The Green Party is calling for Canadians to demand accountability from both the government and the business community for human rights abuses in nations that trade with Canada.
In a statement released Friday, the Greens said China in particular needs to be held to account for human rights abuses—noting especially the ongoing persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group.
“At what cost has China’s economic miracle been achieved, and have we abetted human rights crimes by pretending ignorance?” asked Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
“Questions need to be asked of our trade department and of the Canadian business community. With the well-documented and long-standing abuses in China and Tibet, and the human rights lawsuits against Bo Xilai in at least 13 countries including Canada, how could they be totally ignorant of these horrendous crimes?”
The statement said that while other faith groups, such as House-Christians, are also being persecuted, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fears the strength and growth of the Falun Gong, which is reputed to number between 70 and 100 million adherents in China.
“This non-violent faith organization was anathema to the communist regime,” the statement said.
Green Human Rights Critic Joe Foster said much of China’s economic growth is the result of cheap labour “augmented by nearly a million slave prisoners, mostly those being persecuted as Falun Gong practitioners. Moreover, these prisoners have been providing not only free labour but a source for the infamous live organ transplants estimated in the tens of thousands.”
At what cost has China’s economic miracle been achieved, and have we abetted human rights crimes by pretending ignorance?
— Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader
Foster was referring to the findings of an investigation into the illicit harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners’ organs undertaken by former MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas and published in the book “Bloody Harvest.”
Foster said Canada is looking to expand trade with regimes in Latin America that also have little regard for human rights.
“It is time for Canadians to re-evaluate our priorities against our traditional values of social justice and human rights,” said Foster.
“Unless all Canadians speak out, including those originally from countries where human rights abuses are rampant, there will be little incentive for change both within our own government and in those countries that flagrantly abuse human rights.
“As a start, the Green Party urges our prime minister to create a trade document that insists that no products will be purchased where slave labour is involved.”
Standing Up for Canadian Values
May was among the attendees at a documentary screening and panel discussion on May 28 in Ottawa. She told The Epoch Times that she is particularly concerned about China’s role in the Alberta oil sands.
“China is playing a role in the world that is complicated, fascinating, and worrying,” she said. “As Canadians we need to stand up for Canadian values as China plays a growing role in our oil sands.”
As a start, the Green Party urges our prime minister to create a trade document that insists that no products will be purchased where slave labour is involved.
— Joe Foster, Green Human Rights Critic
Regarding the recent turmoil within the CCP, May said she expressed hope for the future.
“I know that there are shakeups going on within China and I am hoping that people who emerge for the next generation of leadership would begin to recognize that human rights must be respected,” she said.
“We can’t have this jailing of dissidents, and the number of people who are executed within China is one of the worst rates in the world, and Amnesty International and human rights groups have condemned it.”
“There is a very worrying lack of human rights,” she added, noting that she has “been very active in the House of Commons in raising the issue of persecution of Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) as well as Tibetan monks and Tibetan people, and of Christians within China.”
”I believe that the Government of Canada needs to be more forceful in talking to China about the need to reform practices in order to respect human rights.”