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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slandering the Falun Gong

I'm appalled at your sensationalist piece that makes the Falun Gong group appear like criminals guilty of bribery. This is simply a case of Chinese immigrants not understanding the laws around freedom of the press in Canada who perhaps thought they could buy a paid ad in a paper to replace a piece that defamed their faith.

The piece from Asian Pacific Post was laced with the Chinese Communist party's slanderous propaganda on Falun Gong and the APP issued several similar pieces after that.

So I can't say I entirely blame the Epoch Press manager for getting paranoid and having second thoughts about printing this bad piece slandering his faith.

Whether the Falun Gong are dancing, playing music in a marching band or simply meditating, it seems most of their activities are interfered with by the Chinese Consulate -- and this has been happening on Canadian soil as well as in China for 10 years.

Why does Canadian media, like APP, carry the hate speech of these communist dictators? And if one Falun Gong adherent makes an honest mistake does it make all of them bad? Not so.

Marie Beaulieu, Victoria

Falun Gong Barred From Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By Joan Delaney
Epoch Times Staff
Mar 20, 2009




Tian Guo Chateauguay, Quebec
The Tian Guo Marching Band The Tian Guo Marching Band performs at the St. Patrick's Day parade in Chateauguay, Quebec, on March 15, 2009. The parade, which included 60 contingents, was led by Tian Guo.




















Montreal Falun Gong practitioners were told they were not allowed to participate in the city’s popular St. Patrick’s Day parade last Sunday because they are “political.”

An email from Beverly Murphy, VP of organization with the United Irish Societies of Montreal, to Falun Gong coordinator Zhu Ying, said the group will not be allowed entry “due to the political nature of your contingent.”

Ying, however, believes pressure was put on parade organizers by the Chinese embassy to bar the Falun Gong contingent, which includes the Tian Guo Marching Band. The group has participated in the parade for the last five years.

“One of their committee members told our practitioners clearly that they received a letter from the Chinese embassy. That was after the parade in 2008. But this person did not want his name to be made public.”

Gerald Showers, spokesperson for United Irish Societies of Montreal, denies this.

“That’s not true. We were never contacted by any government. We tried to just tell them were an open book and there’s no Chinese government that’s going to tell us who we should or should not have in the parade.”

In an email exchange between Murphy and Ying, Murphy wrote: “You mention that you have handed out these pamphlets in previous parades but it was not brought to our attention until after last year’s parade.”

The issue of the letter from the Chinese embassy was raised by Chengzhi Jin during a meeting with the organizing committee on March 12 which Ying attended.

“Their [the committee’s] lawyer, McConomy Leverman, said, ‘I’m warning you, be very careful what you say,’” Ying says.

Showers insists the group has been excluded because Falun Gong practitioners handed out pamphlets at last year’s parade.

“We invited them to a meeting to explain our position,” he says. “I said, ‘I may sympathize with you but the parade is not the place to voice your opinion or your concerns about what’s going on in China.’”

Ying says the group likes to hand out flyers to raise awareness of the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China. However, an offer to not hand out pamphlets during the parade this year did not change the committee’s decision, she says.

Falun Dafa Association of Canada spokesperson Lucy Zhou says the group is not political but rather works to expose the ill treatment of their counterparts at the hands of the Chinese regime.

“Trying to protect and raise awareness about the human rights of innocent people in China does not make Falun Gong a political group, and it should therefore not be shut out of any event in Canada including a St. Patrick’s Day parade.”

Zhou says the Chinese embassy and consulates have a history of interfering with events that include Falun Gong.

Last May, organizers of Ottawa’s Tulip Festival dropped the Tian Guo Marching Band, scheduled to perform at the opening ceremony, for fear of upsetting the Chinese embassy, as the embassy had partially funded the event.

Speaking in the Ontario provincial legislature at the time, MPP Randy Hiller said that “the Ottawa Tulip Festival, in partnership with the Embassy of China, banned Falun Gong.”

“This government gave the tulip festival $300,000 and with it they became the latest voice of silence,” he said.

After the incident whipped up a media storm, festival organizers issued an official apology and allowed the band to play.

Zhu says there are plans to take the current matter before a human rights tribunal, adding that she finds it odd that after five years the group is suddenly banned from the Montreal parade.

“It’s so weird. We always had a good relationship with them [the organizers].”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Matas: Canada’s CBC taking the Communist Party of China’s stance on Falun Gong???

National Post:

Posted: March 17, 2009, 5:21 PM by NP Editor ,

torture_art

When it comes to covering Falun Gong, both the English and French branches of CBC have adopted a view of the world disturbingly similar to that of the Communist Party of China.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that combines ancient Chinese traditions, Buddhist and Taoist practices, and qi gong exercises. Founder Li Hongzhi began writing and speaking about Falun Gong in 1992. The movement took off, growing to a Chinese government estimate of 70 to 100 million practitioners by 1999. The growth was partly attributable to encouragement by the Chinese government itself, which was impressed by Falun Gong’s health benefits.

But in 1999 then-President Jiang Zemin — out of jealousy that something an outsider proposed could become so popular while his own “Three Represents” writings languished in confusion and obscurity — spurred the government to ban the practice. To justify the banning, the Communist Party of China (CPC) developed a conspiracy fantasy. All those individuals engaging on their own or in small groups in harmless, indeed healthful, exercises, the CPC alleged, were part of some vast organization aimed at overthrowing communist rule.

The persecution began first by arrests, then by torture, then by disappearance. It did not take long, as David Kilgour and I concluded in a report released in July, 2006, for the disappeared to become the source of organs sold to transplant tourists for huge sums.

In 2007, the CBC announced that it was broadcasting a TV documentary by Peter Rowe on the persecution of the Falun Gong in China, which featured our report. But the government of China leaned on the CBC, and the CBC pulled the show. It was replaced in the scheduled time slot with an old documentary on Pakistan.

The CBC went back to the producer and asked for changes. He initially balked, and then made some edits. But the changes he made weren’t enough for Beijing. The CBC made more changes on its own after the producer refused to co-operate anymore, and then broadcast its concocted product.

Not to be outdone by the CBC, French-language Radio Canada went one further in a show that aired in Oct., 2008.

The origins of that broadcast originate with La Presse Chinoise, a Montreal-area Chinese weekly newspaper, which in 2001 published standard Communist Party propaganda against Li Hongzhi and the Falun Gong — material that was, according to the Quebec Court of Appeal, defamatory. The libels eventually led Falun Gong practitioners to protest in front of the offices of the La Presse Chinoise.

Radio Canada reported these protests in a way that would have warmed the heart of the most hardened Chinese Communist Party bureaucrat. Falun Gong was depicted as an organization that is “highly structured” with “no shortage of money,” composed of different organs working in lockstep. This mythical organization was then blamed for tension in Montreal’s Chinatown — because some practitioners had the nerve to protest their being libelled by La Presse Chinoise.

