Rallies were held in nearly 90 cities around the world on Oct. 1 to call on governments to “resist” and “challenge” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as it marked its 71st year of rule.
The coalition of over 150 human rights groups that organized the Global Day of Action called National Day, the anniversary of the CCP’s takeover of China on Oct. 1, 1949, a “day of mourning.”
The coalition, which described the event as “the largest-ever joint, cross-movement action” against the CCP, is made up of civil society groups representing Tibetans, Uyghur Muslims, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, southern Mongolians, Vietnamese, Kazakhs, and exiled Chinese dissidents who have experienced repression and human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime.
“Our enemy is not China. Our enemy is a brutal regime that has its knee on the neck of all people around the world, as well as our own. Under Chinese communist’s oppression, none of us can breathe.” said Gloria Fung, the president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, a co-organizer of the rally, in a speech in front of the Chinese consulate in Toronto.
“Not only has it broken its international agreement that promises one country, two systems, it has also turned Hong Kong into a police state with this national security law.”
Fung went on to explain that under the security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong, which went into effect on June 30, “anyone, anywhere around this world, that is critical towards the Chinese communist party, could be considered to be a criminal, and be arbitrarily arrested and detained in Chinese prison, including we Canadians here.”
Chinese-Canadian democracy activist and author Sheng Xue said in her speech that “we need to unite together because the CCP is so evil and also getting much power.”
Sheng also stressed that the CCP’s mishandling and coverup of the COVID-19 virus outbreak has caused millions of deaths worldwide.
“Over 1 million people died, and 34 million people affected. So our lives have been totally changed. But for what have we paid this price? What price has the whole world been paying? There must be one outcome—to end the Chinese communist tyrant. That is what we really want.”
The concerns the organizers cited include China’s occupation of Tibet, the arbitrary detention of millions of Uyghurs in internment camps, the loss of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, the erasure of Southern Mongolian culture and language, the intimidation and bullying of Taiwan, and the detention, disappearance, and silencing of countless Chinese rights lawyers and activists.
Tsering Wangyal, president of Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario, said that the “collective effort [of the global protest] in itself sends a very strong message to the CCP.”
“I believe that the most important aspect of our common struggle is that our voices need to be heard,” Tsering said, adding that people need to write to or talk to their MPs, and pressure the government to take the issue of rights infractions in China seriously.
The organizers noted that Tibet is one of the most “heavily restricted countries in the world.” In March 2020, Freedom House ranked Tibet as the second “least free” place in the world for the fifth consecutive year; only Syria ranks as less free, it said.
‘Crimes Against Humanity and Cultural Genocide’
Winnie Ng, chair of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, noted some of the atrocities committed by the CCP.
“China has consistently committed crimes against humanity and cultural genocide, even upon its own people,” Ng said, stressing that the regime has also used “surveillance, imprisonment, censorship, even murder” of activists.
Andrew Song from the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada warned about the threats Taiwan faces from the Beijing regime.
“The CCP openly announced at the beginning of this year that they would not exclude the use of military force to attack Taiwan if we dare to claim separation or independence from China,” he said.
Though the Taiwanese people are concerned about the threat, Song said they are not afraid, and called the CCP a “bully.”
Regarding the situation of Uyghur Muslims in China, a representative of the East Turkestan Association of Canada who goes by the name Enver said the CCP is using a “step by step” approach to eradicate his ethnic group.
“So please, everybody, say something and stop the evil CCP from wiping out all the Uyghurs, forced labour, organ harvesting—the whole ethnic is going to be extinct soon if nobody stands up for it.”
According to rights groups, at least 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim minorities are being held in massive camps in China’s Xinjiang region where they are subjected to indoctrination, forced labour, and other crimes.
Hugh Yu, chair of the Canada Committee for the Democratic Party of China, gave an historical account of the millions of deaths that have occurred as a result of the CCP’s various political campaigns.
Former Senator Consiglio Di Nino also spoke at the Toronto rally. “What has happened and what continues to happen in China is inhumane,” he said.
“It’s about the people in China who are denied the fundamental rights and freedoms. They have to know that they’re not alone. They have to know that the world is watching. They have to know that we care.”
The organizers cited two encouraging steps that have been taken to push back against the Chinese regime’s rights abuses this year: the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party alliance of parliamentarians from democratic countries established in June, and a statement issued in June by more than 50 independent U.N. experts denouncing China’s human rights record.
‘All People Must Stand Together’
In an interview with NTD Television, Fung said the situation in Hong Kong has been very dangerous for pro-democracy activists since the national security law came into effect.
“Many pro-democracy people have been arrested and many went missing. It is possible that they have been extradited to mainland China,” she said.
“There are a lot more people we don’t really know were arrested too. We have no information about their names and where they are, and how they are now. Under the so-called national security law, none of the lawyers, families, or reporters are allowed to interview them or even be present in the court.”
Fung said she hopes the Canadian government will apply the Magnitsky law to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials.
Sheng told NTD the CCP’s crimes include “the forced organ harvesting of the Falun Gong practitioners, arbitrarily detaining up to 3 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in concentration camps, forcing 150 Tibetans to self-immolate, forbidding the South Mongolians from learning their own language and culture—all of which are unprecedented in history.”
“Because of all the evils this regime committed, many people regard National Day as an insult and so treated it as a “mourning day” instead,” she said.
“The most important thing now is all people must stand together to end the CCP’s tyranny,” Sheng added.
The organizers called on Ottawa to take the following actions:
- Take stronger multilateral action in response to unprecedented human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government, and demand China immediately fulfill its human rights obligations in all bilateral and multilateral dialogues and exchanges.
- Establish an independent UN Human Rights Council mechanism to assess and monitor the ongoing and egregious human rights violations in China, particularly in relation to East Turkistan, Tibet, Hong Kong and Southern Mongolia.
- Impose targeted Magnitsky-style sanctions, such as the US Global Magnitsky Act, the Canadian Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, and the UK Criminal Finances Act against senior Chinese government officials linked to human rights abuses.
- Impose economic sanctions on companies that are profiteering by aiding and abetting China’s genocidal and colonial policies in Tibet and East Turkistan.
- Revisit government policy towards the PRC and Taiwan, urging it to revise its “one China” policy and support Taiwan’s democracy. Condemn the PRC’s military intimidation of Taiwan and support Taiwan’s meaningful participation & inclusion in international organizations.
April Zhu contributed to this report.