An open letter to Gao Zhisheng from EU Vice President McMillan-Scott

05-06-2006 Witness accounts

After a meeting with human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President, European Parliament, wrote a letter to him in which he states: "My conclusions are that the Chinese regime remains brutal, arbitrary and paranoid ... I urge all members of the CCP to recognise that the horrors perpetrated in its name – the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Massacres – are held to be responsible for some 80 million deaths."

Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President, European Parliament


OPEN LETTER to Gao Zhisheng, Chinese human rights advocate, June 4th, 2006


VICE-PRESIDENT of European Parliament

June 4th, 2006

Thank you for your remarks after my visit to Beijing on May 20th – 24th, 2006, when I interviewed two Falun Gong former prisoners, after which they disappeared. Because of this I did not meet you. I am now told I was the first politician to hold such a meeting: if so I urge many others to do the same.

Mr Niu Jinping and his baby daughter are under house arrest and Mr Cao Dong has still been missing, I am pursuing their safety with the regime. Mr Steve Gigliotti, the US citizen who organised my meeting, was arrested, interrogated and deported. Such actions have no place in today's world.

I last visited China and Tibet ten years ago while preparing a report for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. Welcoming China's booming trade with Europe, but also regretting its complete lack of democracy, I encouraged "not just business as usual, but also politics as usual". While the trade has flourished, political development has remained glacial and the European Union's human rights dialogue with China, begun then, continues to be largely fruitless.

My recent visit as rapporteur for the European Parliament on the EU's new Democracy and Human Rights Instrument, to run from 2007, was to examine how it could operate in China. I met EU diplomats, academics, NGOs and individuals.

My conclusions are that the Chinese regime remains brutal, arbitrary and paranoid but that the innate intelligence and self-discipline of the Chinese, led by a developing civil society and emerging rule of law must lead to a democratic future.

The condition of prisoners in China is increasingly well-known but it is only in recent months that a particular mistreatment  – of Falun Gong practitioners  – has come to light, namely the selection of prisoners for 'reverse-match' organ and tissue transplants, leading to their deaths. This is genocide, as defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;"

Human rights lawyer Gao Zisheng wrote open letters to the Chinese president Hu Jintao urging to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. Since that time he is being monitored continuously by Chinese security agents and the police.


Like you, I am a Christian, by upbringing. My contacts with Falun Gong practitioners during my visit to Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan and subsequently (I visited on June 1st an exhibition in Helsinki of paintings depicting the treatment of Falun Gong prisoners in China) do not suggest a political movement. It is, if anything, a spiritual practice of Buddha school origin in which every adherent I have met feels mentally and physically enhanced by a series of Tai-chi type daily exercises.

The practitioners I met in Beijing told me of their imprisonment and that of their wives, of the specially harsh treatment they suffered, including sleep deprivation, degrading and humiliating punishments and beatings of up to 20 hours at a time to elicit denunciations of Falun Gong. One said he knew 30 fellow practitioners who had been beaten to death. They were aware of organ harvesting: one had seen the cadaver of his friend and fellow practitioner after body parts had been removed.

Since the crackdown on Falun Gong was begun by the Communist Party of China (CCP) regime in 1999, including the establishment of a special "6-10" Office of repression, Falun Gong has responded by using factual disclosure of persecution and other crimes by the regime. As a result it claims that more than 10 million Chinese have resigned the CCP and its affiliations.

As a British Conservative I have witnessed with relief  – and played some part in encouraging  – the freedom from communism now enjoyed by millions of Europeans. I urge all members of the CCP to recognise that the horrors perpetrated in its name – the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Massacres – are held to be responsible for some 80 million deaths.

It is now a matter of probably brief time before the regime collapses. The massive economic contradictions, manifest administrative corruption, widespread dissent in the countryside, increasing courage of religious groups and the ability of young people to circumvent Internet restrictions are all precursors to change.

The Chinese people have friends wherever thought, religion and association are free. The regime has no friends and, while I despise it, I hope that the change is as peaceful as the process which ended one-party domination in Europe.

In the meantime, like other politicians across the free world, I warn those responsible of the consequences of genocide.

On this anniversary of the massacres in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in 1989, I urge my colleagues in the European Parliament and in freely-elected assemblies across the world to monitor systematically the abuses which you have so courageously brought to public attention. I also urge all embassies of the EU in China to provide support – and when necessary sanctuary - to human rights defenders like yourself. The future will be the judge of us all.


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