Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Reported As Human Rights Violator to the U.S.

By Penny Zhou

China’s ambassador to Sweden has been reported as a human rights violator to the U.S. government, as the country increases its immigration enforcement on persecutors of religious freedom.

Reporters Without Borders called out Gui Congyou, asking him to “stop harassing” Swedish journalists, according to Hong Kong Free Press.

In an opinion piece published earlier this month on the Swedish national outlet SVT’s website, the Swedish Association of Falun Dafa said that they have reported Congyong to the U.S. State Department for human rights abuses. Evidence of his harassment of religious groups in Sweden has been submitted.

The U.S. recently advised various faith-based groups to submit lists of Chinese officials involved in severe violations of religious freedom, the U.S.-based website Minghui reported.

The practitioners of Falun Dafa are among those who have submissions in this matter. Also called Falun Gong, this traditional meditation practice faces severe persecution in China.

The persons reported to the government under this request could have their U.S. visas rejected; and those who have been issued visas could be blocked from entering the country.

“He [Gui Congyou] has actively participated in the persecution of Falun Gong outside China. He has spread slanderous information,” Thomas Pompe, a member of the Swedish Association of Falun Dafa told NTD.

The association reported the ambassador on the basis of “ordering, inciting, assisting, or otherwise participating in genocide,” a crime that, according to the Magnitsky Act, will trigger a denial of his visa.

“The Magnitsky Act does not punish the whole country, but only those individuals who violate human rights, and they are the top of the pyramid in China … this would be very effective,” Boriana Ãberg, Chairman of Swedish delegation in the European Council, told NTD’s Swedish bureau on June 13.

“I hope that Sweden will also introduce such a Magnitsky Act,” Ann-Sofie Alm, a Swedish member of Parliament told NTD, “I know that we are talking about it … a crime against human rights, regardless of where it is committed, must be punishable.”

Disrupt Rallies

In the opinion piece penned by the Swedish Association of Falun Dafa, the association’s chairman Lei Wang wrote that Gui has “sabotaged human rights manifestations in Stockholm.”

Earlier this year, the association filed a police report regarding the embassy’s use of high-volume music to interfere with a peaceful rally by Falun Gong practitioners outside the embassy last winter.

The same incident happened again on April 26 this year. As the practitioners meditated in an effort to protest and raise awareness of the ongoing persecution in China, the embassy’s three loudspeakers kept playing the communist anthem “The Internationale,” as well as ”The East Is Red,” a famous propaganda song from China’s Cultural Revolution.

The practitioners’ attempt to read a statement to the public failed due to the overwhelming music.

“I shouldn’t favor anyone but the embassy’s use of such an approach to disturb [the rally] really bothers me,” Niklas Lindqvist, a Swedish police officer on duty the day of the rally told NTD.

“In Sweden, we enjoy the freedom of rallies and protests,” he said, “People are free to follow their belief. I don’t know why the Chinese regime is so scared. I don’t understand at all.”

“This is really disturbing. I’m really mad,” Lindqvist said.

Falun Gong practitioners meditates in front of the Chinese embassy in Sweden to raise awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong in China. (Courtesy to Minghui.org)
Swedish Falun Gong practitioners meditate in front of the Chinese embassy in Sweden to raise awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong in China in November 2018. (Courtesy of Minghui.org)

The same approach was used against Tibetans in March, as a group of Tibetans and activists gathered outside the embassy to draw attention to the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan rebellion against the Chinese Communist Party’s occupation, as reported by Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish national newspaper.

“It’s an attempt to violate my freedom of expression,” says Mattias Björnerstedt, chairman of the Swedish Tibet Committee, to the news outlet.

Exporting Censorship

Earlier this year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called out Gui as “seem[ing] to have trouble understanding that in Sweden … journalists are not subject to censorship,” after the Chinese embassy launched a series of attacks on Swedish national media on its website, Hong Kong Free Press reported.

The media rights watchdog urged him to “stop harassing media” in a statement.

Among the target of the embassy is major Swedish news outlet SVT Nyheter, which published a Taipei representative’s opinion piece on February 27, calling for support for Taiwan’s democracy against Chinese threat.

The Chinese embassy accused the outlet of “serious political provocation.”

This is not the embassy’s first attempt to shut down the media on their China coverage.

Last August, after the Swedish daily newspaper NT published a piece on the persecution of Falun Gong in China, the embassy wrote to NT accusing them of “unfounded” descriptions of persecution, and that the article was “full of lies and bias against China.”

At least 7 news sources of Sweden have been attacked since July 2018, according to RSF.

Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF East Asia bureau, said that these attacks “reveal the unrestrained attitude with which Beijing is now trying to impose its censorship outside its borders.”

RSF noted that Sweden ranked second in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, while China ranks at 176th out of 180. The organization said China is also the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, with more than 60 currently detained.