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Sunday, April 20, 2008

CBC using Beijing’s defamatory lexicon on Falun Gong

MWC: I just couldn’t help but notice for some time now how the CBC appears to use the same language as the Chinese regime’s state-controlled Xinhua news agency when it comes to describing Falun Gong. The article published April 17 titled ”China 'worst human rights abuser in the world': Tory MP” is a good example but there are many more. Here is an excerpt of that piece: “a meditative practice the Chinese government likens to a cult”.

This is a benign group that has been badly persecuted by the Chinese regime for 9 years because they refuse to give up their peaceful meditative exercises and their belief in Truth-Compassion-Tolerance.

As you may be aware, the persecution of Falun Gong is well documented by the world’s human rights organizations. According to UN Rapporteur on torture Manfred Novak, 66% of the people who are victims of torture in labour camps across China are Falun Gong practitioners. In fact, many Canadians are Falun Gong practitioners and some have been tortured to the point of disability. Their family members in China are still suffering under the tyrannical rule of the regime and languish in the gulags simply for their beliefs. Recent reports confirm that they are subjected to organ thefts often resulting in death.

For decades human rights experts have all reached the conclusion that dictatorships use vilification of target groups as tactics to eradicate those groups from society. For example, labeling the ‘undesirables’ as ‘criminals or/and cult members’ justifies the persecution of those groups at their own hands. It worked in Rwanda and Sudan.

Given that this is also the tactic used by the Chinese regime--Jiang Zemin implemented its genocidal policy targeting Falun Gong on April 25 1999--it would be appropriate and responsible for Western media to exercise more caution in this respect and use a vocabulary that reflects our values rather than parroting the communist line. In other words, let’s not persecute Falun Gong practitioners in our own country by keeping the communist (tactics of) vilification alive, and blindly adopting Beijing’s defamatory lexicon.

I find it distressing that the CBC has a history of catering to the Chinese regime. I recall the recent debacle surrounding the film by respected director Peter Rowe ‘Beyond the Red Wall’, which would have been a unique documentary had it not been doctored by the CBC to clearly incorporate the official Beijing view. In the end the so-called documentary gave voice to the regime's justification for committing crimes against humanity, implying that punishing the victims—Falun Gong practitioners labeled as criminal cult members—is OK.

On that topic, human Rights lawyer David Matas was quoted as saying: "The CBC should not be the mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party and that is what it has become in this instance by behaving in this way,"... "In my view, the CBC becomes complicit in the Chinese censorship of the Falun Gong by doing this."

As a Canadian broadcaster, the CBC should pride itself in striving for excellence by broadcasting the views and sentiments of Canadians, not those of foreign consulates representing rogue governments who are known to be both massive violators of human rights and habitual liars.

It is long overdue for the CBC to take a stand to protect our Canadian values along with the human dignity that we so cherish as a people of the free world. This should be the most fundamental principle of the code of ethics governing ‘responsible journalism’. I hope that CBC can amend its approach in the future and be more Canada friendly by not allowing the Chinese regime to dilute and corrupt our freedom of speech.

At this point, CBC should be reminded that history has taught us that a great amount of vigilance and integrity is required when doing business with dictatorships. No doubt that the CBC bosses are acutely aware of the irony underlying the recent blocking of the CBC website in China, after CBC had been so obliging in doctoring “Beyond the Red Wall” to meet Beijing’s demands.

Marie Beaulieu

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