Canada reportedly has more citizens of origin in the former Soviet bloc as a percentage of our population than any other NATO member country. The various themes of the papers given in summary form at this conference are thus of particular interest to many Canadians too.
I have enormous admiration for all of you across Romania who risked your lives to stand up to the various armed forces of Ceausescu's regime during December, 1989. What cruel and inhuman violence was meted out by his supporters even in the final days.
I still recall being with hundreds of Romanian-Canadians and others outside the Romanian embassy in Ottawa the night the regime fell. As many of us as could get into the building were suddenly invited in; on on earlier nights, we were clearly unwelcome.
Role of civil society in illuminating past
Your civil society organizations should teach continuously about your 45-year experience with totalitarianism. For example, one of many things I've learned as a visitor is that as late as 1944 the Romanian Communist party had only about 1000 members, which no doubt explains in part why the Russian soldiers then in your country required so much violence to impose their model of totalitarianism. Second, as Stefan Caltia, painter and professor at the University of Arts in Bucharest observes, "Communism in Romania was not a doctrine, it was a system by which a group sought to enslave everyone else in the country".
Professor Caltia also explained to some of us what happened to the farming village in which he lived. Before collectivization of agriculture in the 1950s, residents farmed all the land they owned with pride, vigour and care. When they were forced into collectives in the 1950s, only about half the land was cultivated; he as a teacher was even obliged to go door-to-door at about 9am each day to try to wake villagers up to go to work. When the land was re-privatized in the 1990s, many ties with the land had unfortunately been broken and others had left the community, so even less land is used productively today. The experience in his village was evidently repeated generally throughout rural Romania.
And this is just one example of how the regime sought to deprive individuals of their identities and to distort the natural course of so many lives. Your symposium offered many more examples of this kind, so the experiences of the Romanian anti-Communist resistance can be compared with those in other countries.
Some of us visited the Fagaras Fortress- a historical monument of the 14th century- that functioned as a prison mainly for officials arrested after 1948, for those who formed the local resistance in the nearby mountains, and for other dissidents who opposed the imposition of Communist control over the region.
I was impressed by the pride that your foundation, the 'Negru Voda' Foundation, your Academy and your Institute of Communist Crimes Investigation have in all anti-Communist resistance in this special part of the country- Fagaras Land- and by the fact that you want to keep the memories alive by setting up a Museum of the Communist Repression.
Restored and other democracies can learn much from today's China as a case study of what might still be occurring as well in eastern Europe and elsewhere in the absence of the events of 1989. The important book, Mao-The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang (author of Wild Swans) and Jon Halliday, for example, quotes Mao saying about his vital role in installing the Kymer Rouge regime in Cambodia in 1975:
"Pol Pot, its leader, under whom up to one quarter of the Cambodian people perished in the space of a few years, was a soul-mate of Mao's. Immediately after Pol Pot took power, Mao congratulated him face to face on his slave-labor-camp state: 'You have scored a splendid victory. Just a single blow and no more classes.' What Mao meant was that everyone had become a slave."
Mao and Tibet
The book makes clear that the leader whose portrait and corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in Beijing was one of the cruellest despots in all of recorded history. The authors conclude sadly that Mao was "responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader."
Given your own experience with an invading army, it seems worthwhile to illustrate Mao's own methods with neighbours from Chapter 42 of the book, which deals with how he treated Tibet. Briefly, his food seizures from Tibetans in the late 1950s were so severe that they understandably rebelled. This pleased him because, as he wrote, "…this makes it possible to solve our own problems through war." He then allowed the then very young Dalai Lama (who became an honorary citizen of Canada last year) to escape to India in order to avoid inflaming world opinion and began his war of terror against Tibetans.
The Panchen Lama, the second-ranking spiritual of Tibetans, who initially welcomed Mao's soldiers into Tibet, wrote in 1962 that his people were herded into canteens, where they were fed "weeds, even inedible tree bark, leaves, grass, roots and seeds." Years later, he revealed that 15-20 percent of all Tibetans-perhaps half the adult males-were imprisoned, where they were "essentially worked to death."
