Statement by NGO Interfaith International at the 56th Session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (Photo)
The fifty-sixth session of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights is taking place this year from July 26 to August 13 at the Office of the United Nations in Geneva. A representative of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Interfaith International made a statement on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights. The complete text is below.
Working Group established to examine the working methods and
activities of transnational corporations
Responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We speak on behalf of Interfaith International and wish to thank you for the work you are doing, which becomes increasingly urgent. We wish to draw your attention to the problem of the origin of products manufactured principally in China. In fact, there are currently more and more reports on Chinese products which use only a borrowed name to hide economic slavery, without western enterprises suspecting the fact.
Nestle, for example, was directly implicated in 2001. Nestle had placed an order for soft-toy rabbits at a toy factory in Beijing. These toys were in fact made in a forced labour camp at Xinan, Beijing, where 90 per cent of the detainees are innocent victims imprisoned because they practise the method of qigong called Falun Gong and cultivate three universal values: Truthfulness, Benevolence and Tolerance. The practitioners work like slaves under torture and constant persecution. All the products made there for export are soiled with pus, blood and tears.
The number of forced labour camps transformed into factories is many. We deplore the fact that the Special Rapporteur on torture had to cancel his visit to the camps at the request of the Chinese Government that allegedly needs more time to prepare. The majority of national and transnational business enterprises are completely ignorant of the manner in which the products they sell in our western world are manufactured and, even more so, the consumer. This system was set up by the Chinese Government and is encouraged at all levels and supported by corruption.
Another danger for business enterprises with subsidiaries in China lies in the fact that their directors can find themselves participating in the total eradication campaign aimed at 70 to 100 million innocent people: Mary Kay and Volkswagen have begun to give notice to their employees solely because they practise this method.
Purely for economic interests, enterprises of all sizes and foreign investors who are aware of the situation prefer to close their eyes. They do not consider the fact that they are making themselves accomplices of what well-known human rights lawyers consider one of the most serious situations of persecution and genocide currently existing, in terms both of its size and of the means used: slander, incitement to hatred, incitement to denounce, privation of all social, economic and cultural rights, torture and murder. One quarter of the financial resources of China is being used for this repression. Thus, all contracts, all investment and all setting up of enterprises support this persecution. The initiator Jiang Zemin and his main collaborators are now the subjects of a lawsuit in Chicago and complaints filed in some 15 countries for torture, crimes against humanity and genocide.
What enterprises do not know is that their financial aid is equally feeding the extension of this persecution in our countries and the growth of the violence. In fact, since July 1999 those who practise Falun Gong and who denounce the persecution, whatever their nationality, are being spied upon, followed, photographed, their telephones are tapped, computers hacked, they are put on a blacklist, harassed and threatened. An example took place recently for the first time outside China, at the end of June 2004 in South Africa, when Australian practitioners were shot on sight while they were preparing to file a lawsuit against two Chinese officials responsible for the repression.
Thanks to the norms established by the Working Group we hope that not only the victims will be defended but also the enterprises and investors protected, so that respect for fundamental rights will take precedence over economic interest.
Thank you for your attention.