Extending the Persecution of Falun Gong to Europe: Summary and Sample List of Chinese Officials' Violations of Civil Rights, Laws and Sovereignty in Europe
The Purpose of this document
Soon after Jiang Zemin first initiated the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China in 1999, incidents of Chinese officials threatening, harassing, and assaulting Falun Gong practitioners in Europe began to occur. According to reliable sources inside China, as early as October 2000, Jiang had given the order to implement a policy to "intensify the campaign [against Falun Gong] overseas, collect more information and prevent protests"*. In addition to directly harassing Falun Gong practitioners, Chinese officials in consulates and embassies around Europe have interfered with the peaceful, legitimate, and legal activities of Falun Gong practitioners in Europe by pressuring officials, businesses, and community organizations to withdraw support or deny services to those who practice or support Falun Gong. These repeated incidents have become a deeply felt matter of personal security for many Europeans.
This document provides a summary and partial list of these cases, presenting serious reason to believe that Chinese officials are stepping beyond their diplomatic duties to violate civil rights, laws, and sovereignty in Europe. It is hoped that this information will serve to raise public awareness and alert authorities in Europe to oppose these human rights abuses and protect their country's sovereignty and their citizens' rights in correlation with the European Human Rights Convention and each country's respective constitution.
Summary and Sample List of Cases
1. Harassment and Assault
During Jiang Zemin's visit to Germany in April 2002, Falun Gong practitioners were harassed, assaulted, and evicted from their hotel rooms by both Chinese and German secret service agents. In some cases, this happened after practitioners exercised their freedom of expression in protesting against the severe human rights abuses for which Jiang is responsible, but in many instances they were harassed simply for being of Chinese decent or for wearing yellow clothing. The following is one example:
On April 11, as Jiang's car procession arrived in front of the Kempinski Hotel in Dresden, Ms. Linghu Zhan, a 40 year-old woman, cried out "Falun Gong is good!" Before she was able to finish the sentence, a Chinese secret service agent grabbed her by the throat and choked her. Two German security officers then arrived and immediately removed the woman from the scene.
On March 31 2003, the painting exhibition of Chinese-Australian artist and Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Zhang Cuiying was scheduled to take place at the Art Galleries of "Teatrul Foarte Mic" Theatre in downtown Bucharest in Romania. Shortly after an advertisement announcing the exhibit was published in a local newspaper, on March 27th the organizers received a phone call from a man who introduced himself as a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Bucharest. He requested that the event be cancelled, saying that the Chinese government does not allow such activities.
The organizers, nonetheless, decided to hold the exhibition as scheduled. During the exhibition's opening ceremony, three representatives from the Chinese Embassy arrived and closed it by force. They distributed false information claiming that the exhibition was illegal and that the Romanian government was opposed to Falun Gong, and then forced the spectators to leave. They physically assaulted the organizers, including an Australian citizen who was videotaping the event.
A Romanian official later stated: "From the point of view of the Romanian authorities, Ms. Zhang Cuiying is free to organize and hold a painting exhibition in Romania...The closing of the exhibition in Bucharest was caused by misunderstandings related to organizational matters in which the Romanian authorities have not been involved".
2. Damage to Property
In July 2000, several employees of the Chinese Embassy in France including the Consul Wu Yongqing (the second highest ranking official after the ambassador) came to the Parisian restaurant owned by Shoumei Wu, a Falun Gong practitioner. They threatened Mr. Wu that if he attended a peaceful appeal in front of the embassy on the following day, he would be personally responsible for anything that fell upon him as a result. Despite the officials' threats, Mr. Wu participated in the following day's activity. Approximately two weeks later, on the morning of August 6, Mr. Wu found that his restaurant had been broken into. Two glass doors were broken and the restaurant was in shambles, yet the cash register remained untouched, indicating that the vandals were not burglars.
In August 2002, the fuel line was cut on the car of Roland Gottschlag, a Falun Gong practitioner from Hanau, Germany, as it was parked outside of his home. That day, a neighbor reportedly observed several Chinese individuals in dark suits acting suspiciously as they walked up and down the street. When the fuel line was inspected at a local garage, it was discovered that it had clearly been severed by a pair of pliers.
