Ribbon Dancers and Prisoners of Conscience

May 9, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
ribbon dance
Girls perform a Chinese ribbon dance at the Falun Dafa Day celebration on Parliament Hill May 9, 2012. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

PARLIAMENT HILL, Ottawa—A celebration of ribbons and drums on Canada’s Parliament Hill Wednesday took place amidst a backdrop of political upheaval in China that has some MPs hopeful for brighter days in the Middle Kingdom.

Hundreds of Falun Dafa adherents gathered on Parliament Hill to mark Falun Dafa Day, an annual celebration of the public introduction of the meditation practice. Performances by dancers and musicians were punctuated by speeches from MPs and Senator Consiglio Di Nino, who spoke of their hope for an end to the crackdown on the group in China.

The Epoch Times asked several MPs from the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong what they thought of events unfolding in China today, where senior ranking party cadres have been ousted from the party with others expected to fall soon.

After congratulating the Falun Dafa adherents gathered on the hill, Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz told The Epoch Times that change may be underway in China, and widespread human rights abuses could be about to come to an end.

“It seems like the new leadership that is coming in may be addressing the situation. I think they realize how serious it is, how many lives are being lost. The torture, the detention that is taking place is not acceptable and I really think there is some hope that this will take place,” he said.

Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz told reporters at the event Wednesday that trade concerns should not trump human rights in dealings with China. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

Breitkreuz said the international community had a duty to push the regime in the right direction.

 “We should not allow economic considerations to trump human rights considerations. Freedom, democracy, and human rights are more important than sometimes a dollar in our pocket. That would be my feeling and I also think that the people of China themselves feel that way.”

Unrest is in fact at record levels in China, a situation that prompted U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke to describe the political situation there as “very very delicate,” in a January interview with NPR.

Breitkreuz said calls within China for change should be echoed in other countries as well.

“I am sure we do not know the extent to which people in China themselves are trying to voice their concerns over what’s happening. I think we need to support them.”

Upheaval Signals Change

NDP veterans critic Peter Stoffer also said he’s hopeful that upheaval in China means change is coming.

Epoch Times Photo
NDP MVD Peter Stoffer expressed hope that upheaval in China means change is coming soon. (Evan Ning/The Epoch Times)

“Obviously with the corruption charges against [Bo Xilai], I think that’s unsettled the apple cart a bit there. If someone of that prominence could end up being charged in that regard, it shows you that there are some people within the government that are looking at corruption from a different point of view and saying ‘Come on folks, we can’t keep doing this.'”

Disgraced official Bo Xilai was once China’s commerce minister, beloved by Canada’s business community as a friend to Canadian companies wanting to access China.

But Bo was among the most brutal cadres at the highest ranks of the Chinese Communist Party. Once widely held as a leadership contender, Bo has since been put under investigation by the Party’s powerful disciplinary committee. Epoch Times analysts expect Bo’s ally, Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang, will also be purged.

Stoffer said the upheaval marks a time for the international community to call on the Chinese regime to address human rights.

Diversity of belief would make China stronger, as it did Canada, he added.

“The strength of the diversity of a nation is its tolerance and acceptance of other people’s faiths and religions. That’s what made us strong.”

“Your true power comes when your people say ‘I respect you and want you as my representative,’ instead of the dictatorial approach where they say ‘I’m your representative and that’s it.’ So when they reach that epiphany, I believe then they will have a really wonderful society.”

Stoffer said Chinese people are calling for change, and the regime should welcome it.

“Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t run away from it, don’t look at it as a threat, but embrace that change.”

Jailed for Free Speech

Epoch Times Photo
Liberal MP Judy Sgro spoke at a gathering on Parliament Hill Wednesday to celebrate Falun Dafa Day. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

Liberal MP and Seniors, Pensions and Status of Women critic Judy Sgro said if the regime is serious about change, it should release its political prisoners.

“They’ve got people who are in jail for nothing more than talking in a public square about a peaceful movement. There are several that I know of, students who have been put in jail for nothing other than free speech. They weren’t saying anything against the government, they were just simply speaking out their mind about human rights.”

She said she was hopeful something was underway in China and Canadian officials had a duty to aggressively encourage it.

“They should be using whatever political strength we have. … If they want to continue to tiptoe around the violations of people’s human rights, China will continue to do whatever they want. I think that it is time Canada took a much stronger role on those issues.”

Sgro thinks Chinese participation in the world economy should require the recognition of groups like Falun Gong.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May said she was worried the Canadian government was wavering in its commitment to human rights in China.

“We mustn’t forget that as much as China plays a very significant and powerful role in the world, we must engage, we must always bear in mind that we don’t trade off human rights for selling oil,” she said.

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