The China Fantasy book by an American, James Mann, is helpful here because it challenges a number of three decades-old assumptions of U.S. politicians of both parties, Fortune 500 executives, sinologists and diplomats. He argues that it is time to stop overlooking the government of China's human rights abuses, the crushing of political dissent at home and support for pariah regimes abroad.
On the activities of the government of China abroad generally, Dunn notes that it undermines democratic values and human dignity wherever it can get a foot in any door. For example, it gave Robert Mugabe a honourary degree and economic help to his regime, which is one of the most brutal on earth. It also supplied him with helicopter gun ships. It is the principal backer of the military junta in Burma/Myanmar, where Aung San Suu Kyi continues under house arrest 16 years after she and her supporters won an open election. When Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov ordered a murderous crackdown on demonstrators in 2005, China's government supported him.
Dunn reminds readers that a continuing totalitarian China also bolsters Russia's currently diminished commitment to democracy. For example, during the 1991 coup attempt by the Soviet military and intelligence officials against Mikhail Gorbachev, China's government media gave positive and extensive coverage to the plotters, barely mentioning Boris Yeltsin or his democratic allies, and was left disappointed when the coup attempt failed.
In short, principled people everywhere should be working much smarter and harder to encourage the creation of a China that is democratic. Dunn correctly notes that every American president since Nixon has either given up on or ignored the issue of democracy in China. The same is certainly true of other leaders of democratic countries, including our own, although Prime Minister Harper said recently that our relationship with China will from now on be determined by both human values and commercial interests.
Government of China role in Sudan/Darfur
In Sudan, where many independent observers have concluded that the Bashir regime has been commiting crimes against humanity and genocide in its province of Darfur since mid-2003, not to mention similar methods used in South Sudan for many years, the Beijing party leaders remain his major diplomatic backers. There is little doubt that the government of China's recent sudden interest in stopping the killing, burning and raping, which continues against communities deemed 'African' in Darfur, is related to offsetting for public relations purposes the "Genocide Olympics" charge about which Darfur supporters like Mia Farrow continue to raise public awareness.
- Over the past decade, the government of China has provided the Bashir government with more than $US ten billion in commercial and capital investment, mostly for oil investments, with crude oil comprising virtually all of Sudan's exports and much of it going to China. Approximately seven percent of China's oil imports currently now come from Sudan.
- According to one source within Sudan, up to seventy percent of the Sudanese government's revenues from oil are spent on arms, a good deal of them coming from China. Nick Kristof of the New York Times has reported that the government of China has built four small arms factories in Sudan.
- In February of this year, President Hu of China, visiting Khartoum, offered to forgive $80 million of his host government's debt and promised another $13 million for infrastructure, including of all things a new presidential palace.
- The most valuable service Hu has provided to Bashir's government is using China's permanent veto at the UN Security Council to protect the Sudanese regime from any robust peacemaking initiatives while the slaughter in Darfur continued. Only following Mia Farrow's op-ed piece in March, 2007, which accused the government of China of assisting in genocide, did China's UN representative join in the recent unanimous Security Council vote to send 26,000 civilian police and soldiers to Darfur.
- The problems already evident with this latest in a long series of ineffective Security Council initiatives on Darfur include:
Ø Will a good faith peace process begin for Darfur and continue in South Sudan where there are good indications that the peace agreement has recently broken down in part because the Bashir government refuses to withdraw its army from the South as required by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)?
Ø Will Chinese, Russian and other arms exports to Khartoum continue?
Ø Will Beijing pressure Bashir to honour his previous ceasefire agreements and get him to disarm the janjaweed militias, which have caused so much human suffering, murder and destruction?
Ø Will Hu help UN Secretary General Ban to persuade Khartoum to stop bombing civilian targets in Darfur?
Ø Will the Sudanese government permit humanitarian agencies badly needed unfettered access to all regions of Darfur?
