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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

Monday, December 25, 2006

CRTC approves the 9 CCP Channels

It is regretful but not surprising that CRTC approved the 9 CCP channels after all the evidence that was put forth objecting to their broadcasting on Canadian airwaves. However, CRTC recognizes that there is questionable evidence that shadowed the application somewhat, but it didn't make any difference after all because it happened between 1999 and 2001...Hmmm. One will have to dig deeper to find more recent evidence. Phoenix News channel was also approved.

CRTC Excerpt: The Commission finds that one of these programming services, CCTV-4, aired abusive comment in news stories dating back to 1999 and 2001. The Commission defines abusive comment as any abusive comment or abusive pictorial representation that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability. In light of the age of the stories and the absence of any concrete evidence as to similar comment since, the Commission is unable to conclude, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that the stories in question are typical of content currently aired on CCTV-4.

The Commission notes CITVC's statements that the Chinese Great Wall TV Package (which includes CCTV-4) "obeys the laws of every country in which its services are broadcast and Canada will be no exception" and "will comply with the provisions of the relevant codes that govern Canadian broadcasters." The Commission will expect CCTV-4 to ensure that abusive comment is not aired when the service is distributed in Canada, failing which, the service could be removed from the digital lists. (more)

Singapore's Rule of BAD Law

On the surface Singapore looks like it is a vibrant democracy where people are granted the right to chose and vote. But the sad reality is that it seems to be a country with complete dictatorship and autocracy. The way they treat Falun Gong practitioners is a typical example.

FGHRWG Newsletter: Judge Refuses Evidence of the Chinese Communist Regime's Persecution of Falun Gong and Throws Two Peaceful Protestors in Jail

What is Singapore's judicial process coming to? The same level as that of Mainland China, it would appear. In this trial of citizen demonstrators for harassment, political concerns for China's reputation were held higher than Singapore's citizens' right to democratic expression. (more)

Related Article:

Singapore Decision Aids and Abets Murderous Regime


Friday, December 22, 2006

Amnesty International: Gao Zhisheng's verdict

What might look like an act of compassion to some is merely an illusion in the lead to the 2008 Olympics. Putting a muzzle on Gao will not stop the freedom movement from moving forward, on the contrary this will likely backfire on the CCP. Here is Amnesty International's reaction to Gao Zhisheng verdict. Sign petition letter here.

Gao's friend, Hu Jia, commented: "This is the result of the endeavors of the international community and activists. This is our first victory," Hu said. "Gao Zhisheng is innocent and the case itself is an infringement of his human rights." (more)

AI Press release, 12/22/2006: Reacting to today’s verdict by Beijing Municipal No.1 Court which has given rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng a three-year suspended prison sentence for 'inciting subversion', Amnesty International said

"While we note the unusual decision to give rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng a suspended sentence, we remain deeply concerned that he has been convicted of 'inciting subversion' - a broadly defined crime in the Chinese criminal law that is regularly used to imprison activists in violation of their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression.

“That a Beijing court has stopped short of sending Gao Zhisheng to jail does not detract from the fact that this was a grossly unfair trial and the latest example in a disturbing pattern of Chinese lawyers and activists being subjected to conviction after unfair trials by the Chinese authorities. We urge the authorities to now release Gao Zhisheng immediately and unconditionally and to stop the persecution of both him and his family.” said Catherine Baber, Deputy Director of the Asia programme at Amnesty International

Notes

Gao Zhisheng has been sentenced to 3 years in prison, suspended for five years. This means that he will not be imprisoned unless he commits criminal offences during the five-year period. If imprisoned Amnesty International would consider Gao Zhisheng a prisoner of conscience. It is expected that he will be released soon but is likely to remain under tight supervision by the authorities.

While suspended sentences are common in death penalty cases (with death sentences usually commuted to life imprisonment), they are much less common in ordinary criminal cases. It is appears that the authorities wished to show leniency in his case - possibly due to potential embarrassment and opposition both domestically and internationally to putting such a high profile lawyer behind bars.

For a background briefing on this case click here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Vancouver: Falun Gong bid for full trial rejected

Stay tuned, there is more to this story than a mere bylaw infraction!


