Forty three Canadian parliamentarians from various parties are urging the federal government to call on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to end its persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China. They also want Global Affairs to include a specific mention of Falun Gong among other persecuted groups in its China policy framework.
“We, the undersigned parliamentarians, urge the government to include Falun Gong explicitly in Global Affairs Canada’s China Policy Framework (while other persecuted groups are mentioned), condemn the CCP’s continued attack on this peaceful faith, and call for an end to the persecution in China,” the parliamentarians say in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.
A section related to the China Policy Framework in Global Affairs’ “Departmental Plan 2022–23” reads, “Canada will continue to speak out against the China’s repression of the Uyghur and Tibetan peoples, and of all religious minorities in China.”
The missive comes ahead of July 20, which marks 23 years since the CCP launched “a systematic and brutal campaign to eradicate Falun Gong, a spiritual practice guided by the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance,” it says.
It is signed by 33 Conservative MPs, two Conservative senators, five Liberal MPs, NDP MP Heather McPherson as her party’s foreign affairs critic, Green MP and the party’s Parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May, and Independent Sen. Kim Pate.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, grew rapidly in popularity after it was made public in China in 1992, with official government surveys showing that between 70 to 100 million people across the country considered themselves adherents of the traditional spiritual practice. However, according to Falun Dafa Infocenter, the CCP authorities, including then-leader Jiang Zemin, saw Falun Gong’s popularity as a threat, and on July 20, 1999, initiated a far-reaching campaign of persecution to eradicate the practice.
Since then, untold numbers of adherents have been unjustly imprisoned, with many tortured to death, while many others fled the country to escape persecution. After reports surfaced in the early 2000s that the regime was involved in the forced harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience to fuel China’s lucrative organ transplant business, the late former MP David Kilgour and Winnipeg-based lawyer David Matas launched an investigation into the issue in 2006. Their subsequent report corroborated the allegations.
An independent tribunal in the U.K. chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who previously led the prosecution of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal, concluded in 2019 that Falun Gong adherents are one of the main sources to supply China’s forced organ harvesting trade. The tribunal examined available evidence and heard from more than 50 witnesses.
“The atrocities are well-documented by human rights organizations/experts, such as Amnesty International, governmental bodies, and the United Nations,” the parliamentarians’ letter says, while also referencing the tribunal’s conclusion.
It adds: “For example, in June 2021, a statement by 12 United Nations special rapporteurs said they were “extremely alarmed” by credible information that forced organ harvesting is targeting Falun Gong practitioners in detention. This follows U.S. House Resolution 343, unanimously passed in 2016, “expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting” from Falun Gong practitioners in ‘large numbers.'”
The letter cites a 2015 report by Freedom House that states, “Hundreds of thousands of adherents were sentenced to labour camps and prison terms, making them the largest contingent of prisoners of conscience in the country.”
“Almost a decade earlier, U.N. Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak reported that “Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture while in government custody,” the letter adds.
Citing a study led by Canadian researchers published in the peer-reviewed Genocide Studies and Prevention, the letter notes that “academics have concluded that the eradication of Falun Gong by the CCP is a genocide.”
The letter also mentions the case of Canadian citizen Qian Sun, who is being held in prison in China for her belief in Falun Gong. It adds that 12 family members of Canadians are suffering the same ordeal in China because they took up the practice.
“Sadly, there has never been such a disparity between a humanitarian crisis and silence from the international community as that observed in the persecution of Falun Gong over the past two decades, where human rights and legal experts affirm that crimes against humanity are occurring,” the letter says.
“We count on the government to champion the international human rights of all persecuted groups. In particular, the Falun Gong faith community deserves explicit mention in the current Global Affairs China Policy Framework, in which it has been excluded, as horrific acts and hatred continue to target them in China as well as here in Canada.
“It is time we speak out for them.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 25 and July 31 to add additional MPs who have signed the letter.