- The specifics of UN SC resolution 1769 passed at the end of July demonstrate how well Beijing continues to protect Khartoum:
Ø The hybrid UN/African Union force will have no authority to seize weapons from belligerents, thus probably making it impossible to control the janjaweed and other murdering militias,
Ø There is no provision for sanctioning the government in Khartoum in the highly-probable event that it refuses to comply,
Ø The watered down command-and-control provisions will inevitably create problems between the African Union commander on the ground in Darfur and the UN Department of Peacekeeping in New York,
Ø Nothing is specified about containing the violence that has spread into Chad, where China is looking for oil, and the Central African Republic,
Ø Not a word is said about halting aerial assaults by Khartoum's helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers,
Ø Tragically, the deployment of the peacekeepers is still to be very slow, with December 31, 2007 being the deadline for the transfer of authority from the AU to the AU/UN hybrid, although this is merely symbolic and unlikely in practice to save civilian lives in the meantime or quite probably for a considerable period thereafter, and
Ø The inability of the AU to solicit enough trained troops and civilian police for the hybrid force remains unaddressed. The AU Commission chair Alpha Konare this week indicated after a meeting with president Bashir that he wants only Africans to be deployed and that they must be under African command.
In my view, shaming the government of China over its partnership roles in Sudan offers the best hope to save civilian lives in Darfur. How to proceed? Let me adapt here some earlier language of Prof. Eric Reeves, who follows events in Sudan probably as closely as anyone outside Sudan, to Canada:
The key task is to transfer knowledge to those presently unaware of China's role in Sudan generally and Darfur specifically.
What happens, for example, if students and others demonstrate in front of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa or the consulate in Montreal, declaring with banners, placards, and T-shirts that China must be held accountable for its complicity in the Darfur genocide? What happens if such demonstrations are continuous, and grow, and take place outside China's embassies in other countries? What happens if everywhere Chinese diplomats, politicians and business people travel they are confronted by those who insist on making it an occasion for highlighting China's destructive role in Darfur?
To succeed, the campaign must be creative and focused. It must take advantage of every means offered by electronic communications. The government of China must be forced to see that there is a stark choice before it: either it uses its leverage effectively with Khartoum to improve and speed up the UN/AU deployment discussed above or it will be the target of the most powerful international shaming campaign in history.
The general lack of effective advocacy initiatives has not been lost on Khartoum's génocidaires. Despite the enormous and consequential successes of the American-led divestment campaign, pressure must be ratcheted up even higher. Other European companies should follow the lead of Germany's Siemens and Switzerland's ABB Ltd: both have suspended operations in Sudan. Such ongoing loss of European commercial and capital investment certainly has the full attention of the Bashir regime.
The task is daunting but fully achieveable, given the moral passion and creative energies of the Darfur advocacy communities. All success to the campaigns!
Beijing Olympic Games
Turning to the Beijing Olympic Games now, I've been asked to add a word about what was happening in Athens recently, where some of us were calling for a shunning of the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the launch of the Global Human Rights Torch Relay. The relay will travel to about 100 cities during the next twelve months on five continents, urging the government of China to stop the systematic human rights abuses to Falun Gong practitioners, human rights lawyers ( e.g. Gao Zhisheng) and to provide religious freedom for all citizens as stated in the Constitution of China.. You're all welcome to join/support the 'Run for Human Dignity!"
Any national government whose medical professionals are executing without any species of prior judicial proceeding members of an officially disapproved spiritual community, as has been occurring for more than half a decade across China to numerous Falun Gong practitioners, is self-evidently unsuited to host the Olympic Games in its capital city.
If agents of the same government are selling the vital organs-livers, kidneys etc-of such prisoners of conscience for high prices and often to organ tourists, the case for a games boycott or shunning by governments, spectators, prospective event sponsors and athletes becomes even more compelling under the Olympic Charter and a host of United Nations instruments dealing with dignity for all people.
I hasten to stress here that the Falun Gong community present in approximately seventy countries is not calling for a boycott or shunning of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The boycott effort is coming from others of us who are deeply worried about the worsening state of human rights in China generally.
Numerous kinds of Proof
The government of China has continuously denied that it is engaged in organ seizure activities, which David Matas has termed "a new form of evil on this planet". It has, however, not responded to the 33 kinds of evidence Matas and I have gathered in various parts of the world in our revised report available in 17 languages at organharvestinvestigation.net . It was not any of the 33 in isolation but the combination of them that led us to the chilling conclusion we reached.
