(Clearwisdom.net) Journalist Yue Ran reports from Boston: During a lecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by French Minister of Finance Francis Mer, the French delegation accompanying him learned of the recent Paris incident in which police had arrested Falun Gong practitioners without cause. They responded, "As French citizens, we apologize to you."

The Minister of Finance Avoided Falun Gong When Answering Questions

On February 5, 2004, as part of the MIT France Program, the French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry, Francis Mer, visited Boston and delivered a lecture to the MIT faculty and students, entitled "From technological excellence to economic growth: innovation as the core of French economic policy." During Hu Jintao's visit to France, Paris policemen unjustly detained Falun Gong practitioners. Due to the severity of this incident, some Boston Falun Gong practitioners went to MIT in hopes of speaking to the French Minister in person.

During questions and answers that followed Mr. Francis Mer's lecture, Falun Gong practitioners first thanked the Minister of Finance for visiting MIT and then raised two questions: "1. When you have mastered the management of economy, what is the relationship between business and the universal values of freedom and human rights? Have you ever experienced a situation in which you have had to sacrifice these universal values in order to maintain or secure economic interests? 2. Are you aware of the incident during Chinese leader Hu Jintao's visit to France in which peaceful Falun Gong practitioners were unjustly detained for wearing yellow scarves?"

Finance Minister Mer emphasized that the French Government firmly believes in freedom and human rights in a developing economy, and that the French Government protects these universal values. When pressed with further questioning, however, he simply repeated that he had no comment on the issue of Falun Gong.

Practitioners Mingled With Visitors To Explain The Incident

Following the lecture, there was a buffet provided by the French Embassy. After briefly greeting the Finance Minister, his delegation, French TV journalists from New York, the organizers of this activity, and the MIT faculty and students, Falun Gong practitioners addressed the incident of human rights violations during Spring Festival in Paris and provided related background information.

Ms. Wang, a biotech pharmaceutical company scientist, said, "I took a half day off from my work just to attend today's lecture activity because of what I recently saw happen in Paris. Falun Gong practitioners were detained for no reason, which resulted in negative consequences for France and the French people. I want to make this known to the visitors from afar and to all those who are concerned for and love France."

The Assistant To The Financial Minister Explicitly Apologized As A French Citizen

After listening to the truth clarification, the assistant to the French Finance Minister Mer told practitioners that the acts of policemen were wrong. He said, "As a French official, I cannot say anything. However, as a citizen of France, I apologize to you."

A French journalist who had come from New York to report on the event said he knew that while many journalists were ready to report the incident of unjust detention, they had been restrained by pressure from higher authorities. He said that the French media should have been allowed more freedom and that this incident was not consistent with the will of the French people.

The practitioners had originally planned to visit the French Consulate to clarify the truth, but were unexpectedly introduced to the Consul General of France in Boston, Thierry Vankerk-Hoven, by an embassy official who had listened to the truth clarification. Practitioners presented the photos of French policemen arresting practitioners and quoted French Minister of the Interior Patrick Devedjian, who said, "this unreasonable action should never be repeated." Consul General Thierry Vankerk-Hoven advised that practitioners could file a lawsuit over such actions at the Department of Justice in France.

The Heart-Felt Words And The Power Of Righteousness

During this activity, all of the French people present, regardless of whether they were government officials, journalists, students or small business owners, expressed their regret and uneasiness over the Paris incident. Some also said they felt helpless.

Ms. Wang said that she hoped the French government would respect the interests of the French people by correcting their mistakes and amending the negative consequences of the Paris incident.

Ms. Wang said, "I talked to everyone with words from my heart. I love the French culture and respect the French people, but what recently happened in Paris damaged the interests and reputation of France and the French people. A tiny bit of economic interest is temporary, but upholding the ideals of freedom and human rights in a democratic country is far-reaching. I felt that people were moved since they all began helping me with their ideas and suggestions.