Falun Gong makes noise - Protestors stand in solidarity outside the Chinese Consulate in Toronto (photo: Dan Epstein)
Over 500 demonstrators blocked the right lanes of St. George, Bloor, and Yonge streets on Sunday to protest the Chinese Communist party’s treatment of Falun Gong practitioners. Organized by the Global Human Rights Torch Relay, an international campaign created to draw attention to China’s poor human rights record, the rally aimed to push the Chinese regime to improve its human rights policies before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The HRTR lit its flame in Athens on 9 Aug. 2007, the start of the one-year countdown of the 2008 summer Olympics. In 1999, the Communist party’s leader, Jiang Zemin, banned Falun Gong in China. Since then, severe persecution of Falun Gong practicioners has raised international alarm and a push for human rights. Protest organizers claimed that 66 per cent of torture victims in China are followers of the Falun Gong movement.
In 2000, Amnesty International released a statement the regime’s campaign bears “an eerie resemblance to the horrifi c attacks against the Jewish people in Nazi propaganda.” The Human Rights Walk-a-Thon began after a press conference at the Toronto Chinese Consulate on St. George St. set off, leading marchers, cheering “Free free Falun Gong!,” all the way to Dundas Square, where an open concert was performed until evening, at the time when an open screen movie, Good and Evil, was shown.
Several guests also spoke out against the crimes committed against the Falun Gong—including the Honourable Consulate General of Estonia for Toronto, Laas Leivat.
“We thought that exposing human rights violations in the Soviet Union eastern bloc was a difficult job. It was much much easier to do that than this today,” said Leivat of the battle against China’s regime, and making reference to his incomparable involvement in the Soviet Union.
Included among other speakers was Dr. Gerry Koffman, a Toronto family physician, and the Canadian coordinator of Doctors against Forced Organ Harvesting. Koffman spoke about the Chinese government’s collecting organs from executed Falun Gong practitioners, often selling them to desperate transplant seekers.
In 2006, a Canadian MP report confirmed that Chinese state-run websites were advertising organs for sale for up to $160,000. International observers allege that China’s state-run hospitals are killing practitioners for their organs.
The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falon Gung was also brought up, which sent letters to China’s communist leaders, asking them to stop the execution of Falun Gong practitioners, and to allow the CIPFG to enter China and investigate the persecutions.