Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Commemorating persecution in China

by David Matas
(Remarks prepared for delivery to a candlelight vigil, Legislative Buildings, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 19 July 2009)

Today we must remember all the victims of persecution in China
- the Uighurs and Tibetans who are senselessly killed solely for seeking to preserve their identity and culture,
- the democracy activists, human rights defenders and political dissidents who stand up for universal human rights values,
- the Christian evangelicals and members of house church congregations, repressed for holding a belief which the Chinese state does not control, and
- all those who protest the arbitrary power of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese state.

On this day, we should pay especial attention to the persecution of the practitioners of Falun Gong. The Communist Party of China decided ten years ago, on July 20, 1999, to have the Government of China ban the practice of Falun Gong. The Government announced the ban two days later.

Falun Gong is a set of exercises with a spiritual foundation based on Taoism and Buddhism. Since the banning, the practitioners of Falun Gong have been persecuted in China far worse than any other victim group.

• The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture reports that 66% of the victims of torture and ill‑treatment in China are Falun Gong practitioners. The next largest group is Uighurs at 11%. Every other victim group is single digits.

• The extremes of language the Chinese government uses against the Falun Gong are unparalleled, unmatched by the comparatively mild criticisms China has of other victims. The standard regime refrain about the Falun Gong community is that it is an evil cult, though the practice of Falun Gong has none of the characteristics of a cult.

The documented yearly arbitrary killings and disappearances of Falun Gong exceed by far the totals for any other victim group. Since the banning, over three thousand named Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of the persecution.

• The United States Department of State's Country Reports provide that Falun Gong adherents constitute at least half of the inmates in the country's re-education‑through‑labour camps.

• Human rights lawyers, left alone when they defend other unpopular causes, are persecuted once they defend Falun Gong practitioners. That was the case for Gao Zhisheng who was fine despite taking on a number of unpopular causes, until he opposed the victimization of Falun Gong. Now he is disbarred; his office has been shut down; he has been brutally tortured; his family was forced to flee China to escape danger; he has been arbitrarily detained and has disappeared.

• Falun Gong practitioners and prisoners sentenced to death are the sole victims of forced organ harvesting, the extraction and sale of their organs to patients in need of transplants. Former Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific David Kilgour and I released a report in July 2006 and a revised report in January 2007 which came to the conclusion that practitioners of Falun Gong were being killed for their organs throughout China from 2001 to the date of our report. Since our report has come out, statistics show that this problem has got even worse.

This mistreatment since 1999 raises four questions. Why does the Communist Party of China and the Government it controls treat practitioners of Falun Gong so badly? What can explain the survival of the practice of Falun Gong in the face of this brutal repression? What does this experience - the unsuccessful, fierce repression of the practice of Falun Gong - mean for the future of China? What can be done to end the persecution?

A. Causes of persecution
Why are practitioners of Falun Gong treated so badly?

1. One reason is simply the numbers. Falun Gong before it was banned had, according to a 1999 Government estimate, 70 million adherents. A group of that size no matter what its belief attracts the attention of a repressive government.

2. The Communist Party needs enemies in order to justify their continuing hold on power. The Falun Gong had the bad luck to be around in sufficient numbers to fill the enemy slot.

3. The Falun Gong community embrace three basic beliefs - compassion, tolerance and truth. Anyone who believes in any one of these principles spells trouble for the Communist Party government - a cruel, repressive, dishonest regime.

4. The practice of Falun Gong went from a standing start in 1992 to numbers greater than the membership of the Party within the space of seven years, spreading rapidly throughout China immediately after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of Communist Party control in Central Asia and Eastern and Central Europe. The Party in China feared a similar collapse, a similar loss of control.

5. Fifth, the amorphous nature of Falun Gong meant that it was impossible for the Communist Party to control it. Falun Gong is neither a movement nor an organization; it is not even people. It is rather a set of exercises with a spiritual foundation.

6. The mobilization capacity of Falun Gong practitioners alarmed and frightened the Communist Party. An event of April 25th, 1999, petitioning the Communist Party against the arrest and beatings of practitioners in Tianjin a few days earlier, was the largest gathering in Beijing since the Tiananmen square massacre. Many of the leadership in the Party had no advance warning of this event and were startled.

7. The ability of the Falun Gong community to take advantage of modern technology, the internet and cell phones, to gather in large numbers worried the Party. This phenomenon was unknown in China before it was manifested through the Falun Gong community.

