Peter Westmore delivered the following speech at a rally held in Melbourne’s City Square on July 20.
China is a country whose civilization goes back thousands of years. I have had occasion to visit China briefly, and have found people in China to be polite, friendly, hard-working, and extremely interested in what is happening in other parts of the world. The same can be said of the many Chinese people who have come to live in Australia. It is a delight to me that you have come to live here, to enrich our country by your gifts, and by your presence here.
Yet the government of the People’s Republic of China continues to treat the people of China badly, persecuting those who have had the courage to call for freedom of speech, freedom of belief, and respect for human rights. Western NGOs, such as Human Rights without Frontiers and Human Rights Watch, have consistently documented the abuse of human rights in China.
The government in China has conducted not one election over the past 60 years, because that government is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese Communist Party, despite claiming a membership of tens of millions, is itself not a democratic organization. It is a self-perpetuating oligarchy, run from the top, which captured the government of the largest country in the world in 1949, and has not let go of power.
There have been no elections for leadership of the Communist Party, despite the fact that the recent Party Congress decided to replace the retiring Party leader, Hu Jintao, with a new leader, Xi Jinping.
The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is one part of this policy of suppression. Comparatively little has been said about this in the West. You may ask why.
In my view, our own government, as exemplified by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, fears offending China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner. The media silence can be attributed in part to the media’s preoccupation with local issues. Events taking place in distant countries, such as China, North Korea, and Vietnam, are just too far away for them to be interested.
But I think that Australian media organizations also want to maintain and expand their presence in China. They know that persistent criticism of the Chinese regime’s human rights record will result in Beijing’s imposing restrictions on them, just as Beijing restricts the operations of the Internet, restricts bloggers, and imprisons journalists who have criticized its human rights record.
Countries which voluntarily sign international treaties to respect human rights are agreeing to be held accountable by the international community, and to have their conduct judged against international standards.
The University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Project lists the international human rights instruments which China has signed and ratified. They include:
- the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified in 1988;
- the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, ratified in 1983;
- the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, acceded to in 1981; and
- the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, ratified in 1980.
In all these areas, the Chinese regime’s human rights record is appalling, and is rightly subject to international scrutiny. It is no longer merely an “internal affair” of China’s.
The evidence of China’s persecution of Falun Gong, a peaceful meditational practice based on the principles of Truth, Forbearance and Compassion, is well established.
Equally, it is clear that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to the most appalling treatment, including indefinite detention without trial, being sent to forced labor camps, and most sensationally of all, execution—not for crimes they are alleged to have committed—but simply to be cannibalized for their organs, such as kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, and corneas.
The appalling practice of human organ-harvesting has been documented by two Canadian human rights lawyers, David Kilgour and David Matas, in their ground-breaking reports, available on the Internet and published in the book Bloody Harvest.
It is interesting that the Chinese regime has responded to these reports by introducing new laws which supposedly protect the rights of organ donors. But until there is a full accounting for the thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have simply disappeared in China, and prosecution of those responsible, the new laws are not worth the paper they are written on.
Worse still, they simply disguise the continued arrest, imprisonment, and killing of Falun Gong practitioners, which continue to the present day.
For those of us who are not culturally or ethnically Chinese, we nonetheless feel an obligation to stand alongside our Chinese brothers and sisters, and demand an end to this terrible persecution.
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