OTTAWA—As Falun Dafa adherents picked May 10 to gather on Parliament Hill for a large-scale celebration, they did not expect that the prime minister would on the same day be meeting with a senior official from the Chinese regime that is carrying out an ongoing persecution against their spiritual discipline.
“I hope that the senior member of the Chinese Communist Politburo, who has just arrived to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau, takes home a message about Zhen, Shan, Ren—Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance—as practised by [Falun Dafa] practitioners across Canada and around the world, and in the millions in China,” said Conservative MP Peter Kent in a speech at the event, highlighting the three central guiding principles of the practice.
It was generally a joyful atmosphere on the Hill as some 600 practitioners gathered under sunny skies to mark 24 years since the popular traditional Chinese self-improvement practice was introduced to the public in China on May 13, 1992.
Practitioners demonstrated their slow-moving meditation exercises and their Tian Guo Marching Band performed, as did drummers and dancers including young children practitioners of Falun Dafa.
“I think God is answering all your prayers, because we have this most beautiful, beautiful day for you to come … and to express yourself as positively as you all do,” said Liberal MP Judy Sgro.
At the same time, no one was forgetting that for the last 16 out of those 24 years, Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, has been the target of a violent persecution and defamation campaign launched by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin before current leader Xi Jinping took the helm.
Alongside Kent and Sgro, who co-chair the all-party group of MPs and senators Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong (PFOFG), those supporters included Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Senator Don Meredith, and new Tory MP Garnett Genuis, all members of PFOFG. Former MP and cabinet minister David Kilgour also came to lend his support.
Criminal complaints against former Chinese leader
In an interview, Kent called it an “interesting irony” that Hu Chunhua is visiting at the same time as the celebratory occasion was taking place. Hu is a member of the powerful Politburo of the Communist Party of China.
Kent said PFOFG has seen some improvements under current Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He gave the example of the more than 200,000 criminal complaints filed by Falun Gong practitioners against former leader Jiang Zemin that have been accepted by Chinese authorities. Along with wrongful imprisonment, those complaints are for horrific crimes such as torture and killing, including the live organ harvesting of Falun Gong prisoners to supply a gruesome trade in human organs.
Despite acceptance of the criminal complaints, however, “we also know that the persecution is continuing,” Kent said, noting that unfortunately “no action has been taken” yet on those complaints.
“I think Canadians as well as Chinese Canadians and of course the citizens of China are watching very closely to see if justice will eventually be done.”
Sgro, who has been coming to the annual Falun Dafa Day celebration for many years, said she applauded the practitioners for their example.
“As we mark the 24th anniversary of Falun Dafa, we see a real-world example of why we must continue to defend and advocate for practitioners of legitimate and peaceful faith groups at home and abroad,” she said.
In November 2012, she had spoken in the House of Commons urging the Canadian government to use trade as leverage to press the Chinese regime to end the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
New organ harvesting findings to be released
Elizabeth May commended Kilgour for his work, alongside Winnipeg-based international human rights lawyer David Matas, on the documentary film “Human Harvest,” which was a winner of the prestigious Peabody Awards in 2015. The film focuses on the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in Chinese military and civilian hospitals.
“We are convinced the Chinese party-state has been committing systematic murder against the community for almost 15 years. We term it a ‘new form of evil on the planet’ and continue to investigate,” Kilgour said.
He and Matas had concluded that “for 41,500 transplants performed from 2001 to 2006 in China, the only plausible explanation for sourcing was Falun Gong.”
He said Ethan Gutmann in his book “The Slaughter” puts the persecution of Falun Gong, Tibetan, Uyghur, and House Christian communities in context. Gutmann estimates that the organs of 65,000 Falun Gong and 4,000 Uyghurs, Tibetans, and House Christians were harvested in the 2000 to 2008 period.
“How many more people in these communities have been killed since 2008? The three of us plan to release, very soon, an update on our findings. I think that will surprise quite a few people,” Kilgour said.
May called on the Chinese regime “to recognize that it’s time to accept human rights” and “to respect the intrinsic value of every human being—to respect rights and peaceful practices.”
Genuis echoed this, saying also that he commended Falun Gong practitioners “not just on your activism, but also on your hope” and continuing efforts.
Meredith told the practitioners that “Canada stands with you” and “will not bend to any pressures, economic or otherwise, from any country, including China.”
While a brief news release later in the afternoon reported that Trudeau and Hu had “discussed the deepening people-to-people and commercial links between Canada and China,” especially Guangdong Province, of which Hu is party secretary, it remains to be seen how Canada’s growing ties with China will unfold in terms of ability to help improve human rights in that country.
“None of us should forget the values we represent in Canada including human dignity, rule of law, independent judges, multi-party democracy, transparency, accountability, a good natural environment, and no trafficking in human organs,” said Kilgour.