8. Though the Falun Gong is not an organization with a leadership, the Communist Party of China surely is. The Communist Party of China saw the Falun Gong community as a mirror of itself, organizationally similar, but ideologically different.

9. The practice of Falun Gong was inspired by the writings and teachings of Li Hongzhi. Then Chinese president Jiang Zemin was envious of Li Hongzhi's efforts, that something an outsider proposed could become so popular while his own writings languished in obscurity.

10. Many Falun Gong practitioners, in an attempt to protect their families and communities, did not identify themselves once arrested. These unidentified are more vulnerable than other detainees because no one who knows them knows where they are and no one who detains them knows who they are.

11. Repressed democracy activists, journalists, human rights defenders, Tibetan and Christian activists generate more sympathy than the Falun Gong because they are more familiar to outsiders, more in tune with outsider sensibilities. The Falun Gong are recent, without an obvious link to global traditions.

12. Falun Gong is authentically Chinese, rooted in ancient Chinese traditions. Communism, in contrast, is a Western ideological import into China. Communists saw a widespread, popular Chinese-based ideology as cutting out from under them the very ground on which they stood.

B. The survival of the practice of Falun Gong
How has the practice of Falun Gong been able to survive in the face of this brutal repression?

1. An obvious explanation is the appeal of the practice and its associated beliefs to practitioners. No practice or belief system could survive the cruelty of Communism unless its adherents had a deep commitment to their beliefs.

2. The practice of Falun Gong has spread world wide. David Kilgour and I, in the course of travelling the planet to campaign against the abuse of organ harvesting our report documents, have seen this phenomenon more than anyone.

In Mexico, Falun Gong practitioners are primarily Mexicans; in Israel, they are primarily Israelis; in Holland they are primarily Dutch, and so on. The practice of Falun Gong started in China but, in most countries where it has spread, is no longer exclusively or even primarily Chinese. Chinese government repression has little traction on these non-Chinese adherents.

3. Modern technology is a boon to any popular idea including the ideas behind the practice of Falun Gong. The Government of China is powerless against the internet, satellite and cell phone technology outside of China. Even inside China, the Communist Party control of modern technology is far from complete.

4. The amorphous nature of Falun Gong has meant that it is impossible for the Communist Party to control it. For the practice of Falun Gong, there is no organizational leadership. That means that there is no one the Government of China can appoint to head the Falun Gong.

If Falun Gong had an organizational leadership, the Party, as it had done with the major religions, would have appointed some of its cronies and said that they were the leadership of the Falun Gong. There is a Chinese government appointed Buddhist Panchen Lama, Chinese government selected Roman Catholic bishops, Chinese government chosen Muslim imams. But Falun Gong does not lend itself to this sort of usurpation.

5. Because Falun Gong is a practice or exercise regime, and not an organization, it lacks all the elements of an organization. That has a down side - weaknesses in communication and coordination, the lack of a charitable tax number and a total absence of staffing and funding.

But it also has an upside, the heavy contribution of volunteers. Through collaborative volunteer effort and voluntary donations directly from individuals to the purchase of specific goods and service, the Falun Gong community world wide produces a newspaper -the Epoch Times, runs a satellite TV and radio network - New Tang Dynasty TV and Sound of Hope radio, and tours a classical Chinese dancing company and orchestra - the Divine Performing Arts.

Members of organizations with professional staff tend to leave their staff to do the heavy lifting. The Falun Gong community have no such luxury and more than compensate for it.

6. Falun Gong rose to fill a vacuum, the abandonment of the belief in Communism world wide. Communism today in China is not so much a belief system as an organizing idiom for power. For those uninterested in climbing up the greasy Chinese pole to power, Chinese Communism means nothing. For those who want to believe in something beyond their own careers, Falun Gong is an answer.

7. The rise of Falun Gong speaks not just to the collapse in the belief in Communism but also to the basic human need for spirituality. We are used to thinking of spiritual beliefs as old, something developed centuries even millenia ago. The beliefs though which survive from ancient times continue not because they are old, but because they speak to the constantly changing present.

The development and rapid growth of Falun Gong, a modern spiritual belief, a belief system which began only in 1992, tells us for sure something about China and Communism. But it also exists and endures because of something fundamental to human nature, the longing for spiritual fulfilment.

8. Though Falun Gong is no longer exclusively Chinese, it has a particular resonance for the Chinese people, the Chinese soul. Its updating and blending of strongly rooted, well developed ancient Chinese exercise and spiritual traditions meant Falun Gong was immediately and deeply appealing to a Chinese people who had seen the Communist belief system nominally inserted to replace those ancient beliefs crumbling around and underneath them.

