United Nations Commission on Human Rights Annual Report Critical of Chinese Government's Persecution of Falun Gong
(Clearwisdom.net) As the most authoritative international human rights monitoring agency, the United Nations Human Rights Commission attracts a great deal of attention during its annual conference in Geneva, Switzerland, which is held between March and April each year. The human rights monitoring arms, such as the Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs, present an annual report to more than 3,000 representatives from 53 member governments and 146 observing nations as well as numerous NGOs. In this report, special rapporteurs report their findings to the concerned governments regarding the cases of human rights violation in their countries. If Special Rapporteurs believe certain governments have seriously violated human rights, they will strongly condemn those governments. In other words, this report "grades" human rights violations in the respective governments. Since these human rights mechanisms are set up according to resolutions mandated by the UN Human Rights Commission, member nations are obligated to answer or respond to the Special Rapporteurs' questions and condemnations. Their improvements and explanations are also recorded in the annual reports as being the governments' truthful attitude toward human rights. Obviously, the Special Rapporteurs' reports play a critical role, and every speech and activity surrounding their report subsequently becomes the focus of international attention.
As the No. 1 human rights violator in the world, the Chinese Communist Party has tried to make the best use of this opportunity to export its lies and hatred by doing anything possible to spread false information to UN officials, employees, and representatives. In recent years, however, the Party's attempts have met with complete failure, as Chinese representatives' speeches invoke incredulous laughter for their obvious falsehoods. On the other hand, a peaceful and resilient force has gained increasing recognition and has been embraced on the world's stage, and that is the Falun Gong practitioners who testify during the world human rights forum and peacefully gather outside the Human Rights Conference in Geneva.
Since the persecution began in 1999, many Falun Gong practitioners have gone to Geneva to explain the facts to UN officials. In 2001, the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group (FGHRWG)'s effort to present the facts to the UN became organized and professional. The cases of persecution submitted by FGHRWG representatives caught the attention of UN agencies and officials. Many Special Rapporteurs confronted the Chinese government regarding certain cases, and the regime was forced to make some improvements or even release a few practitioners because of international pressure. When serious persecution cases are written into the UN's Annual Report, it means the regime's brutality is exposed to the world and will be forever recorded in history's hall of shame. This is what the regime fears the most--a resounding slap in the face by the forces for justice.
As Falun Gong practitioners' far-reaching truth clarification efforts have become more thorough, the United Nations has been paying increasing attention to the persecution. In the UN's 2007 and 2008 Annual Human Rights Reports, this trend is reflected in the following two major areas.
1. More cases concerning the persecution of Falun Gong are being recorded in greater detail
According to the 2007 report, the UN has confronted the Chinese Communist Party regarding the following persecution cases:
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of religion or Belief sent an Urgent Appeal on September 13, 2005, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women:
81. The Special Rapporteurs brought the two following cases to the attention of the government: On 21 May 2002, police officers from the Zhonggong police station arrested Ms. Ren Shujie, aged 42, living in the Tiexi District, Shengyang City, Liaoning Province, for practicing Falun Gong. She was later sentenced to three years of forced labor and was detained at the Longshan Forced Labor Camp. No charges were brought against her and she was provided no hearing before a court of law. She went on a hunger strike for 64 days, during which time she was subjected to torture and hard labor for 15 hours daily. After bringing an end to her hunger strike she nevertheless continued to be tortured by the prison guards, including Tang Yubao, who subjected her to electric shocks. On 22 March 2004, she was transferred to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp, where she was forced to sleep on cement floors for three months. She was released on 24 December 2004, due to her extremely weak physical condition. At the time of her release, she weighed less than 40 kg, whereas at the time of her arrest she weighed 80 kg. The several complaints that Ren Shujie made to the prison guards, who were the only authorities that she had access to, provided no response or amelioration to her conditions of detention.
82. On 21 January 2000, Ms. Liu Yunxiang, aged 32, who lived in Yangjiazhuang Village in Junbukou Township, was arrested by police officers assigned to Junbukou Township, Weifang City, Shandong Province, for practicing Falun Gong. No charges were brought against her and she was provided no hearing before a court of law. She was subjected to severe beatings, and the men who were arrested with her were forced to beat her and the other arrested women on their buttocks. During her detention, she was forced to curse the founder of Falun Gong, drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes, which is against Falun Gong principles. As a result of this treatment, Ms. Liu Yunxiang suffered a miscarriage. She was released after having to pay for her release. In the summer of 2001, she was arrested again for practicing Falun Gong and was once again subjected to torture including electric shocks, as a result of which she miscarried a second time. After 20 days of torture, she was sent to a detention center for another month, after which she was released.
