Serbia told to free detained Falun Gong members

European parliament member Eduard Kukan has asked in a statement issued late on Wednesday that Serbia releases all activist detained in Belgrade.

Source: B92, Tanjug
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Kukan, who is a member of the European EP Committee on Foreign Affairs and chairman of the EU-Serbia SAPC, announced he would ask Serbian authorities to provide an explanation about this "incident," and added:

"I am concerned about the detention of Falun Gong activists in Belgrade, who came to Serbia to drawn the attention to the human rights violations in China," Kukan said, adding that 11 citizens of EU countries were arrested, among them nine Bulgarians, one Slovak, and one Finn.

The EP strongly supports human rights, including right to assembly and expression and for that reason demands that those detained are immediately released, while the authorities should explain this situation, said Kukan in his statement.

Previously, Falun Gong sent a statement to Tanjug claiming that the Serbian police on December 14 took seven Bulgarian and two Russian citizens, the organization's activists, from their hostel in Belgrade, "but did not officially confirm they were detained."

According to the group, three more activists, citizens of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as one Slovak and one Finn were refused entry at the border.

The same statement said that the activists intended to "peacefully protest in order to raise awareness about the state of human rights in China, above all over the illegal persecution of Falun Gong."

They planned to do this during a high-profile summit in Belgrade that gathered heads of government of China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries.

While on a visit to Brussels on Wednesday, Serbia's minister without portfolio in charge of EU integration, Jadranka Joksimovic, was asked about the case and said she was "informed about the unpleasant situation, but still did not have all the facts."

She stressed she was confident that the police and other services "will do their part of the job to find a solution."

Considering that the reporter who asked the question pronounced "Serbia" as "Siberia," the minister also jokingly suggested this could be an issue "for the Foreign Ministry."

European Commission official Christian Danielson did not wish to comment when asked about the issue by the same reporter. According to reports, he said, "Let's first determine all the facts."

Amnesty International said in a statement it was "concerned about reports on the arrest and detention of nine Bulgarian nationals, a Slovak and a Finnish national by the Serbian authorities, in what appears to be attempts to prevent the holding of peaceful demonstrations."

The NGO said it was "concerned that the Serbian authorities are acting unlawfully, and urges them to immediately end any detention based solely on the persons’ intention to exercise their right to peaceful assembly."

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