9. The nonsense the Government of China produced to combat the Falun Gong is all too easy to ignore. It is impossible to ignore torture, arb itrary detention and execution. But the ideology behind this repression, that Falun Gong is an evil cult, is so obviously disconnected from reality to anyone who knows even the least bit about the practice of Falun Gong, the beliefs of Falun Gong or individual practitioners, that it was hard for anyone other than Chinese Communist Party adherents or their fellow travellers to take it seriously.

10. The vicious, unbridled persecution of Falun Gong has had a perverse effect for the persecutors. The persecution has made vocal people who would otherwise have been silent.

Many believers have dug in their heels. Their reaction to the lies the Party and Government have spread about the Falun Gong and the persecution they inflicted on the Falun Gong is to convey to as many people as possible the nature of Falun Gong, as well as the cruelty of the persecution.

The persecution has won over to practitioners of Falun Gong sympathizers they would not otherwise have, people who are not practitioners but who oppose human rights violations. It hard to think of a more searing indictment of Chinese communism than that it has led to the killing of innocents so that their organs could be sold to transplant tourists.

IV. The future of China
Well what does all mean for the future of China? An historical guide is the persecution of Christianity by the Roman empire. Eventually, despite that persecution, the Roman Empire became Christian.

Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 A.D. Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the empire in 391 A.D. The belief in Christianity had grown so strong and the belief in the traditional Roman values had grown so weak that Christianity became a better organizing idiom for the empire than the old Roman values.

One can see the same happening in China. Communism today is incapable of holding China together. At some time the leadership will realize that they need a better set of principles than they have got if they are going to maintain China as a going concern.

Though the teachings of Li Hongzhi have no political content or intent, he managed to articulate a set of beliefs which reverberates with the Chinese people. At some point, the leadership of China will realize this.

The Chinese leadership today treats the Falun Gong as their worst enemy, imprisoning and torturing them more than any other group, killing only them and prisoners sentenced to death for their organs. At some point, they will realize that the Falun Gong are their best friends, an authentic Chinese belief system that is capable of keeping China united, that is capable of keeping China, to use the catchword of the muddled ideology of current Chinese President Hu Jintao, harmonious.

China one day will be predominantly Falun Gong not because the current set of Falun Gong practitioners will one day take over the leadership of China but because the leadership of China will one day become Falun Gong practitioners. In the wings of the stage of Chinese history stands a Constantine.

V. Ending the persecution
It took over three hundred years before from the birth of Jesus Christ to the Christianizing of the Roman Empire. We cannot afford to wait that long to end the persecution of the Falun Gong nor to stop abusive organ sourcing in China.

Today, not three hundred y ears from today:
The persecution of all victims in China, including Falun Gong practitioners, should stop.
Those complicit persecution in China, including organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, should be brought to justice.

How will that happen? Those who are most free to stand against Chinese human rights violations, those whose stance carries most graphically the universal human rights message, and, consequently, those whose opposition China finds hardest to ignore, are those with no connection to China whatsoever. When it comes to mobilizing those who are neither Chinese nationals nor ethnic Chinese to combating human rights violations in China, by far the biggest obstacle is indifference.

The way to end human rights abuses in China is for those who are neither Chinese nationals nor ethnic Chinese to shake off indifference to those abuses. If we do that, if we act persistently, act publicly, act now, those violations will end.
David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CanadaOLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Friday, July 17, 2009

West Still Silent Over Falun Gong 10-year Persecution

by Clive Ansley, US-Canada Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) President

July 20, 2009 marks an important anniversary. But unlike most anniversaries, this is not a happy one, and provides no occasion for celebration. Ten years ago, on July 20th, 1999 the Chinese Communist Party launched a genocidal campaign of torture, mass murder, and ultimately of genocide directed against some seventy to one hundred million Falun Gong practitioners in China. This pogrom has continued unabated now for a full decade while the world has stood silently by, averted its eyes and essentially re-enacted the “see no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” cowardice and avarice which characterized the callous indifference of the world during the 1930’s to the growing evidence of the coming Nazi holocaust against the Jewish people.

