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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Russian Court Bans Falun Gong Books, Human Rights Report

The main text of the spiritual practice Falun Gong is studied in 114 countries around the world, has been translated into 30 languages, and was a runaway best seller in Beijing, but last week a regional appeals court in Russia banned it. Human rights activists and Falun Gong practitioners say the ban is due to pressure on Russia from the Chinese regime.

The main Falun Gong text, “Zhuan Falun,” along with two Falun Gong leaflets, and human rights investigations—two reports and one book—detailing the forced, live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China were banned nationwide by a court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar in October. On Dec. 22, an appeals court decision upheld the ban.

In a report on Monday, Human Rights Without Frontiers International (HRWF), a nonprofit based in Brussels, Belgium, suggested that the court decision was influenced by China. The report said that Moscow has been helping Beijing in its fight against Falun Gong on the basis of two treaties: the 2001 Treaty of Friendship between Russia and China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a mutual-security organization founded in 2001.

The harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in Russia has included the forced repatriation to China of Chinese nationals who practice Falun Gong, banning public activities by Falun Gong practitioners, and the refusal by authorities to register new Falun Gong organizations.

More at the Epoch Times

Friday, December 30, 2011

China's crackdown

This editorial ran in Wednesday’s Washington Post:

China's Communist rulers are ringing out December in a flurry of paranoia and repression, a fitting coda to a year of steadily decreasing tolerance for open dissent and discussion.

On Friday, authorities sentenced Chen Wei to nine years in prison. Chen's “crime was heinous, and influence vile,” the judge declared. And what was his crime? Writing essays. Because he advocated democracy — and has done so since he was first imprisoned for his role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 — a judge found Chen guilty of “inciting subversion.”

On Monday another dissident writer, Chen Xi, was sentenced to 10 years, also for “incitement.” His crime: 36 essays that he wrote and posted online.

These sentences would have been considered unusually long until recently, but in the current crackdown the regime has sentenced Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo to 11 years and Liu Xianbin to 10 years. Their crimes also consisted of writing.

China's Communist rulers do not feel compelled to account for their actions, so the motivation for the crackdown is a subject of speculation. Most China-watchers believe the authorities have been spooked by the popular uprisings in the Middle East. They may also be more nervous than usual as they prepare for an equally opaque leadership change next year. A top security official reportedly said that crackdowns on “hostile forces” (government code for peaceful advocates of democracy) and “illegal religious organizations” (code for Christians, Falun Gong followers and others who choose to worship without government approval) will be a priority in the coming year.

The human rights crackdown has drawn relatively little attention or condemnation from the West. Perhaps this is because the allure of Chinese investment and the Chinese market is too strong. Perhaps the crackdown seems so out of keeping with popular images of bustling, modern, capitalist Shanghai that outsiders have a hard time believing it is going on.

But those who think the anxieties of China's rulers are irrelevant to its foreign relations would do well to read a Dec. 25 account by Washington Post correspondent Andrew Higgins about official attacks against U.S. ambassadors to China and, most recently and most personally, against the U.S. consul to Hong Kong, Stephen Young, whose transgression was to ignore “solemn warnings” to keep mum about democracy. The gibes are a reminder that China's rulers, to bolster their position without the legitimacy of popular election, are quick not only to imprison their countrymen and censor their press but also, when convenient, to stoke the fires of nationalism.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Extremist' writings of ex-Canadian MP, lawyer banned in Russia because of book on organ harvesting of Falun Gong

Train Riders in China Must Identify Themselves

China’s Ministry of Railways will enforce a real-name authentication system for train tickets, starting on the first day of next year, according to an announcement last week.

More at The Epoch Times

A 'Real' War on Christmas? Police Across China Attack Christians for Celebrating Christmas (VIDEO)

On Christmas Day, police across China tear gassed and beat down Christians for worshiping at "unofficial" Christmas services, according to an American aid group in the region. However, according to Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, the Chinese government prefers religions that “sustain social stability,” like Confucianism, over Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, and sects like Falun Gong, which try to operate independently of authorities and end up causing “social disintegration.”

