‘Prime Culpability’: Petition Calls on Canada to Sanction Chinese Human Rights Violators

‘Prime Culpability’: Petition Calls on Canada to Sanction Chinese Human Rights Violators
Conservative MP James Bezan speaks during question period in the House of Commons in a file photo. Bezan is urging the federal government to apply Canada's Sergei Magnitsky Law to sanction 14 Chinese human rights violators.(The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Justina Wheale
A petition sponsored by Conservative MP James Bezan is urging the government to apply Canada’s Sergei Magnitsky Law to sanction 14 Chinese human rights violators.
The online petition names specific Chinese officials who “demonstrate prime culpability” in the human rights abuses committed against Falun Gong adherents in China.

“For over 21 years, China’s corrupt communist party officials have been orchestrating the torture and killing of large numbers of people who practise Falun Gong, especially for their vital organs for the profitable transplant industry in China on a massive scale,” the petition says.

It calls on the federal government to “deploy all legal sanctions, including the freezing of assets and the barring of entry to Canada, against, but not limited to these perpetrating corrupt officials.”

The petition also notes the current detainment in China of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison, as well as another eight Falun Gong practitioners with Canadian ties who are currently imprisoned for their belief, serving sentences of up to 16 years.

Falun Gong adherents gather in front of the Chinese Consulate in Calgary to appeal for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been detained in China since Feb. 19, 2017, for her faith in Falun Gong. (The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong adherents gather in front of the Chinese Consulate in Calgary to appeal for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been detained in China since Feb. 19, 2017, for her faith in Falun Gong. (The Epoch Times)
The Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) has been calling on Ottawa to use the Magnitsky Act to sanction Chinese officials since December 2018, when they submitted a list of the same 14 Chinese officials’ names to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, along with nearly 300 pages of supporting documents. The documents detail evidence of the crimes and human rights violations committed by these officials in the wide-ranging persecution campaign launched against Falun Gong in 1999.

The same list of perpetrators was resubmitted to Trudeau on July 16 and was referred to Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, FDAC said.

“The Communist Party of China’s ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa and other peaceful groups is a detriment to the world. The world must act and hold the Chinese regime to account for its extensive human rights violations against its own people,” Bezan said regarding the submission in a July 15 press release.

“Canada must use this legislation to sanction the communist government officials who are committing the gross human rights violations of imprisonment, organ harvesting, and murder of Falun Dafa members.”

The new e-petition, which closes on Sept. 26, has reached the minimum number of signatures to be presented in Parliament by the sponsor MP. The relevant government body, Global Affairs, must respond to it within 45 days after it is presented.

Canada passed its Magnitsky Act in 2017. The act, many versions of which have been adopted in different countries, is the only legislation that gives the government the ability to sanction foreign individuals responsible for gross human rights violations. Ottawa has applied it to Iran, Lebanon, Venezuela, Russia, and other countries, but has not used it against China to date.

Manfred Nowak, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, reported in 2007 that Falun Gong adherents accounted for 66 percent of “victims of alleged torture while in government custody.”

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline consisting of meditative exercises and moral teachings. In the 1990s, an estimated 70-100 million people across China had taken up the traditional practice. After the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its brutal persecution campaign in 1999, tens of thousands were rounded up and detained in prisons, labour camps, brainwashing centres, and psychiatric wards, where many were abused and tortured to force them to quit the practice. Adherents continue to be detained and persecuted in these facilities today, according to rights groups.

The 14 Chinese officials listed in the e-petition include former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, the main perpetrator and architect of the persecution, who sought to eradicate Falun Gong because of its popularity and its refusal to surrender to Party control. Jiang planned and executed the elaborate campaign against Falun Gong in concert and collusion with other members of the Party.

Two of the 14 officials listed in the petition are medical doctors who spearheaded the practice of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents, Uighur Muslims, and other persecuted groups in China.

Last year, an independent tribunal in England found that the CCP continues to kill Falun Gong adherents and sell their organs for profit. Among its conclusions, the tribunal found that “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main—source of organ supply.”

Conservative senators Thanh Hai Ngo and Leo Housakos, along with former Liberal cabinet minister David Kilgour and prominent rights lawyer David Matas sent a letter to Trudeau in July urging the government to apply Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese officials for forced organ harvesting and other human rights atrocities in China.

“How long are we going to sit back and do nothing while China continues to violate human rights with impunity? It’s track record of criminality is extensive,” Ngo said in a press release.

“A zero-tolerance policy for rogue behaviour and criminality is in order. The time has come for Canada to reclaim its leadership as a defender of human rights on the world stage by imposing Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials.”

Magnitsky legislation is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who uncovered the largest tax fraud in his country’s history and subsequently died as a result of torture in 2009 while detained in Moscow.