I should say immediately that rules-based international trade has
helped peoples around the world to live more fulfilled lives. A return
to protectionism would only worsen the present economic problems for
most of us. What many of us oppose is unfair trade, which, in one of
its worst forms, involves the export of consumer products made by forced labour.
We are hearing today in effect about the link between involuntary
labour done since 1999 by tens of thousands of Falun Gong
practitioners and other prisoners of conscience in camps across China
and the resulting loss of manufacturing jobs in Canada and elsewhere.
One estimate of the number of these camps across China as of 2005 was
340, having a capacity of about 300,000 inmates.In 2007, a US
government report estimated that at least half of 250,000 officially
recorded inmates in the camps were Falun Gong adherents.
These camps have existed in China since the 1950s. Since then, any
Chinese national could be sent to one of them without any form of
trial for up to four years upon commital by a simple police signature.
No appeal is possible. The Beijing party-state closely duplicated the
work camp model set up in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany,
although the earlier networks
did not appear to have been involved in forced labour exports.
Another major difference is that since 2001 only Falun Gong inmates in
the Chinese camps have been used as a live organ bank to be pillaged
for sales to foreigners. Medical testing is required of such inmates
before organs can be matched with recipients.
Ms. Guizhi Chen, 62, just spoke of her four years of forced labour without pay in two different labour camps camp. Among the products, some for
export, she worked on were purses and sweaters for an average of
twelve hours daily. In the first facility located near the outskirts
of Beijing, about half of the other 700 female labourers were Falun
Gong practitioners. In the second located far from the capital, there
were about 300 women labourers, again with approximately half being
Falun Gong. The practitioners in both were examined medically with
blood tests and x-rays periodically.
You have also heard from Ms Lian Yao now of Montreal, the wife of a
Falun Gong practitioner, Jian Ma, who was the manager of a European
company in Beijing, but has already served 767 days in effect as a
slave labourer in one of these camps for being a Falun Gong
practitioner. She was also arrested, fired from her job and tortured
before coming to Canada. She urges Trade Minister Day to seek her
husband`s release while visiting China. All of us here today, of
course, support her request.
It is illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to
export goods made by forced labour, but the party-state in China does
not respect WTO rules or other undertakings it gave to the world
organization when it joined in 2001. WTO inspectors rarely, if ever,
identify such exports, which is why governments anxious to protect
their nationals must act effectively and together now to keep this
kind of competition out of our markets. The Doha Round should deal
with effective remedies to this, among other trade issues of concern
to all world economies.
It's a well-established fact that in recent years "cheap goods" from
China have dominated most world markets; slave labour is certainly one
reason for this phenomenon. It is certainly not the fault of the
Chinese people, who are often grossly underpaid, work long hours, and
often have neither medical insurance, nor clean air/ water, nor
pensions nor work safety regulations from a regime which, often with
the help of its own and foreign business communities, exploits more
than one fifth of the world’s population.
David Matas, and I were asked by the Coalition to Investigate the
Persecution of Falun Gong in 2006 to study allegations of organ
pillaging against the Falun Gong community across China. We did so as
volunteers because we both believe in human dignity for all. He’ll
tell you about our report, which you can access our report website
(www.organharvestinvestigation.net). From eventually 52 kinds of
proof, we concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that the government of
China since 2001 has killed without any form of prior trial thousands
of Falun Gong practitioners in order to sell their vital organs for
high prices to ‘organ tourists’.
Falun Gong is an exercise movement with a spiritual component, which
began in China only in 1992 and received full government sanction. In
fact, state-run media even praised the group for their contribution to
health improvements among the Chinese population. It grew so quickly
that by 1999 there were 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners across
the country by the regime’s own estimate, with participants that
included well-educated professionals, high-level officials and veteran
Party members. With their belief in “truth, compassion and
forbearance,” the Falun Gong diaspora today include many non-Chinese
individuals and live as good citizens in some eighty countries. China,
which is homeland to the majority of Falun Gong practitioners, is now
the only country where they do not have the freedom to practise. Worse
yet, it is the only country where they are blatently persecuted by the
party state with every element of government machinery.
Why did Beijing declare war on Falun Gong in the summer of 1999? The
main reason no doubt was totalitarian paranoia. The movement had grown
so fast that its participants were more numerous than the membership
of the Communist Party of China. Its values were very different from
those of then President Jiang Zemen and others governing the country
since 1949. When thousands of Falun Gong practitioners held a silent
protest at Party headquarters in Beijing on April 25th that year, the
mercilous persecution began. Hundreds of thousands were initially
imprisoned, tens of thousands went to forced labour camps and
thousands were killed for their vital organs. The party-state media
continues to demonize and vilify them across China just as the
Matas and I are not practitioners, but we have both been most
impressed by those we have met in perhaps 45 countries. Almost with no
exceptions, they are hard-working, peaceful, loving and caring
individuals with amazingly enduring dignity. In my judgement, the war
on the large group of its own people began and continues today because
of totalitarian governance combined with 'anything-is-permitted
capitalism'. If the party-state is truly a government of the people,
as it so often claims, it would have respected its fellow citizens and
such crimes against humanity would not occur.
Finally, I should mention Gao Zhisheng, a courageous lawyer and Nobel
Peace Prize nominee, who was once ranked one of the ten best in the
country by China's ministry of Justice. When he, a Christian, defended
Falun Gong in court, he and his family became targets of the same
persecution imposed on Falun Gong practitioners, including 50 days of
harrowing torture for him in prison. His wife and two children escaped
China a few weeks ago, but Gao disappeared yet again in February to
the great conern of many of us.
It is therefore imperative that the international community heed our
appeal to hold the Chinese government accountable and block the export
of goods produced by forced labour.