More at The Christian Post

Why isn't the West reacting to China's crackdown?

A top security official reportedly said that crackdowns on “hostile forces”(government code for peaceful advocates of democracy) and “illegal religious organizations” (code for Christians, Falun Gong followers and others who choose to worship without government approval) will be a priority in the coming year.

More at the Washington Post

Friday, December 23, 2011

Vietnam's Falungong under pressure

Hanoi (AFP) Dec 23, 2011 - In silent meditation, the Falungong members did not flinch when a shirtless, tattooed man slapped them on the head, ...

More at:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

China-Based Hacking of 760 Companies Shows Cyber Cold War

In one of the earliest attacks on a company, cyberspies hacked into the computer networks of POSCO, the South Korean steel giant, in July 2006, Alperovitch said. The intrusion took place the same month that the steelmaker, the third largest in the world, initiated a takeover of a large steel mill in eastern China, according to the U.S.-based Epoch Times, founded by supporters of the dissident Falun Gong spiritual sect, which first noted a link between the two events.

More at BusinessWeek

Cambridge University Disbands Chinese Students and Scholars Association

He is a Falun Gong practitioner, and learned that his emails about Falun Gong were not permitted on the CSSA-CAM email list.

More at The Epoch Times

Protester dies in jail. Riots over confiscated land on the rise

Falun Gong members, bishops and priests die in prison for torture. "Mass incidents" that see clashes between police and demonstrators grew to 180 thousand in 2010.

More at

Gao Zhisheng To Serve Three Year Prison Sentence

The high-profile and galvanizing Chinese human rights figure Gao Zhisheng, held by Chinese security forces almost continually since late 2006, has been officially sentenced to [...]

More at The Epoch Times

The town that dared to defy Beijing

The last time the government really marshalled its forces against opposing forces was in the 1990s when the Falun Gong spiritual movement began to organise millions of opponents, and it cracked down harshly on what it sees as an ...

More at The Independent

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Report: Systematic Psychiatric Torture of Falun Gong Practitioners in Hospitals

New Report and Call for Action
For Immediate Release

Alarming evidence is summarized in a new report released by Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group (FGHRWG) on the eve of the globally celebrated Human Rights Day on 10 December. The report "China: Systematic Psychiatric Torture of Falun Gong practitioners in hospitals" and listing of over 150 Chinese hospitals known to use this torture against Falun Gong practitioners can be obtained here and here.

"One of the most inhuman and notorious torture methods used in China in the attempt to eradicate Falun Gong practitioners is psychiatric torture," according to the FGHRWG report. "This form of torture is used routinely by staff of detention centers, labor camps and jails to coerce Falun Gong practitioners to give up their beliefs."

"These horrifying acts are also regularly occurring in modern, reputable hospitals, by or overseen by, professional and skilled staffs who are trained to heal - not to hurt."

Evidence demonstrates the systematic and horrifying use of psychiatric torture on mentally and physically healthy Falun Gong practitioners in hospitals in China.

The overall outcomes of psychiatric torture, on 1,089 Falun Gong confirmed victims, often resulted in irreparable mental and physical states and even death. Many are reduced to insanity, a semi-comatose, "zombie," lifeless state, or cannot walk, talk, or care for themselves along with other mental and physical health problems not present prior to torture.

This form of torture was once prevalent in communist Russia and created global outrage from psychiatric and mental healthcare fields in the 1980's. Current evidence indicates these practices are even more widespread in China than the former Soviet Union.

"This evidence is basically being ignored," Dr. Shizhong Chen, spokesperson of FGHRWG, said. "In the past few years, 80% of all reported persecution cases of Falun Gong practitioners in China that we have received included some form of psychiatric torture."