The misery inflicted on Tibetans differed only in degree from what Mao did to many of his fellow citizens across China. For example, more than 35 million Chinese died needlessly of starvation during his bizarre "Great Leap Forward" in the late 1950s.
On the important subject of world peace, I might also note from the book that in 1960 at a meeting of Communist leaders from 51 countries in Bucharest Russia's refuted Mao's contention that war was necessary to bring about socialism: "Only madmen and maniacs can now call for another world war. " The Russian leader also told Mao's delegate at the meeting, Peng Zhen, "Since you love Stalin so much, why don't you take his corpse to Peking?" He also told his colleagues, "When I look at Mao, I see Stalin, a perfect copy."
The history since 1949 of Mao's party in China is written with continuous bloodshed, corruption and deception. Virtually everything its leaders do -- then, now or whenever -- is designed to extend their exclusive hold on the levers of government wihout holding an election. This is why they seek to perpetuate positive myths about Mao and to minimize the terrible things he did to his own people and foreigners alike: if the Chinese people knew the truth, his party would lose any remaining legitimacy to govern the country .
Chinese People Today
No doubt like all of you, I have the highest admiration for the people of China and their millennia of hard work, accumulated wisdom, success with agriculture, myriad inventions, international exploration, art, literature, philosophies and Confucian harmony earlier in governance. In spite of its rich history, China's totalitarian government, combined in recent years with "anything goes" capitalism, have created terrible conditions for most of both the people and the natural environment throughout the country. China is its people, not its unelected government.
In 1975, after more than a quarter century of absolute power, Mao admitted privately that China was the poorest nation on earth. Since 1978, Deng Xiao-ping, whom Mao twice purged from the party leadership, managed to reverse the disastrous economic policies. One consequence of Deng's 'anything goes' model of capitalism, however, was that the people of China are today exploited probably more than any other population on earth. They are also kept down by millions of officials, police and soldiers. As the Nobel prize laureate, Amartya Sen, puts it, economic growth that pays no attention to the welfare of its own people is nothing.
Consider this quote from The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party: "The CCP does not hold universal standards for human nature…It does not believe in God (and) does not respect physical nature. 'Battle with heaven, fight with the earth, struggle with humans-therein lies endless joy'-the party motto during the Cultural Revolution." So many good citizens of all ages were killed by Mao's Red Guards during the 'Cultural Revolution'; an entire generation was also denied formal education. The reason for the entire initiative by Mao, as now documented in the Jung Chang-Halliday book, was to create an atmosphere of terror across the country so that he could carry out a Stalin-like purge of his perceived enemies.
The pre-1949 culture in China respected loyalty and a host of other values. Confucianism (which Mao detested), Buddhism and Taoism encouraged stability. Taoism encouraged truthfulness; Buddhism, compassion; Confucianism, loyalty, acceptance and benevolence. Given that the Falun Gong's practices are based on similar principles, it is not surprising that its practitioners across China have been persecuted mercilessly now continuously since the summer of 1999. This has included virtually every known method of torture, from whips, electric shocks, burning with open flames or lit cigarettes, being hung on walls, sexual assaults, rapes and murders. The UN rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, reported last year that two-thirds of the torture victims in China are Falun Gong prisoners of conscience (they are persecuted because they do not want to relinquish the principles they believe in: Truth-Compassion-Forbearance).
Bloody Harvest Report
The Falun Gong was declared an 'enemy' of the party only after the government had actively promoted its healthy lifestyle and meditation for several years, Falun Gong practitioners continue to be in effect murdered by medical personnel across China for their vital organs. The independent revised report on this new crime against humanity by David Matas and me can be accessed in about 18 languages at organharvestinvestigation.net.
Our revised report of January with its appendices is 178 pages long in one edition, so I'll summarize here its major findings only briefly:
Since launching our independent investigation in May, 2006 at the request of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China, Matas and I have concluded to our horror that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country have "put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries."
Falun Gong practitioners practice a combination of five physical exercises and spiritual principles based on "truth, compassion and forbearance". The latter contain similar principles as Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. It grew in numbers from virtually nothing in 1992 to more than 70 million practitioners across China at the end of the nineties by one government of China estimate.
