"Falun Gong members are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, and there is no excuse for the human rights violations they have endured. The charge that Falun Gong threatens the stability of China does not hold up. Its claim that belief in Falun Gong is a public health menace is equally bogus. The danger to health comes from the treatment its practitioners receive at the hands of the police and prison officials."
-- Sidney Jones, executive director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) first began researching and reporting on the persecution of Falun Gong in the days immediately following the ban on the practice on July 20, 1999. In 2002, it issued a thorough report about the origins of the persecution, highlighting in particular the ban’s illegality and the Chinese authorities’ attempts to dress it in a “rule of law” veneer. Since that time, HRW has continued to address abuses against Falun Gong practitioners in its annual report, in-depth reports on other rights issues, and testimonies before Congress. A sampling of HRW’s reports and statements related to Falun Gong are listed below, in chronological order, with the exception of the main 2002 report mentioned first.
Human Rights Watch today strongly condemned the Chinese government's nationwide ban on the practice of Falun Gong. It urged the release of the organization's leaders and members arbitrarily detained in a nationwide sweep aimed at suppressing the group.
"This ban affects thousands of ordinary Chinese citizens," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. "The Chinese people have a right to exercise their faiths peacefully.” (full release)
"Cloaking this campaign in rhetoric about the ‘rule of law' doesn't give any greater legitimacy to China's crackdown on Falun Gong," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. "The official ban on Falun Gong should be lifted. The government's announcement that it was a ‘true cult' and must be suppressed should be rescinded. All Falun Gong members in detention, formally charged, or sentenced to labor camps for peaceful activities should be immediately released." (full release)
"These Falun Gong members should never have been arrested, much less given heavy sentences," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. "If freedom of association and assembly mean anything in China, then Falun Gong members should be free to recruit others, to practice their exercises and meditation in public, and to protest their own persecution." (full release)
“Most recently, on April 24, a Falun Gong practitioner, Ms. Zhang Xueling, whose story was featured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Wall Street Journal, was reportedly sentenced to three years in a labor camp for "using a cult to undermine the implementation of law." Zhang had protested the reported beating death of her mother (also a Falun Gong member) by police last year.” (excerpts, full statement)
“Nearly four years after its handover to China, Hong Kong's autonomy and commitment to human rights under the "one country, two systems" formula are facing some pivotal tests. The former British colony must decide how to deal with the Falun Gong spiritual meditation group, and how to respond to China's detention of Hong Kong-based academics.” (full article)
"The police...have sent thousands of Falungong members to labor camps for periods ranging from days to years…. Although it is impossible to know how many people were rounded up or how they were treated, not one Falungong member should have spent one minute in detention, or for that matter, in a police van, for believing what he or she believed, or for peacefully meditating." (full statement)
"Several petitioners reported that the longest sentences and worst treatment were meted out to members of the banned meditation group, Falungong… Kang reported that of the roughly one thousand detainees in her labor camp in Jilin, most were Falungong practitioners."(additional excerpts)
“Chinese lawyers who take cases seen by the government as politically sensitive or potentially embarrassing face severe abuses ranging from harassment to disbarment and physical assaults…On October 19, 2005, one day after Gao [Zhisheng] published a scathing open letter to the top state leaders about abuses against religious and Falun Gong practitioners, he received an anonymous threat by phone. […] An attorney from impoverished Guangxi province, Yang Zaixin, was dismissed from his law firm in January 2006 after he took a series of sensitive cases, including those of defendants accused of being members of the banned Falun Gong.” (additional excerpts)