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief sent Urgent Appeal on August 31, 2006 jointly with the Special Rapporteur on torture:
120. The Special Rapporteurs received information concerning Mr. Bu Dongwei (also known as David Bu), age 38, who is a Falun Gong practitioner. According to the allegations received, on 19 May 2006, he was detained by around seven police officers at his home in the Haidian district of Beijing. On 19 June 2006, he was assigned to two and a half years of forced labor in connection with his activities as a member of the Falun Gong spiritual movement by Beijing's Re-Education Through Labor Committee, which has the power to impose periods of arbitrary detention without charge or trial. He was accused of "Resisting the Implementation of National Laws" and "Disturbing the Social Order" on the basis of evidence including a verbal confession he made to the police and 80 copies of Falun Gong literature discovered in his home. He is due to be released on 18 November 2008.
The annual report paid special attention to the following cases:
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief sent Urgent Appeal on December 29, 2005, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and the Special Rapporteur on torture:
105. The Special Rapporteurs brought to the attention of the Government information they had received concerning two female Falun Gong practitioners. According to the information received, on the night of 24 November 2005, one woman aged 51 was taken away by an estimated seven policemen. Her home was ransacked and all Falun Gong materials were seized. She was taken to Dongchengfang Town Police Station in Tunzhou City, Hebei Province, where she was interrogated, beaten with rubber clubs, and shocked with stun batons. At approximately 2 p.m. on November 25, 2005, a police officer took her to a room, where he lifted her shirt and touched her breasts. He then shocked her breasts with a stun baton. Another police officer came into the room and raped her. During the rape, he repeatedly slapped her in the face. He then brought another woman, age 42, into the same room and raped her also. The two rapes took place in the presence of another police officer, who made no attempt to intervene or prevent the incidents.
(Note: In its response to the Urgent Appeal, the Communist regime admitted that two female Falun Gong practitioners were raped. But regarding appeals from other countries, the regime never admits any physical harm done to Falun Gong practitioners.)
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief sent Urgent Appeal on August 11, 2006, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on torture and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children:
107. The Special Rapporteurs brought to the attention of the Government information they had received concerning organ harvesting. According to the allegations received, organ harvesting has been inflicted on a large number of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations, for the purpose of making organs readily available for transplant operations. Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers, and corneas were systematically harvested from Falun Gong practitioners at Sujiatan Hospital, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, beginning in 2001. The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure and therefore were subsequently killed during the course of the organ harvesting operation or immediately thereafter.
108. It is reported that employees of several transplant centers have indicated that they have used the organs taken from living Falun Gong practitioners for transplants. After the organs were removed, the bodies were cremated, leaving no corpse left to examine for identification as the source of an organ transplant. Once the organs were removed they were shipped to transplant centers to be used for transplants for both domestic and foreign patients. Officials from several detention facilities have indicated that courts have been involved in administering the use of organs from Falun Gong detainees.
109. It is reported that there are many more organ transplant operations taking place than identifiable sources of organs exist, even taking into account figures from identifiable sources, namely, estimates of executed prisoners annually, from which a high percentage of organs are donated, according to the statement in 2005 of Deputy Minister of Health Mr. Huang Jiefu; willing donor family members, who for cultural reasons are often reluctant to donate their relatives' organs after death; and brain-dead donors. Moreover, the reportedly short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors.
110. It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and the numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons.
111. On organ transplants, in general, it has been reported that in March 2006, legislation was introduced which bans the sale of human organs and requires the donor to give written permission. The legislation also limits transplants to certain institutions, which must verify the source of the organs. This law came into force on 1 July 2006. Contrary to the government's assertion that human organs have been prohibited from being sold, in accordance with the 1991 WHO guiding principles, it has been reported that up to this time, Chinese law has allowed the buying and selling of organs, has not required that donors give written permission for their organs to be transplanted, there has been no restriction on the institutions which could engage in organ harvesting or transplants, there was no requirement that the institutions engaged in transplants had to verify that the organs being transplanted were from legal sources, and there was no obligation to have transplant ethics committees approve all transplants in advance. Moreover, evidence exists, for example, that at least up until April 2006, price lists for organ transplants in China were published on the Internet.
In the 2008 report, in addition to the repeated persecution cases that are of an especially grave nature, such as the rape of two female Falun Gong practitioners and the massive live organ harvesting, two more cases were added:
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief sent Urgent Appeal on December 1, 2006 jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on torture:
33. The Special Procedures mandate holders brought to the attention of the government information they had received regarding Mr. Zhang Hongwei, a member of the "Falun Gong," who was detained in Jilin Prison at the time the communication was sent. According to the information received, Mr. Hongwei was arrested in Beijing and sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment in 2001. He was transferred to Tiebei Prison in Changchun City, where he went on a 53-day hunger strike. He was subsequently transferred to Jilin Prison in March 2002. He was held in solitary confinement for two years and five months and was ill-treated. His health severely deteriorated. By the beginning of 2006, Mr. Zhang was continuously coughing and he was diagnosed with type III tuberculosis. Body fluid was accumulating in his chest and in March 2006 he also suffered from pleurisy, high blood pressure, and heart disease. He was transferred to the prison hospital, but he was still being ill-treated by the prison guards. Several applications by Mr. Zhang's family for medical parole and access to his X-rays were refused. Furthermore, his family's requests to visit him were denied.
