|DECADE OF PERSECUTION: (L-R) Falun Gong practitioner Shen Yu, former MP Hon. David Kilgour, and Amnesty International Secretary General Alex Neve at a press conference on Canada's Parliament Hill to mark ten years of perscution of Falun Gong in China (Donna He/The Epoch Times)|
It was ten years ago, on July 20, 1999, that former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a violent campaign to “eradicate” the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, practised at the time by tens of millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.
In the approach to the tenth anniversary, Falun Gong practitioners across Canada and around the world have been taking part in marches, candlelight vigils, and rallies at Chinese embassies and consulates to call for an end to repression in China and remember those who have lost their lives amidst persecution.
At a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Shen Yue, who traveled from Montreal for the event, spoke about his mother, his stepfather, and his mother’s three sisters—all Falun Gong practitioners—who have been victims of the Chinese regime’s ongoing persecution.
Shen said his mother, Cai Shumei, was initially detained in 2000 for several months, during which time she “suffered all kinds of torture, sexual harassment, and abuses.”
In 2001, Cai was sentenced to two years in prison, where her treatment “was more severe and cruel” including being shocked with electric batons for hours at a time—a horror many Falun Gong practitioners have experienced in China’s detention centres and labour camps.
“Behind all the different cruel and inhumane violations, there is only one purpose, which is to force her to give up her belief,” said Shen.
Cai was arrested again in 2007 and sentenced to five years, as was her husband. Currently, Shen’s mother, stepfather, and three aunts are imprisoned because they practise Falun Gong.
“They have all been persecuted and tortured by the authorities—the situation is the same as my mother,” Shen said.
Courageous Lawyers Also Persecuted
Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, said the ten-year anniversary “is a very sombre and troubling one” that marks a decade of “severe, systematic human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners throughout China.”
Neve pointed out that the persecution is also directed at those who have tried to help practitioners.
“Those individuals who have sought to speak out about this repression and to defend the rights of Falun Gong followers have also come under attack. Most particularly, a number of courageous human rights lawyers in China who have dared to take up Falun Gong cases have themselves been vilified, harassed, and even imprisoned.”
He said Chinese authorities have revoked the professional licenses of a growing number of human rights lawyers in China, including several who have taken on Falun Gong practitioners’ cases.
Just this month, three lawyers were arrested in China for defending Falun Gong practitioners. The persecution and harassment of another prominent attorney, Gao Zhisheng, has been ongoing since he defended some practitioners and wrote a series of open letters to Chinese leader Hu Jintao pleading for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong.
The Canadian government can do its part, said Neve, by putting pressure on the Chinese regime to end the persecution and to commit to comprehensive, concrete reforms that will lead to overall human rights improvements in China.
“July 20 is most certainly an anniversary that the Chinese government should take note of and mark by committing to bring this human rights tragedy to an end,” he said.
Forced Labour, Live Human Organ Trade
One of the most ominous threats faced by Falun Gong practitioners in jail in China is the possibility that they could be killed for their organs. Former MP Hon. David Kilgour said he and international human rights lawyer David Matas found “52 kinds of evidentiary proof” in a 2006 investigation that Falun Gong practitioners’ organs are being stolen and sold.
“In China, only Falun Gong [labour] camp inmates are used as a live organ bank to be pillaged for sale to foreigners. Medical testing is required before organs can be matched with recipients, but only Falun Gong prisoners in the camp populations are tested medically on a regular basis,” Kilgour said.
Kilgour said China’s “gulag”—the country’s vast labour camp system—is used to “punish and suppress Chinese citizens for political dissent or religious beliefs.”
Falun Gong practitioners make up a large percentage of those imprisoned in the camps, where a wide range of consumer goods are produced in grim conditions, much of it for export. Kilgour said Montreal resident Guizhi Chen, 62, underwent four years of forced labour without pay in two different labour camps.
“In the first facility she occupied, 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.”
Kilgour warned against overlooking Beijing's “appalling human rights record” as nations seek China’s cooperation in dealing with the global economic crisis.
“We must remind our leaders that to equivocate on China's record is a departure from Canada's own values of human dignity and the rule of law. We must caution them that trade with China at any price is costly both for the people of China and the world. We must remember the sacrifices of victims of the Tiananmen massacre and other abuses. We must demand that, instead of mocking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, China should honour its provisions,” he said.
The following statement from the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) was read at the Ottawa press conference by FDAC coordinator Lucy Zhou.
Statement of Falun Dafa Association of Canada
July 20 marks ten years of the illegal persecution of Falun Gong while torture, arrests and killing continue in China.
In 2008, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture stated: [We] are concerned that reports of arrest, torture, sexual violence, deaths, and unfair trial of Falun Gong practitioners, may reflect a deliberate and institutionalized policy to target Falun Gong.” A previous UN report affirmed that Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody.
The grizzly allegation that the Chinese regime was killing Falun Gong practitioners for their organs to be sold for profit was uncovered in 2006. In 2008 reports detailed that over 150 Falun Gong practitioners were killed from January 2008 to September 2008 alone and over 10,000 have been arrested under the pretext of “cleaning up for the Olympics”
Over 3,290 deaths, 87,000 accounts of torture, and 100 means of torture have been documented to date. The actual death toll is estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
Today, 12 Canadian family members are currently incarcerated with terms of up to 12 years. They are among the estimated 200,000 to 2 million Falun Gong practitioners languishing in detention centres and labour camps.
Over the past ten years, Falun Gong practitioners in China have continued to risk their lives daily to inform others of the atrocities happening in their own back yard, while outside China practitioners around the world continue to hold vigils and take whatever non-violent avenues they can to raise awareness of what is happening to their fellow practitioners in China with the ultimate aim to end the violent persecution.
The persecution that began with the order by Jiang Zemin back in 1999 that Falun Gong was to be destroyed in less than three months has now lasted 10 years; as one famous Chinese scholar has stated: “Falun Gong cannot be defeated.” Our path is guided by our universal belief in the principles of Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance.
We are grateful to the many Canadians who have extended their support in the past. It made big difference. Without the outside voice and support, the situation in China could be considerably worse. Together we bring hope to China and beyond.
The ongoing persecution is threatening morality, conscience, and rule of law. The regime is forcing western politicians to either side with them through silence in the face of these human rights atrocities or lose trade. The persecution thus undermines all countries in their efforts to implement human rights principles in their actions and to build businesses and societies based on integrity, morality, and human spirit.
At this critical historical juncture, we ask all people to continue upright actions on human rights and, in particular, to ask our government to use every appropriate means to express its opposition to the persecution of Falun Gong, including issuing a statement to call for an end to the persecution and to seek the release of all prisoners.