Radio Canada preyed on the ignorance of the Canadian public to propagate the Communist Party line, blaming the victims for protesting their victimization, adding to the propaganda by describing the Falun Gong as “little known and bothersome,” “whose presence creates malaise.”

Why are CBC and Radio Canada behaving as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party? Is it the identification of one bureaucracy with another? Is it nostalgia for the socialist values that the Communist Party used to embody?

Whatever the explanation, the distortions the public broadcaster brings to China and the Falun Gong are regrettable. When it comes to reporting on China and the Falun Gong, it is time CBC/Radio Canada started to reflect Canadian values instead of Chinese Communist Party values.

National Post

David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Human Rights Future of Communist China: David Matas

The Human Rights Future of Communist China
By David Matas
Remarks prepared for a University of Manitoba forum on the Future of China 5 March 2009

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Communist Party of China has engaged systematically in human rights violations against its people from the moment it seized power. For most of its rule, the Communist Party kept China as a hermit kingdom, disengaged from the rest of the world.

The Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the collapse of Communism in Eastern and Central Europe terrified the Chinese rulers. They realized that more than their socialist ideology was at risk. Their own careers, their accumulation of wealth and privilege, their immunity from prosecution for the crimes they had committed hung in the balance.

So they shifted from communism to capitalism, abandoning an ideology they understood was no longer tenable. Being capitalist meant being part of the global economy. A shift from communism to capitalism meant a shift from isolation to engagement.

Has this shift improved the human rights picture in China, made China more of a right respecting state? In my view, regrettably not. I come to the conclusion from personal experience.

David Kilgour and I wrote a report in which we came to the conclusion that China hospitals had been harvesting organs from detained Falun Gong practitioners and selling the harvested organs for huge sums to transplant tourists. Our report came out in a first version in July 2006 and a second version in January 2007. Today I do not want to talk about that report except tangentially, but rather what I experienced of the Communist Party of China from doing that report.

1. Gao Zhisheng

My first shock came from our efforts to get into China for the purpose of doing research about our report. Because I am an immigration lawyer in Canada I know that an application for a visa is more likely to succeed when the application is accompanied by an invitation from someone in the country from which the visa is sought. We cast about in several directions for an invitation from China to do this work. The person who responded was Gao Zhisheng.

David Kilgour and I asked for a meeting with the Chinese embassy in Canada to discuss terms of entry. Our request for a meeting was accepted. But the person who met with David Kilgour was interested only in denying the allegations and not in arranging for our visit. So we never made a formal visa application and never submitted Gao's invitation to the Chinese embassy.

Shortly thereafter, on August 15, Gao was arrested, tortured, prosecuted for inciting subversion, convicted on December 12, and sentenced on December 22 to three years suspended for five years. Though the jail sentence was suspended, he went into house arrest where he remains to this day.

2. Censorship

Once our report came out, Chinese authorities did their best wherever we went to try to shut us up. Wherever we went, the Chinese consulate, if they knew about the event, would call up the local hosts urging cancellation, suggesting that hosting the event would be considered an unfriendly act towards China and that our event represented a security threat to the institution.

i) Melbourne On a trip to Australia, in August 2006, David Kilgour spoke on our report at a forum in Melbourne hosted by Liberal Party member Victor Perton. The Melbourne Chinese consulate sent a letter to all members of the Legislative Assembly asking them not to attend the forum.

ii) Helsinki

Similarly, when I was in Finland in September 2006 meeting with the Finnish parliamentary human rights committee, their chair informed me that the Chinese embassy had called, urging them not to meet with me. The chair replied that embassy officials were welcome to meet separately with the committee, but that the committee would nonetheless meet with me.

iii) Tel Aviv

I went to Israel to speak on May 30, 2007 at a symposium on organ transplants at Beilinson hospital near Tel Aviv. When I arrived in Israel on the Sunday before the event, I was told that the Chinese embassy had asked Israeli Foreign Affairs to cancel the event at which I was asked to speak.

The Foreign Affairs Assistant Deputy Minister Avi Nir and the Health Assistant Deputy Minister Boz Lev put the request to the Beilinson hosting hospital, which refused. Foreign Affairs and Health then asked the hospital to withdraw the invitation to me to speak even if the program continued. The hospital refused that too.

Foreign Affairs and Health then asked the hospital to withdraw the invitation to Roy Bar Ilan, a Falun Gong practitioner, to be part of the closing panel. This the hospital did, even though the program, as advertised even on the day of the event included his name.

iv) San Francisco

I was scheduled to speak 5 April 2008 at San Francisco State University. The organizers of this event bought a display ad in the San Francisco Chronicle advertising the event, an ad the Chinese consulate in San Francisco could not miss. Shortly before the event, the University cancelled the venue, citing security concerns.

The organizers at the last minute rescheduled the event to the Nikko Hotel. The University put up signs saying the event, not just the venue, had been cancelled. The organizers placed helpers at the University to redirect people.

v) Gold Coast

On 7 July 2008, organizers hired a theatre at Bond University in the Gold Coast for a Chinese human rights forum August 4 where I was scheduled to speak. The person taking bookings was new and had everything cleared from superiors. The University said they would notify all their students and staff about the forum internally. The organizers were also allowed to put up posters around the campus promoting the event for 4 August.

On 28 July, three weeks later, and one week before the event, the organizers received an e-mail that said in its entirety:

    "This is to advise that the venue is no longer available for your event. A credit has been processed against your credit card."

Vice-Chancellor Robert Stable, when one of the organizers managed to reach him, said that he and the Committee met and decided the event was political and that they don't allow political events from outside. No matter what was said, he didn't care and said that the decision was final. The event was rescheduled to the Life Education Centre in Broadbeach.

In the case of San Francisco State University and Bond University, I do not know that the local Chinese consulates had contacted the universities asking them to cancel the events. But I do know that these consulates would have been derelict in what they considered to be their duty if their had been no such contact. Moreover the substantial delays between the arrangements and the cancellations at both universities as well as the wide publicity the planned forums were given meant that the local Chinese consulates likely would have been aware of them.

vi) The CBC

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced that it was broadcasting on November 6 a TV documentary by Peter Rowe on the persecution of the Falun Gong in China which featured our report.

The Government of China contacted the CBC and the CBC pulled the show. It was replaced with an old documentary on Pakistan because, so the CBC spokesman said, recent turmoil in Pakistan made the rebroadcast timely.

But, as it turned, out timeliness was not the concern. The CBC went back to the producer Peter Rowe and asked for changes. He initially balked and then made some. But the changes he made were not enough. The CBC made more changes on its own after the producer refused to cooperate further.

The CBC version of the documentary was broadcast November 20. Since the original version had already been aired and is now available on You Tube, it is possible to compare the two.

What are the differences? It did not surprise us to find that the deletions were hard evidence to substantiate our findings of the mass killings of Falun Gong. One item deleted was the playing of tapes of telephone admissions from hospitals in China acknowledging that they were selling Falun Gong organs. Chinese government denials remained.

