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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Vancouver FG 24-hr site: Free speech never more needed than against evil


Update: The Vancouver Falun Gong 24-hour site in front of the Chinese Consulate on Granville has been running smoothly for five years. Their banner (blue wall) exposes the atrocities of the persecution of Falun Gong in China and elsewhere in the world and the hut keeps the old ladies warm in the wintertime and cool on hot summer days. Suddenly Mayor Sam Sullivan says that the blue wall has to go according to City bylaws. One may wonder if this is a bylaw issue or is it simply Sam's way of kowtoing to Communist China? Clive Ansley and Daphne Bramham have more on this.

Clive Ansley is the legal counsel for Falun Gong practitioners and this is his take on it:

"The purpose of the bylaw very clearly is to prevent obstruction of the public. There isn't any obstruction here. The whole context of that bylaw is to prevent people blocking streets and sidewalks and so forth, which isn't the case."

Ansley added that there are important Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues involved. (more)

Under extreme provocation, he is extending the olive branch of tolerance to the perpetrators of genocide.

He has effectively told the Chinese government: "We do indeed understand that the lives of mass murderers and torturers are seldom easy and, in the spirit of friendship, we are happy to assist you in stifling the voices of Canadian victims, which so embarrasses you." (more)


Free speech never more needed than against evil
by Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun August 26, 2006 - CHINA Growing evidence of atrocities against Falun Gong followers leaves Mayor Sam Sullivan looking more than a little foolish

Falun Gong practioners protest on Granville Street outside the Chinese consulate: Free speech is sometimes a messy business.

The Falun Gong's shack and wall of protest signs outside the Chinese consulate's residence in Vancouver is proof of that.

And unless Mayor Sam Sullivan has his way, it proves daily to passersby that free speech is alive if not always thriving in Canada.

The posters aren't pretty. They aren't meant to be.

That the Chinese consul must face this each day is no doubt unpleasant. But that discomfort pales beside the gross inhumanity of which the Chinese government is accused.

There is growing evidence that in addition to harvesting organs from prisoners, the Chinese government is complicit in the harvesting of live organs from Falun Gong members who are found to be a match with wealthy patients from the developed world who are desperate for new hearts, lungs, kidneys and corneas.

Falun Gong teaches meditation through exercise -- a new twist on the centuries-old qigong -- that was begun in 1992 and had grown to include more than 70 million adherents before it was banned by the Chinese government in July 1999.

Last month, David Matas, a respected human-rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, a lawyer and former secretary of state for the Asia Pacific, released a report into the allegations that they did for the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong. The report is available on its website (http://eng.cipfg.org).

Denied entry to China to search for proof of the allegations, Kilgour and Matas concluded that there is enough evidence of large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners that there must be a serious and determined effort to substantiate the claims and legislation in all countries to prevent cross-border organ shopping.

"The allegations, if true, would represent a grotesque form of evil, which, despite all the depravations humanity has seen, would be new to this planet," they wrote. "The very horror makes us reel back in disbelief. But that disbelief does not mean that the allegations are untrue."

Their report was denounced by the Chinese government before it was released.

Before the Falun Gong was outlawed, there were 18,500 transplants in a five-year period in China. Between 2000 and 2005, there have been 60,000. Matas and Kilgour found that there are 10,000 more transplants annually than there are identifiable donors. They believe as many as 4,000 Falun Gong members have died after organ harvesting.

There are dozens of Chinese companies offering transplants. One cited by Matas and Kilgour was offering liver and kidney transplants for $180,000 US, hearts for $160,000 and $30,000 for a cornea. A quick search pulled up half a dozen different sites all offering competitive prices. BEK-Transplant, which does the transplants at Peking University hospitals and in Shanghai, has variable rates. Seniors get a $5,000 US discount on kidney transplants that go for $80,000. But there's a $5,000 additional fee for people with O-type blood.

Liver transplants are $135,000 -- $120,000 for seniors.

BEK says the donors are executed prisoners and waiting times vary from two to six months. Another site said waiting times are often a week compared to three or four years in Canada and the United States

Matas and Kilgour have described what is going on in China as as a grotesque crime against humanity. Their report has bolstered growing outrage. This week, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, a member of the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation, joined Kilgour in urging Canada and other countries to boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing if no independent investigation is held.

