United Nations

United Nations Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups first began conveying communications and urgent appeals about Falun Gong adherents to the Chinese authorities in 2000. Since then, they have issued urgent appeals for dozens of adherents, transmitted hundreds of cases of concern to the Chinese government, and determined informal opinions that Falun Gong adherents were detained arbitrarily. After a 2005 mission to China, the Special Rapporteur on Torture reported evidence that practitioners had been tortured to death and held in solitary confinement in labor camps in Shanghai and Beijing, respectively.


Unlike many United Nations’ positions which are held by government representatives, the individuals who serve on these bodies are independent experts, often professors of international law, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council (previously the Human Rights Commission – UNHRC). Their mandates are defined by the UNHRC and their work includes receiving complaints of abuse from victims and civil society groups, transmitting concerns over reliable allegations to governments, investigating allegations, and for working groups, issuing formal opinions on particular cases. During the regular meetings of the UNHRC these experts also present their findings to the plenary and in several instances have mentioned abuse of Falun Gong adherents as an issue of particular concern, as referred to in the 2007 report by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir:

“The Special Rapporteur continues to be very concerned by the continued violations of freedom of religion or belief suffered by members of the Falun Gong. In her previous reports to the Commission on Human Rights, she explicitly mentioned members of the Falun Gong as targets of various human rights violations because of their beliefs and she strongly condemns the continued lack of freedom of belief of members of Falun Gong.”  (A/HRC/4/21/Add.1, Pg 25)

Since 2000, the following UN Special Procedures experts have raised Falun Gong cases with the Chinese authorities: Special Rapporteur (SR) on Torture, SR on Extrajudicial Executions, SR on Freedom of Religion or Belief, SR on Violence against Women, SR on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, SR on Freedom of Expression, SR on the Right to Health, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Disappearances.

Reports and Analysis:

What follows is a small sample of their reports and comments. For a more complete account of U.N. Special Procedures experts’ mentions of Falun Gong, see:  List of United Nations Reports (falunhr.org)

  • 2008 Report by the SR on Torture – includes three joint appeals issued with other Special Procedures experts: two regarding particular adherents and one regarding organ harvesting (view excerpt)
  • Mr. Cao Dong
  • Organ harvesting
  • Ms. Liang Wenjian and others
  • 2005 Mission to China of the SR on Torture – At the end of November 2005, the SR and a team of experts conducted a mission to China. The following are several of the conclusions reached in the reports published after the visit:
  • Torture remains widespread in China and “many of the torture methods alleged to have been practiced on ethnic minorities…political dissidents, human rights defenders, Falun Gong practitioners, and members of house-church groups have been used in China.” (view excerpt)

  • A table indicating that 66 percent of alleged cases of torture in China had Falun Gong adherents as victims. (view excerpt)

  • Falun Gong practitioners detained in Beijing Women’s labor camp were placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, far beyond the legally permitted length: “Detainees …stated that Falun Gong practitioners who had not renounced their beliefs after six months in detention were placed in the Intensive Training section until they were ‘reformed’. Falun Gong practitioners formerly detained at this facility mentioned that they would refer to this section as the ‘Intensive Torture Section’.” (view excerpt)

  • Human rights activist Mao Hengfeng described conditions in Qingpo Women’s labor camp in Shanghai and reported having witnessed the torture to death in custody of Falun Gong adherent Li Limao: “Ms. Li Limao, who was a Falun Gong practitioner, died one month after the Chinese New Year in 2005 following a punishment for disobedience. She was hung from a window from her hands tied behind her back, and with her toes just touching the floor.” (view excerpt)
  • Joint communication from the SR on Violence against Women and the SR on Freedom of Religion or Belief regarding the torture of two female Falun Gong practitioners — including resultant miscarriages for one of the victims (September 13, 2005). (view excerpt)
  • 2005 Opinion by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determining that Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Qiu Minghua had been arbitrarily detained (Adopted September 2, 2005) (view excerpt)

    In the case under review, the Government failed to adduce any argument explaining why and how Ms. Qiu’s affiliation with, or profession of, the ideas or principles of Falun Gong was or could have been detrimental to the society as a whole, or to other individuals […] In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group renders the following opinion: The deprivation of liberty of Ms. Qiu Minghua is arbitrary, being in contravention of article 9 and article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights […] Consequent upon the opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Ms. Qiu.”
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (22 December 2003), listing 23 cases submitted to the Chinese government and stating:

    The Special Rapporteur continues to be alarmed by deaths in custody in China. Reports describe harrowing scenes in which detainees, many of whom are followers of the Falun Gong movement, die as a result of severe ill-treatment, neglect or medical attention. The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description.”  (view excerpt)

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