The additions were typical Chinese propaganda. The CBC on is own, for instance, added this screen to the documentary:

    "Amnesty International does not have conclusive evidence to back up the allegation the Falun Gong are killed for their organs."

It should be obvious that silence is not evidence of anything. Amnesty International silence on a human rights violation is not proof and not even evidence that a violation is not occurring. The organization does not claim to be a verifier or source or encyclopedia of all human rights violations.

The CBC, before the commercial which led into the documentary, flashed on screen with footage of Falun Gong practitioners a bit of Chinese propaganda straight up: "China regards Falun Gong as a cult". For people who know nothing about the Falun Gong that sort of introduction was bound to mislead.

3. Evidence destruction

A second Chinese government reaction to our report was destruction of the evidence on which our report was based. Much of the evidence in our report comes from the Government of China itself, from hospital web sites and Chinese medical research. The Government of China has been systematically taking down or altering the sites on which we have relied.

We have electronically archived all our source material. Any one who wants to see what we saw can go to the links in our report and see our source material. However, this alteration and destruction of the original sources means that updating our report becomes difficult. We know what the situation was at the time the report was written. However, we know less about the situation today because the types of information we got yesterday are not available today.

4. Counter Propaganda

A third Chinese government reaction to our report was counter propaganda. The counter propaganda either misrepresents our report or denies the sources without foundation. Here are a few notable examples.

i) A claim of rumour

At the symposium on organ transplants at Beilinson hospital near Tel Aviv where I spoke on May 30, 2007, the Chinese Embassy to Israel circulated a statement at the symposium that the report David Kilgour and I wrote on organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners contains:

    "verbal evidence without sources, unverifiable witnesses and huge amount of unconvincingly conclusive remarks based on words like "probably", "possibly", "maybe" and "it is said", etc. All these only call into question the truth of the report."

Yet, all one has to do to is to look at the report to see that every statement we make in our report is independently verifiable. There is no verbal evidence without sources. Where we rely on witnesses we identify them and quote what they say.

The report is on the internet and is word searchable. Anyone who searches it can see that the words "probably", "possibly", "maybe" and the phrase "it is said" are not used in our report, not even once.

ii) Shi Bingyi

One basis for our conclusion that Falun Gong practitioners were the primary source of organs for transplants was the large increase in transplants coincident with the start of persecution of the Falun Gong. Yet, the only other significant source of organs for transplants, prisoners sentenced to death, remained constant.

To document the overall increase in transplants, our report cited Shi Bingyi, vice-chair of the China Medical Organ Transplant Association. We indicated that he said that there were about 90,000 transplants in total up until the end of 2005.

Yet there were approximately 30,000 transplants done in China before the end of 1999 and 18,500 in the six year period 1994 to 1999 inclusive. That meant that transplants went up from 18,500 in the six year period prior to the persecution of the Falun Gong to 60,000 in the six year period after the persecution of the Falun Gong began. Since the death penalty volume was constant, that left 41,500 transplants in the six year period 2000 to 2005 where the only explanation for the sourcing was Falun Gong practitioners.

UN rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak asked the Chinese government to explain the discrepancy between organs available for transplants and numbers from identifiable sources. The Chinese government, in a response sent to Professor Nowak by letter dated March 19, 2007 and published in the report of Professor Nowak to the UN Human Rights council dated February 19, 2008, that

    "Professor Shi Bingyi expressly clarified that on no occasion had he made such a statement or given figures of this kind, and these allegations and the related figures are pure fabrication."

Moreover, the Government of China, lest there be any doubt, asserted that

    "China's annual health statistics are compiled on the basis of categories of health disorder and not in accordance with the various types of treatment provided"

Shi Bingyi was interviewed in a video documentary produced by Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong media outlet. That video shows Shi Bingyi on screen saying what the Government of China, in its response to Nowak, indicates he said, that the figures we quote from him he simply never gave. He says on the video:

    "I did not make such a statement because I have no knowledge of these figures I have not made detailed investigation on this subject how many were carried out and in which year. Therefore I have no figures to show. So I could not have said that."

Yet, the actual source of the quotation is footnoted in our report. It is a Chinese source, the Health News Network. The article from the Network is posted on the official website for transplantation professionals in China, . The text, dated 2006-03-02, states, in part, in translation:

    "Professor Shi said that in the past 10 years, organ transplantation in China had grown rapidly; the types of transplant operations that can be performed were very wide, ranging from kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, lung, bone marrow, cornea; so far, there had been over 90,000 transplants completed country-wide; last year along, there was close to 10,000 kidney transplants and nearly 4,000 liver transplants completed."

Though the Government of China has taken down many of the citations in our report, this citation remains. The original source of the information remains available within China through an official website source.

Moreover, the information in this article continues to be recycled in Chinese publications. The official web site of the Minister of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China posts a newsletter of June 20, 2008 at < http://wwww.most.gov.cn > which states:

    "Up to date, China has performed some 85,000 organ transplants, only next to the United States in number. In recent years, China performed organ transplants on more than 10,000 patients a year...Liver transplants have exceeded 10,000 in number... Heart transplants went over 100 in number..."

The number of 90,000 transplants in 2006 and 85,000 transplants in 2008 do not match and call for an explanation only those who provide the statistics can give. What is striking about the later article, aside from the statistical mismatch, is that it flies in the face of the official Chinese statement to Professor Nowak that China's health statistics are compiled on the basis of categories of health disorder and not in accordance with the various types of treatment provided.

So what we have is a statement from Shi Bingyi on an official Chinese web site which remains extant to this day, a statement which Shi Bingyi publicly denies ever having said. Moreover, despite the continued presence on this official website of a statement showing that Shi Bingyi says what we wrote he said, the Chinese government accuses us of fabricating the words we attribute to Shi Bingyi.

Neither the Government of China nor Shi Bingyi claim that Health News Network has misquoted or misunderstood what Shi Bingyi said. There has been no effort to hide or mask or take down from the internet the publicly posted article of the Health New Network where Shi Bingyi is quoted. The continuation of this article on an official Chinese web site at the same time as China is removing from the internet so much other information about organ transplants which we used to come to our conclusions amounts to a continuation to assert what is to be found in this article.

iii) Lu Guoping

If the statement from Shi Bingyi is strange, the statement from Lu Guoping is stunning. One trail of evidence which led to our conclusion of organ harvesting was investigator phone calls. Our investigators called hospitals throughout China, pretending to be relatives of patients who needed transplants, asking the hospitals if they had organs from Falun Gong practitioners for transplant. The justification for the questions was that, since Falun Gong is an exercise regime, the Falun Gong practitioners would be healthy and their organs would be healthy. Our callers got recorded admissions throughout China that hospitals did have Falun Gong organs for sale.