Urgent appeal sent on December 22, 2006 jointly with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:
38. The Special Procedures mandate holders brought to the attention of the government information they had received concerning Mr. Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner. According to the information received, on 21 May 2006, Mr. Dong met with the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott, in Beijing. Following this meeting, Mr. Cao was arrested and transferred to the Gansu Province State Security Bureau Detention Center. On 29 September 2006, Mr. Dong was charged with "producing Falun Gong material." His current whereabouts are unclear and his family has not been allowed to visit him since the arrest. Gansu local authorities informed Mr. Dong's family that he will be on trial soon. Mr. Dong had previously been placed in administrative custody for being a Falun Gong practitioner.
2. United Nations' condemnation of the regime's persecution of Falun Gong has employed increasingly stronger and unequivocal language
In the 2007 annual report by the UN Human Rights Commission, Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture, presented certain facts based on two weeks of on-site investigations in China between November 20 and December 2, 2005, and his speech is widely quoted.
81. In the opinion of the Special Rapporteur, the combination of deprivation of liberty as a sanction for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, assembly, and religion, with measures of "re-education" through coercion, humiliation, and punishment aimed at achieving an admission of culpability and altering the personality of the detainee up to the point of even breaking his will, strike at the very core of the human right to personal integrity, dignity, and humanity. It constitutes a form of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment leading to submissiveness and a "culture of fear," which is incompatible with the core values of any democratic society based upon a culture of human rights.
Asma Jahangir, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, quoted her predecessor, who drew the following conclusions after conducting on-site investigations in China between November 19 and November 30, 1994.
The Special Rapporteur regrets that she has not received a reply from the government concerning the above mentioned allegation. She would like to refer to her predecessor's conclusions and recommendations after his country visit (E/CN.4/1995/91, page 133): "The Special Rapporteur considers that there must be no interference with religious activity falling within the scope of the 1981 Declaration. At all events, there must not be any surveillance of a kind to infringe on the right to freedom of belief and to manifest one's belief. With regard to sects, the Special Rapporteur particularly wishes to point out that the 1981 Declaration protects not only religion but also theist beliefs and that article 1, paragraph 3, of that Declaration states that freedom to manifest one's religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."
In the 2008 Annual Report, Jahangir emphasized the rape of two female Falun Gong practitioners in Hebei Province, and she pointed out:
25. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate that women and detainees are in a particularly vulnerable situation and it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the States' legislative and administrative systems provide adequate protection to victims and effective remedies. The Special Rapporteur would also appreciate further information about the allegation that the two rapes took place in the presence of another police officer, who reportedly made no attempt to intervene or prevent the incidents.
She articulated the definition of "evil cult" in the 2008 annual report:
32. The Special Rapporteur is grateful for the government's response. With regard to the question of "cults" or "sects," she would like to refer to the chapter on "Religious minorities and new religious movements" in her report to the fourth session of the Human Rights Council (see A/HRC/4/21, paras. 43-47). The Special Rapporteur reiterates her predecessor's assessment that, apart from the legal courses available against harmful activities, "it is not the business of the State or any other group or community to act as the guardian of people's consciences and encourage, impose, or censure any religious belief or conviction" (E/CN.4/1997/91, para. 99). Similarly, during the elaboration of general comment No. 22, Human Rights Committee member Rosalyn Higgins "resolutely opposed the idea that States could have complete latitude to decide what was and what was not a genuine religious belief. The contents of a religion should be defined by the worshipers themselves; as for manifestations, article 18, paragraph 3, existed to prevent them from violating the rights of others." (CCPR/C/SR.1166, para. 48)
In the 2008 report, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief repeatedly emphasized, "We are highly attentive toward the continuous encroachment of the religious freedom of Falun Gong adherents in China."
The above trend shows that the international community is paying more attention to the persecution of Falun Gong. It also demonstrates that Falun Gong practitioners' persistent truth clarification efforts are having an extraordinary effect; they are and will deeply penetrate all aspects of society. As we continue to deepen our truth clarification to the United Nations, the sense of justice in the international community will be able to resist the Party's monetary offers and/or insidious pressure, and will publicly condemn this evil force to come together and end the persecution. Therefore, Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group hopes to better cooperate with fellow Falun Gong practitioners and to awaken more hearts by presenting the facts.