Sep 3, 2016

Falun Gong followers urge Canada to censure China

September 2, 2016 

 Hamilton Spectator

By Kelly Noseworthy


Guda Zheng feared for his life every minute of every day for four years.

Born in China, Zheng, 52, says he was persecuted in 2011 for being a Falun Gong practitioner.

That included six months in a labour camp.

Zheng recalled being forced to work 12 hours a day making Christmas decorations and trees. His fingers bled but he was not given medical attention, he said.

After that, he spent three-and-a-half years under house arrest, Zheng said.

In February, he escaped and now lives in Toronto.

"I am very happy to be here," Zheng said through a translator during a stop in Hamilton Friday to protest the Chinese government's persecution. "I am free to practise Falun Gong. People in Canada are so accepting and very nice."

Zheng joined several others outside City Hall to urge Canada to condemn the Chinese government's alleged persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

The rally was one stop in an "SOS Car Tour" across Canada to raise awareness about organ harvesting in China.

The national campaign is pleading Canadians for support by asking each person to contact their local government representatives as well as the Prime Minister's Office.

"We need to stand up and support the victims no matter where they are in the world," said Paula Liu, a Falun Gong practitioner and Ontario College of Art and Design student in Toronto.

"We are visiting over 300 cities to raise awareness about human rights abuse and crimes against humanity."

Falun Gong is the practice of meditation based on ancient Chinese traditions of health and self-improvement.

The teachings centre on "truthfulness, compassion and tolerance" according to its members who believe they are targeted for keeping their bodies healthy and fit.

Participants are visiting local political officials, circulating petitions and want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send Chinese leaders a strong message of concern over the government's human rights practices while he's in Beijing discussing trade relations.

"It's why we're doing this and hoping people will write to him," said Liu. "We hope he will address the Falun Gong issue as well as the harvesting issue while visiting China."

A similar gathering took place at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Amnesty International, a member of the Canadian Coalition for Human Rights was there to participate with an "open letter" addressing the issue.

"Due to the lack of transparency and access to accurate data in China," Amnesty International wrote in an email to The Spectator, the human rights organization is "not in a position to quantify the full scope of many human rights violations in China, including the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners."

A 2007 report by Canadian Human Rights lawyer David Matas and David Kilgour, former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific, confirmed the allegations of killing Falun Gong practitioners and trafficking their organs.

A June 2016 report, which included research from investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, suggests upwards of 1.5 million people may have been killed since 2000.

On its website, the Chinese consulate in Toronto rejects allegations made by Falun Gong members, accusing the community of "deceiving people by concocting and spreading superstitious fallacies…"

It also says "Falun Gong has stage-managed numerous extreme tragedies in flagrant violation of Chinese laws and human rights."

Attempts to reach consular officials weren't successful Friday.

The SOS Car Tour has made stops in cities across the country, including visits in British Columbia, Manitoba and the Maritimes, and is scheduled to wrap up in Quebec at the end of September.


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