One such admission came from Lu Guoping at Minzu Hospital of Guangxi Autonomous Region. He said, on a recording, that his hospital used to have organs from Falun Gong practitioners, but no longer has them. He referred the caller to a hospital in Guangzhou and assured the caller that this hospital had Falun Gong organs. Here are some of the exchanges:

    "Q: Didn't you use Falun Gong practitioners' organs before?
    A: Now it has changed from before.
    ...
    Q: Then they [the hospital in Guangzhou to which the caller was referred] use organs from Falun Gong practitioners?
    A: Right, right, right.
    ...
    Q: It is said that the organs from Falun Gong practitioners are relatively healthy and better. Do they use this kind as well?
    A: Right, right, right. Usually the healthy ones are chosen
    Q: What I mean is that the organs from Falun Gong practitioner are better. Do they use this kind as well?
    A: Right, right, right.
    ...
    Q: ...what you used before, were they from detention centres or prisons?
    A: From prisons.
    Q: Oh, prisons. And it was from healthy Falun Gong practitioners, the healthy Falun Gong right?
    A: Right, right, right. We would choose the good ones, because we will assure the quality of our operations.
    Q: That means you choose the organs yourself?
    A: Right, right, right.
    ....
    Q: ...Usually how old is the age of the organ supplier?
    A: Usually in their 30s.
    Q: In their 30s. Then you will go to the prison to select yourself?
    A: Right, right, right. We must select it."

The Phoenix TV documentary which interviewed Shi Bingyi also interviewed Lu Guoping. In this documentary, Lu Guoping acknowledges having received the call from our caller. He confirms that he referred our caller to a hospital in Guangzhou. He acknowledges that the caller asked whether that hospital used organs from Falun Gong practitioners. What changes in the documentary is the answer he said he gave. In the TV interview, he says:

    "I told her I was not involved in the surgical operations and had no idea where the organs come from. I told her I could not answer her questions. She then asked me whether these organs come from prisons. I replied no to her in clear cut terms"

On the video, Dr. Lu is presented with a partial transcript of the call made to him found in our report. He reacts by saying:

    "The record of the phone call does not conform to the truth. Many parts of it have been distorted or mutilated. The report says that when I was asked where the organs removed from Falun Gong people came from, prisons or detention, houses I said they came from the prisons. But this was not my answer....The report also says that when the person who called me asked whether we have to go to the prison to select body organs I answered yes and added we have to go there to make the choice. This question was actually not raised at all then."

There is no indication in the Phoenix TV documentary that we have a recording where Dr. Lu says in his own voice the words attributed to him in our report. Nor does either the doctor or the interviewer make any attempt to explain how we could possibly have got the voice of the doctor on a recording saying what he denies saying, interspersed seamlessly with what he admits saying, if he did not say what he denies saying. The suggestion left by the documentary is that we have altered a transcript. Because there is no acknowledgement of a recording, there is no suggesting we have altered the recording.

So here we have on our recording an admission from a doctor that he used to go to a prison to select Falun Gong practitioners for their organs. He does not just say that someone else did this. He says that he used to do this himself. Moreover, we have a further admission that the voice we have on our recording is the voice of the very person our recording says he is. This is as close to a smoking gun as we are ever likely to get.

5. Threats

At Columbia University, an organization titled the Columbia University Chinese Students and Scholars Association had posted this threat on its web site in April 2007 when I was speaking there on our Report: "Anyone who offends China will be executed no matter how far away they are".

When I spoke at the forum in Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Australia August 4, 2008, the forum was connected through the internet to participants in China, over 150 in total. The local as well as the internet participants asked questions after the formal presentation was over. One of the internet participants was a Chinese government police official. This is the question, in translation, he asked me:

    "Are you afraid of death? You are brutally interfering in our Party's internal policies. Are you afraid of our revenge? Our revenge against you, we'll take revenge against you, are you not afraid of that?"

6. Universal periodic review

David Kilgour and I expressed regret that China had chosen to reject so quickly so many basic recommendations made in the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. We were dismayed that China had chosen systematically to reject those recommendations which would prevent the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs to be used in transplants and which would make possible the bringing to justice any perpetrators of this abuse.

David Kilgour and I condemned the Government of China for its refusal to support the UPR recommendations to:

i) guarantee all citizens of China the exercise of religious freedom, freedom of belief and freedom of worshipping in private. As Canada in its statement to the Working Group noted, respect for this freedom includes respecting the freedom of belief of the Falun Gong;

ii) publish death penalty statistics. As the UN rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak and UN rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir have both pointed out, the provision of these statistics is necessary to determine if any explanation can be given for the discrepancy in the number of transplants between the years 2000 to 2005 and the numbers from identifiable sources of organs for transplants other than Falun Gong practitioners.

iii) abolish all forms of arbitrary detention. The detention of large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners without charge and without information about their location facilitates their abuse.

iv) implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture of November 2008. The Committee had recommended that China conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished,

v) take effective measures to ensure that lawyers can defend their clients without fear of harassment. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng who has defended Falun Gong clients has been tortured and disappeared. He was released briefly in February and, after he released a statement about his torture, was rearrested.

Conclusion

What I see from the work David Kilgour and I have done in attempting to spread awareness of our report is that Chinese engagement with the rest of the world has not led to increased respect for human rights in China. On the contrary, it has led to Chinese government attempts to expand repression abroad.

Chinese global engagement has meant that we can no longer just focus on what is happening in China in order to combat Chinese government human rights abuses. We must be vigilant about the efforts of the Government of China abroad.

............................................................................................................................

David Matas is a Winnipeg based international human rights lawyer.

Gao Zhisheng’s Wife and Children Arrive in the U.S.

Epoch Times Staff Mar 11, 2009
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Gao Zhisheng, his wife, Geng He and two children. (The Epoch Times )
Gao Zhisheng

Updated 5:51 p.m. EDT, March 11, 2009

According to the Global Association for the Rescue of Gao Zhisheng, China’s famous human rights lawyer's wife Geng He and their two children arrived in New York on March 11.

The Friends of Gao Zhisheng and the Global Association for the Rescue of Gao Zhisheng indicated that Geng He and her two children entered Thailand and immediately filed for an asylum application with the U.N. Refugee Agency. They were then speedily accepted as refugees by the U.S. government and safely arrived in the United States on March 11.

Ms.Sherry Zhang of the organization Friends of Gao Zhisheng expressed deep concern for the well being of the family” “This family has suffered greatly, particularly the daughter. She is a 16 year old child who has suffered physical and mental abuse at the hands of the Chinese regime. The son is five and one-half years old, and has also suffered. He tends to be very emotional.

“The family needs a stable life. We are very happy the U.S. government has helped them.”



Ms. Zhang also commented on how the family’s escape will affect Gao Zhisheng: “The Chinese regime has been using the family as a hostage . We are sure that their being in the United States is a big comfort to Gao. We don’t know his exact whereabouts but believe he is in the hands of the police.

“We also believe he is being brutally tortured right now, and we are now even more concerned about his safety. The Chinese regime may even try torture him even more to try to find out the location of this family.”

