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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, ...