Just as William Lyon Mackenzie King refused to allow any Jewish refugees to disembark in Canada, Canadian politicians at every level of government today demonstrate their unprincipled and craven willingness to succor the most bloodthirsty and barbarous regime since the Nazi era. In the face of substantial and uncontradicted evidence that the Beijing police state has murdered tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners on the operating tables of China’s hospitals in order to harvest their organs for lucrative profits on the international transplant market; and as the most vicious and unprecedented campaign of persecution and terror against China’s lawyers unfolds before our eyes, disbarring, torturing, incarcerating and “disappearing” incredibly courageous human rights lawyers, what do our unprincipled politicians and our “Fourth Estate” have to say? What do the representatives of the legal profession in democratic countries have to say?

The mass murder of healthy Falun Gong practitioners for the sole purpose of plundering their organs constitutes the greatest Crime against Humanity since the Holocaust; the brutal persecution, terrorization, and repression of the entire “Rights Protection” bar in China constitutes the single greatest affront to the Rule of Law which the world has witnessed in a long time. As the documentation of these crimes continues to grow exponentially, politicians such as Bob Rae assure us that while there are still some human rights problems in China, Beijing is making substantial progress and the human rights situation is improving significantly. Our current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cannon, thinks we should avoid publicly embarrassing the Beijing dictators about little things like organ harvesting and the bestial torture and disbarment of human rights lawyers. The Canadian Bar Association and some provincial law societies (with the commendable exception of the Law Society of Upper Canada) have remained totally mute with respect to the treatment of their Chinese colleagues; indeed various CBA representatives continue to peddle the errant and vapid nonsense that China is committed to the Rule of Law and that reform of China’s spurious and fraudulent “legal” system is progressing at an impressive pace.

And the Fourth Estate? The pathetic North American media has been virtually mute throughout this full decade of organ theft and genocide committed by Beijing. Hardly a word has ever appeared in print and scarcely a whisper of this mass atrocity has been heard on the television networks or cable services. In terms of sheer undeniable newsworthiness, it is irrefutably the biggest story of this century. Yet it is apparently a taboo topic in our derelict media. We are informed that those conscientious reporters who turn in stories on the persecution are told by their editors that their papers will not touch this topic.

Instead of offering comfort and support to the innocent victims of Beijing’s bestiality, unprincipled politicians such as those on Vancouver City Council turn the victims into the culprits and curry favour with Beijing.

This is the holocaust all over again. The Beijing Olympics was the Berlin Olympics of 1936 all over again.

Those who do not recognize this parallel are limited to the willfully blind; the morally bankrupt; and the profoundly ignorant.

And I want to end by coming back to the report -- 'Bloody Harvest' -- by David Matas and David Kilgour. This report MUST be addressed seriously and extensively by the North American media.

The credibility of the authors of this report is simply not in question -- David Matas is perhaps the leading human rights lawyer in Canada; David Kilgour is a former Secretary of State for Far Eastern affairs in Canada; both are lawyers; and they have impeccable credentials. This is not coming from the National Enquirer or Fox News; this is coming from sources that are simply unimpeachable. And given the horrendous nature of the allegations -- and the unimpeachable sources which have produced the report -- crime cannot be legitimately ignored by legitimate journalists. It must be debated.

Journalists are entitled to dispute the methods of the Kilgour-Matas research; they have not done so.

Journalists are entitled to criticize the nature of the evidence; they have not done so.

Journalists are entitled to produce contrary evidence; they have not done so.

But what the legitimate media is not entitled to do is to leave their readers and viewers uninformed about credible and compelling evidence of a new holocaust.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Falun Gong helps crack Iran's web filter

By Desmond Ang for Radio Australia / ABC

Updated Thu Jul 2, 2009 1:32pm AEST

Neda Agha-Soltan was watching post-election protests in Tehran when she was shot in the chest.

Neda Agha-Soltan was watching post-election protests in Tehran when she was shot in the chest. (Reuters/Flickr)

Computer software invented to beat China's stringent internet controls is being used by pro-democracy activists in Iran to manoeuvre around authorities there.

Developed and managed by a team of volunteers from the Falun Gong spiritual group, Freegate was created to allow net users to bypass Beijing government censorship.

Now it is estimated as many as a million Iranians use the free service each day, as anti-government demonstrators take their protests online.

The death of Neda Agha Soltan, for example, would have been in vain had it not been for the Falun Gong and their desire to liberate internet surfing in Iran.

The 26-year old was observing post-election protests in the Iranian capital of Tehran when she was shot in the chest.

A passer-by recorded the scene and posted her dying moments on the YouTube hosting website, bringing global attention to a conflict the Iranian government was trying to muffle.

Iranian authorities had started blocking certain websites in the lead-up to the presidential elections.

