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United Nations’ Rapporteur on Torture highlights China, Falun Gong ahead of planned visit
NEW YORK (FDI) – With a visit to China planned at the end of June, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture’s latest report highlights the torturing of Falun Gong practitioners there.
Of the 115 countries covered, China received by far the most ink in the 420-page report. Of over 130 cases of reported torture and abuse in China, approximately 100 of them were perpetrated against Falun Gong practitioners.
The report was published on March 23, 2004 and submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It is a summary of communications between the rapporteur and various governments concerning suspected torture cases and urgent appeals during 2003.
According to the report, Rapporteur Theo van Boven, 70, wrote to the Chinese government at least six times in 2003.
In a letter dated June 4 he informed the Chinese government he was aware that a Mr. Xiao “was reportedly subjected to the so-called “water dungeon”… locking a naked person into a small iron cage with spikes on all sides. The cage is then lowered into filthy water up to the victim’s chest or neck in a completely dark room. The victim may be locked in the cage for days or even weeks, and urine and feces are excreted into the water.”
The report (view on-line) is not comprehensive and many cases of torture may not be included in it, said a representative at the rapporteur’s office. The rapporteur compiles it after processing information submitted to his office by various NGOs.
One such NGO is the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group (www.flghrwg.net). According to working group representative Mr. Chen Shizhong, the NGO has received tens of thousands of reports on torture of Falun Gong practitioners in China over the past few years and submitted several thousand to the rapporteur.
These cases include severe beatings, whippings with poisonous hemp, hanging by the wrists, deprivation of food and sleep, dousing with extremely cold or hot water, shocking sensitive body parts with high-voltage electric batons, and sodomizing with sticks.
The Chinese government’s response acknowledges the sudden death of multiple individuals in custody, though repeatedly states that “allegations of torture and ill-treatment are unfounded.”
Examining these allegations is the main purpose of the rapporteur’s trip. If carried out, this will be the Special Rapporteur's first UN mission to China after several attempts that fell through due to the Chinese government’s last minute modification of the visit’s conditions.
Even if the Chinese government makes no last-minute maneuvers this time, Falun Gong practitioner and past torture victim Mr. Zhao Ming is concerned about whether the rapporteur will be allowed to truly inspect detention facilities without interference. He says that the Chinese government has in the past effectively reduced visits to little more than show tours by hiding abused prisoners and other evidence of wrongdoing for the duration of the tours.
Other victims of torture in China referred to in the report include Tibetans, HIV/AIDS activists, and those arrested for openly expressing their views on a variety of issues.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (about), is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance." Practiced in over 50 countries world-wide, Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture. With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China's Communist leader Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999 (report). Since that time, Jiang's regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it. The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of 968 deaths (reports / sources) since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. In October 2001, however, Government officials inside China reported that the actual death toll was well over 1,600. Expert sources now estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps, typically without trial.
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