CANBERRA—The Australian Senate has voted unanimously to end the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group in China, condemning what humanitarian groups call the worst human rights crisis currently facing China.
The motion, moved by Greens Senator Ms Kerry Nettle, was passed unanimously in the Senate on Tuesday. The vote represents the first time the Australian Government has publicly supported an end to the persecution by the Chinese communist regime.
Falun Gong spokesperson Kay Rubacek says the vote is an historic event for Australia.
"This is the first statement by the Australian Government in support of an end to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. It is an historic step, aligning our government's position with that of many other Western democracies around the world," she said.
"It is not only a statement in itself, but will immediately impact positively on the people of China. International condemnation of the persecution is the most effective way to stop the torture and killing."
Reports from human right monitoring groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture detail evidence of a campaign of systematic imprisonment and torture of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
Amnesty International's 2008 Annual Report says Falun Gong practitioners were specially targeted by the regime.
"Falun Gong practitioners were at particularly high risk of torture and other ill-treatment in detention...During the year over 100 Falun Gong practitioners were reported to have died in detention or shortly after release as a result of torture, denial of food or medical treatment, and other forms of ill-treatment."
In his 2005 Mission to China report, United Nations Special Rapporteur, Manfred Nowak, documented that 66% of all reported torture victims were Falun Gong practitioners.
In the 2004 United Nations Reports on China's Persecution of Falun Gong, the Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions said the claims of torture occurring within China's labour camps were particularly brutal.
"The Special Rapporteur continues to be alarmed by deaths in custody in China. Reports describe harrowing scenes in which detainees, many of whom are followers of the Falun Gong movement, die as a result of severe ill treatment, neglect or medical attention. The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description."
Pressure on Falun Gong adherents has intensified since January this year, believed to be linked to a drive by Chinese authorities' to "stamp out" Falun Gong before the Olympics in Beijing. The escalation has resulted in 1,878 arrests across 29 provinces this year, according to the Falun Dafa Information Centre website.
The violence has also extended overseas with mob attacks on Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing, New York since May 17 and harassment and abuse of practitioners in Sydney's Chinatown and outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.
The instigation of group violence against Falun Gong adherents outside China has been linked to Chinese Embassy officials and agent provocateurs.
It was revealed in a recorded phone conversation, that New York's Chinese Consul General Peng Keyu was responsible for organising the attacks and Zhou Yongkang, the head of the regime's spy system, was the mastermind behind the attacks.
Petitions tabled in the Australian Parliament regarding the persecution of Falun Gong record the highest number of signatures gathered for a human rights issue in Australian history.
At least 37,000 Australians signed the global "Millions of Signatures" petition, which calls for an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China, with close to one million people having signed the petition worldwide.
Two motions have previously been passed by the Australian Government. The first, passed in December 2003, motioned to assist the rescue of relatives of Australian Falun Gong practitioners illegally detained in China. The second, relating to the harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in Australia, was passed by the Senate in June 2005.