October 14, 2002

Dear Sinikka Suontakanen:

I thank you for the letter I received, which you delivered on behalf of the female Falun Gong practitioners who have been subjected to severe human rights violations in China. In trying to carry out open human rights politics in Finland, interaction and dialogue with NGO's is very important.

Respecting the human rights is a common goal and concern of the international community. No country today can isolate itself to systematically practice violation of the human rights of it's own citizens without the knowledge of it spreading all over the world, and without it being reacted on.

The emphasis of the Finnish Human Rights politics is on the rights of women, children, ethnic minorities and aboriginals. Female practitioners of Falun Gong are in a very vulnerable position as "minorities women", thus the human rights violations against them is a specific issue of concern.

Human rights questions are discussed regularly in relations between Finland and China, as in discussions with other countries at every level. Most important channel in the work of the Finnish government in promoting human rights is the European Union.

The restriction on freedom of belief and conscience of different groups and individuals in China is discussed regularly in human rights dialogue between EU an China. These questions are specifically defined as a certain area, on which EU tries to achieve results with with the help of the practiced dialogue. The last time human rights questions were brought up officially was in Copenhagen at the top meeting between EU and China in September.

EU has repeatedly expressed to China's authorities it's concern of the actions against spiritual groups. EU has also in a same way brought up with China's authorities some single cases concerning members of Falun Gong. This will be done in the future too. Human rights are in particular the rights of an individual, which a government's responsibility is to respect and protect.

The reports of systematic torture, rape, murder and humiliation of female Falun Gong practitioners are shocking to read. To be a high-standard member accepted by the international community, every country, including China, has to respect the human rights of its citizens and also has to specifically protect women who are in a weaker position. I will also be active in the future according to my possibilities both individually and on behalf of my position in respecting the human rights on both national and international level.

I wish you success in your significant human rights work.

Tarja Filatov