Rapporteurs included Manfred Nowak, whose mandate is to investigate torture; Asma Jahangir, whose mandate is freedom of religion and belief; and Margaret Sekaggya, who investigates the status of human rights defenders around the world.
All three sent numerous urgent appeals to the Chinese government concerning Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Christians, and Uighurs, or those who have sought to defend their legal and human rights.
The persecution of Chinese lawyers have been raised in several reports, some of them were jailed because taking up cases to defend Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Ms. Sekaggya, for example, on 31 March 2009, sent a joint urgent appeal with other Special Rapporteurs to gain information about Wei Liangyue, director of the Harbin-based Jiaodian Law Firm, and his wife, Du Yongjing. During over 20 years of his law practice Mr. Wei provided legal aid to local people facing human rights violations, including Falun Gong practitioners who had been detained for their beliefs, Ms. Sekaggya said. Mr. Wei and Ms. Du were detained by the authorities, not allowed to hire a lawyer to represent them or discuss their case publicly, and were feared to have been psychologically or physically abused while in custody.
Another human rights lawyer, Zhang Kai, was “was hung up with handcuffs in an iron cage,” and his colleague who also defended Falun Gong practitioners was "slapped in the face by a police officer." During their interrogation they were both threatened not to defend any Falun Gong cases, Ms. Sekaggya wrote.
Mr. Nowak gave a similarly troubling portrayal of the violence visited on innocents by Chinese security forces, which included: “16 deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to injuries allegedly sustained in custody in China.” Mr. Nowak sought an explanation for those deaths, along with other cases of harassments, beating, and torture.
Cases include that of Zhou Xiangyang, who was sentenced to 9 years in prison in May 2003 where he was “brutally tortured” for allegedly refusing to give up his belief in Falun Gong (he was allegedly told that he would have to renounce his belief before being eligible for medical treatment).
Wang Yonghang, a former lawyer from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, was severely beaten, resulting in a broken right ankle. Others were tortured to critical condition, put into solitary confinement for months, or sent to forced labor camps for years because of their Falun Gong-related peaceful activities or beliefs.
Jahangir, a Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, dealt with many of the same issues, and referred to some of the same cases as Mr. Nowak and Ms. Sekaggya. The allegations Jahangir transmitted to the CCP also included information related to the 16 deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to injuries allegedly sustained in custody.
“While the circumstances under which the deaths occurred differ, all the victims were Falun Gong practitioners and they all died under the supervision of law enforcement officers or soon after their release from custody,” Ms. Jahangir noted. "Concern is expressed that the arrests and deaths of these individuals were solely connected with their activities as Falun Gong practitioners."
The government of China's typical response to such reports has been to ignore or flatly deny them.
UN Special Rapporteurs' reports are among the most highly regarded documents on the status of human rights in the concerned countries. Its annual reports - based on allegations received and investigated the previous year, given with the relevant government's response - often generate heated debate during UN sessions.
Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group
Source: Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group, 9974 Scripps Ranch Blvd. #228, San Diego, California 92131.