The Friends of Gao Zhisheng and the Global Association for the Rescue of Gao Zhisheng expressed special thanks to those who have helped in the rescue of Geng He and her two children. Special thanks were also given to the U.S. government who quickly approved Geng He’s application and admitted them into the U.S. They also expressed gratitude to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

To help Geng He and her family, The Friends of Gao Zhisheng and the Global Association established a “Gao Zhisheng’s Family Aid Foundation.” The account information is as follows:

Future China Foundation, a special account for the support of Gao's family: 781817259
Check title: Future China Foundation
40-46 Main Street, Suite 201, Flushing, NY 11354 USA
Routing No: 021000021
Swift No: Chasus33 (foreign wire)

Read this article in Chinese

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

OPEN LETTER TO PM FROM CANADIAN FRIENDS OF GAO ZHISHENG

You can find it here and here.

Dear Prime Minster Harper,

We are writing to appeal to you and your government to intervene on our behalf for the immediate release of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated lawyer Gao Zhisheng by the Chinese government. We are also appealing for your continuous support for the courageous struggle for human rights for all by the Chinese people in general and Mr. Gao in particular.

In 2001, Gao was named one of China's top ten lawyers. At the time, he donated a third of his time to victims of human rights violations, representing miners, evicted tenants and others. However, the party-state unleashed its full wrath after he wrote to officials at a high level in the Chinese regime, calling for an end to government persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, though he is not a Falun Gong practitioner himself.


The regimes' persecution of Gao started with removing his permit to practise law, an attempt on his life, having police attack his wife and 14-year-old daughter and four-year-old son and denying the family any income. It intensified when Gao responded in the nonviolent tradition of Gandhi by launching nationwide hunger strikes calling for justice and human rights in China.

In 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power", although international pressure appears to have caused a suspension of the sentence for five years.

On June 24, 2007, Gao was kidnapped by the Chinese government in order to prevent him from attending an award ceremony in the United States. The American Board of Trial Advocates selected Gao to receive the prestigious Courageous Advocacy Award; they had wished to present the award to Gao personally in California on June 30, 2007.

In September 2007, Gao was abducted after writing an open letter to the U.S. Congress to explain the human rights situation preceding the 2008 Olympics.

Predictably, Gao did speak out again when he was released. In his most recent article a few weeks ago, he wrote about over 50 days of excruciating torture. His letter included this:

“Then, the electric shock batons were put all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs, and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang [one of the lead torturers] then shocked me in my genitals.”

Gao wrote further describing his ordeal in a separate incident: “Then two people stretched out my arms and pinned them to the ground. They used toothpicks to pierce my genitals. I can't use any language to describe the helplessness, pain, and despair that I felt then. At a point like that, language and emotion do not have the power to explain.”


In his account, Gao said that the torturers mentioned they were using the same torture methods that they had earlier refined on Falun Gong practitioners. He admitted that he had tried to kill himself to stop the suffering, and that he believed God helped him to come back from the brink of death.


Since his recent letter, Mr. Gao has disappeared again, presumably re-arrested, to the great concern of many in China and elsewhere. For his full account, please see enclosed "Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia." More information can also be found at www.david-kilgour.com in the Human Rights section.


Human rights organizations have long documented continued persecution by the Chinese government of its own citizens in violation of basic human dignity. In response, the party-state in Beijing has continuously ignored worldwide criticism of its appalling human rights record. Most recently, during the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Human Rights, the Chinese authorities rejected almost all the recommendations aimed at promoting democracy and human rights made by all the EU member states and by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland as well as Canada.


Gao’s memoir A China More Just, published the Fall of 2007, in English in the United States, captures such a record in compelling words:

"For we will experience and witness how the greatest people on earth banished this suffering once and for all! I am moved by an ardent hope that by articulating it, I may in some way help to relieve China of the crushing burden on her back. ...... Whatever the case, these are words that tell a tale both of the people’s violent, sanguinary, bitter pain, as well as of the noble character, dignity, and resoluteness of the freedom fighters who are counted among them. Yet no words, however strong, can possibly describe the darkness and terrible barbarity of today’s dictators in China, nor the tragic annihilation of Chinese culture that they have perpetrated."


Well-wishers of China had long hoped that the country’s economic growth would be accompanied by increased respect for human rights and the rule of law. The reality has been quite the contrary; instead of honouring the obligations prescribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which China is a signatory, blatant human rights violations persist.


The excuse used by the Chinese party-state for persecuting Gao Zhisheng is that Falun Gong must be eradicated. Falun Gong is an exercise and spiritual community, which promotes "truth, compassion and forbearance." Falun Gong is only one of the faith groups and voices of dissent being persecuted in China. There are other courageous heroes like Gao in China, virtually unknown and unsung outside their own land, who face impossible odds and stand as witnesses of the truth as corruption, bribery, extortion, brutality, threats, and outright murder take place on a daily basis.


Having courageously sought justice for vulnerable groups such as the poor, the disabled, and the persecuted, Gao's story is a light shining in the darkness, and a reminder that all of us must stand up for what we believe and affirm.


The Chinese government has wrongly accused Mr. Gao and other critics of China's human rights records of interfering with Chinese affairs when in fact Mr. Gao is by far one of the country's truest patriots. He follows the footsteps of Lu Xun, one of China's most outstanding modern authors, who argued against a cultural environment obsessed with saving face and repeatedly called for social change, democratic development and respect for human dignity.


By failing to stop gross and systematic human rights violations, or acting so often as the perpetrator of cruel abuses of their people, the regime in Beijing is acting like the lord of Cai in the legend of Bian Que whose warnings about disaster was ignored by the ruthless and conceited ruler. By allowing injustices of many kinds to spread, the party-state is working to the serious detriment of a country, which has made many great contributions to world civilization in its history.

This month, the Chinese Parliament, National Congress of People’s Representatives, will meet in Beijing to discuss the country’s plans for what the Chinese President Hu Jintao calls a “harmonious society.”


Chinese leaders should realize the profound irony of its pursuit of “harmony” in face of its own violent offense against its own very narrow interpretation of human rights. They must be made to understand that social cohesion cannot be achieved until the party-state stops its violent repression of the Chinese people.


As an emerging economic power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the government of China must stop the persecution and other abuses of its own people. Beijing should not be allowed to take its increased role in dealing with the current worldwide financial challenges as a free license to continued aggression on the Chinese people.


The Canadian government, particularly under your leadership, has been a strong supporter of human rights and rule of law in China. We urge you to continue to hold the Beijing regime to account for its continued violation of human rights and blatant disrespect for the rule of law. We call on your government to demand that Bejing release Gao Zhisheng immediately and provide proper medical treatment and other protection to him immediately.


