27 January 2003

Consul General of Myanmar


We are writing to you in order, through your offices, to request the Government of Myanmar to release immediately a permanent resident of Hong Kong who has been a prisoner in Rangoon since January 2002.

On 12 December 2001, Mr. Chan Wing Yuen, who is over 70 years of age, was arrested in Rangoon for having displayed a small banner in a public street with the words "Zhen-Shan-Ren" (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance) in Chinese.

Mr. Chan is a Falun Gong practitioner. Falun Gong is a meditation practice of the Buddha School which is currently the object of brutal repression in China. The three words "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," which express principles also recognized by all the great traditions, are the basis of Falun Gong. In anticipation of a visit by President Jiang Zemin, who is directly responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong and its thousands of victims, Mr. Chan chose to display his banner along the route Jiang Zemin was expected to take.

On 31 January 2002, Mr. Chan was secretly sentenced to seven years' imprisonment without assistance from a lawyer or any member of his family. The local police, pressured by representatives of the Chinese Embassy, requested Mr. Chan to write a letter undertaking to give up Falun Gong in exchange for his freedom. Mr. Chan refused to submit to this blackmail.

We, who are citizens of Switzerland with its long tradition of humanitarian rights, find intrigues of this kind quite incomprehensible and totally unacceptable. No disturbance of public order was recorded. How is it possible that in your country, which is currently making efforts to return to the international stage, the mere words "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance" can put an elderly man in prison for seven years? It is quite simply absurd and truly scandalous.

Falun Gong has been practiced in Switzerland for more than five years without posing the least problem. The same is true of some sixty countries where this spiritual practice brings numerous benefits both to society and to its practitioners.

Jiang Zemin and a number of senior leaders have since July 1999 been involved in the mass repression of Falun Gong practitioners. The virulence of their campaign cannot fail to remind us Europeans of the misdeeds of a certain ill-famed Hitler. The figures are extremely alarming; hundreds of people have been tortured, sentenced to labor camps or dismissed from their jobs. The deaths of more than 550 persons have been verified, but some sources put the number at over 7,000.

The length and extent of the persecution mean that history, even in China, will sooner or later recognize these crimes against humanity. Is the name of Myanmar to be linked with such infamous crimes? Is it in Myanmar's interests to accommodate its neighbour in this way, while flouting the most visible international standards?

We, as Swiss citizens and practitioners of Falun Gong, vehemently protest against this criminal interference on the part of China and urge your Government to find the pride and the courage to resist the political pressure and to show a dignified respect for justice by releasing Mr. Chan unconditionally.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.

Yours faithfully,

Swiss Falun Gong Association