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UN envoy looks at Falun Gong torture allegations

Written by: Staff
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GENEVA, Mar 30 (Reuters) The United Nations torture investigator today said he was looking into allegations by the Falun Gong group that thousands of its followers were being held at a Chinese ''concentration camp'' and some had been killed.

The banned spiritual movement alleged this month that up to 6,000 people at a time were kept at a state-run camp in the Sujiatun district of the northern city of Shenyang, where it said some had been killed and their organs sold.

''The allegation is Falun Gong practitioners are being used for the sale of organs and human tissues According to the allegation nobody has so far left this concentration camp,'' said Manfred Nowak, UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

''I am presently in the process of investigating as far as I can these allegations If I come to the conclusion that it is a serious and well-founded allegation, then I will officially submit it to attention of the Chinese government,'' he told a news briefing.

Nowak, who visited China late last year after a decade of negotiations, reported last week he found torture widespread in the country, home to the world's biggest prison population.

China has denied earlier abuse and torture charges made by Nowak and asked the UN envoy to think again.

The Falun Gong bulletin said the allegations were based on ''testimony from an insider and formal journalist from China'', who also alleged the camp had a crematorium and many doctors.

Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said if the allegations proved true it would be a serious violation of many basic human rights, including the right to life and the right not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

In his report last week he called on China to abolish its ''re-education through labour'' system and urged authorities to release all political prisoners and people held for exercising their right to freedom of speech, assembly and religion.

This included imprisoned practitioners of Falun Gong, banned in 1999 as a ''cult'' that threatens the government.

REUTERS SB RAI2040

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