Foreign news services, religious websites and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were said to be on the blacklist.

But Iran's internet firewall proved futile against Freegate's software, which allows users to gain access to blocked sites by constantly switching different internet protocol (IP) addresses.

Bill Xia, the inventor of Freegate, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program: "We're very happy to see our tools become very useful for people, especially for the people in Iran, where people cannot get their voice out."

Mr Xia says the number of users in Iran multiplied after Freegate was translated into Farsi.

"Last year, the traffic on our network is too high and we cannot sustain the cost," he said.

"So we actually start to limit the service, but last month we tried to open it to Iran to provide as much service as possible.

"Mostly it's from China and Iran, and they total to more than one million users per day."

Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, which developed the Freegate software, says: "The reason that we created this service was mainly due to the suppression of the Falun Gong in '99.

"Many of us were Tiananmen students during the Tiananmen massacre time in '89, so we knew how frightening state-controlled media can be, like in China, that can turn white into black overnight."

He says the software draws most visitors from closed societies such as China, Iran, Syria and Burma.

"People want to know what's going on, because people care about society, people care about other people and they want to know what exactly is happening," Mr Zhou said.

"They hunt for information over the internet because it has become an open platform, a multimedia platform, and the most powerful and widely used form of media."

The consortium recently released a software called Green Tsunami, to counteract China's coming mandatory internet filtering program, Green Dam.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Appeal for the rescue of Chinese rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

MWC: Open Letter to Lawyers requesting support in securing the release of leading Chinese rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gao Zhisheng

Appeal for help

We write to seek support from members of the Canadian legal profession in order to help secure the release of Gao Zhisheng, a leading Chinese rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who was abducted and tortured by Chinese security agents largely for defending Falun Gong adherents and publicly exposing the atrocities they have suffered. Gao has been missing since February 2009.

Gao Zhisheng

Mr. Gao was a successful practising lawyer and by 2001 China's Ministry of Justice had rated him as one of China's top ten lawyers. He is a Christian, and has opposed persecutions against Protestants and Catholics and also has defended workers who have been victimized by Chinese government policy. But it was his defence of Falun Gong victims which led directly to his subjection to inhuman tortures at the hands of the Chinese government.

Falun Gong

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice based on the principle of Truth, Compassion, Forbearance and five sets of meditative exercises introduced in China in 1992. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated a campaign of State terror and hate propaganda intended to eradicate Falun Gong after this popular practice had attracted 100 million people, outnumbering CCP members, by 1999.

Since July 1999, with the extreme vilification of Falun Gong in and outside China, the victimization of the group has also been horrendous, far greater than that of any other group. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture reported in March 2006 that 66% of the victims of alleged torture and ill treatment in China were Falun Gong practitioners. Over 3,000 identified Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of persecution and there is compelling and substantial evidence Indicating that tens of thousands of unidentified Falun Gong practitioners have been murdered by the Beijing regime for the purpose of harvesting all their organs for use in transplant operations for profit.

Gao's Three Open Letters for Falun Gong

It was this maelstrom into which Gao threw himself. Gao's ordeal began when he started investigating the persecution of Falun Gong and subsequently published three open letters to top Chinese officials.

In 2004, he defended a Falun Gong practitioner who had been illegally persecuted and sentenced without trial to a labor camp. Upon finding that judges refused to hear the case because of "orders from above," he wrote an open letter to China's National People's Congress.

On October 18, 2005, Gao wrote his second open letter to Hu Jingtao and Wen Jiabao, urging them to end the "barbaric" persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, detailing a wide range of abuses they suffer in custody, including torture, sexual assault, beatings, and executions. Within days of sending the letter, Gao Zhisheng and his family were put under 24-hour police surveillance. In early November that year, his law firm was shut down and soon afterwards his licence to practise law was suspended.

Later in November 2005, Gao traveled to northeast China and spent two weeks interviewing Falun Gong practitioners in an investigation of the torture they had suffered. Upon his return, he published another open letter to China's top leaders, detailing what he had found. He wrote,

"Among the true accounts of unbelievable brutality, among the records of the government's inhuman torture of its own people, the immoral acts that shocked my soul the most were the lewd yet routine practice of attacking women's genitals by 6-10 Office staff and the police. Almost every woman's genitals and breasts or every man's genitals have been sexually assaulted during the persecution in a most vulgar fashion...."

In the wake of this third open letter, his subsequent resignation of CCP membership, and his meeting with Dr. Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, on January 17, 2006, according to Amnesty International, Mr. Gao narrowly escaped an alleged assassination attempt.