Granville St. protest camp will stay up into new year

The Province (15 December, 2006) - The protesters yesterday failed to persuade a judge to hold a full trial over issues surrounding the City of Vancouver's petition to remove their camp.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein gave the protesters 30 more days to file affidavits in response to the petition filed in August.

The protesters had argued that there were complex Charter of Rights issues to be determined and that a trial was needed.

The city argued that such a move was premature and the judge agreed, noting that the case lends itself better to a petition hearing, a shorter process with lawyers' submissions.

Joe Arvay, a lawyer for the protesters, said a decision on an appeal will be made in the new year.

In June, the protesters were given a deadline to remove a sidewalk shed and wall-mounted signs that have been fixed in place for five years in front of the Chinese consulate on Granville Street.

The city says the protest camp, staffed by at least one protester at all times, violates a bylaw requiring structures to have city approval.

Falun Gong has been described as a combination of exercise, meditation and spiritual belief.

Adherents say there's been a well-documented genocide against their group by the Chinese government.

kfraser@png.canwest.com

CIPFG to petition China to allow probe into organ harvesting

Like Australia, the Asian Branch of the CIPFG is giving Beijing a golden opportunity to welcome the free world to investigate the allegations of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. If Beijing has nothing to hide, there shouldn’t be any problem for the Coalition to go ahead with their plan.

Full Report:

(Kyodo) A group looking into the alleged harvesting by Chinese authorities of organs of executed members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement will deliver a petition letter to a Chinese official in Hong Kong seeking permission to launch an investigation in China, a veteran democrat said Tuesday.

"We will submit a petition letter to Central Government's Liaison Office Director Gao Siren on Dec. 20, demanding China to allow our team to investigate, without authorities' surveillance, allegations of for-profit harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners," former Democratic Party legislator Szeto Wah said.

The Asia branch of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China was established earlier this month with Szeto as the vice chairman, following the setting up of an Australia branch.

The letter also demands a meeting with mainland human rights advocates including detained lawyer Gao Zicheng, who has been held by Chinese police since August, Szeto said.

Falun Gong, established in 1992 by its leader Li Hongzhi, who is reportedly residing in the United States instead of China to avoid persecution, teaches meditation exercises with mixed elements of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

Along with a few other spiritual movements, it was branded an "evil cult" in 1999 after more than 10,000 practitioners staged a silent protest surrounding Zhongnanhai, the heart of the Chinese government in Beijing.

A study released in July by a Canadian lawyer and a former Canadian government, based mainly on testimony provided by Falun Gong practitioners in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, concluded that the Chinese government and affiliated hospitals, detention centers and courts have since 1999 put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong practitioners.

It claimed their vital organs, including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas, were virtually simultaneously seized for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.

The Chinese government has dismissed the allegations, saying they are based on "rumors and false allegations" spread by Falun Gong members "to smear China's image."

The concern group's Asia branch now has 116 members comprised of legislators, professionals and academics from six countries and regions -- Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Macao and Hong Kong.

Szeto is also chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which has openly criticized China over the bloody crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and demanded vindication of the incident.

"We will give Beijing one month's time to respond. If by then it still refuses to allow our investigation team to start probing, we will consider other forms of peaceful activities," Szeto said.

One of the authors of the investigation report, David Kilgour, a former Canadian secretary of state for Asia-Pacific affairs, has suggested calling for a boycott to the 2008 Olympic Games that Beijing will host, if it fails to stop organ harvesting.

Movie: Shake the World

This is an excellent film on the persecution of Falun Gong. Highly inspiring. Look here to see Shake the World!

The Eagle via U-WIRE - Jinwei Wang, a graduate student in American University's School of Communication, wants to bring Eastern culture to Western film techniques. Wang, who plans to graduate in 2008, is on her way with a new narrative film, "Shake the World." Wang wrote, produced, directed and edited the film, which although fictional tells the true story of the Falun Gong persecution currently going on in China.

"Film is a Western technique and I wanted to examine how I can [use it with] the Chinese culture," Wang said.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual ritual that consists of meditation and exercise. Falun Gong teaches the three principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.