According to the report, in order to break the free will of the practitioners, "the Chinese authorities have conducted on Falun Gong practitioners extensive psychiatric torture, including a combination of forced ingestion or injection with massive amounts of psychiatric drugs, unknown drugs or toxic substances; undergoing a massive number of electroshock procedures (also known as electro-convulsive shock); or the use of electric needles at the temples to shock the brain and produce seizures."

"The time is now not later to call attention to and to stop these atrocities," Dr. Chen said. "We are asking concerned individuals, professional associations, agencies and organizations in the health fields, human rights organizations and world governments to get informed, take actions and issue sanctions."

See the report for details on possible actions recommended by FGHRWG.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Report offers evidence for massive organ-harvesting program in China

Many of the victims were alive when their organs were harvested for domestic and foreign transplantation. “Up to three million Falun Gong practitioners ...

More at Catholic Culture

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CSIS right to worry about Chinese spies

by John Ivison: While China is preoccupied with organizations that might foster internal dissent such as Falun Gong and the Free Tibet movement, Mr. Li made clear that the tentacles of its secret services reach far into civil society — from academia to non-governmental organizations. “China is interested in anything, everything that China is not very good at, either military or civilian,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the conference heard from former diplomat Brian McAdam, who detailed how the Chinese government recruits many of its informants — sexpionage. He said “virtually all” hotels in China are rigged with microphones and video cameras and many brothels, karaoke bars and massage parlours are owned by Triads who co-operate with Chinese intelligence services.

The aim is to trap unwary Westerners in “honey pot traps.” Mr. McAdam said men of influence are often targeted and face trumped up charges of rape or attempted rape and are forced to co-operate or face jail time.

More at National Post

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Xinjiang Procedure: organ harvesting of Uighurs and the Falun Gong

Beijing’s ‘New Frontier’ is ground zero for the organ harvesting of political prisoners by Ethan Gutmann

Yet the Xinjiang procedure spread. By the end of 1999, the Uighur crackdown would be eclipsed by Chinese security’s largest-scale action since Mao: the elimination of Falun Gong. By my estimate up to three million Falun Gong practitioners would pass through the Chinese corrections system. Approximately 65,000 would be harvested, hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics. An unspecified, significantly smaller, number of House Christians and Tibetans likely met the same fate.

By Holocaust standards these are piddling numbers, so let’s be clear: China is not the land of the final solution. But it is the land of the expedient solution. Some will point to recent statements from the Chinese medical establishment admitting the obvious—China’s medical environment is not fully ethical—and see progress. Foreign investors suspect that eventually the Chinese might someday—or perhaps have already—abandon organ harvesting in favor of the much more lucrative pharmaceutical and clinical testing industries. The problem with these soothing narratives is that reports, some as recent as one year ago, suggest that the Chinese have not abandoned the Xinjiang procedure.

In July 2009, Urumqi exploded in bloody street riots between Uighurs and Han Chinese. The authorities massed troops in the regional capital, kicked out the Western journalists, shut down the Internet, and, over the next six months, quietly, mostly at night, rounded up Uighur males by the thousands. According to information leaked by Uighurs held in captivity, some prisoners were given physical examinations aimed solely at assessing the health of their retail organs. The signals may be faint, but they are consistent, and the conclusion is inescapable: China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status, has not just committed human rights abuses—that’s old news—but has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group.

More at The Weekly Standard 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rumors of Gao Zhisheng's Death

One important difference is Gao Zhisheng's defense of practitioners of the Falun Gong meditation practice, which the Chinese regime has persecuted since 1999. Another is the Tuidang movement. Tuidang is a term for “quitting the Chinese Communist Party” ...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Harvest of horror

Leo Tolstoy began the novel Anna Karenina by writing "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

One can say the same about human rights. Respect for human rights everywhere is alike. That is what the universality of human rights means.

Falun Gong practitioners hold portraits of victims of China's crackdown during a vigil in Taiwan.

(AP) Falun Gong practitioners hold portraits of victims of China's crackdown during a vigil in Taiwan.

