rights Dialogues, the report points out that "The Dialogue does not stop us speaking about abuses in China and pressing for improvements. We do so publicly and in private - through the Dialogue and through Ministerial contacts. In his speech to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in April 2002, the Foreign Secretary said: 'We have serious concerns over China's treatment of dissidents and religious minorities...'"
In the section referring to Hong Kong, the report describes the political trial of the sixteen Falun Gong practitioners, and also mentions the incident in which nearly one hundred overseas Falun Gong practitioners were denied entry to Hong Kong for the fifth anniversary celebration of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, during the Chinese dictator's visit. The reports says, "We believe that key principles of the Joint Declaration, including freedom of speech, of assembly, of association and of travel, must not be compromised if Hong Kong is to retain its image as a free and open society." The report states that the UK government is "following developments [in the trial] closely."
In the "Foreword" to the report, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "The tragic lesson we learned from the attacks on the Twin Towers was that no matter how distant such evil seems we ignore it at our peril."
"The promotion of human rights is not just right in itself but an integral part of our long-term security. The most sustainable path to stability and prosperity is through respect for freedom and justice."