3. Incitement of Hatred in European Communities
The Chinese embassies and consulates in Europe frequently display and distribute hate-inciting materials about Falun Gong. The Chinese embassies' web sites in nearly every European country post hate-inciting misinformation about Falun Gong. The following case that occurred in Belgium is typical and similar exhibitions have been documented in France, England, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Holland, Sweden, Italy and Russia as well:
On January 8 2002, the Chinese Embassy in Brussels held an anti-Falun Gong exhibition that included materials slandering Falun Gong, Falun Gong's founder, and Falun Gong practitioners. The propaganda's accusations of so-called atrocities committed by Falun Gong practitioners were based on incidents that have been proven to be fabricated, such as the staged immolation that took place on Tiananmen Square in 2001. Members of the European Parliament and the Belgian government were invited to the event, as were local students, community members, and media. Chinese Ambassador Guan Chengyuan made a speech at the beginning of the exhibition in which he described Falun Gong as "anti-humanity" and "endangering society," thus harming the reputation of Falun Gong practitioners who live in Brussels, as well as placing them in a difficult situation in their own communities.
Representatives of the Chinese embassies and consulates in Europe have often used European media outlets as a stage for slandering Falun Gong. The following case occurred in the Republic of Macedonia, but similar cases have also been documented in France, Belgium, Russia, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway:
On October 10 2003, Dnevnik, a daily newspaper in the Republic of Macedonia, published an interview with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Wanxue. In the interview, the Ambassador repeatedly made defamatory remarks against Falun Gong as well as statements declaring that allowing Macedonians to practice Falun Gong freely "would be harmful for Macedonian-Chinese relations". Such statements jeopardize Falun Gong practitioners' relationship with their own government as well as their right to freedom of belief.
4. Pressuring European Government Officials to Deny/Withdraw Support or Curb Activities
On September 11 2001, Ukranian citizen Igor Izevlin and several other Falun Gong practitioners held a peaceful appeal in front of the Chinese embassy in Kiev. Shortly after dark, a large number of policemen arrived at the scene, broke several posters displaying evidence of the human rights violations suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China and arrested Mr. Izevlin. One of the representatives of the police who arrived at the scene, told the practitioners: "You should put yourself in our position and understand our difficulties. The Chinese Embassy puts constant pressure on us." Mr. Izevlin was released several hours later.
In December 2001, the Chinese Embassy in Kiev sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice of the Ukraine calling Falun Gong a "**" and "**". It was also stated in the letter: "The Embassy of the People's Republic of China addresses the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine with the request...to take effective measures for the suppression of the tendency of spreading Falun Gong in the Ukraine." Similar letters were also sent to other ministries, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, which in turn led to the cancellation of a Falun Gong activity at a medical school in Novgorod-Seversky City.
Officials from the Chinese embassies have repeatedly pressured local authorities to revoke Falun Gong practitioners' permits for conducting peaceful appeals in front of the embassy, often falsely claiming that practitioners were being loud or disturbing public order. The following are two examples of such incidents:
In August 2002, the Chinese embassy in Denmark sent slanderous material and a letter to the police complaining about Falun Gong practitioners' peaceful daily appeals in front of the embassy. As a result, practitioners were forced to change the site of their appeal. After an appeal to the Danish Ministry of Justice, the Falun Gong practitioners were permitted to return to the original location in July 2003.
In June 2003, during a peaceful appeal by Falun Gong practitioners in front of the Chinese embassy in Budapest, Hungary, an official emerged from the embassy and harassed the practitioners, while another official photographed them. The embassy then issued a complaint with the Budapest police headquarters, asking that the appeal in front of the embassy be cancelled. When the policed arrived to investigate the request, one of them pointed out: "They are just sitting here in meditation. How are these people disturbing you?"
Similar incidents have all occurred in Sweden, Russia, France, Spain and Moldova.
5. Discrimination and Pressure on European Media and Organizations to Deny Privileges or Services
In July 2003, Hans Hirschi, a politician from Gothenburg, Sweden, received an invitation for a meeting from the Chinese Consul General. During the meeting, the Consul General pressured Mr. Hirschi to stop the broadcast of a program about Falun Gong that is aired weekly on a local radio station. The Consul hinted that continuing to air the program could threaten the relationship between China and Sweden, naming specifically business cooperation between Shanghai and Gothenburg. When Mr. Hirschi refused the request, the Chinese consulate contacted the Management Section to which the local station belongs and pressured them to terminate financial support for the station. In an interview on TV Channel #4, the General Consul did not deny trying to stop the Swedish Falun Gong radio program.
