WASHINGTON—A Chinese human rights activist was expelled from a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva for displaying a torture device used in China. U.N. officials deny having approved his request to display the device.
Bob Fu, president of the Texas-based nonprofit China Aid Association, told a congressional committee April 19 that he had been expelled from the April 5 meeting in Geneva because he had brought with him an electric shock baton used by Chinese authorities to torture prisoners.
Chinese delegates at the meeting said the display was “threatening,” Fu told a subcommittee of the U.S. House International Relations Committee.
“The only reason I was treated like that was because of a complaint filed by representatives of torturers. That very torture device is being widely used even today, at this moment, against hundreds of thousands of victims of conscience,” he said.
Fu said U.N. security guards escorted him from the building and physically removed his U.N. pass from his neck.
I told the security [guards] that my assistant, Ms. Melissa Rasmussen, and I talked by phone with Ms. Yoko Adachi, assistant to the secretary of [the commission] at about 12:30 p.m., April 1, to get permission to demonstrate the torture device at the plenary session.
Fu, former pastor of an underground “house church” in China, was briefly jailed with his wife in 1996 for “illegal evangelism.” He immigrated to the United States as a refugee in 1997.
After security guards expelled Fu from the meeting, his credentials to attend remaining sessions were rescinded. U.N. guards forced him from the premises, he said. He had earlier obtained permission to speak at the meeting and display the device, he said.
"I told the security [guards] that my assistant, Ms. Melissa Rasmussen, and I talked by phone with Ms. Yoko Adachi, assistant to the secretary of [the commission] at about 12:30 p.m., April 1, to get permission to demonstrate the torture device at the plenary session,” Fu said.
After Adachi spoke with her supervisor, Fu said, she told Fu that “the secretary’s office has no problem with that.”
Speaking with RFA by phone from Geneva, Adachi disputed Fu’s account. “No, I didn’t speak to them. I don’t know their name. I don’t know his assistant. I never spoke. I’m not in charge of that. Anyway, I wouldn’t have been able to give any permission for this kind of thing.”
David Chikvaidze, spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights Commission, said the decision whether to allow the torture device into the building wouldn’t have rested with Adachi.
The gentleman brought in a piece of equipment which is banned in Switzerland, which is considered a weapon, and he brandished it. In today’s world, that device could have been anything and could have had anything inside it.
“The gentleman brought in a piece of equipment which is banned in Switzerland, which is considered a weapon, and he brandished it,” Chikvaidze said. “In today’s world, that device could have been anything and could have had anything inside it.”
Asked whether Fu could have obtained clearance from Adachi to bring the device to the hearing, Chikvaidze said, “No, I don’t think so, because it’s not for Ms. Adachi or anyone else to give verbal permission on things like that. That has to be declared, and permission has to be attained that way.”
Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey and chairman of the House subcommittee on international operations and human rights, questioned China's role on the commission.
“A U.N. high-level panel in December 2004 concluded that the Commission’s credibility and professionalism had been undermined due to the active undermining of the work of the Commission by members with poor human rights records,” he said.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights comprises 53 countries, including China and the United States, and meets annually for six weeks in Geneva, usually in March-April.