Letter from Member of the European Parliament to Iceland's Ambassador [June 18, 2002]
Mr. Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson
Ambassador of Iceland to the European Communities
74, rue des Tr ves
Brussels, 18 June 2002
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
Last week, the Chinese president, Mr. Jiang Zemin, visited Iceland. On the eve of his arrival, I was contacted by a number of Falun Gong practitioners trying to make their way to Iceland to pursue peaceful protests against human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government. I also learned about these events in the Icelandic media. According to these sources, many Falun Gong practitioners had been refused entry into Iceland and yet others were refused to board aircraft to Keflav kairport. Many of those who succeeded to arrive in Iceland were detained in a school. From what I have understood, these actions were taken by the Icelandic government to prevent demonstrations critical towards the Chinese leader.
Iceland's high democratic standards and the full respect to the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms paid by the Icelandic government have often impressed me. This is why I was particularly surprised by the information I received concerning the refusal to grant entry to citizens of the European Union and third-country nationals who aimed to promote respect for human rights, in accordance with democratic principles.
According to the EU acquis and the Schengen convention, Iceland is bound to guarantee free movement of persons arriving from the Schengen area, and to refrain from passport control. Also regarding third-country nationals crossing the external borders, I find it hard to believe that Schengen legislation provides for refusal of entry or detention on the grounds of planning democratic protests.
For the last couple of years, the Chinese government has pursued a systematic persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Thousands of innocent persons have been sent to labour camps without a fair trial, and yet others have been tortured or even killed by the police. Considering this, I find it legitimate for practitioners across the world to protest peacefully against the Chinese government, also when it is represented abroad.
I am concerned about the action taken by Iceland in this respect and would be interested to know more about the events that took place last week. I would also be very grateful for an explanation of why your government chose to detain Falun Gong practitioners and refused entry to many of those who planned demonstrations during Mr. Jiang Zemin's visit to Reykjav k. It would also be interesting to know whether the government considers the actions to be in compliance with the applicable Schengen legislation.
Cecilia Malmstr m
Member of the European Parliament
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