In the summer of 1999 for reasons which seem mostly rooted in totalitarian paranoia, the party unleashed a campaign of media vilification and persecution which continues to the present. The invented rationale was that Falun Gong was an "enemy of the state" and an "evil cult", although in reality its practitioners in fact are non-political and have none of the characteristics of a cult.
Falun Gong practitioners have since been arrested in huge numbers; they are imprisoned in 're-education camps' almost always without charge or trial and many have been tortured and forced to work long hours in manufacturing facilities until they renounce their beliefs. Thousands of named practitioners have died as result of torture. Only Falun Gong prisoners among the general prison population are regularly blood tested and physically for a terrible reason which is now evident--to assess their suitability as organ donors.
Virtually all organs transplanted in China come from executed prisoners, but this group comprises both convicted individuals and Falun Gong practitioners. The latter are rarely convicted of anything. Unlike convicts, they are in effect murdered by doctors and nurses with toxic inoculations and scalpels to provide organs for tissue compatible organ recipients, who pay large amounts of money for the organs (ranging from $30,000 US to $180,000 for a kidney-liver combination).
No Smoking Guns
The seizing of organs in China from Falun Gong practitioners is done in operating rooms. The victims are killed in the process and their bodies are cremated. The medical perpetrators of these acts are guilty of crimes against humanity and highly unlikely to confess. Fair-minded persons considering our evidence as a whole can, as we do, have 'gut level certainty', as one law professor referred to criminal convictions based largely on compelling circumstantial evidence, that these crimes have taken place and continue to occur. Smoking guns exist mostly on television.
Our terrible conclusion comes not from any one of the thirty three pieces of evidence we have now considered, but from the combination of all of them. All of the thirty three however, are verifiable and in most cases are incontestable. Five representative samples are these:
1- Falun Gong practitioners constitute a huge prison population which the government vilifies, dehumanizes, depersonalizes and marginalizes even more than prisoners condemned to death upon conviction for capital offences ( which number more than 60 offences, including tax fraud).
2-We had callers telephoning hospitals and other institutions across China, posing as family members of persons needing organ transplants; in a wide variety of locations the respondents said that Falun Gong prisoners were the source of the organs.
3-The ex-wife of a surgeon told us that he had personally removed the corneas from approximately two thousand Falun Gong practitioners in Shenyang city in northeast China during the two-year period before October, 2003 and we found her statement to be credible.
4-Waiting times for organ transplants in China are astonishingly short-a matter of days or weeks, strongly suggesting a bank of living "donors" available for organ tourists. Everywhere else in the world waiting times are measured in months and years. Hospital websites in China self-incriminate by boasting of very short waits for all organs on payment of large fees.
5-Transplant recipients told us that military personnel do operations in both military and civilian hospitals. The website of the Organ Transplant Centre of the Armed Police General Hospital Centre in Beijing boldly says: "Our Organ Transplant Center is our main department for making money." One organ recipient in Asia told us that he was brought fully seven kidneys by a military surgeon before the eighth was found to be compatible with his body tissue and anti-bodies. Eight human beings died before he got his usable kidney.
In summary, the evidence that these crimes have been occurring across China is simply overwhelming. The government of China has to date produced no effective response to our report.
By announcing on April 6th this year that as of May 1st there will be no more trade in human organs, the government of China unintentionally confirmed the grisly truth of the conclusion by many, including our report. Matas and I, of course, hope that this latest edict will stop the killing of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience both before and after the Beijing Olympic Games. Given the vast sums of money involved, the indications that the military operate outside the health system and the obvious linkage of this announcement to concern about the now indelibly termed "Genocide Olympics", we remain sceptical that much will change in a crime against humanity that has gone on across China now for eight years.
The government of China has a history in this area of announcing policies and laws which sound fine in principle to the international community but are then not enforced. This announcement will mean nothing if the practice of organ harvesting from non-consenting 'donors' for huge sums of money continues.
The Chinese Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu, speaking in Guangzhou in mid-November 2006, denounced the selling of organs of executed prisoners, saying, "Under-the-table business must be banned." Yet the practice had already been banned in law on July I, 2006 and by policy long before that, so his speech was an official acknowledgement that the previous bans were ineffective. We worry that this announcement of a change in the law is nothing more than a political cosmetic, a piece of propaganda with its eye fixed firmly on cleansing the party's terrible human rights reputation before the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the minds of prospective foreign visitors.
