Australian political leaders joined an online rally on July 20 condemning the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its ongoing persecution of Falun Gong. The date marks 21 years of persecution suffered by practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual practice in communist China.
The rally was joined by 18 speakers including federal and state politicians, experts, activists, and supporters commemorating the lives lost at the hands of the CCP.
Below is the speech delivered by Sydney barrister and law lecturer, Sophie York:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for gathering here online for this important rally, marking 21 years of suffering for those who believe and practice Falun Gong.
It has been my honour to get to know people in the Falun Gong.
It baffles me why on earth any government would want to suppress such an outfit, which clearly brings out the best in their citizens: having them seek truth, be compassionate, and tolerant; live, eat, and exercise well.
But that’s not even the point! Governments are meant to protect the naturally-occurring human rights of the people. Being communist does not exempt the Chinese government from this responsibility.
The maxim “Lex Inuista Non Est Lex” originated with the great philosopher, Augustine of Hippo. It means “unjust law is not law.” It does not advocate anarchy, but it does advocate efforts to change unjust law. If the authorities will not permit change via legitimate processes, then you are under a moral duty to disobey.
So those who seek to pressure the Chinese government to change any law permitting such oppressive persecution are highly principled.
And in this context—of government being unwilling to change it—those who refuse to obey it are highly principled.
How can China honestly call itself “The People’s Republic” if the people are being oppressed inhumanely?
All human beings have the right to their thoughts, their consciences, their beliefs; the right to be at liberty, to associate freely, to procreate, to own one’s own private property, and so forth. Humans are physical, intellectual, yes—and they are also spiritual beings.
It is the most natural thing in the world for a human to have a faith! The Falun Gong are not doing anything unnatural or wrong.
Every single human being has the right to be treated with dignity and to not be harmed nor killed.
Even if the CCP feels threatened by the growing numbers of adherents, or would prefer everyone was atheist, or that everyone simply believe in “Communism,” these insecurities and desires are not legitimate reasons to trample on the Falun Gong. That is a monumental failure of the role of government.
We recall today that 21 years ago, in mid-1999, the appalling 610 office was created. Its purpose is to oversee the coordination and implementation of official persecution of the Falun Gong.
Many good Chinese citizens have, since that year, been oppressively monitored, arrested, sentenced to re-education-through-labor camps, or prison.
Hundreds of thousands of people. Innocent people.
And the injustice and indignity did not end there. Oh no!
As the independent Tribunal in the UK found, presided over by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC in 2018, it is ‘beyond all doubt’ that inhumane organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners is taking place.
The Australian Federal Senate has unanimously supported a motion, introduced by the late Senator John Madigan, to support The United Nations and Council of Europe initiatives to oppose this horrific practice of organ harvesting.
Ladies and gentlemen, all great endeavours began with:
- A good cause, and
- Determined people, who never gave up.
Changes in history have been hard-won and were even about things people thought were inevitable and continuous, like war or slavery.
Wars used to be frequent and brutal. There were few rules and very little compassion. It took the non-stop efforts of one man, a Swiss businessman—Jean Henri Dunant—to bring about change.
Dunant is the reason we now have The Geneva Conventions.
Dunant is the reason we bring war criminals to justice. And now, in the International Criminal Court, why we can try perpetrators who commit crimes against humanity.
People once thought slavery was inevitable. That someone could own, control, and mistreat another person. Humankind now knows that slavery is morally wrong. It is unlawful across the globe. And yet it took the initiative and persistence of one galvanising person—a British MP, William Wilberforce, to see it abolished.
Even ancient legal codes, such as Ur and Hammurabi, from thousands of years B.C., understood the innate worth of human life.
So do all the major religions of the world!
And so do modern legal systems.
In 1948, following the horrors of WWII, ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ was drafted as a reminder!
There is no excuse nowadays for any breaches of human rights. Not by the CCP—not by anyone.
And not against any group! Not Falun Gong, not Uighurs, not Christians! Not Tibetans, not Hongkongers!
As William Wilberforce said: “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
Some say: “Don’t interfere with China’s internal affairs.” On this logic, we could not have stopped Nazism. We could not have gone into Rwanda. We could not have stopped slavery.
All nations need to act ethically and encourage other nations to, also.
China is a country with an ancient, great civilisation.
It presently has a Communist political system of government. China clearly aspires to lead other nations: yet it is failing at the very first test—whether it can treat its own people with humanity.
China will never be a truly great nation unless it respects human beings!
The leadership of China will never command genuine respect internationally, nor domestically, whilst atrocities are permitted on its watch.
If this monstrous practice of organ-harvesting became more widely known, decent Australians would be horrified. Disgusted. They would no longer feel comfortable buying Made-In-China products.
We should not allow our great Western advancements to be used for evil.
So, there should be no Australian assistance in surgical training suspected for unlawful organ removal.
No training in surveillance technology which is then used in China to track and harass minority groups.
Our hospitals and universities must guard against all this.
Ladies and gentlemen, the great irony in the gathering here online, is that it is due to a pandemic, caused by the Chinese Communist Party’s mismanagement of a novel coronavirus causing COVID-19; the health and safety of the entire world has been put at risk.
Millions have been sick. Hundreds of thousands have died. Many more will die. People have lost their livelihoods and their loved ones.
A Resolution on 18 May 2020, at the 73rd World Health Assembly, agreed by more than 140 nations of the world, called for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation of the WHO (World Health Organisation) and the critical timelines pertaining to the pandemic. If the hard, cold circumstances of this pandemic don’t wake up the world to the hard-nosed, inhumanity of the Communist regime, WHAT WILL?
Ladies and gentlemen, whilst it is sad not to be able to mix in person at a physical rally, I salute the determination of Australia Falun Dafa Association, and all participating today, that people will not let a pandemic crush their determination to mark this anniversary of the persecution.
To all Chinese-Australians—and people in China able to watch this, somehow—who have relatives who have disappeared, or who have suffered in any way, my heart goes out to you. None of us will rest until there has been an END to this appalling practice: this persecution of Falun Gong.
One day it will be brought to an end, and it will be due to the relentless efforts of good people Who. Never. Gave. Up.
We will never give up!
Sophie York is a barrister, university law lecturer, speaker, author, and mother of four. Among other roles, York is a member of the Royal Australian Navy Legal Reserve Panel and is a Lecturer of Jurisprudence at The University of Sydney.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.