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Falun Gong Urges UN to Stop Prosecution in China - 2002-03-25


Members of the Falun Gong spiritual group have protested during the annual Geneva meeting of the United Nation's top human rights body the issue of alleged mistreatment by Chinese authorities. Members of the group are asking the Human Rights Commission to consider their case.

The only sound is the music amid Geneva's buses. Dressed in white and yellow, Falun Gong members line the lawn outside the United Nations, meditating on the values of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. Their signs posted nearby shout their message: "China: Stop the Persecution!"

Falun Gong followers say the movement is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that improves body and mind through exercise and meditation.

But its quick growth over the past decade to about 100 million adherents in China has aroused the government's wrath. The Falun Gong says its Chinese followers are now facing increased arrests, imprisonment, torture and deaths during detention.

Falun Gong spokesman Shiyu Zhou says the movement has documented these cases and wants the United Nations to take action. "This is a persecution of millions of innocent people in China. It is of grave concern for all people around the world of conscience. We do hope the United Nations Human Rights Commission could help put forth a motion to urge the Chinese government to stop the persecution of its own people because this persecution does no good to the Chinese government itself," Shiyu Zhou said. Zhizen Dai says Chinese authorities killed her husband for practicing Falun Gong. She says police used electroshock on him until he was unconscious. She says he was released, but then was kidnapped four days later and his body was found in an abandoned house. She says she has survived only because she has an Australian passport. "Who will stand up, who will speak because in China, thousands and thousands of families like us do not have a chance to speak out," said Zhizen Dai.

The United States has raised the issue of China's alleged human rights abuses during past sessions of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, but this year it is only an observer at the meeting. Amnesty International says that should not stop it from presenting a motion against China which could be sponsored by a country that is a member of the commission.

Germany has spoken out strongly about religious persecution by China, but neither it nor any other country so far has proposed a resolution.

But analysts say that even if a resolution on China is submitted, it could be defeated by the developing country majority on the commission.

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