HL Deb 09 February 2000 vol 609 cc93-4WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ask the United Nations Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to conduct an urgent assessment of the persecution of the Falun Gong in China, so that an informed discussion of the problem can take place at the forthcoming meeting of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva; if not, what other courses they are pursuing, in upholding the rights of Falun Gong members to carry on their peaceful activities, and, in particular, what steps they are taking to ensure that the freedom of the Falun Gong is upheld in Hong Kong. [HL755]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

We have been concernd about the treatment of Falun Gong adherents and leaders since the group was banned by the Chinese authorities in July 1999, including reports of excessive sentencing of 32 adherents in a mass trial in Beijing on 31 January. This has been raised during ministerial level contacts with Chinese Ministers and through our high level bilateral human rights dialogue. The EU Presidency carried out a demarche on 14 January expressing our concern at the detention and excessive sentencing of political dissidents, and Falun Gong leaders. We will continue to press the Chinese Government for a satisfactory response.

It is for the United Nations Special Rapporteur himself—as an independent expert—to decide whether he should investigate the case of Falun Gong within the terms of his mandate.

We note that Falun Gong practitioners have been permitted to hold demonstrations in Hong Kong in accordance with the law even though the organisation has been declared illegal on the mainland. This is in accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.