Sincerely,


Canadian Friends of Gao Zhisheng

"Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia"
My account of more than 50 days of torture in 2007 by Gao Zhisheng

Written on November 28, 2007 at my besieged home in Beijing
Authorized to be released to international community on February 9, 2009

These words from me today will be finally revealed one day. It will expose its true face in today’s China. It will disclose the unimaginable heart and characteristics of the “ruling party” in China. Of course, these words will inevitably bring unpleasant and even upset embarrassed feelings to those global “good friends” and “nice partners” of today’s CCPIF these global “good friends” and “nice partners” still have some fear to the value of human conscience and morality in their hearts.

Today, the suddenly well off CCP has not only gained more and more global “good friends” and “nice partners” but also has made those perverted slogan such as “China is a country rule of law” lauder and lauder. Both will be disastrous to the progress and development of the human rights of the Chinese people.

Around 8 p.m. on September 21, 2007 the authorities notified me orally that I should go for a mind reeducation (reform) talk. I found there were some unusual things happening at this time. The secret police, who used to follow me very closely, kept a further distance. I was walking down the street one day and when I turned a corner, about six or seven strangers started walking towards me. I suddenly felt a strong blow to the back of my neck and fell face down on the ground. Someone yanked my hair and a black hood was pulled over my head immediately.

I was brought to a vehicle and was put in it. Although I couldn’t see, it seemed to me that it had two benches with a space in the middle. I was put in the space in the middle on the floor. My right cheek was on the ground. All of a sudden a boot was put on my face holding me down. Many hands started searching all over me. My belt was pulled off and then used to tie my hands behind my back. At least four people put their feet on me holding me down.

About 40 minutes later I was dragged out of the car. My pants were falling down around my knees and I was dragged into a room. No one had said anything at all to me until that time. The hood was pulled off of my head at this time. Immediately men began cursing and hitting me. “ **, your date of death has come today. Brothers, let’s give him a brutal lesson today. Beat him to death.”

Then, four men with electric shock prods began beating my head and all over my body. Nothing but the noise of the beating and my anxious breathing could be heard. I was beaten so severely that my whole body began uncontrollably shaking. “Don’t pretend to do that!” I was shouted at by a guy whom I later learned was named Wang. Then a very strong and tall (1.9 meters) man grabbed my hair and pulled me up off the ground. Then Wang began beating me on the face terribly. “**, you are not worthy to wear black clothes. Are you a Mafia leader? Pull off all of his clothes.”

All my clothes were pulled off and I was totally naked. Wang yelled again, and someone kicked me in the back of my legs, and I collapsed to the floor. The big guy continued to pull my hair and forced me to lift my head to see Wang. At this time, I could see that there were five people in the room. Four of the men were holding electric prods, and one was holding my belt. “You listen, Gao, today your uncles want nothing but to make your life worse than death. I tell you the truth, your matter is not only between you and the government. Look at the floor! There is not a single drop of water. After a while the water will be above your ankles. After a while you will learn where the water will come from.”

While Wang was saying this, the electric shock prods were put on my face and upper body shocking me. Wang then said, “Come on guys, deliver the second course!” Then, the electric shock baton was put all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang then shocked me in my genitals. My begging them to stop only returned laughing and more unbelievable torture. Wang then used the electric shock baton three more times on my genitals while shouting loudly. After a few hours of this I had no energy to even beg, let alone, try to escape. But my mind was still clear.

I felt my body was jerking very strongly when the baton touched me. I clearly felt some water sprinkled on my arms and legs as I was jerking. It was then I realized that this was sweat from me. I realized what Wang meant about the water.

It seems that the torturers themselves were also tired. Before the dawn came, three of them left the room. “We will come back later to give him the next course,” Wang said. The two left in the room, put a chair in the middle of the room and pulled me up and set me in the chair. One of them had five pieces of cigarettes in his mouth. One man stood behind me and the man with the cigarettes was in front. The man behind grabbed my hair and pulled my head forward and down. The other man used the cigarettes to fill my nose and eyes with smoke over and over. They did this with the utmost patience. After a while I didn’t have any feeling except for some tears dropping on my legs. This continued for about two hours.

Then some other guys came in replacing the previous two. My eyes could not see because they were now swollen shut. The new guys started talking, “Gao, are you still able to hear with your ears? I tell you the truth, these guys are experts in cracking down on Mafia guys. They are heavies. This time they are chosen specifically and carefully by the authority above for this purpose. Can you hear who I am? My last name is Jiang. I followed you to Xiajiang after you were released last year.”

“Are you the one from Penglai City, Shandong?” I asked.

“Yes, your memory is still good. I told you, you would come back sooner or later. When I saw you the way you behaved in Xiajiang, I knew you would be back. You even looked down upon our police. Shouldn’t we help you have a better lesson? You wrote that letter to American congressmen. Look at you, you traitor. What could you be given by your American lord? The American Congress counts for nothing. This is China. It is the Communist Party’s territory. To capture your life is as easy as stepping on an ant. If you dare to continue to write your stupid articles, the government has to make its attitude clear. Now, did you see that attitude tonight?” Jiang spoke slowly.

I asked, “How can you face the beating of Chinese and use Mafia tactics on Chinese taxpayers?”

“You are an object to be beaten. You know that in your heart better than most. Taxpayers count for nothing in China. Don’t talk about this term taxpayers.”

While he was saying this, someone else entered the room. I recognized the voice to be Wang’s. “Don’t talk to him with your mouth. Give him the real thing. Your uncles have prepared 12 courses. We only finished 3 last night. Your chief uncle doesn’t like to talk and so following you will see that you will have to eat your own S*** and drink your own piss. A toothpick will touch your light (sexual organs). Don’t you talk about torture by the Communist Party yet, because we will give you a comprehensive lesson now! You are correct, we torture Falun Gong. Everything is right. The 12 courses we’re going to give to you were practiced on the Falun Gong, to tell you the truth. I am not afraid of you if you continue to write. We can torture you to death without your body being found. You stinky outsider (meaning, not from Beijing)! What are you thinking even being here?”

In the following hours of torture I passed out several times, because of lack of water and food and heavy sweating. I was lying down on the cold floor naked. I felt several times someone come and open my eyes and shine a flashlight in them to see if I was still alive. When I would come to, I smelled the strong odor of stinky urine. My face, nose, and hair were filled with the smell. Obviously, but I don’t know when, someone urinated in my face and on my head.

This torture continued until around noon on the third day. I don’t know where I got the strength to endure, but somehow I struggled to get away from their grasp and began to beat my head on the table. I was shouting the names of my two children (Tiangyu and GeGe) and trying to kill myself. But my attempt did not succeed. I thank Almighty God for this. It is Him who rescued me. I truly felt God drag me back from that state and give me my life. My eyes were full of bleeding, though because of my head banging. I fell on the ground. Immediately, three people sat on my body. One was on my face. They were laughing. They said I used my death to try to scare them. They said they have just seen this too many times. They then continued the torture again until that night. I could not see anything with my eyes anymore. I could still hear my torturers though, and again they gathered after they had dinner.