Violations of human rights occur each in their own way.

Human rights standards and mechanisms teach us the same lesson everywhere about how to respond to atrocities. Each atrocity, though, teaches us something different about how to develop human rights.

Atrocities have a place in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, but not as histories or memorials. Rather they serve the purpose of teaching us how human rights have developed and should develop. The Holocaust has to be central to the museum not because it was a particularly awful tragedy, though it certainly was that, but because of its importance for the development of human rights standards and mechanisms, the breadth and depth of the lessons we have learned and can learn by focusing upon it.

On Nov. 28, I, alongside Maria Cheung, a professor in social work, and Terry Russell, a professor of Asian studies, will explain why we think the persecution of Falun Gong belongs in the museum. Our presentation is part of the University of Manitoba seminar series Critical Conversations, which is free, open to the public and held in the Faculty of Law (

What does the persecution of Falun Gong in China teach us about human rights that we did not already know? Falun Gong is a set of meditation exercises with a spiritual foundation, a Chinese yoga, begun in 1992 and banned in 1999 out of Chinese Communist Party jealousy of its increasing popularity. Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in the hundreds of thousands and, if they recanted, released. Those who refused to recant, even under torture, disappeared.

David Kilgour and I have concluded in two reports and a book, Bloody Harvest, that these disappeared individuals have been killed in the tens of thousands for their organs, which are sold to transplant patients, often transplant tourists. I suggest we can draw these lessons from this experience.

-- International human rights mechanisms work ineffectively in confronting human rights violations of a major power, particularly where that power has a veto in the Security Council, as China does.

-- Governments, which juggle a wide variety of interests, have difficulty effectively pursuing a human rights agenda against a major economic and political power such as China, because pursuing that agenda may compromise their other interests.

-- New technology developed for human benefit -- in this case, transplant technology -- can all too easily become a tool of repression and human rights abuse. Technology can change, but the human capacity for good and evil remains constant.

-- The safeguards that need to be in place to prevent abuse of transplant technology are largely absent and need to be implemented in China and abroad.

-- Preventing abuse of transplant technology engages a wide range of actors, many of whom historically have not had exposure to preventing human rights violations. For instance, transplant professionals, insurance companies providing coverage for transplantation abroad or pharmaceutical companies engaged in clinical trials of anti-rejection drugs in China.

-- Allowing the military to engage in commercial enterprise in a country without the rule of law is a licence for human rights abuse. In China, the military is a conglomerate business that sells transplants to the public.

-- Denial of access to statistical information can cover up human rights abuses. The release of death penalty statistics and transplant volumes, statistics that China now covers up, would make obvious what estimates now tell us: the volume of transplants far exceeds the volume of identified sources, primarily prisoners sentenced to death and then executed.

-- Slave labour camps lead to other abuses besides slave labour. These camps are vast forced organ donor banks.

-- Sourcing organs from prisoners sentenced to death is an abuse in itself and leads to other abuses, the killing of other prisoners for their organs who are not sentenced to death -- in China, the Falun Gong.

-- The Chinese capitalist variation of communist rule generates its own particular forms of human rights violations. The killing of Falun Gong for their organs, which are then sold for huge sums is the direct result of the communist repression and demonization of spiritual belief systems they cannot control plus the unbridled drive for profit without the rule of law.

Some of these lessons are not completely new. Yet, the repression of Falun Gong, even for the old lessons, gives new insights.

The list here, though not exhaustive, teaches us that by focusing on the repression of Falun Gong we can do more than help to end that abuse, as important as that is. We can learn how to improve human rights generally.

David Matas is an instructor in the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Law and an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg.

More at Winnipeg Free Press

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy protests & the Falun Gong precedent As Occupy Toronto gets a slightly bumpy ride in court from Superior Court Justice David Brown, I’ve been waiting for just one legal analyst, amateur or professional, to stumble across what appears to me to be the best, highest-level judicial treatment of the Charter issues that the Occupy movements raise. The case, Vancouver v. Zhang, is all of a year old, and involved a unanimous decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal.

