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 Whistleblowers Need Protection


Falun Gong collects 1.3m signatures

By Loa Iok-Sin, TAIPEI Times
August 07, 2008

“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

With 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.

“The 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 said.

“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.

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