One of them came and pulled my hair dragging me up. “Gao, are you hungry? Tell us the truth?”

I said, “I am very hungry.”

“Do you want to eat? Tell us the truth?”

I said, “I want to eat.” My face instead was slapped repeatedly, a dozen times or more, and I again collapsed to the ground. A boot stomped on my chest and I was shocked with the baton on my chin. I screamed. Then the baton was put into my mouth.

“Let’s see how different your mouth is from others. Don’t you want to eat? You said you are hungry. Are you worthy?” The baton was in my mouth but was not turned on. I didn’t know what they wanted to do.

Wang said, “Gao, do you know why we didn’t destroy your mouth? Tonight your uncles want you to talk the whole night. We want you to talk about nothing, but about how you are a womanizer. You are not allowed to say you are not one. You are not allowed to say there are just a few women, either. Don’t forget any details. You can’t leave any details out. Your uncles like this. We have slept and eaten enough, it’s your time to talk.”
“Why didn’t he talk? Beat him up brothers?” Wang shouted. Three batons began shocking me. I was crawling all over trying to get away still naked. After more than 10 minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably again.

I begged them. “I didn’t have an affair. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.” I heard my voice was quivering.

“Are you becoming a fool? Let’s use the baton to light you and see if you start talking.” Then two people stretched out my arms and pinned them to the ground. They used toothpicks to pierce my genitals. I can’t use any language to describe the helplessness, pain, and despair that I felt then. At a point like that, language and emotion do not have the power to explain. Finally I made up stories, telling them about affairs that I had with four women. After more repeated torture, I had to describe how I had sex with each of these women. This continued until dawn the next day.

At that time, I was dragged to where I had to sign the transcript of my confession about my affairs. “If we send this out, you will become stinky dog’ s *** in half a year.” Wang said loudly. (After I was released, I learned that the day after the torture the interrogator named Sun Huo informed my wife about “the truth” they learned about my affairs. My wife told them it was none of their business; she said, “I still trust Gao.”)

After this torture for days, I often lost consciousness and was unable to determine the passage of time. I don’t know how long had passed. A group of them were preparing to torture me again. Another guy came in though and rebuked them. I could hear it was a deputy director from the Beijing PSB. I had seen him many times before. I thought him to be a good person. I could not see him though, because my eyes were still swollen. My whole body was beaten and unrecognizable. He sounded angry because of my condition. He found a doctor to attend to me. He said he was appalled and surprised. He said, “This torture doesn’t represent the Communist Party!”

I asked him, “Who directed this?”

He didn’t reply. I asked to be sent back home or even just back to prison. He didn’t reply. He brought my torturers back into the room and rebuked them. He ordered them to buy clothes for me and give me a blanket and food. He told me he would try his best to either get me back to prison or back home.

As soon as the deputy left, Wang began cursing me. “Gao, you even dream to go to prison? No, that is too easy. You won’t have any chance to do that as long as the CCP is still in power. Don’t even think about that.”

That same night, I was transported to another location but I didn’t know where, since I had a black hood over my head again. I was continuously tortured there again for another 10 days. Then one day, they put the hood on me again, and I was put into a vehicle. My head was forced in between my legs and I had to remain that way for more than an hour. The suffering was more than I could stand, and I wanted to die.

After another hour at a new location, the hood was removed. Four of the previous five torturers were not there. But, I saw the same group of secret police who used to follow me.

>From then on the physical torture stopped, but emotional torture continued. I was told the 17th Communist Party Congress was starting and that I had to wait for the higher authorities’ opinions about my case.

During that time some officials came to visit my cell. Their attitude was softer, and I was also allowed to wash my face and brush my teeth. Some officials proposed to me to use my writing skills to curse Falun Gong instead, and that I could charge whatever I wanted for doing that.

I said it is not a technical problem but an ethical problem. “So,” they proposed, “if that is too hard, then write articles praising the government, and again charge whatever you want.” Finally they proposed, “If you write what we direct and that you were treated well after prison and that you were fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia, things will go well. Otherwise, how can you find an end to your suffering? Think of your wife and children.”

In exchange, I did write an article that said the government treated my family well. I wrote the open letter to the U.S. Congress and gave the reason that I was fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia.

Before I was released to go home, though, I was brought to Xian city. I was brought to call Geng He (my wife). On the date of the midautumn festival, the authorities asked me to call my wife and comfort her since she was holding a protest and trying to commit suicide over the government’s treatment of our family. The content of the call was all designed by the authorities. (Later I learned that my wife’s response was also choreographed.) I could still not open one of my eyes at that time and since the call was being taped, I was told to explain that it was from myselfinflicted wound.

In the middle of November 2007, after I got home, I learned that my house was thoroughly searched again without a single document or search warrant. During those more than 50 days of torture, I had many strange feelings. For example, sometimes I could hear “death” and sometimes could hear “life.”

After the 12th and 13th day of my kidnapping, and when I could again partially open my eyes, I saw my body was in a horrifying condition. Not a single square centimeter of my skin was normal. It was bruised and damaged over every part.

Every day while I was being held, the experience of “eating” was unusual. Whenever I was at the point of starving, they would bring up “mantle” (steamed bread) and offer it to me. If I would sing one of the three famous revolutionary Communist party songs I could have some bread. My deepest desire was that I wanted to live until that was no longer possible. My death would be torturous for my wife and children, but at the same time I didn’t want to dirty my soul. But, in that environment human dignity has no strength. If you don’t sing these songs you will continue to be starved, and they will continue to torture you, so I sang.

When they used the same tactic though, pressuring me to write articles attacking Falun Gong, I didn’t do it. But, I did compromise by writing my statement saying the government didn’t kidnap and torture me and that they treated my family well. I did sign that document.

During these more than 50 days, more horrible evils were committed than I told here. Those evils were not even worthy of any historical records by any human governments. But those records will further enable us to see clearly that how much further the leaders of CCP are willing go in its evil crime against humanity in order to protect its illegal monopoly power! Those evils are so dirty and disgusting, that I don’t want to mention it at this time and perhaps will never mention it in the future. Every time when I was tortured, I was always repeatedly threatened that, if I spelled out later what had happened to me, I would be tortured again, but I was told, “This time it will happen in front of your wife and children.” The tall strong man that pulled my hair repeated this over and over during the days I was tortured. “Your death is sure if you share this with the outside world.”

This was repeated many times. These brutal, violent acts are not right. Those that did it, themselves, knew this clearly in their hearts.

Finally, I want to say a few words which won’t be liked by some folks. I want to remind those socalled global “good friends”, “good partners” called by the CCP that the increasing degree of brutality and coldness against the Chinese people by the CCP is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us (our own Chinese people).

