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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Falun Gong members protest on Hill

The Harper government should do something about these atrocities sooner than later. The time is now.

By David Gonczol, CanWest News Service Published: Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ottawa Citizen via Vancouver Sun: OTTAWA - Lian Yao wonders if her husband is still alive.

The 32-year-old transplanted Montrealer, who is clinging to a refugee claim that for now keeps her beyond the reach of Chinese police, is worried her husband, Jian Ma, may be another statistic in an ongoing crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners.

It's a crackdown a recent Canadian study said includes torture, murder and systematic organ harvesting by the Chinese military.

Min Liu, of Ottawa, was part of a group of Ottawa Falun Gong practicioners on Parliament Hill Saturday marking the eighth anniversary since Chinese authorities began a crackdown on the Falun Gong in China.

Min Liu, of Ottawa, was part of a group of Ottawa Falun Gong practicioners on Parliament Hill Saturday marking the eighth anniversary since Chinese authorities began a crackdown on the Falun Gong in China.

David Gonczol/Ottawa Citizen

Yao was among a group of protesters who took to Parliament Hill today to demand the Chinese crackdown against the Falun Gong be condemned by the Canadian government, which up to now has only broadly criticized human rights violations in China without touching on the plight of the Falun Gong.

The protest was held on the eighth anniversary of a notorious Chinese crackdown on practitioners of Falun Gong, an ancient form of mind and body relaxation.

Falun Gong members outside of China have been battling Chinese officials in a public relations war ever since the crackdown, which saw mass arrests of what the Chinese government said was the Falun Gong leadership on July 19, 1999.

Yao was one of the speakers at today's protests, which also included scenes of mock torture.

"On Feb. 28, my husband was arrested from his office by policemen and was seriously beaten. For 23 days we had no idea where he was," Yao said.

"We have since learned he has been sent to a forced labour camp for 2 1/2 years," she said.

Her husband was the general manager of operations for China and Northern Asia for a French company called PCM Pump.

Yao, who herself worked for a U.S. software company in Beijing, said her husband has since told a family member that he believes he was arrested because of his interest in Falun Gong and his activities related to it while he travelled abroad on business.

The family believes they were monitored by Chinese agents while travelling overseas.

Yao and other Ottawa Falun Gong members complained today of "constant" computer attacks by Chinese agents and their Canadian-based sympathizers.

Lucy Zhou, a volunteer with the Ottawa Falun Gong Group, said they regularly get e-mails that appear to be from close friends, but which turn out to be rife with planted viruses.

Zhou said there been a vigorous campaign against Falun Gong groups around the world. She said she regularly receives up to 20 phone calls a day in both English and Chinese denouncing the Falun Gong and its activities.

This seems to peak around certain events, such as the release earlier this year of a Canadian study into human rights violations against the Falun Gong.

A study by David Kilgour, Canada's former secretary of state for the Asia Pacific Region, and David Matas, an immigration, refugee and international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, concluded that persecution of the group includes large scale and systematic live organ harvesting from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners by state groups such as the military.

"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," the report concluded.

The report also concluded that since 1999 the government of China "has put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience."

Ottawa Citizen

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