OTTAWA—Falun Gong practitioners delivered to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office on Aug. 26 over 120,000 signatures gathered from across Canada calling on him to help end the persecution of their spiritual discipline in China during his official visit to that country from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.
Later the same morning, they had reason to be hopeful based on a response to a reporter’s question about their cause at a technical briefing that covered Trudeau’s upcoming trip to China.
“The issue of human rights, you can absolutely expect to be raised as part of the prime minister’s trip, and it is part of the ongoing dialog that we expect to have with China,” said one of the government spokespersons chairing the media briefing.
She added that Falun Gong is very much one of the core human rights issues that “Canada is very concerned about.”
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline consisting of moral teachings, meditation, and gentle exercises. The teachings are based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Viewing the popularity and the traditional principles of the practice as incompatible with the communist system, the regime under former leader Jiang Zemin banned it in 1999 and continues to arrest and torture its adherents today. Mounting evidence from independent investigations also indicates that adherents have been killed in large numbers for their organs to supply a massive and lucrative state-run organ transplant industry.
Showing broad support from concerned people across Canada, the practitioners delivered 70,000 signed postcards along with petition forms bearing 50,000 signatures to Trudeau. The postcards and petition asked Trudeau to take every opportunity to speak with the Chinese authorities to urge them to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and the forcible seizing of vital organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
On the same morning, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) had also held a press conference on Parliament Hill just before the technical briefing. FDAC’s president Xun Li asked Trudeau to urge Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese authorities to end the persecution of Falun Gong and release the hundreds of thousands of incarcerated practitioners—including 12 family members of Canadians—and to help bring former leader Jiang Zemin to justice for initiating and orchestrating the persecution.
“As you recently stated, Canada has a very clear role to play to be frank with China about its behaviours that are concerning for Canadians who want to engage China but to do so while upholding their core values including human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Li said.
Seeking Help to Free a Mother and a Father
Hongyan Lu, a Canadian citizen and a Falun Gong adherent, spoke at the press conference about her mother, Chen Huixia, who was arrested on June 3 and has been tortured while detained.
Lu also described an earlier detainment and the fallout it caused in her family. “My mother was abducted once in 2003 for roughly three months, and was only released after my father bribed the police. After her release, the harassment continued, to the point my father felt forced to divorce my mother [Even though her father does not practise Falun Gong he would be harassed for having a family member that did.]. Only after my parents divorced was I able to get a passport and come to Canada.”
She emphasized the severity of the human rights crisis and the need for prompt action.
“This situation is quite urgent. I hope Prime Minister Trudeau will communicate with the Chinese regime urging them to stop forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Urge them to follow the International Bill of Human Rights, stop the inhuman persecution, and release my mother and all other Falun Gong practitioners,” Lu said. “It’s time to end this evil crime.”
Paul Li is equally concerned about his father, Xiaobo Li. The elder Li was previously detained in the early years of the persecution and spent eight years in jail. His crime was writing articles to counteract the Chinese Communist Party propaganda vilifying Falun Gong. After his re-arrest in 2014, he was sentenced the following year to another eight years of detention for practising Falun Gong.
The younger Li described how his father quit smoking and became a more tolerant person after taking up the practice of Falun Gong. He also recounted the torture and suffering his father endured in prison.
“I sincerely hope when Prime Minister Trudeau visits China next week, he will raise my father’s case again to the Chinese government, and request [current leader of China] Xi Jinping to unconditionally release my father Xiaobo Li and other Falun Gong practitioners, so that millions of families can reunite and the persecution can end,” Paul Li said.
Organ Pillaging Supplying 60,000 to 100,000 Transplants a Year
Former federal cabinet minister David Kilgour presented details of the recent report titled “Bloody Harvest / The Slaughter: An Update” that he co-authored with Winnipeg-based international human rights lawyer David Matas, and U.S. investigative journalist and China analyst Ethan Gutmann.
Released in June, the report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organ transplants have been carried out in China every year since 2000 in approximately 700 hospitals known to perform transplants. While wait times for organs in other countries are measured in years, wait times are in a matter of days or weeks in China.
The report indicates that the main source of the organs has been the large numbers of non-consenting Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. “Freedom House reported in 2015 that Falun Gong practitioners are the largest contingent of prisoners of conscience in China,” said FDAC’s Xun Li in his speech.
Those large estimates of organ transplants add up to over a million Falun Gong deaths over 15 years from 2000 to 2015. Meanwhile, according to the Chinese regime, only approximately 10,000 transplants per year are being done across the country.
“We provide considerable evidence of an industrial-scale, state-directed organ transplantation network, controlled through national policies and funding, and implicating both the military and civilian healthcare systems,” states a note supplied by Kilgour, which lists information from the update report as well as suggestions on what legislators and governments can do, such as making the purchase of trafficked organs illegal for Canadians.
For the Falun Gong prisoners of conscience “donors,” “Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas, and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries,” according to Kilgour’s note.
This massive organ pillaging could only happen because it is “a crime in which the Communist Party, state institutions, the health system, hospitals, and the transplant professions are all complicit.”
Urging PM to Take Action
“What we’re saying is we can’t have normal relations with a government killing their own citizens by the tens of thousands,” Kilgour said, urging the Canadian government to “stand solidly” with the people of China.
Xun Li called on Trudeau to take a principled stance on human rights, including the Falun Gong issue in China.
“Your China trip is another opportunity to give moral support and encouragement to the Chinese citizens yearning for freedom, and to leave a legacy of courageous, principled action Canadians can be proud of,” Li said.
“Your upright stance against injustice and oppression will make a difference.”
In addition to the Aug. 26 events in Ottawa, Falun Gong practitioners in Toronto and Vancouver also gathered outside city hall in their respective cities to seek help from Trudeau, urging him to call for an end to the persecution and for the release of jailed practitioners including the 12 with Canadian family ties during his trip to China.