Sunday, April 29, 2007

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Heads to China Amid Calls for Human Rights




By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Apr 25, 2007

Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)

As Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay prepares to visit China early next week, distressed Canadians are calling on him to put top priority on human rights and the rescue of their family members persecuted and imprisoned by the Chinese regime.

MacKay will travel to Norway and Belgium for high-level meetings before arriving in China at the end of the month. Meetings with Chinese officials will include setting priorities on Canada-China "productive cooperation" in business. However, human rights are expected to be on his agenda, prompted in particular by a Chinese court's recent verdict of life imprisonment against a Canadian citizen.

'Continue to Pursue Justice'

Huseyincan Celil, a Uighur rights activist, was sentenced last Thursday on charges of separatism and terrorism. The Canadian government maintains there is no firm evidence for the charges against him. However, Chinese authorities refuse to recognize his Canadian citizenship and have continued to deny him Canadian consular assistance.

Besides issuing a strong statement protesting the verdict, MacKay has assured Mr. Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, that "Canada will continue to pursue justice" for her husband.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail yesterday he described Canada's relationship with China as "large, complex, multi-faceted" and one that "needs some nurturing." His approach to urging China on human rights is to do so "with tact," he said.

Appeal for 15 Family Members

Meanwhile, today in Ottawa Falun Dafa Association held a press conference on Parliament Hill asking for MacKay's help to secure the release of 15 Canadians' family members imprisoned in China for their practice of Falun Gong. Four relatives spoke at the conference.

Montreal resident Yao Lian said Falun Gong practitioners in China are "automatically labeled as 'criminals' or 'class enemies' by the regime and do not have any safety." Her husband Ma Jian was sentenced to forced labour camp for two and a half years on April 18.

Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun and spokesperson Lucy Zhou (front) host a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to urge Chinese authorities to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. In the back from left to right are Michael Zeng, Shen Yue, Lin Shenli, and Yao Lian—Falun Gong practitioners appealing for the release of their family members imprisoned in China for their Falun Gong beliefs. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)
Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun and spokesperson Lucy Zhou (front) host a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to urge Chinese authorities to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. In the back from left to right are Michael Zeng, Shen Yue, Lin Shenli, and Yao Lian—Falun Gong practitioners appealing for the release of their family members imprisoned in China for their Falun Gong beliefs. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)

Shen Yue appealed for help for his aunts jailed in Hebei province. His mother had earlier been imprisoned for 2 years. She was beaten with electric batons and "was forced to take off her clothes and stand outside," he recounted. Huang Xin, whose son Michael Zeng lives in Toronto, is serving an eight-year sentence. She has reportedly been severely tortured.

Toronto resident Lin Shenli's brother Mingli is serving a six-year sentence. Lin Shenli himself spent over two years in labour camp before being reunited with his wife in Canada in 2002, thanks to the help of Amnesty International and Canadian government officials, he said.

Key Policy of Persecution

Falun Dafa Association President Li Xun noted, "The persecution of Falun Gong is a key policy of the Chinese regime among its many severe human rights violations. It is a serious issue that must be raised during any human rights talks with the regime."

According to United Nations Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak's 2006 report on torture cases in China, Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody. Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody. The United States State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices stated that in China, "Police reportedly had quotas for Falun Gong practitioners" and has "continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and place them in reeducation camps."

The United States State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices stated that in China, "Police reportedly had quotas for Falun Gong arrests" and "continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and place them in reeducation camps."

They also drew attention to "Bloody Harvest," an investigation report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese regime. Authored by Winnipeg-based lawyer David Matas and former Secretary of State David Kilgour, the report concludes that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners." Matas and Kilgour have traveled to 30 countries to raise awareness of their report since its release last July.

Voice of International Community

Meanwhile, after six months of study on the widely criticized Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue, the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights chaired by Conservative MP Jason Kenney is expected shortly to release its report. NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston, a member of the subcommittee, told The Epoch Times yesterday that the subcommittee has "proposed some significant change which you will see in the report."

Among countries engaged in human rights dialogues with China, which include the U.S., U.K., Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and others, Canada is the first to commission an assessment of the dialogue process.

Li referred to "Canadian integrity and responsibility." Indeed, a 2002 Private Member's Motion passed unanimously in the House of Commons resulted in the release of three practitioners. The Motion, introduced by Conservative MP Scott Reid, urged then-Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien to raise the issue of thirteen practitioners with Canadian family ties at his meeting with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

Larry Bagnell and Pierre Poilievre are among other MPs who have lent support.

On the rescue of the family members, Li said, "The voice of the international community is very significant and very important."

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