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Friday, November 03, 2006

Amnesty International and Falun Gong


AI is certainly doing their homework considering that their methodology, a long and arduous process, requires that they cross-check information from two sources before it becomes facts.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS APPEALED TO THE CHINESE AUTHORITIES TO STOP THE CAMPAIGN OF PERSECUTION OF FALUN GONG, INCLUDING BY RELEASING ALL THOSE DETAINED SOLELY ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR PEACEFUL RELIGIOUS OR SPIRITUAL BELIEFS AND PRACTICES.

Repression of Spiritual and Religious Groups in China

Religious observance outside official channels in China remains tightly circumscribed. In March 2005, the Chinese authorities promulgated a new 'Regulation on Religious Affairs' aimed at strengthening official controls on religious activities.

Unregistered Catholics and Protestants associated with unofficial house churches were also harassed, arbitrarily detained and imprisoned.

Persecution of Falun Gong

The Falun Gong spiritual movement is banned. When the movement was first banned in July 1999, police rounded up thousands of practitioners in a Beijing stadium.

The crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement was renewed in April 2005. A Beijing official clarified that since the group had been banned as a "heretical organization", any activities linked to Falun Gong were illegal.

Amnesty International has raised concerns that the official campaign of public vilification of Falun Gong in the official Chinese press has created a climate of hatred against Falun Gong practitioners in China which may be encouraging acts of violence against them.

A large but unknown number of Falun Gong practitioners remain in detention where they are at high risk of torture.

More than 250,000 people in China are being detained in camps known as 'Reeducation through Labour', on vaguely defined charges having never seen a lawyer, never been to a court, and with no form of judicial supervision. It is unknown how many Falun Gong members are detained in these camps.

Torture and ill-treatment is endemic and widespread in a wide variety of state institutions. It is frequently used as a punishment against those deemed to be "subversive" or "resisting reform".

Common methods of torture include kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms, shackling in painful positions, and sleep and food deprivation. Gender-specific forms of torture, including rape and sexual abuse, have also been reported.

Trade in Organs of Executed Prisoners

Chinese authorities conceal national statistics on the death penalty as a "state secret". Based on public reports available, AI has estimated that at least 1,770 people were executed and 3,900 people were sentenced to death during 2005, although the true figures are believed to be much higher. In March 2004, a senior member of the National People's Congress announced that China executes around 10,000 people per year.

There is a widely documented practice of the buying and selling of organs of death penalty prisoners in China. The lack of transparency surrounding such practices makes it impossible to determine whether written consent was obtained. Amnesty International also remains deeply concerned that those faced with imminent execution are not in a position to provide 'free and informed consent' to having their organs extracted.

Amnesty International notes the introduction, in China, of new regulations on organ transplants on 1 July 2006 banning the buying and selling of organs. However, questions remain about how well the regulations will be enforced, particularly in view of the high commercial value of organ sales in China. Amnesty International also notes that the regulations fail to address the basic issue of the source of organs for transplantation.

Report on alleged live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners

A report published by independent researchers David Matas and David Kilgour on 6th July 2006, concludes that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners are victims of 'systematic' organ harvesting, whilst still alive, throughout China.

Amnesty International is continuing to analyse sources of information about the Falun Gong organ harvesting allegations, including the report published by Canadians David Matas and David Kilgour.

Amnesty International is carrying out its own investigation on this issue. These investigations are being hampered by the particular difficulty of collecting reliable evidence in China, including official restrictions on access for international human rights organizations.

Amnesty International has noted the response of the Chinese authorities to the Canadian report, which states among other things that China has 'consistently abided by the relevant guiding principles of the World Health Organization endorsed in 1991, prohibiting the sale of human organs and stipulating that donors' written consent must be obtained beforehand'. Amnesty International considers this statement to be at odds with the facts in view of the widely documented practice of the buying and selling of organs of death penalty prisoners in China.

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