On March 13 in Timisoara, a number of us spoke in the National Theatre on the twentieth anniversary of the famous Timisoara Proclamation. Much was said about the events there in December, 1989, particularly the toppling of the Ceausescu regime and the deaths of so many of your fellow citizens there, in Bucharest and elsewhere in the period of your Democratic Revolution.
We friends of Romania in Canada and no doubt around the world are delighted that your post-totalitarian country now enjoys the rule of law, multi-party democracy and full national independence. Permit me in this context to raise a serious current issue. regarding illegitimate interference by an embassy which has lead to an abuse of diplomatic privilege.
The European Parliament hosted on Feb 24, for the third consecutive year under the patronage of Edward McMillan-Scott, a vice president of the European Parliament, a ceremony dedicated to the European tour of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
SHEN YUN is a highly-respected artistic company based in New York state, which has toured increasing parts of the world with great success in recent years. Like many others, I was delighted to see its performances last year and those a year earlier in Ottawa and Toronto. The depictions of traditional Chinese culture through dance, songs, orchestral music, costumes and settings are clearly world class. Last year across Europe alone, I understand SHEN YUN staged 42 performances in 16 cities in 15 countries. Audiences everywhere, including Bucharest (where Shen Yun had 2 performances in 2008), have responded most enthusiastically to the cultural event.
The party-state in China does not approve of SHEN YUN because it is independent and presents the Chinese people, their history, values and culture in ways the party seeks to suppress. Romanians know well that what a dictatorial government cannot control it often attempts to destroy.
This has occurred in China with the spiritual discipline Falun Dafa (or Falun Gong). Paradoxically, the party-state initially supported the gentle qi gong exercises and meditations of Falun Gong when it first appeared in 1992 because practioners improved their health. The wholesome and profound teachings of Falun Dafa conquered the hearts of millions of people of all ages and walks of life. Many party members also practised it. It grew so quickly that by 1999 the government itself estimated that there were from 70-100 million practitioners across China. The popularity and high standards of the movement, including truth, compassion and tolerance, terrified then president Jiang Zemin, so he banned it in mid-1999 and commenced a merciless persecution which continues today. The sponsor of the SHEN YUN tour is the Falun Dafa Association, so it becomes obvious why the Chinese embassies across the world attempt to prevent people from enjoying a spectacular and enlightening show.
One instance of how the party-state has behaved towards SHEN YUN elsewhere in Europe is cited in Bloody Harvest-the Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs:
"Another use the Government of China makes of intelligence-gathered information is to attempt to thwart every public event which would disclose the persecution of the Falun Gong. The Government of China leans on hosts, asking them to cancel such events. One particularly sorry example of this is the global Chinese government effort to undermine the touring dance spectacular sponsored by NTD TV. For instance, the Chinese embassy in Sweden called on city officials in Stockholm and Linkoping to cancel the venues for the Chinese dance spectaculars scheduled there for January 2008 because the performers had links to the Falun Gong. "
Not only was that attempt unsuccessful, but, disturbed by the illegitimate interference, Swedish officials went even more determinedly to see the show.
I should mention that the Canadian co-authors of Bloody Harvest, David Matas and myself, in 2006 concluded an independent investigation into allegations that Falun Gong practitioners were being killed for their vital organs. I quote again from the book:
"Our conclusion is that there has been and continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners. We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centers and 'people's courts', since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries. Our conclusion comes not from any single item of evidence, but rather the piecing together of all the evidence we have considered. Each portion of the evidence we have considered is, in itself, verifiable and, in most cases, incontestable. Put together, they paint a damning whole picture. It is their combination that has convinced us."
This brings me finally to Bucharest and the 2010 Shen Yun performances in the capital. In 2008, SHEN YUN held two performances at your National Theatre in Bucharest, which were enthusiastically received. The theatre management correctly then resisted pressure from the Chinese embassy to cancel performances.
This year, it strongly appears that efforts from the same source have been successful with your National Children's Palace, at which SHEN YUN has an executed contract to appear. I understand that the direct pressure is coming from your Ministry of Education, under whose authority the National Childrens' Palace operates.
In conclusion, I appeal to the residents of Bucharest, Romanians generally, and your national government to stand up to the above-indicated abuse of diplomatic privilege by the party-state of China, acting through its embassy in Bucharest. Your own Romanian European Parliament member Csaba Sogor has wisely said, ".... politics should never override human rights and culture."