Human Rights Must Come First in CNOOC/Nexen Review: Alberta MLA

By Omid Ghoreishi, Epoch Times
October 24, 2012 9:13 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 12:02 pm
Liberal MLA David Swann speaks at a rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Oct. 23, 2012, organized to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong in China and the harvesting of organs from the practitioners of the meditation discipline while they are still alive. (Tong Yuheng/The Epoch Times)

EDMONTON—Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann said Canada’s decision on the proposal by China’s state-owned oil company to take over Calgary-based Nexen should be based on the principles of human rights.

Swann spoke at a rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Tuesday that aimed to raise awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China and illegal organ harvesting from these prisoners of conscience while they are still alive.

Swann said he is shocked that the persecution, which began in 1999, continues today.

“All of us can barely believe it’s possible in the 21st century that this harvesting of organs against people’s will, incarceration, torture, death, is happening strictly on the choice of people’s faith and spiritual tradition,” Swann said.

In light of evidence that the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) has participated and continues to participate in the persecution of Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, in China, Swann said Canada now has an important decision to make as to whether it will allow CNOOC to gain control of assets in Alberta.

‘A global citizen issue’

“This is not a local issue, it’s not a provincial issue, it’s not a national issue—it’s a Canadian issue; it’s a global citizen issue,” Swann said.

Falun Gong practitioners re-enact organ harvesting from living practitioners in China, carried out by the Chinese communist regime, at a rally to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong in China at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Oct. 23, 2012. (Tong Yuheng/The Epoch Times)

“All of us have to play a part in raising our voices, saying we will not accept this, we cannot stand for this.”

The federal government is currently reviewing CNOOC’s proposed takeover of Nexen to determine if the deal will be of net benefit to Canada.

Swann, the former leader of the official opposition in Alberta, said human rights should come first in the review, adding that Canada’s decision on this issue will become part of the legacy that will be handed down “not only to our children … but also to the citizens of the world.”

“I stand firmly, and I know all Liberals in Canada do, all citizens of conscience in Canada, stand with the Falun Dafa against this atrocity,” he said.

The federal government’s mandatory 45-day review of the $15.1 billion takeover was set to finish earlier this month but the government extended it by a further 30 days.

CNOOC’s Participation in Persecution

The Epoch Times has learned of several cases of Falun Gong adherents being arrested by CNOOC’s security forces and in many cases forced into detention centres and brainwashing facilities.

Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, said Canada’s approval of the takeover should be contingent on a guarantee from the company that it will no longer fire, detain, or participate in the ongoing torture and imprisonment of Falun Gong adherents.

Falun Gong practitioners take part in a rally to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong in China at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Oct. 23, 2012. (Tong Yuheng/The Epoch Times)

While acknowledging that making a decision on the takeover bid is a federal issue, Swann said the Alberta government should also be trying to influence Ottawa to ensure human rights are upheld.

“If the net public interest test is the one that the federal government uses, then the Alberta government has to make their comments known whether this is or is not in the public interest, and for many of us this violates very fundamental beliefs of what it means to be a Canadian,” Swann told The Epoch Times.

“I think it’s time for the prime minister to step up and condemn this important information (persecution of Falun Gong) that’s been out there for a decade, and that continues to be raised in relation with the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company.

“It needs to be clear with [CNOOC] that we cannot deal with companies in this country unless they’re prepared to stop, renounce completely, eliminate this kind of discrimination and violations of humanity.”

‘Complete Disregard’ for Rights

Brent Rathgeber, Conservative MP for Edmonton-St. Albert, could not attend the rally in person as Parliament was in session this week, but sent a letter condemning the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

The letter, which was read at the rally, said a group such as Falun Gong that promotes universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance should not be persecuted.

“The Chinese government’s ongoing persecution shows a complete disregard for basic and fundamental human rights and tolerance,” he wrote.

Noting that he serves as the chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong, Rathgeber said he attempts to educate other parliamentarians, media, and the public about the ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa.

“I am confident that continued awareness and advocacy will lead to change and greater tolerance for the Falun Dafa in China,” Rathgeber said.