PRAGUE—A non-governmental organization has submitted a petition signed by more than 38,000 people to the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, asking the Senate and House to condemn the crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese regime.
Since January, 2,000 Czech activists have collected more than 170 thousand signatures of Czech citizens, public figures and politicians for the petition. They are demanding the end of the violent repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement by the Chinese regime.
In response to the petition, a public hearing was held on Nov. 19 at Wallenstein Palace and a seminar in the Chamber of Deputies, which was attended by experts, representatives of various non-governmental organizations and two victims of the persecution.
The first was Mrs. Chen Zhenping, who survived 13 years in Chinese labor camps where she was imprisoned for her belief in Falun Gong. The other was Yumei Liu of Liaoning Province in China, who was arrested nine times and tortured as part of the so-called “re-education” led by the Communist Party of China (CCP). Her sister, father, mother and husband were killed during the repression.
The Chinese embassy in Prague was also invited to attend the public hearing, but did not respond to the invitation. The Secretary of the Senate Committee called the Embassy, which stated: “We take note of the invitation.” However, the embassy representative did not show up at the hearing.
A representative of the international human rights organization Amnesty International was also at the public hearing. According to the statement of Amnesty International, “Falun Gong is a spiritual teaching based on traditional Chinese breathing and meditation exercises, which gained a large number of supporters in China during the 1990s. Practitioners focus on the cultivation of character by following spiritual principles such as truthfulness, compassion and tolerance—the universal principles of human existence. Falun Gong combines mental cultivation with physical cultivation (using five simple exercises).”
During the public hearing, a representative of the Falun Gong Association of the Czech Republic, Juraj Skovajsa, summed up the events surrounding the mass increase in the popularity of Falun Gong in China from 1992 to 1999, and introduced the exercise movements and the spiritual principles of the practice. He also documented a medical study pointing to the excellent results of Falun Gong on human health.
Reports on the development of the repression in China were summed up at the request of the petition committee by Milan Kajínek, editor-in-chief of the Czech branch of the Epoch Times. “The repression has escalated and the Chinese regime has been carrying out arrests, imprisonment and torture resulting in death,” Kajínek said.
Amnesty International further states that the Falun Gong spiritual movement was forbidden in China after its practitioners held a peaceful assembly in Beijing in July, 1999. “The Chinese government subsequently set up a special office, the 610 Office, to oversee the persecution of Falun Gong. The result is that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained and often forced to give up their spiritual beliefs through torture and other ill-treatment. In 2017, Falun Gong practitioners continued to be persecuted, arbitrarily detained, exposed to unjust lawsuits, torture and other ill-treatment,” says Amnesty International.
The Czech Helsinki Committee chairwoman, Lucie Rybova, also took part in the hearings. The organization is engaged in monitoring compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In response to the hearing, the Czech Helsinki Committee issued a press statement in which it “calls for the termination of the persecution and the torture of Falun Gong practitioners and the adoption of a Senate resolution on the matter.”
An expert on China also spoke at the hearing, publicist and writer Ethan Gutmann. He is the author of Losing the New China and The Slaughter. Gutmann also co-authored an investigative report on the activity of the Chinese transplantation system. “During the investigation that began in 2006, David Kilgour, David Matas and I collected a set of evidence of approximately 1,200 pages. 300 of these pages are available in my book The Slaughter,” said Gutmann. Using data from China and interviews with medical experts, Chinese policemen and labor camp refugees, experts have documented the massive development of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners in China.
Hayen Wang, a representative of the NGO World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), also spoke at the hearing. WOIPFG investigates the crimes of all institutions, organizations and individuals involved in the repressive campaign of the Chinese regime against the spiritual movement of Falun Gong in China. The organization was founded in January 2003. It is based in New York and has established a global monitoring system in 110 countries.
“We are urging the Czech Republic to ask the Chinese regime about organ harvesting and demand an explanation,” said Hayen Wang, and the Czech Republic called “to take concrete steps to thoroughly investigate crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese regime.”
The hearing was also attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lukáš Kaucký(ČSSD), who summarized the activities of the Ministry. He said that both the European Union and its delegation in Beijing are exerting strong pressure on the Chinese regime in the area of human rights, with the EU’s stance “unambiguously hardening.” The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself, according to Kaucky, has a “consistent policy” in the area of human rights, which includes calling for the “end of the persecution of persons on account of their religious beliefs as well as ethnic minorities” and allowing the freedom of faith and other fundamental human rights and freedoms under the international declaration.
Furthermore, MPs of the Pirate Party were present at the hearing. Olga Richterova, vice-chairman of the Pirate Party, published an article on her blog after the Senate hearing, in which she responds to reports about current methods of the liquidation of dissidents that are taking place in China, by using modern transplantation techniques. “It’s an alarming and years-long violation of all conceivable human rights, and a billion-dollar business,” wrote Richterova.
Senator Marek Hilšer said he would try to initiate an analysis of the current Czech law on transplantation tourism to foreign countries, and plans to provide a stimulus to bring Czech law closer to the legal regulations adopted in Israel (2006) and Italy (2016). “Not to believe that there is such a thing in China is to disbelieve our own experience with the communist totalitarian regime,” said Marek Hiliser in response to information on the persecution of Falun Gong in China. “Politicians should talk about these things,” Hilser added.
Former Minister of Culture Daniel Herman, who also supports the amendment to the Transplantation Tourism Act said, “It is very important that this discussion takes place. Personally, I have known some Czech Falun Gong adherents for several years. I am deeply convinced of the benefits of Falun Gong for society.”
The bioethicist from Charles University Jan Payne is also interested in the transplant law. “What is happening in China (in the area of transplant surgery) is difficult to believe. In general, people are divided into those who do not know anything about the topic, those who do not believe it or don’t want to believe it, and those who cannot believe it,” said Payne. According to Payne, there is a need to hold a public discussion on the topic and to get acquainted with the results of the investigation, otherwise it is difficult for a person to understand the allegations. He himself knows the results of the investigation and supports the adoption of the law on transplantation tourism and awareness-raising activities in this matter.
The hearing was also attended by Monika Šimůnková, former Czech Human Rights Commissioner. “I have personally met several former prisoners of conscience from China, and I have seen well documented papers on this issue, as well as film documentaries such as Free China or Hard to Believe. We need to talk about this issue and get it into the public space. I personally do not see any reason why the Chinese government suppresses a group that wants to physically and spiritually themselves as Falun Gong practitioners” she said.