A communist official accused of executing a systematic campaign of torture and genocide against religious believers in northeast China will arrive in Ottawa this weekend at the invitation of the federal government, a representative of the persecuted group said Wednesday.
Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, which represents practitioners of Falun Gong in this country, said a source in the Canadian government told her Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai has been invited to visit here by David Emerson, Canada's minister of international trade. Their meeting is said to be planned for Monday.
Jennifer Chiu, press secretary at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, did not deny that a visit was in the works but told The Epoch Times Wednesday "the visit is not confirmed."
Bo is accused of overseeing a brutal campaign of torture against adherents Falun Gong, a Chinese meditation practice, in the northeast Chinese province of Liaoning where he was governor from 2001 to 2004.
The repression of Falun Gong in Liaoning was one of the most severe in China under Bo's leadership. U.N. reports cite specific human rights abuses against Falun Gong in Liaoning province in every year that Bo was governor.
According to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, by the time Bo left the governor post there were 100 confirmed torture deaths of Falun Gong adherents in police custody in Liaoning.
In September 2003, the RCMP accepted a watch-list of high-ranking Chinese officials accused of torture and crimes against humanity against Falun Gong practitioners in China. Bo Xilai was among the first 15 names on the list, which now numbers 45. The RCMP has agreed to look into their alleged criminal actions if any of the named individuals enter Canada or to bar their entry.
Rise to Power Coincides With Torture Campaign
Bo Xilai, 57, is known as one of the communist party's "princelings"—a son of a first-generation high-ranking communist party official. Bo was mayor of Dalian, a large city in Liaoning province, when the persecution of Falun Gong was launched in July 1999.
Bo is a member of the political faction of Jiang Zemin, who headed the communist regime until 2004. Bo used the Falun Gong crackdown as an opportunity to curry political favour with Jiang, who is said to have personally called for and led the campaign to eliminate the spiritual group.
Between July 1999 and Feb. 2001 there were 15 reported deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in Dalian City, as well as hundreds of torture cases.
In Feb. 2001, Jiang Zemin personally promoted Bo to governor of Liaoning province.
The deadly reports followed Bo.
In 2001, Bo attended at least four strategy sessions in the Liaoning province capital of Shenyang City for organizing the persecution against Falun Gong.
According to a U.N. Special Rapporteur report, more than 1500 Falun Gong practitioners were detained in the Masanjia Labour Camp in Shenyang City. Between 2001 and 2004, U.N. Special Rapporteurs contacted the Chinese authorities with concerns over at least 15 cases of abuse against Falun Gong practitioners in Liaoning.
The most appalling was a report that 18 female Falun Gong adherents had been stripped naked and thrown into the cells of male criminals at Masanjia Labour Camp in an effort to force them to renounce their belief in Falun Gong, and that high level officials had actually encouraged the practice.
When Jiang Zemin stepped down from the party leadership in 2004, Bo was among the members of the Jiang clique to be catapulted into top positions in the government. He now holds the post of commerce minister.
Group Hopes to Bar Entry
The torture allegations makes Bo an unsuitable guest to Canada, say Falun Gong sympathizers and others who are protesting the proposed visit this week.
"Prime Minister Harper has acted with conviction and compassion when it comes to respecting human rights," said David Harris, the senior fellow for national security at the Ottawa-based Canadian Coalition for Democracies. "Canadians expect that he will maintain his record by keeping Bo Xilai out of Canada."
Bo was scheduled to visit Canada along with current Chinese leader Hu Jintao in 2005 when Paul Martin was prime minister. However, after protests over Bo's planned visit, he was notably absent when the delegation arrived.
In ten other countries, Bo has been served with lawsuits for torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity against Falun Gong believers.
In April 2004, Bo was sued for crimes against humanity and torture while on a visit to Washington, D.C.
Upon realizing he had been served with court papers, Bo threw the papers to the ground and his entourage physically attacked the process server, the process server said.
Bo refused to enter a defense in the case and the U.S. court has since issued a default judgment against him.
Two months after Bo was served the lawsuit in the U.S., nine Falun Gong practitioners travelled to South Africa to protest the alleged crimes committed by Bo and another Chinese official, Zeng Qinghong, who were both visiting South Africa, and to file a lawsuit.
On June 28, en route from Johannesburg Airport, a gunman with an assault rifle shot at the practitioners' vehicle, hospitalizing the driver. After disabling the car, the would-be assassin made no attempt at robbery and immediately fled the scene. The practitioners believed the gunman to be hired.
Xun Li, president of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, says his group does not oppose Canada having relations with China, but "Canada must not open doors to criminals."
"Allowing such officials [in]to Canada would send a message that Canada condones genocide and violations of fundamental human rights," Li said.
Additional reporting by Matthew Simon