Among the sources of proof and disproof we examined:
The waiting times for organ transplants in China are astonishingly short, days and weeks, contrasted with months and years in the rest of the world. Hospital websites in China boast short waits for all organs for those who can pay large sums.
Corruption is a major and continuing problem in China, large profits being made from transplants and the general lack of control. The prices charged foreigners vary from US$ 30,000 for corneas to 180,000 for liver/kidney combinations.
President Jiang Zemin, then leader of the government in China, decided in the summer of 1999 that the then estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners in the country posed a threat to his government. He declared a brutal war, which involved imprisonment, systematic torture and forced labour for thousands of practitioners. The government of China media demonization and dehumanization of Falun Gong practitioners across the country since mid-1999 appears to have exceeded what was directed at persons convicted of capital offences.
The government of China gave its military-the PLA-the authority to raise money privately. It is now heavily involved in organ transplants but operates outside the rules of the civilian health system. Transplants are performed in military hospitals and in civilian ones by military personnel.
Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested in huge numbers since mid-1999 and held without trial until they renounce their beliefs. Our report names more than three thousand Falun Gong practitioners who died as a result of torture; if a government is willing to murder large numbers of them through torture, it's easy to accept that it will do the same crime against humanity through organ seizures.
The usual sources of organs for transplants in China-executed convicted prisoners, donors and brain dead persons-come nowhere near in numbers to explaining the rapidly rising number of transplants across the country since the persecution began and are the only other explanation for where the 'donors' come from.
In researching our report, Matas and I had persons calling hospitals and detention centres throughout China posing as family members of persons who needed organ transplants. In a wide variety of locations, those who were called asserted that Falun Gong practitioners (reputedly healthy because of their exercise regime) were the source of the organs. We have recordings and telephone bills for these calls.
We also interviewed the ex-wife of a surgeon from Sujiatun, who had said her husband personally removed the corneas from approximately 2000 anaesthetized Falun Gong prisoners Sujiatun hospital in Shenyang city in northeast China during the two year period before October, 2003. Her testimony was credible to us.
There have been two investigations independent from our own which have addressed the same questions we have addressed whether there is organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China one by Dr. Kirk Allison of the University of Minnesota, another by a European Parliament Vice- President, Edward McMillan-Scott. Both have come to the same conclusion we did. These independent investigations corroborate our conclusions.
The hardship a Games boycott would create for the affected athletes is enormous. The consequences for humanity, however, of having Olympic Games go ahead in the capital of a country where innocent Chinese citizens continue to be murdered for their vital organs are even greater. If the killing seizes across China, this particular call (my own) for a shunning or boycott will also cease.
Global Human Rights Torch Relay
The first flame was lit at the ceremony in Athens, Greece on August 9th. As mentioned, the "Run for Human Dignity" will pass through more than 35 countries and 100 cities, received by rallies and concerts along the way. The torch relay will be a beacon of hope bringing improvement in human rights and awareness that the Olympic Games and crimes against humanity cannot co-exist.
The relay was initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG). Key ambassadors and supporters for the HRTR are
- Baroness Caroline Cox of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom
- Senator Andrew Bartlett of the Australian Democrats
- US Congressmen Hon. Dana Rohrabacher and Hon. Thaddeus McCotter
- Taiwanese Legislator Lai Ching-Te
- Rabbi Dr.Reuven Bulka of Ottawa
- Award-winning actor Michael Riley
- Gemini award winner Michael Mahonen
- President of Agir pour les droits de l'Homme Marie-Françoise Lamperti, Paris
- Olympic Silver Medalist Xiaomin Huang
- Winter Olympic Medalist Martins Rubenis
The Global Human Rights Torch Relay is, I undersatnd, supported by the Australian Darfur Network, Canadian Students for Darfur , Network for Human Right in China (Denmark), International Society for Human Rights (Germany), Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, Federation of Vietnamese Communities in Australia.
We welcome all individuals and organizations that are concerned about human rights abuses in China or related to the Chinese regime to join the Global Human Rights Torch Relay. All relay activities will be jointly organized by local human rights groups and individuals, and CIPFG delegations. For additional information or to register for the torch relay, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.