"Draw Lessons from Facts"
This brings me to The China Fantasy by an American, James Mann, which criticizes the common presumption that the CCP is bound to move towards democracy, political liberalization and respecting human rights. Mann thinks the elites in cities like Shanghai and Beijing might turn out to want to perpetuate authoritarian governance in China, contrary to the three decades-old assumptions of American politicians in both parties, business executives, sinologists and diplomats. His book argues that it is time to stop overlooking the party's human rights abuses, the crushing of political dissent at home and support for pariah regimes abroad.
Dunn asserts that if China becomes a democracy the chances of a military confrontation of any kind anywhere would disappear immediately. As well, the 1.3 billion residents of China deserve the right to choose their own government rather than continue with an unelected party "with a long, unsavoury, violence-prone history, a love of its own privileges and a weakness for corruption." There is also the role of the CCP abroad, which, Dunn notes, undermines democratic values continuously. It gave Robert Mugabe an honourary degree in China and economic help to his government, although his regime is one of the most brutal and corrupt anywhere on earth. It is the principal backer of the military junta in Burma, 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 shored him up. In Sudan, where reasonable people long ago concluded that the Bashir regime has been conducting crimes against humanity if not genocide in Darfur for years, the CCP is one of his major backers, especially at the UN Security Council. Recently China sent several hundred "engineers" to Sudan, but no-one has any doubt that this sudden interest in stopping the ongoing killing and raping is related only to the "Genocide Olympics" about which Darfur supporters like Mia Farrow continue to raise public awareness.
Dunn thinks the media hype surrounding the 2008 Olympic Games will dwarf all earlier ones. He asks pointedly if the "world's car manufacturers and beer companies (will) want to sponsor television coverage of the Olympics that dwells on the unpleasant side of China-the sweatshops, the poverty, the political prisoners, the corruption and the environmental disasters? Not likely." He queries if the Beijing games will follow the terrible precedent of the Berlin Olympics of 1936.
The presence of a huge international media corps in Beijing could help to spur political demonstrations by democracy activists, religious groups, including Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uighurs, aggrieved workers and farmers, but only if they can penetrate the security designed to keep them away from the television cameras. Dunn: "Would-be protesters will be kept out of Beijing (or if they live in the city, they may be thrown out of Beijing). Crowds will not be allowed to gather; if they do, they will dispersed before they can make it to any public space. The police will be especially rough on groups seeking access to Tiananmen Square, which has been off limits to protests since 1989."
The real test will come after the foreigners have left Beijing, says Dunn. How many of any changes in China's political system hinted at on the eve of the Games will be implemented? Will the democratic world successfully integrate China to our norms? Or will the business community in Canada and elsewhere have to continue to explain why they are kowtowing to a regime that rather recently ordered tanks to fire on unarmed citizens and which since 2000 has been killing Falun Gong prisoners of conscience without trial and selling their organs for cash to organ tourists? Is this corporate social responsibility to some CEOs?
Dunn correctly stresses that the real problem with the international business community is "Who's integrating whom?" How many families in Romania, other parts of Europe or Canada have lost their livelihoods as a result of this 'integration'? Take, for example, 800 Goodyear Tire employees near Montreal who saw their tire plant close a few months ago because someone thinks they can manufacture tires more cheaply in China? I noticed recently that a lot of tires made in China, among other consumer products, are now being recalled in some Western markets for safety reasons.
We democrats around the world must be neither complacent nor over confident. There are still about 45 dictatorships in the world, which do much harm to both human beings and the natural environment.
Look at what the government of China, for example, is doing to its own people, including independent journalists, human rights activists, democrats, religious communities, Uyghurs, Tibetans and many others. In respect of the large Falun Gong community, as mentioned, it is simply inconceivable that the government hosting the Olympic Games in one part of its capital city next year could be simultaneously killing some of its own people for profit in another district of the same city. This terrible commercial practice must stop now.
Whether in Romania, China or Canada, human dignity is ultimately indivisible across our shrunken world today.