The Australian Government’s commitment to an independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Falun Gong practitioners in China is a welcome first step, say former Canadian Secretary of State, David Kilgour and Vice President of the European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott.
The two foreign dignitaries have spent the last week visiting Australian members of parliament, professionals and non-government organisations looking to gain support for an inquiry into allegations that Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are being systematically killed for their organs.
Mr. McMillan-Scott said he had expected “a lot of forthright comment” and, “some criticisms,” from Australians about the allegations but the visit had been worthwhile.
“The 20 million population of Australia is bound together by democracy and the rule of law, but also cherishes its well-established trade ties with China,” he said, “So the position of the Australian Government and opposition on this matter is highly significant and welcome,” he said.
The Australian Government confirmed that they had asked Chinese officials to allow for an independent investigation into the claims on ABC’s Lateline on August 17. Opposition spokesman Kevin Rudd declared his support on the same programme the following night.
“The allegations are so far-reaching and so profound, we need to ensure that there is an appropriate investigation,” Mr. Rudd said.
Mr. Kilgour, a former crown prosecutor, co-authored a report with international human rights lawyer, David Matas, which concluded that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been, and continue to be, executed for their beliefs. Their bodies used to service China’s burgeoning organ trade.
Mr. Kilgour said his intention in coming to Australia was to stimulate international opinion to stop the practice. He says the confirmation of cross-party consensus in Australia for an independent investigation was an important step in rallying support from other Western democracies.
“As a leading Asian Pacific democracy, Australia is showing leadership on this issue, which other parliamentarians in the region and beyond, including Canada, the United States and Europe, should now follow,” said Mr. Kilgour.
Mr. Kilgour said more information had come to light since the release of the report which would be added as supplementary information and re-released around October. The additional information, he said, had only confirmed their original conclusion that “this terrible practice is happening. It’s happening across China. It’s organ harvesting from innocent human beings.”
While he is not calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games, Mr. Kilgour said it was imperative that Australia and other countries use the Beijing Olympics to bring pressure on the present Chinese regime to stop the deadly practice.
“I don’t want you to think that Australia is going to boycott the Games because there was no suggestion of that,” the former politician said, “but we do think the government of Australia should be pushing very hard on this practice that is going on, and we think that the time to push is now”.
Mr. McMillan-Scott, who, as designated rapporteur for the EU’s New Democracy and Human Rights Instrument, visited China in May to investigate claims of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. He described what was happening as genocide and that the Chinese Communist regime was entirely to blame.
“It is a measure of the regime, which I have described as brutal, arbitrary and paranoid, and I intend to continue to work to highlight the appalling nature of the crimes of the regime.
“There is a case to answer, it will be answered and we hope very soon.”
In further news calls for more action over human rights abuses in China are increasing in volume with a former Australian defence department strategist echoing similar concerns this week.
Allan Behm told an Australian parliamentary inquiry examining security threats in Australia’s region, that a “more politically mature” China was vital for Australia if it was to survive a “tectonic shift” in the power balance in Asia. Such a shift, he said, would see China’s economic and military might rivalling, if not surpassing, that of the US.
According to The Australian Financial Review Mr. Behm told the inquiry that Australia could not afford to focus only on selling resources to China but needed to place greater value on human rights and democratic institutions. To ignore those, he said, posed a very real risk that China could turn on “ourselves, the US and our friends” in the future.