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Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour at a protest at the Embassy of China
St Patrick Street, Ottawa
August 07, 2008

Many of the journalists visiting Beijing have already reported to their national audiences that the host government has failed to fulfill commitments made when it won the Games in 2001. Independent media have made it clear that the Hu-Wen government is violating both the Olympic Charter and the core values of the modern Olympic movement.

Numerous world leaders will not attend the opening ceremony. Those now in Beijing should insist that the host honour its commitments. They should ask for the release of imprisoned Chinese journalists, the remaining Tiananmen prisoners, those jailed for peaceful Olympics criticism and for an end to the persecution of the Falun Gong community. The IOC should speak out too. Corporate sponsors must find a more effective way to communicate customers' concerns.

Foreign journalists now know that human rights across China--already among the most systematically violated-have deteriorated further over the past year. Human rights leaders have been jailed, lawyers-such as Gao Zhisheng-taking sensitive cases are threatened and attacked, law-abiding residents are forced to leave Beijing, and journalists (domestic and foreign) harassed.

Among the violations of the Olympic Charter and core values of the Olympic movement, committed by the government of China even before the Games have opened, are these:

David Matas, the international human rights lawyer, and I last year concluded our independent investigation. We found to our deep and ongoing concern that since 2001 the government in China and its agencies have killed thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, without any form of prior trial, and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money, often to 'organ tourists' from wealthy nations. We amassed a substantial body of evidence and became convinced beyond any doubt that this crime against humanity has occurred and is still happening.

Neither of us is a Falun Gong practitioner, but our own experience with the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Falun Gong practitioners attempt to live their core principles of "truth, compassion and forbearance." They are persecuted in only one of the 80 or so countries in which they live.

Matas and I have interviewed a number of Falun Gong practitioners sent to forced labour camps since 1999, who managed later to leave both the camps and China itself. They told us of working in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and little food and many sleeping in the same room. They made export products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations for multinational companies. The labour camps, operating across China since the 1950s, are outside the legal system and allow Party members to send anyone to them for up to four years with neither hearing nor appeal. All that is needed is to get an obedient police officer to sign an order of committal. The camps are remarkably similar to one's in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany.

These deaths would not be occurring if the Chinese people enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic importance of each one of them. Human lives across the country appear to have no more value to the Party than does health care for disfavoured hundreds of millions of citizens, or the well-being of Buddhist monks in Tibet. In my judgement, it is the toxic combination of totalitarian governance and 'anything is permitted' economics that allows this form of governance to persist.

You have just heard from other speakers about a wide range of other victims within and outside China. Let me only stress therefore some violations of the core values of the Olympic Charter and movement by the host government:

  • financial and political support for governments that commit gross human rights violations, including those of Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma,
  • refusing to grant Games visas to individuals because of political views, beliefs, writings, association, religion and ethnicity;
  • limiting the freedom of speech, media, movement, association, and assembly of its citizens and visitors, including political dissidents, protesters, petitioners, the disabled, religious activists, minorities, the homeless, and other persons it considers undesirable;
  • harassing HIV/AIDS activists by government officials, including detention and threats against HIV/AIDS and hepatitis advocates and closing conferences and meetings of Chinese and foreign HIV/AIDS experts;
  • exposing workers across China to exploitative and unsafe working conditions--in short the externalities of low prices for "made in China" goods are paid by workers, their families and the natural environment.

All of these instances of totalitarian governance must cease immediately if these Games are to be successful. The party-state has manipulated the Games in an attempt to legitimize one-party government at home and abroad since virtually the day the IOC awarded them to China.

What the Chinese people have accomplished with extraordinary resilience deserves the entire world's respect. Unless the Hu-Wen government moves quickly in a host of areas, the Beijing Games will with good reason be compared mostly with those of 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.

Thank You.

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