April 26, 2001


Holding dialogues regarding human rights has by now become routine for the mighty in Beijing. Nary a month goes by without a foreign delegation traveling to China to hold talks with the Party leadership about torture, death sentences and forced labor camps. This week it is the Germans' turn, nine of them, all members of the Human Rights Commission of the Bundestag, Germany's governing body. This did not bother Beijing's leaders very much, since the Security Police arrested at least 30 peaceful members of Falun Gong.

The delegates will be in China for 10 days. They traveled to the remote, poor and destitute areas of China, the Provinces Gansu and Quinghai. They spoke with Tibetan and Moslem minorities, informed themselves about freedom of religion and even visited a "transformation through forced labor" camp. They debated in Beijing with party functionaries and assistant foreign minister Ma Catering. They spent eight hours alone in discussions with Chinese citizens' delegations, so said the delegation leader, Christa Nickels (Green Party). But the results were as slim as in previous visits: "All critical questions, when it came down to specific issues, were systematically blocked," said Heiner Geissler (Christian Democratic Union/CDU).

Arbitrary death sentences, persecution of believers, torture and forced labor camps are the issues. In all these the Chinese counterparts were as unyielding as of 10 years ago. The Germans time and again ran into concrete walls. What will become of those transformation camps? The party cadres defend their "correct system" of incarceration sentences. Death sentences? Those are supposedly important in their fight against criminals. Will China join the UN pact? Sometime, perhaps... Torture? Exists only in rare cases. Could Beijing at least offer some information on the status of the Panchen Lama, the little boy who already has been held for five years? We can't do that. "By holding this boy, we shielded him from exploitation and therefore protected his human rights" was their answer.

With this tactic of cynicism, the leaders in Beijing have for many years avoided open discussions. When the West wants to engage in human rights dialogue, Beijing dishes out a formula. But answers or a change in thought do not exist. During his visit in China last fall, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer handed Beijing a list of dissidents whose status he would like to learn. Beijing reacted with pat answers. On all critical points there exist "irreconcilable differences," noted Nickels. Those differences were evident on the street yesterday: while the Germans discussed religious freedom with the Federal Prosecutor, Liang Quoqing, police were hunting Falun Gong practitioners all over the Heavenly Freedoms Square. More than 30 people who wanted to quietly meditate in commemoration of the big Falun Gong demonstration were arrested. They are faced with imprisonment in a forced-labor camp.

[Chinese version on http://www.minghui.ca/mh/articles/2001/5/2/10572.html]