Last week, after Kilgour met with Australian MPs, Australian foreign affairs officials confirmed that in July they asked China to allow an independent investigation.

For Sullivan to lump the messiness of this principled protest with derelict boats in False Creek, graffiti and litter belittles what may be an unfolding genocide.

But it seems the long arm of China has tapped the mayor -- an unabashed Sino-phile -- on the shoulder.

"When I go to China, they treat me like an emperor," the mayor told The Sun's Wency Leung recently. "We don't have that tradition of that red-carpet thing, so it's a little embarrassing for me in a way."

What seems to embarrass Vancouver's mayor is not the over-the-top treatment of minor officials like him who visit China, but that we democracy-prone Canadians don't do more kowtowing here.

Without the Falun Gong protest on one of Vancouver's busiest streets, many people would know nothing about the Falun Gong or the persecution of its adherents.

Without the protests of Falun Gong members and others, the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission might have blithely supported the Rogers-sponsored application to beam nine Chinese-government channels directly into Canadian homes via satellite. The Chinese media is strictly controlled by the Communist party. Reporters Without Borders has described China as one of the worst countries for censorship and in its 2006 report notes that "television and radio are subjected to even greater control than the written press."

The Falun Gong protest reminds us that we are part of a broader community and have a responsibility to do what we can to stop human rights violations wherever they occur. If that means putting up with a little bit of mess to ensure justice for people with no voice, it's worth it.

The mayor clearly doesn't get it, but he is only one vote on council. The rest of the councillors need to stand up for free speech, and they should add their voices to the call for an independent investigation into organ-harvesting in China.

Sullivan regime tightens gag on free speech by Sophia Bronwen, North Vancouver, Vancouver Sun

August 29, 2006 - Re: Free speech never more needed than against evil, Daphne Bramham, Aug. 26 "The rest of the councillors need to stand up for free speech, and they should add their voices to the call for an independent investigation into organ-harvesting [of Falun Gong practitioners] in China," writes Daphne Bramham.

This may be a tad difficult for the councillors. Just before Mayor Sam Sullivan announced the launching of a spontaneous bylaw enforcement campaign targeting the Falun Gong appeal site, city council received a report from the Roles, Relationships and Responsibilities Review Committee, which included protocols limiting councillors and community advisory committee members in their freedom to critique city policy. Furthermore, the report stated that anyone who ran afoul of the rules would be subject to discipline recommended by the mayor.

I think this policy needs to be considered in more depth, not only for municipal staff, but also for the citizens of Vancouver.

Sullivan regime tightens gag on free speech by Joan Quain, Victoria VanSun

August 29, 2006 Daphne Bramham makes an excellent point: The discomfort the Chinese consul may feel upon seeing the Falun Gong protest site is nothing compared to the atrocities heaped on the group in China. The same goes for whatever discomfort Mayor Sam Sullivan might experience when his Chinese business cronies come to visit.

The dictators in Beijing have reached a new and despicable low with the organ harvesting-for-profit scheme. It would show some real leadership if Sullivan were to do all in his power to enable the Falun Gong to call attention to the vicious persecution, now in its seventh year, rather than working to stifle their voice.



Related articles and links to this post: here, here, and here.

24 Hours: There's far worse problems than Falun Gong's protest

Vancouver Courier: City 'hospitality' trumps ethics

Globe and Mail: Falun Gong protesters oppose injunction Group says bylaw shouldn't apply to them

Vancouver Sun: Falun Gong denounces mayor City hall wants to force the group to dismantle protest site outside Chinese consulate

24 Hours Vancouver - Canada Sullivan still plans to oust protesters

The Province: Protest site must go, city tells court

24 Hours: Falun Gong to maintain ongoing vigil

G&M:Court order sought against Falun Gong protest

VANCOUVER/CKNW(980) Falun Gong members vow to fight city

CTV: City takes legal action against Falun Gong protest

Vancouver Sun: City seeking injunction to remove Falun Gong shack, signs from front of Chinese consulate

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