On December 22, 2006, Mr. Gao was convicted of "subversion." He was sentenced to three years in prison, which was suspended, and placed on probation for five years.

On September 22, 2007, after writing to the US Congress calling for a boycott of the Olympics, Gao was secretly taken away once again by Chinese State security police. In August 2008 reports surfaced that he had been tortured for close to two months in the same way that Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured.

In the early morning of February 4, 2009 the State security police took Gao away from his home in Shaanxi. He has been missing ever since.

Responsibilities of the International Legal Profession

Today, Gao Zhisheng is China's foremost leader in the rights movement and has become an icon of the Chinese rights defenders fighting for the basic rights of the Chinese people. He has been called "China's conscience". He was the 2007 recipient of the prestigious 'American Board of Trial Advocates' Courageous Advocacy Award.

What has happened to Gao should be a wake-up call to the international community concerning the Chinese State's disregard for human rights and the rule of law.

In Gao's open letter depicting the fifty days of horrific torture he suffered in 2007 at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he expresses a few thoughts directed to the international community: "I want to remind those so-called global 'good friends', 'good partners' as called by the CCP that the increasing degree of brutality and cruelty against the Chinese people by the CCP is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us (our own Chinese people)."

There is a moral responsibility on members of the legal profession in every country which enjoys the Rule of Law to speak out in support of their Chinese colleagues who are victims of torture intimidation and who are deprived of their right to practise law by a Chinese government.

Canadian lawyers have in the recent past stood up for Pakistani lawyers facing persecution at the time; the present persecution of Chinese lawyers is exponentially more severe than that which the Pakistani lawyers experienced, but to date, with the exception of Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, Canadian lawyers have been strangely silent about the reprehensible persecution of their fellow lawyers in China.

Clive Ansley, China Monitor for Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, described Gao Zhisheng on the occasion of the 62nd session of the UN general assembly in New York:

"Has there ever been a man at any time, in any country, who has shown more courage than Gao Zhisheng, staring down the most brutal and vicious oppressor in modern world history? Has there ever been a man at any time, in any country, whose courage has been so married to integrity, ethics, and morality?

Has there ever been a man at any time, in any country, who has been more ready to sacrifice his own life for the good of his fellow citizens; citizens not only of China by citizens of the world?

There may well have been a precious few in human history whose sacrifices and courage have equaled those of Gao Zhisheng, but I can think of none who surpasses him."

What You Can Do

1. Write a letter to:

Hu Jintao, President of China
Zhongnanhai Beijing, People's Republic of China

2. Write to governmental and non-governmental organizations that are cooperating with China's legal systems such as CIDA and the Canadian Bar Association, as well as your provincial law societies, to raise your concern and ask these organizations to urge their Chinese counterparts to press for the release of Gao Zhisheng .

3. Write to Prime Minister Harper, and to the opposition leaders Michael Ignatieff, who is set to visit China, Mr. Jack Layton and Mr. Gilles Duceppe and ask them to urge the Chinese government to release Gao Zhisheng:

Right Honourable Stephen Harper Email: pm@pm.gc.ca Fax: 613-941-6900
Mailing Address: PMO Office, 80 Wellington Street,Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A2

Mr. Michael Ignatieff Email: IgnatM@parl.gc.ca Fax: (613) 992-5880

Mr. Gilles Duceppe Email: DucepG@parl.gc.ca Fax: (613) 954-2121

Mr. Jack Layton Email: LaytoJ@parl.gc.ca Fax: (613) 995-4565

Mailing Address for all: House of Commons Ottawa.Ontario K1A 0A6

We thank you very much for your attention.

On behalf of Canadian Friends of Gao Zhisheng

Clive Ansley cmansley@ansleyandcompany.com , Canadian Human Rights Lawyer, and China Monitor for Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada

David Matas dmatas@mts.net, International Human Rights Lawyer

Hon. David Kilgour dwkilgour@gmail.com
Former MP and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific


1. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng's account of being tortured by the Chinese State: chinaaid.org
2. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng's open letters to Chinese leaders / letter 1 / letter 2 / letter 3 and the U.S. Congress letter detailing his own investigation into atrocities against Falun Gong.
3. Remarks by David Matas delivered at the American Board of Trial Advocates Directors Meeting honouring Gao Zhisheng on June 30,2007, Santa Barbara, California on presentation of the Courageous Advocacy Award to Gao Zhisheng

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008