Rice waits

THE mayor of Maribyrnong, Janet Rice, will be included in a delegation to investigate human rights abuses in China.
The delegation is waiting to hear from the Chinese Embassy in Canberra if it will be granted permission to visit the country.
The delegation has asked permission to investigate claims that Falun Gong practitioners in China are being imprisoned and killed, their organs harvested and sold.
Two Canadian lawyers, David Kilgour and David Matas, published a report highlighting the issue in July.
Amnesty International has asked the Chinese authorities to stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and those being imprisoned for their spiritual beliefs.
The practice of Falun Gong aims to refine the body and mind through a combination of special exercises and meditation.
City of Maribyrnong residents who were Falun Gong practitioners and had concerns about what was taking place in China first alerted Cr Rice to the issue.
She spoke in support of pursing investigations in China at a forum held last month in Melbourne.
She also wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and asked him to raise the issue with the Chinese authorities.
“Basically I got a reply that said: yes, we are undertaking trade negotiations but we don’t want to link Human Rights and trade,” Cr Rice said. “I think that is a complete cop-out.”
Cr Rice said the Falun Gong practitioners were initially supported by the Chinese Government for “its meditiation, health, exercise compassion tolerance and forbearance”.
“They say they are not a political organisation in China but because they have the capacity to organise billions of adherents the Chinese Government saw them as a threat, which is why there has been a crack down.”
Cr Rice said that even if Falun Gong was a political group that was not justification for the allegations of imprisonment or murder. Critics say Falun Gong is a secret political society.