I’m no lawyer, but Zhang seems awfully instructive. The BCCA was presented with a question of crucial importance to the Occupy situations: can a non-artistic structure, in itself, have protected expressive content? Falun Gong protesters had erected a “meditation hut” and a billboard in front of the Chinese consulate on Granville Street. The City Engineer ordered it torn down as an admittedly minor, hypothetical sort of traffic “obstruction”, and the city argued that removing a structure didn’t unduly restrict the protesters’ free-expression rights. City officials weren’t making a political distinction between types of speech, the lawyers contended; they simply had an inflexible mandate to smash any structure that was on city property without a permit.

By the time the case reached the Court of Appeal, the structures were long gone. But the city’s argument got bulldozed by the Court. Its key Occupy-relevant finding was that a structure can, in fact, be Charter-protected content in itself:

[T]he billboard and meditation hut were “part and parcel of the manner” in which the Falun Gong participants chose to express themselves and as deserving of protection. …The structures at issue support the values of democratic discourse and self-fulfillment. The messages posted on the structures express the practitioners’ opposition to some actions of the Chinese government, and the hut expresses their commitment to the practice of meditation as part of their religious identity. The messages have a political nature. “Political expression is at the very heart of the values sought to be protected by the freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter”…

We have heard many commentators, including lawyers (albeit, I think, ones who don’t specialize in the constitution), assert as a matter of fact that the state, in exercising its right to regulate the use of public property, can force Occupy protesters to seek forms of expression other than tents and billboards and other Occupational paraphernalia. Like it or not, this just isn’t so. Within reason, forms as well as content enjoy the extremely formidable protection that the “fundamental freedoms” in the Charter guarantee. (Further warning: if tents are “expressive” in themselves, it may not matter whether anybody’s actually sleeping in them.)

This protection, as any well-bred schoolchild knows, can disintegrate if the protesters are breaking a law—but the government has a duty to show that the law in question is intended to fulfill an important objective, and that it does so in a rational way that impinges minimally upon the rights of the protesters. The City of Vancouver did not, as it turned out, score 100% on the good old Oakes test.

Yes, said the Court of Appeal, protecting the general usability and attractiveness of the streets of Vancouver is a pressing and substantial objective for government. Yes, the bylaw is a rational way of pursuing that objective. But the city’s policy was unnecessarily arbitrary, said the judges. The law precluded any use of public space for protest, subject only to City Council’s right to make exemptions: the result was an ad-hoc system with no stated standards or guidelines.

Had the Council instituted what might be called a “Political Structure Policy,” as it did policies for commercial and artistic expression, as part of its regulatory scheme, my conclusion might well be different. But they chose to maintain a complete ban and, effectively, to rely on prosecutorial discretion and Council’s power to direct the use of that discretion, to ensure the right to freedom of political expression was not infringed in an individual case. In so doing, I am persuaded, they rendered s. 71 [the structure bylaw] unconstitutional and of no force or effect. They reached beyond that which is permitted to them when political speech is the right sought to be exercised.

Zhang isn’t binding outside B.C., but it does show how senior judges anywhere in Confederation, armed with the full panoply of constitutional precedent, are likely to think through the Occupations. Obviously the BCCA has created a pretty strict test. (Our municipalities have to have “political structure policies” now?) Most city governments are moving slowly against the Occupy protesters: I would suggest it is because they fear they could not pass a test like this, should they choose to break their local Occupy butterflies on the wheel of the law. Moreover, even constructing a policy of the sort the court demanded here would probably be a pretty huge, expensive hassle.

This, in turn, probably provides a hint at why middle-class Canadians might sense an insalubrious slothfulness in their elected representatives when it comes to Occupiers. “The protesters are breaking the law!”, our instincts tell us. “Why can’t we just clear them out?” It’s because there is really more legal peril in the clearing-out than there is in the protests. And, by the way, you and I can agree that this is in general a good thing about Canada, even if we don’t particularly like hippies.

