Ref.:99.031/3/00 New York, March 23, 2000

Dear Mr. H,

I would like to thank you for your letter dated 10 February 2000, in which you inform us about the persecution of Falun Gong members in China and your personal experiences with that practice. Let me briefly outline the position of the Austrian Government regarding that issue:

Like her partners within the European Union, Austria monitors the human rights situation in China very closely. Austria notes with great concern that the Chinese government continues its repressive practices against members of the Falun Gong and other religious groups. Austria strongly condemns the detention of thousands of adherents of Falun Gong since the ban on the movement was pronounced in July 1999, as well as the long prison sentences imposed on four Falun Gong leaders. Austria is equally concerned about the administrative sentences of re-education through labour passed on many Falun Gong practitioners. We have always emphysised that these practices constitute a violation of human rights that cannot be tolerated.

As you probably know, the European Union has taken up the situation of Falun Gong within the framework of the human rights dialogue with people's Republic of China and will continue to do so. It has urged Chinese authorities on several occasions to respect the basic of Falun Gong members.

Human rights are inherent to all people, without discrimination on the grounds of their political, philosophical or religious background. With this in mind, Austria will continue to address the situation of Falun Gong wherever appropriate.

Yours sincerely

Engelbert Theuermann



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