On multiple occasions, the Chinese government has pressured government officials and museum owners to cancel the painting exhibition of Chinese-Australian artist and Falun Gong practitioner Zhang Cuiying:
On March 17 2003, following pressure from the Chinese embassy, Cuiying's exhibition was cancelled just hours before it was due to open at the Archive Museum of Literature and Art in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.
On October 15 2003, Cuiying's exhibition, scheduled to be held at the Bulgarian Parliament in Sofia, was cancelled at the last minute after the Chinese Ambassador to Bulgaria, Xie Hanxin, arrived with several other officials and asked the General Secretary of the Parliament to terminate the exhibition.
Chinese embassies and consulates have repeatedly pressured the organizers of community events to cancel the participation of Falun Gong practitioners. In most instances, the organizers have refused.
Falun Gong practitioners were denied their application for a stand at the Chinese Spring Festival celebrations that were to be held in Switzerland in February 2003. The reason given by the sponsor of the event was that he feared that granting their request might upset the Chinese Ambassador who was scheduled to attend the festivities in person.
In June 2003, a representative from the Chinese Consulate in Edinburgh, Scotland wrote to the organizer of the "Edinburgh One World Festival" complaining that Falun Gong practitioners had participated in the previous year's festival and requesting that Falun Gong be omitted from this year's program. The organizer ignored the request, saying: "We can invite whoever we like".
Similar incidents have occurred in Italy, France, Holland, Ireland, Belgium and Denmark.
6. Blacklisting and Interference with Falun Gong Practitioners' Travel to Other Countries
Traveling to Iceland in June 2002 to take part in a peaceful appeal for Falun Gong during the visit of China's former leader Jiang Zemin, at least 20 European practitioners found their names on a blacklist and had their carriage to Iceland denied at several international airports. This group included citizens from France, Germany, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Two practitioners from Denmark were detained at the airport in Reykjavik upon arrival, and four German practitioners were stopped at the airport and required to sign a declaration as a condition of entry into Iceland. Several other European practitioners of Chinese decent had their visa applications denied in advance.
These practitioners were among over 200 from at least 10 countries affected by the blacklist, which had been supplied to the Icelandic government by Chinese authorities and which was apparently the result of Chinese illicit actions in Western democratic societies. Icelandic media, citizens, and civil rights groups broadly denounced their government's actions, pointing out that the discrimination it bred violated Iceland's own constitution. In June 2003, the Icelandic Data Protection Authority decided that The Ministry of Justice's distribution of information about Falun Gong to Icelandair Ltd. and to the embassies of Iceland in the U.S.A., Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom and France in order to hinder the arrival of Falun Gong practitioners in Iceland was illegal.
The following are two sample cases of European citizens being denied entrance to Iceland clearly because they practice Falun Gong:
Mr. Li Shao, a British citizen and university lecturer, arrived at London Heathrow Airport on June 12 2002 to travel to Iceland. Upon arrival at the Icelandair check-in counter, he was informed that his name was not on the passenger list and was referred to the ticket counter where he spoke with an official from the Icelandic Embassy. The official immediately asked Mr. Li if he was "a member of the Falun Gong organization". Despite Mr. Li's attempts to assert his right to freedom of belief and clarify that Falun Gong practitioners had always acted peacefully during previous Chinese official visits, he was refused boarding.
Ms. Xie Jing, a Swiss citizen and university student from Geneva, was unable to travel to Iceland after the Icelandic Ministry of Justice contacted her travel agent and advised him to cancel Ms. Xie's ticket. When Ms. Xie contacted the Icelandic Consulate in Geneva to inquire about this, she was told that she would not be allowed entrance into Iceland because her name was on a list concerning Falun Gong.
In July 2000, Ms. Zheng Fang Mo and her husband Yi You were told by a clerk at the Chinese Embassy in London, England that unless they stopped practicing Falun Gong, their 6-month old daughter would not be issued a passport and neither would a special page for her be inserted into Ms. Zheng's passport. Furthermore, when Ms. Zheng expressed her will to suspend her daughter's application and have her own passport returned to her, this request was denied. As a result, Ms. Zheng has been unable to continue her studies in Dundee or travel outside of the United Kingdom.
