01/28/2004, 00.00
China - France
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Falun Gong, Amnesty International and French MPs denounce China's repression of human rights

Paris (AsiaNews) – A rain of accusations were directed at Hu Jintao and his entourage visiting in France. Today 4 members of the Falun Gong sect issued a complaint against China's minister of culture, Sun Jiazheng.  The three Chinese men and a French woman say they have been imprisoned and tortured due to their membership of the group, which is prohibited in China as "evil cult".

In the complaint they accuse the minister of "instigating massacres and persecutions" and ask him to put an end to such actions before he leaves France. Some years ago China launched a campaign to eliminate the sect and asked the UN to outlaw it throughout the world. Falun Gong, in turn, accuses China of having imprisoned thousands of its followers and of having tortured and killed them in jail.

Yesterday during Hu Jintao's speech at the French Parliament hundreds of Falun Gong members protested outside the Chinese Consulate in Paris. 

Amnesty International also issued a report today in which it seeks the release of at least 54 dissidents imprisoned for having expressed their opinion on the internet. According to Amnesty International, "China has launched the most organized and complete internet censorship in the world."

Nearly half of the French Parliament's deputies were absent to protest China's repression of human rights.

His speech lasted about a half an hour, during which Hu underscored the efforts his country is making to carry out legal, political and economic reforms. He also said that his government is committed to promoting democracy and reminded all that various UN resolutions and agreements have been absorbed into Chinese legislation and the National People's Assembly (Beijing's Parliament) is working on a civil and political rights agreement. Hu did not specify if nor when it would be ratified by Parliament. 

President Chirac raised the human rights issue only once during Hu's visit, very generically at a Monday night dinner party. A statement was signed yesterday by both presidents, as a vague hope to improve human rights. 

Lionnel Luca and Hervé Mariton, members of Chirac's same party, presented Hu with a list of Chinese political prisoners that they would like to see freed. Bother skipped Hu's speech at Parliament, saying: "French members of parliament, as descendents of those who voted for the Declaration of Human Rights and Citizens, have no reason to go there and listen to a head of state whose words are empty and petty."

Today members of the Chinese delegation met with a large group of French industrialists.

President Hu Jintao and his entourage will end their visit to France tomorrow. They will then depart for Africa, where they will visit Egypt, Gabon and Algeria in search of sources of energy for China.
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