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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Address by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Human Rights Torch Relay

February 18, 2008

David Matas and I concluded to our horror following our independent investigation last year that since the end of 2000 the government of China and its agencies have killed thousands of Falun Gong practitioners without any form of prior trial. It then sold their vital organs for large sums of money, often to 'organ tourists' from wealthy countries .

Matas and I are not Falun Gong practitioners, but my experience with Falun Gong in forty or so national capitals we have now visited, seeking to bring these crimes against humanity to a halt has been overwhelmingly positive. Falun Gong practitioners really do attempt to live their core principles of "truth, compassion and tolerance", which are shared by all of the world's spiritual communities.

The propaganda phase of the persecution, begun in mid-1999 against a then estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners across China, demonized, vilified and dehumanized them in Party-controlled media. Many Chinese were tragically thus persuaded to think of the community as even somehow less than human. The phenomenon recalls a similar media campaign unleashed by another party-state in Rwanda against its minority Tutsi community prior to the genocide there between April and June, 1994.

There has been no independently reported instance of a Falun Gong practitioner using force to respond to police attacks since July, 1999. The former UN Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, concluded following his own visit to China more than a year ago that two thirds of the persons being tortured across the country were Falun Gong practitioners.

Why is it that in only one of the eighty or so countries where Falun Gong practitioners now live are they persecuted mercilessly? Their growing popularity among the Chinese people generally during the 1990s was clearly one major reason, but another no doubt was that the values of those in power in Beijing were and are at the opposite end of the ethical spectrum.

Few who have read our revised report remain unconvinced because the evidence is simply overwhelming. Some in various national governments, who are no doubt privately persuaded, choose to profess otherwise to their publics because to admit that such crimes against humanity are continuing in China would presumably require adopting different bilateral policies with Beijing, including perhaps in respect of its Games.

None of these deaths would be occurring if the Chinese people as a whole enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic worth and dignity of each one of them. Human lives generally across China appear to have no more value to the party-state there than does the natural environment, work safety, health care and social programs for all Chinese, or Buddhist monks in Tibet and Burma. In my judgement, it is the toxic combination of totalitarian governance and 'anything is permitted' capitalism that allows this new form of evil in the world to persist.

Growing Shadows over Olympic Games

The peoples of the world look forward to every Olympiad because they feature the best athletic talent from our entire family of nations. Unfortunately, the Olympic Games and Para-Olympics this year face increasing opposition because the host national government remains one of the world's most gross and systematic violators of human dignity.

China was awarded the Games in 2001 by the International Olympic Committee only after it pledged to respect the Olympic Charter and to improve its human rights record. Many independent organizations have since observed that an already appalling record is instead worsening as the Beijing Games approach.

Why, for example, do Falun Gong practitioners from across China face continuing persecution after eight long years? What principle of the modern Olympic charter, especially after the experience in Hitler's Berlin at the 1936 Olympics, allows a host government to bar Falun Gong or any spiritual community's members from competing in, or even watching, events in Beijing? What about similarly barred Tibetans, Buddhists, Uighurs, human rights advocates, independent journalists, other spiritual communities and democracy activists?

The government of China's outrageous treatment of those communities led to understandable calls for a boycott.  Both the Olympic Games and human rights movements worldwide share a common goal: the unity, dignity and equality among the entire human family.  When this precept is violated systematically by the host government of a particular Olympiad, as is the case this year, the modern Olympic movement as a whole is brought into question.

The Olympic Charter assigns to the International Olympic Committee the oversight role for compliance with the regulations under the Olympic Charter. The IOC should demand from the organizers of the 2008 Olympic Games that they conform to the Charter and refrain from discrimination against any groups or individuals during their Games.

How could a regime which is doing such terrible things in Sudan/Drfur, Burma, Tibet, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in the world be allowed to host an Olympiad?

How could a regime which is killing its own people for their vital organs be now inviting the world to Beijing this summer?

Mia Farrow, Steven Spielberg and many others have now taken a stand. Should not all of us too?

You will next hear from a remarkable human being, Jennifer Zeng, who was tortured mercilessly not far from the new main Olympic venue in Beijing. How could such a regime pretend that it cares about human dignity and the Olympic spirit?

Thank you.

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