Forces Join in Wellington to Combat Human Rights Abuses in China

July 19, 2007 Updated: July 19, 2007

“Human rights not for sale” was the major theme for a street march and rally in Wellington Thursday. MPs, Amnesty International, Friends of Falun Gong, and Friends of Tibet jointly organised the protest against human rights abuses in China.

Around 200 people turned out to raise awareness and appeal to the New Zealand government to support human rights, particularly before signing a free trade deal with China.

Chen Yonglin, a defector from the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney two years ago, said yesterday he knew of a kidnapping that took place on New Zealand soil. He said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were responsible and he has now reported it to the SIS.

Outside parliament today Chen Yonglin spoke of the seriousness of the human rights abuses in China.

“Every hour there are people dying under the persecution.”

“Two years ago I left the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney because I was very desperate, the Chinese nation, the culture, has been totally destroyed,” Chen said.

“More people inside and outside of China are becoming aware that this party [CCP] is totally anti-humanity. I'm here to hope that the New Zealand people could also give a hand to the Chinese people.” He said Chinese diplomacy is about persecution and it has extended into New Zealand, from journalist Nick Wang being excluded from events to infiltration into the Chinese community and the mainstream of New Zealand society.

“I believe it's a conflict, a damage to the foundation of New Zealand – the basic value of democracy and human rights.”

Chen believes the CCP will take some action against him speaking out in New Zealand.

“But I won't be afraid of that and I will stick to what I should do and I believe that the majority of people here will stand by me. Of course, I should be cautious – if they want to do anything, they will do it very skilfully, professionally… I'm prepared for that.”

Chinese Regime “Affront” to International Community

United Future leader Peter Dunne slammed the Chinese regime as an affront to the international community and those who respect human rights.

“One of the things that all of us, whatever our background or our origin have in common as human beings, is our human rights. Our rights to life, to liberty, and to freedom. And when I look at China today I see a country that fails on all three counts.

“The barbaric way in which capital punishment is applied in China. The philistine practice of harvesting human organs for personal gain is an affront to the sense of life and respect for life that any decent nation and group of people hold dear,” Dunne said.

He blamed the New Zealand government for having a “timid, subservient approach” to Chinese matters for fear of offending the CCP, and said this has gone “too far”.

Free Trade Agreement

Green Party MP and human rights spokesperson Keith Locke debunked a free trade agreement with China under the current regime.

“If reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) with China means ignoring the rights of the Chinese people, then we don't want that free trade agreement.”

“If the only path to a FTA is to restrict our own right to criticise the Chinese regime, then that is not the sort of FTA we want.

“If signing a FTA means shielding visiting Chinese dignitaries from protest or a critical NZ media – as what happened in the Nick Wang case – then we don't want that sort of FTA.

“If getting a FTA means banning government ministers from meeting the Dalai Lama – as happened recently – for fear of offending the government in China, then we don't want that sort of FTA.”

Amnesty Calls for Investigation

Amnesty International's Campaigns manager Gary Reese urged the New Zealand government to undertake an open and comprehensive investigation into the activities of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand.

He said Amnesty were concerned over a number of incidences where the Chinese regime were influencing freedoms, media freedoms and freedom of expression in New Zealand.

“We've heard about Nick Wang being barred from a press conference; we know there's newspapers that have been removed from public spaces; we know that advertising has been removed from Auckland airport due to the Chinese government; we know that they've contacted our Auckland mayors – I spoke to one of them directly and he admitted that he didn't go to the event because of pressure from the Chinese Embassy.

“The government needs to act on this.”

Labour party MP Marion Street, speaking on behalf of the government, maintained New Zealand's independent foreign policy.

“New Zealand maintains regular and strong human rights dialogue with China on human rights. We encourage China to comply with universal human rights standards and to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

National Party leader John Key declined an invitation to speak at the rally.

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