“China often tells other countries to keep their hands
out of its domestic issues, but human rights are values without borders.”
— Lee Sheng-hsiung, former secretary-general
of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights
support from more than 1.3 million people around the world, human rights
activists yesterday urged the Chinese government to fulfill its Olympic promise
by stopping persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
The Coalition to
Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) launched a worldwide
signature campaign in January to raise global awareness of China’s persecution
of Falun Gong practitioners and to pressure Beijing to stop the repression.
The campaign ended on July 20, the ninth anniversary of the beginning of
the persecution of Falun Gong members in 1999.
“After just six months,
we’ve successfully collected signatures from more than 1.3 million people in 127
countries around the world. Although they come from different social classes and
backgrounds, they all did something just,” said Theresa Chu (朱婉琪), a US-based
human rights lawyer and a coordinator for CIPFG’s signature drive.
Taiwan contributed the highest number of signatures, with more than
640,000 people, Chu told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
situation has only become worse as China prepares for the Olympic Games in
Beijing,” she said. “A large-scale ‘clean-up’ was launched last December.”
Figures released by Amnesty International and the coalition showed that
8,037 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested between December and last month,
with the number of arrests hitting 1,799 cases in May and 1,819 in June, Chu
“The Chinese are proud of having the opportunity to host the
Olympics — but as long as there are people who cry during the long, dark nights,
China does not have anything to be proud of,” Democratic Progressive Party
Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) told the news conference.
Tien has long
been an active supporter of Falun Gong.
“We hereby call on China to
fulfill its Olympic promise and stop its persecution of Falun Gong followers
before the Games begin,” she said.
When China was granted the right to
host the Olympics in 2001, it promised the International Olympic Committee it
would improve its human rights record.
“China often tells other
countries to keep their hands out of its domestic issues, but human rights are
values without borders,” former Taiwan Association for Human Rights
secretary-general Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄) said.
“Article 1 of the UN’s
Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that ‘all human beings are born free
and equal in dignity and rights,’” Lee said.
“As a permanent member of
the UN [Security Council], the People’s Republic of China should strictly follow
this principle,” Lee said.
Aside from the Falun Gong, the Chinese
government should also stop repressing Protestant and Catholic churches, Tibetan
Buddhists and Muslims in Xinjiang, he said.
“Instead of trying to control
all religions in the country, the Chinese government should learn to respect
each religion’s traditions,” Lee said.