"It benefits individual health," Wang said. "It's very good ... for the whole society and I think that's what the government wants: Peaceful people. I cannot figure out why the persecution began," she said.

While many have heard about the persecution in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Wang's film follows a woman as she suffers from the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners starting in 1999 in Shijazhuang City of Hebei Providence, China. She is not willing to give up her freedom to practice, even though the Chinese government arrests and tortures Falun Gong practitioners.

Wang's film is tactfully and artfully done. She produced it with the sensitivity of the subject in mind. Wang displays a level of severity on the issue in a considerate and less graphic manner. It forces one to connect emotionally with the practitioners and the protagonist throughout the film.

"My family moved to Japan before the persecution [of] Falun Gong," Wang said. "I didn't know much about the student movement. They said that no one died. When we moved to Japan we watched the video of the satellite video of the tank that killed the student and I was so shocked and so surprised as to how some government could make such a big lie."

Wang wants to focus her studies on film and shot "Shake the World" in only 17 days. She filmed most of it in Taiwan with voluntary Falun Gong practitioners as the actors, cast and crew.

Wang said film is a powerful medium.

"It tells you a story and doesn't force any information," she said. "It is a very important responsibility to make life more beautiful and make society more peaceful and help the people get their human rights back, the rights they were born with."

Wang herself is a Falun Gong practitioner and even while living in Japan was very close to the persecution.

"Before the persecution, half of my classmates in China were Falun Gong practitioners. After school we would practice together. My friends called me when they took their exam to get into universities. They said there are several questions asking, 'What do you think about Falun Gong?' So if you don't answer the way the government would want you to then you will be in trouble," Wang said.

Two of the actresses in Wang's film also have a personal connection to the Falun Gong persecution. The little girl, who plays a 7-year-old daughter, is actually 5 years old and lost her father to the Falun Gong persecution.

"They went to many countries to talk about their story," Wang said. "Her mother said she does not want any more family to face the same persecution."

This issue has immediate importance and Wang feels that in making this film she can draw attention to it and force international pressure on the Chinese government.

"We all think it's a very important issue and [the cast] are all Falun Gong practitioners, so they really want to help the people in China," she said.

"If the international people see what is happening now they think it will be very powerful and the international pressure is very important on the Chinese government for those people living in the culture now," Wang said.

Wang has shown her narrative documentary at many universities, including one in Taiwan. She hopes that the Chinese people can eventually be an audience for "Shake the World," she said.

As for the future, Wang is taking filmmaking one step at a time.

"I really want to be a film director and work on Eastern-feeling films to develop the traditional feeling into the Western technique," she said.

"Hopefully I can begin an Eastern film, and also hopefully I can be a director that can use ... film to help human rights issues," she said.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

China to Allow More Freedom to Journalists from Abroad

According to Edward Cody of the Washington Post, the promised freedom of the press during the 2008 Olympics is far from a fait accompli. It remains to be seen whether the CCP will live up to their word. Do they ever?

Washington Post Excerpt: A manual published by the Public Security Ministry and handed out to Beijing police, who are studying English in preparation for the Olympics, contained a dialogue making clear how ministry officials believe reporting should be approached. It described a hypothetical situation in which a policeman comes upon a foreign reporter inquiring about Falun Gong:

"But Falun Gong has nothing to do with the games," the policeman says.

"What does that matter?" the reporter replies.

"It's beyond the permit."

"What permit?"

"You're a sports reporter. You should only cover the games."

"But I'm interested in Falun Gong."

"It's beyond the limit of your coverage and illegal. As a foreign reporter in China, you should obey China law and do nothing against your status."

"Oh, I see. May I go now?"

"No. Come with us."

A Beijing policeman said the manual was distributed to him and his colleagues, along with a tape recording of the various dialogues, as practice material to supplement three-month-long formal English courses that have been underway since 2002.

Asked how that fit in with the new rules, Liu said that in the coming month there will be briefings on the changes for Chinese government departments, including the Public Security Ministry and provincial, municipal and county propaganda officials who routinely seek to impede coverage of news in their areas. Beginning Jan. 1, those officials will no longer have the right to detain foreign reporters seeking to interview people, he said, and the Foreign Ministry can be called on to intercede if they try.