Toronto Falun Gong Adherents Urge Trudeau to Call for End to Persecution of Adherents in China at Summit for Democracy

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
December 8, 2021 Updated: December 10, 2021

Falun Gong adherents held a rally at Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) end its brutal persecution of the faith group when he attends the upcoming Summit for Democracy.

U.S. President Joe Biden will host the Summit for Democracy on Dec. 9-10, bringing together world leaders and government officials from 110 countries, including Canada, in virtual discussions on strengthening democracy and human rights, and defending against authoritarianism.

Kacey Cox, a spokesperson for Falun Gong in Toronto, said at the rally that adherents are one of the largest victim groups persecuted by the Chinese government. For 22 years, Falun Gong practitioners in China have faced a host of abuses, including arbitrary arrest, torture, and live organ harvesting.

“It’s immoral to persecute, torture, murder, and defame the Falun Gong practitioners just because of their faith. The Canadian government must resolutely oppose this,” Cox said.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong adherents hold banners at a rally outside Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021, calling on the federal government to pressure the Chinese Communist Party to end the persecution of Falun Gong. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

The summit coincides with International Human Rights Day, which is marked annually on Dec. 10.

Last year on International Human Rights Day, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada submitted to the foreign affairs minister a list of 150 names of CCP officials complicit in the persecution of Falun Gong adherents. The group called for sanctions on specific officials based on the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows governments to impose targeted measures on foreign nationals who are involved in human rights violations.

At the Dec. 7 rally, the date again chosen to coincide with Human Rights Day, Cox repeated calls for Trudeau to openly condemn the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong adherents, sanction the 150 CCP officials, and release the 12 prisoners of conscience with Canadian ties who are still detained in China due to their practice of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that includes meditative exercises and moral teachings based on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Also known as Falun Dafa, the practice was introduced in China in 1992 where it quickly gained widespread popularity due to its reported benefits to mental and physical well-being.

According to the Chinese government’s official estimation, the practice had attracted 70-100 million adherents in China by 1999.

However, former CCP leader Jiang Zemin saw that popularity as a threat to the regime’s rule, and on July 20, 1999, launched a persecution campaign aimed at eradicating the practice. Several million Falun Gong adherents have been detained in the years since, with an estimated 1.5–2.5 million held in labour camps in 2010 alone, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.

Toronto Student Seeks Help to Save Mother

Liu Mingyuan, an international student living in Toronto, called for the release of her mother, Liu Yan, who was arrested by Chinese authorities on Sept. 30 in Kunming, China, and has been detained there ever since.

Epoch Times Photo
Liu Mingyuan, a student at Ontario’s Sheridan College, speaks out against the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong at a rally at Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021. The regime recently detained her mother, Liu Yan, for her belief in the Falun Gong spiritual practice. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Liu Yan began practicing Falun Gong in 1994. Before her most recent arrest, she and her family had already been detained and imprisoned for their beliefs. In 1999, the authorities detained Liu along with her daughter, who was then just 2 years old, for refusing to give up her belief in Falun Gong.

In 2012, Liu’s husband was arrested and sentenced to four years in a labour camp for refusing to give up his practise of Falun Gong; in 2015, Liu was again detained and sentenced to three years forced labour.

“My family is but one of the tens of thousands of families in China persecuted for their belief in Falun Gong,” Liu Mingyuan said at the rally, calling on Trudeau and other world leaders attending the summit for help to end the CCP’s human rights abuses and release detained Falun Gong adherents.

Voices of Support

A number of prominent figures attended the rally to show their support for Falun Gong, including former Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon, former Conservative Senator Consiglio Di Nino, president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada Michael Stainton, and vice president of the Federation for a Democratic China Sheng Xue.

Epoch Times Photo
Former Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon speaks to Falun Gong adherents at a rally at Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Lizon, who was born in then USSR-controlled Poland, said that much like the Europeans eventually won their freedom, the same freedoms will come to the victims of the CCP in China. He urged Prime Minister Trudeau to hasten that process by applying pressure on the Chinese government.

“We have to keep reminding governments, like the Chinese government of today and other oppressive governments, that they should treat people with respect and give them rights they deserve,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Former Conservative Senator Consiglio Di Nino voiced support for Falun Gong adherents, while speaking at a rally at Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Di Nino noted the Chinese regime has never allowed western media to investigate and verify its official statements regarding human rights abuses in China, including against the Falun Gong, Uyghur Muslims, and other persecuted groups in China.

“The Chinese Communist Party cannot be trusted,” he said.

“We’re here once again to remind not just the Chinese Communist Party, but the people in Toronto and the world, that we will never cease until democracy and freedoms are all over the world, and we will continue to fight.”

Epoch Times Photo
President of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, Michael Stainton, speaks at the rally outside Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Stainton said Falun Gong practitioners in China are undergoing persecution similar to that of the Christians in the Roman Empire, but through persistence, “justice, democracy, and freedom will ultimately triumph.”

Epoch Times Photo
Sheng Xue, vice president of the Federation for a Democratic China, speaking at a rally outside Toronto City Hall on Dec. 7, 2021. She encouraged Falun Gong adherents to persist in the fight against the CCP’s persecution. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Shen Xue also applauded the Falun Gong practitioners’ resilience.

“It is through persistence that there will be hope, rather than persist so that there might be hope,” she said. “Today, most in Mainland China are still being deceived [by the CCP], but Falun Gong practitioners are the candles shining in the dark.”

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.