[UPDATE, afternoon of Nov. 19: a reader points out that Occupy Vancouver is citing Zhang in current arguments before the B.C. Supreme Court.]

by Colby Cosh

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hate Crime Attacks on Falun Gong in Hong Kong Cause to Reflect

The assault took place in broad daylight in the bustling center of Hong Kong's Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kokis, where the tables of the Service Center for Quitting the Party–“Tuidang,” in Chinese–were set up by Falun Gong volunteers to help mainland ...

China - 3,000 residents petition for Falun Gong release: AI

The Chinese authorities must immediately release two Falun Gong practitioners jailed for their beliefs in Hebei province, Amnesty International said today, as petitions by local residents calling for an end to their imprisonment reportedly reached ...

More at Amnesty International UK

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rights group condemns Vietnam's Falun Gong jailing

"Vietnam should not violate human rights and punish its own citizens merely because their activism displeased China," Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director said in a statement.

Trung and brother-in-law Thanh were arrested in June 2010 for broadcasting information through radio transmitters from a farm outside Hanoi, the court officer said. State media have reported the two broadcast 18 hours a day for more than a year.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International accused Vietnamese police of roughing up and least 30 Falun Gong practitioners meditating on the sidewalk outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to protest the pending trial.

More at Yahoo! News

Chinese, Japanese journos in Hawaii pressured not to cover Falun Gong protests

A reporter for Honolulu’s Civil Beat website, which has won journalism awards, says that journalists working for Chinese and Japanese media from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco won’t report on protests by worshipers of the Falun Gong sect at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu. Apparently some are fearful of retaliation by their censors in China.


APEC Summit Host to Falun Gong Protest

“We want everyone to step up,” said Falun Gong practitioner Chen Yingting from Taiwan “We’d like to use this opportunity during the APEC to let the world leaders know the terrible things the Chinese communists are doing.”

On Nov. 10, they got the point across pretty well.

A couple of Falun Gong protestors spotted Shui Junyi, a well-known host of the Communist Party’s mouthpiece broadcaster CCTV, walking around inside the Sheraton hotel. They followed him to the Moana Surfrider, where the Communist Party’s news center is set up for its APEC coverage. They waited. Soon, Wang Jun, China’s managing deputy minister of the Ministry of Finance, showed up. Wang sat down with Shui for a news conference, surrounded by reporters from AP, Reuters, and Chinese media.

As Wang Jun was giving his opening speech, a Falun Gong practitioner standing behind him unfurled a large banner protesting the persecution of Falun Gong. Then, Ge Lifang, a petitioner from Shanghai, unfurled another banner that read: “Chinese Communist Party: please return the property that you have snatched.” Two more Falun Gong practitioners pulled out a banner saying “Falun Dafa is good.”

Chinese officials at the scene appeared to be mortified. Shui quickly wrapped up the interview and took off. Wang, abashed, was not far behind.

Banners erected by members of spiritual discipline Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) line a street near the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel where Chinese President Hu Jintao made a speech during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Obama's betrayal to China: Kuhner

This is the disturbing theme of “Bowing to Beijing: How Barack Obama Is Hastening America’s Decline and Ushering a Century of Chinese Domination,” by Brett M. Decker, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, and William C. Triplett II, a best-selling author and renowned China analyst. Lucid, concise and comprehensively researched, the book is a fire bell in the night. It is a dire warning that China has become what America once was to Great Britain: the ambitious upstart determined to eclipse the global colossus. The result will be not only the end of the American moment, but the triumph of a belligerent authoritarian communism hostile to democracy and the West.

The country's Christians, Falun Gong and Muslims face state-sanctioned persecution. Tens of millions are in gulags, being used as slave labor to drive China's booming economy. Mr. Hu staunchly supports Beijing's genocidal one-child policy, ...