Gao Zhisheng
Written on November 28, 2007 at my besieged home in Beijing

http://hrichina.org/public/PDFs/PressReleases/2009.02.08_Gao_Zhisheng_account_ENG.pdf

Monday, March 02, 2009

Urgent Appeal: Elderly Tianjin Resident Sentenced to Labor Camp

Urgent Appeal: Elderly Tianjin Resident Sentenced to Labor Camp for Distributing Falun Gong Leaflets, at Risk of Torture

15 other adherents sentenced to camp in one year; many tortured

Ms. Zhu Lijin (left), a 61-year-old mother of New Zealand citizen Salina Wang (right), was sentenced without trial in Tianjin and is at risk of torture.

Ms. Zhu Lijin (left), a 61-year-old mother of New Zealand citizen Salina Wang (right), was sentenced without trial in Tianjin and is at risk of torture.

New York (Falun Dafa Information Centre) – An elderly resident of the city of Tianjin was sentenced earlier this month to over one year in a labor camp after police found her distributing leaflets about Falun Gong. She is one of 15 local adherents sentenced in recent months to this particular camp and is at grave risk of torture, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported.

Ms. Zhu Lijin, a 61-year-old retired government worker and mother of a New Zealand citizen, was arrested from the streets of Tianjin on February 1, 2009 while distributing information about Falun Gong to passers by. Security agents then searched her home without a warrant, confiscating computer equipment and Falun Gong literature. Within less than two weeks, on February 16, her family was notified that she had been sentenced for one year and three months without a trial. She is currently being held at Banqiao Women’s “Re-education through labor” camp.

“How can a lady over 60 years old handing out leaflets be considered such a threat to the Chinese Community Party? My mother is not a criminal and she has done nothing wrong,” says Zhu’s daughter Salina (Yu) Wang, a New Zealand citizen currently residing in New York. “She has the right to follow her belief and she has the right to tell people the truth about Falun Gong. These are basic human rights guaranteed under China’s constitution and international law.”

This is the first time that Zhu, who took up Falun Gong in 2005, has been imprisoned for practicing. After her arrest, her family was initially denied access to her, but has been allowed to visit her very briefly since her sentencing. She reportedly remains in fair physical health, but is already being subjected to efforts to force her to disavow her beliefs and has complained of insufficient nutrition at the camp. Should she remain committed to her faith, such efforts at “re-education” could quickly escalate into severe torture. As one Chinese government adviser told the Washington Post,"practitioners who are not beaten generally do not abandon the group" (link).

In particular, former prisoners from Banqiao RTL camp have reported a range of torture methods used to force adherents to renounce their beliefs, including shocking with electric batons, solitary confinement, forced-feeding, sexual abuse, and injection with unidentified psychiatric drugs. The labor camp authorities are also known to force detainees to work extremely long hours on tasks such as producing raincoats for export to Korea or sorting dried beans. As a result of such abuse, several adherents imprisoned there have suffered permanent mental or physical disability. At least two have been tortured to death (link).

Most recently, in November 2008, family members of an adherent named Gong Hui detained at the camp reported that she had been tortured to the verge of death after long periods of abuse and solitary confinement. She had become emaciated within just three months of detention there. Gong was arrested on August 13, during the period of the Olympic games, and arrived at the labor camp in September after being given a 15-month sentence.

"This is the time to urgently intervene on Zhu Lijin’s behalf," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Erping Zhang. "The international community must not wait until news of her being tortured – or worse – makes its way out of China in order to take action."

Broader Crackdown

Zhu’s detention and sentencing would appear not to be an isolated case, but rather part of a larger crackdown on Falun Gong adherents in the city of Tianjin and nationwide that began in the run-up to the Olympics and has continued as the 10-year anniversary of the persecution approaches.

According to reports received by the Falun Dafa Information Center, at least 15 other female adherents in the city have been sentenced to Banqiao labor camp since April 2008, most for between 12 and 18 months. The actual number may be higher and this total does not include Tianjin residents sentenced to other camps and prisons in the city.

“If 15 adherents have been sentenced to one camp in one city alone, multiply that by the nearly 300 camps in the country and we’re looking at a minimum of 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to labor camps in the past year,” says Zhang. “No wonder recent interviews with former detainees by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group indicate that Falun Gong practitioners make up a huge percentage of the population in these camps.”

According to the CHRD study released in early February, "More than half of our 13 interviewees remarked on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in RTL camps. They said Falun Gong practitioners make up one of the largest groups of detainees in the camp." (Full report)

The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling for:

  • International media and human rights groups to investigate the case of Zhu Lijin and the broader trend of multi-year prison and labor camp sentences being handed down to Falun Gong adherents before and after the Olympic games.
  • Foreign government representatives, particularly those from Tianjin’s sister cities - such as Philadelphia, Dallas, Melbourne, Milan, and Lodz - to write to their counterparts in Tianjin, urging the immediate and uncondition release of Zhu Lijin.

Gao Zhisheng Peace Prize nominee taken into custody Feb. 4


Supporters fear for missing peace activist

By Matthew Pearson, The Ottawa Citizen March 2, 2009 4:04 AM
Supporters of a renowned human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee arrested in China last month will gather in front of the Chinese Embassy today to demand his release.

Gao Zhisheng was detained at his home in Shaanxi province on Feb. 4 by more than 10 security agents, according to Amnesty International. His current whereabouts are unknown, but the human rights organization says wherever he is, there's a good chance he's facing torture.

Gao, 44, was recognized in 2001 by China's Ministry of Justice as one of the country's top lawyers. But he fell afoul of authorities several years later when he began defending underground Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and human rights activists.

He has faced 24-hour police surveillance and bouts of imprisonment and torture ever since.

"We believe he is in danger, so we need to give him a voice," said protest organizer Grace Wollensak.

She said the lunch-hour protest may draw a small crowd, but encouraged people to write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Lawrence Cannon, minister of Foreign Affairs, to urge the Chinese government to release Gao immediately.

Wollensak, a member of the Falun Dafa Association, said Gao is a Christian, not a practitioner of Falun Gong.

Human rights advocate and former MP David Kilgour is set to speak at today's rally. He called Gao a "man of enormous courage" who has paid a heavy price for what he's done.

Kilgour, who has never met Gao, nominated the self-taught lawyer for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

"I would walk a long, long way on a cold day to shake his hand," Kilgour said. "He's one of my heroes and I put him up with (Nelson) Mandela, (Mahatma) Ghandi and Abraham Lincoln. I can think of few people I admire more than him."

Gao is part of China's growing domestic human rights community.

But Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, says the jailed attorney needs protection and urges the Canadian government to pressure its Chinese counterpart to release him.

"There is grave concern about his safety and we want the Canadian government to make it clear to the Chinese government that this is unacceptable," Neve said.

Earlier this month, a Washington-based non-profit Christian association that promotes religious freedom in China released a lengthy letter Gao wrote in 2007 after he was held and tortured for 50 days.

In it, Gao wrote that interrogators beat him with electric batons, pierced his penis with toothpicks and held lit cigarettes underneath his eyes to the point they were swollen shut.

Calls to the Chinese Embassy were not returned.