Several European citizens from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and England who practice Falun Gong have had their applications for visas to travel to China and Hong Kong refused by the Chinese embassies and consulates with no legitimate reason given.
7. Phone Tapping, Threats, and Intimidation
On April 1 2001, Walter Krickl, a German citizen living in Stuttgart, Germany received an anonymous phone call from a German national. The caller said that while at the airport he had overheard a conversation between two Chinese nationals in which Mr. Krickl's name came up frequently. He warned Mr. Krickl not to take the Chinese lightly and suggested that Mr. Krickl change his identity.
During a demonstration of the Falun Gong exercises in Milan, Italy, on November 10 2001, officials from the Chinese consulate who were dining in a nearby restaurant photographed the practitioners and recorded their conversations with passers-by.
In March 2002, a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner in Italy received two calls from a male who told him in Chinese: "300,000 Chinese in Italy will never spare you. Be careful of your life."
Similar incidents have also been documented in Holland, Ireland and Sweden.
8. Internet Interference
In August 2002, the e-mail addresses of Falun Gong practitioners in Germany were flooded with e-mails containing slanderous material about Falun Gong and insulting or threatening messages. The source of the e-mails could not be traced but the messages had recognizable Chinese/German grammatical language errors. Similar cases were documented in Sweden.
Several days before April 25 and July 20 in the years 2001 and 2002, days on which large-scale Falun Gong activities were planned, a Falun Gong practitioner in Germany was overloaded with hundreds of e-mail messages to the point that his e-mail account crashed. During this period, many German Falun Gong practitioners also received emails that appeared to be from another practitioner and which contained a virus; it was later discovered that they had actually not been sent by that practitioner. Similar email attacks occurred at around the same time in England, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Austria, France, Italy and Spain as well.
9. Interference in Business Ventures and Employment
In August 2002, the Chinese National Security Bureau seized and forcibly closed down three companies in Tianjin involved in trade between Denmark and China because their owner, Xuezhi Zhu, is a Falun Gong practitioner. As a result of the Chinese government's actions, Mr. Zhu's work permit in Denmark expired on September 15 2003 and he now faces possible deportation back to China. Peter Skaarup, the Danish People's Party spokesman on foreign policy submitted a request to Foreign Minister Stig Moller to investigate the Chinese embassy's involvement in this case.
In October 2001, Alfredo Fava, an Italian citizen and Falun Gong practitioner from Milan, was arrested at Shanghai airport and subsequently deported while on a business trip to visit his company Shanghai Famas, which he founded in 1995. Despite promises by Chinese authorities that he could go to China whenever he wished, Mr. Fava's visa application has recently been turned down three times following a declaration by Gao Shumao, the Chinese general consul in Milan, that he considers Mr. Fava to be a dangerous person because of his participation in Falun Gong activities.
On October 4 2003, Zhao Liping, a doctor of Chinese medicine and Falun Gong practitioner was forced to resign from her post at the Chinese medical clinic in Edinburgh, Scotland after her employer received a letter from the local Chinese Consulate because Ms. Zhao had mentioned the health benefits of Falun Gong to some of her patients.
This document presents only a partial list of Chinese officials' systematic activities in extending the persecution of Falun Gong to Europe. These activities not only violate the rights and freedoms of Falun Gong practitioners, but also incite hatred in the community and pressure other Europeans into also participating in this persecution, threatening the values and integrity of our society and the rights of European officials and citizens. Similar occurrences in the U.S. have led to a U.S. Congressional resolution in July 2002 condemning the persecution of Falun Gong and calling for investigation into Chinese officials' illegal activities on U.S. soil.
The Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong severely jeopardizes the lives of millions of innocent people as well as fundamental human principles as basic as truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Lawsuits have been filed recently in twelve European countries, charging Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president and the leading architect of the persecution, as well as other high-ranking Chinese officials, with genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.
This persecution and its spread of hatred, fear and lawlessness have no place in France, Germany, Hungary or elsewhere in Europe. In the hope that you will uphold and protect the basic rights that allow for a free and open society, we present this report to you.
* Falun Dafa Information Center, "Jiang Zemin's Orders: Disrupt Falun Gong Overseas", October 19, 2000, www.faluninfo.net.
Category: Persecution Outside China