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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ottawa weighs in on Falun Gong dispute

The battle is about to begin ... and now Ottawa is setting the tone asking for the best of both worlds.

"Recent claims have surfaced regarding organ harvesting from prisoners who have not consented to donation, including Falun Gong members," it states.

"We have taken note of both the Chinese and U.S. governments' public statements on this issue . . . . More generally, we continue to have serious concerns over the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners."

VANCOUVER SUN: OTAWA -- The federal government has intervened in the dispute between the Chinese government officials and Falun Gong protesters to remind the City of Vancouver that Canada has an international treaty obligation to protect the "dignity" of foreign embassies, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

But Canadian officials, who cede jurisdiction on the matter to the city, have also taken steps to inform Chinese officials that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms takes precedence over bilateral treaty obligations, according to newly obtained internal documents.

The ongoing dispute -- the city has been trying without success since June to force Falun Gong demonstrators to dismantle the billboards and small structure attached to the consulate's fence -- is one of numerous irritants being raised at high-level Canada-China meetings, according to briefing notes.

"Canada has no position on the Falun Gong group or its teachings," states the beginning of an undated briefing note, stamped "SECRET CEP" -- (CEP stands for Canadian eyes only), that was prepared in advance of a planned bilateral meeting in late July in Malaysia between Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.

A portion of the statement, relating to the Falun Gong meditation movement that China considers a subversive cult, is whited out under provisions of the Access to Information Act that allows officials to censor information "reasonably expected to be injurious" to the conduct of international affairs.

The rest of the statement makes clear Canada has taken some steps -- though not clearly enough to answer China's complaints.

"We are aware of our Vienna Convention obligations, and have communicated this information to the municipal authorities in Vancouver who have jurisdiction over the matter," declares the position statement, which MacKay is advised to make only if the matter is raised by China.

"So long as they remain peaceful and comply with local laws, such protests are constitutionally protected in Canada."

Ambra Dickie, a spokeswoman for the department of foreign affairs and international trade (DFAIT), said China has been complaining about the protest signs for three years.

"DFAIT's fundamental role is to serve as the formal channel of communications between foreign governments and all levels of government in Canada," she said in a prepared statement.

"As we would normally do in such cases, DFAIT advised the City of Vancouver of the Chinese embassy's concerns and of Canada's Vienna Convention obligations."

She read a section of the convention that calls on countries to "protect the consular premises against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the consular post or impairment of its dignity."

Dickie added, however, that the decision to order the signs taken down was made by the city, "and as such any further questions should be directed towards them."

The issue is also raised in a briefing note prepared in advance of a June 12, 2006 briefing note in Beijing between Ted Lipman, then director-general of DFAIT's East Asia Division, and Liu Jieyi, a senior official in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Under the heading "Vancouver protest signs," the briefing note advises Lipman to say that Canada "fully respects the right to freedom of speech in Canada, as well as the City of Vancouver's bylaws and our international obligations under the Vienna Convention."

The remaining paragraphs on the issue are whited out, again because disclosure could be "injurious" to Canada's foreign interests.

Both briefing documents raise a variety of human rights and consular issues that the Harper government is pushing to the forefront.

The Conservatives have criticized previous Liberal governments for allegedly putting trade ahead of human rights, though Liberals counter that rights issues were routinely raised behind closed doors.

The briefing note in advance of the June meeting in Beijing raises one of the most provocative allegations against Beijing's authoritarian rule.

"Recent claims have surfaced regarding organ harvesting from prisoners who have not consented to donation, including Falun Gong members," it states.

"We have taken note of both the Chinese and U.S. governments' public statements on this issue . . . . More generally, we continue to have serious concerns over the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners."

poneil1@hotmail.com

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

..
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
beat people doing yoga

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
seize peaceful demonstrators
..

MaKina said...

I agree, it goes completely against the principles of heaven and earth. Why listen to the whispers of fallen angels?