This complaint by Falun Dafa protesters comes after unanswered questions about the Westin Wall. Further evidence that the Liberal government gave in to Chinese demands that human rights protesters be kept out of sight..and sound.
October 6, 2016
To the members of the Committee on the Use of Parliament Hill:
Re: Concerns over the RCMP’s actions to restrict Canadians’ right to freedom of expression
On behalf of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC), I am writing to express our dismay and concern over unfair treatment and the RCMP’s actions to restrict Canadians’ right to freedom of expression at our Sept. 22 protest rally on Parliament Hill, which was organized on the occasion of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit.
We are concerned about some of the enforcement measures taken that seem to have been based on inappropriate and irrelevant considerations, in particular to spare the feelings of Premier Li.
We submit that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that free expression rights take precedence over inconvenience and embarrassment and can only be limited when there are clear security and public order concerns.
We are very concerned that possible pressure from the Chinese authorities on Canadian officials might have led to actions by the RCMP that greatly hindered our efforts to convey our appeal messages to the premier in a clear, audible, and visible manner.
The RCMP’s actions included:
• disconnecting the power to our loudspeakers suddenly when the premier’s motorcade arrived on and departed from Parliament Hill and each time he was in front of Centre Block when we had only a brief moment to call out our messages to him before he either entered the building or departed in his motorcade; and
• directing the premier’s motorcade to leave the Hill in an easterly direction, against the normal traffic direction on that one-way street, and heading away from the West Lawn where our group was gathered with our banners.
These actions blocked the premier from seeing the strong presence of hundreds of attendees from our group, with signs and banners, and from hearing our appeal messages calling for an end to the 17-yearlong persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners (also called Falun Gong) in China. Our main messages were simply the following (called out in Chinese):
1. Falun Dafa is good.
2. Stop the persecution of Falun Gong.
3. Bring Jiang Zemin to justice. (Jiang Zemin is the former Chinese leader who ordered and orchestrated the persecution of Falun Gong.)
We were disheartened because this rally was a significant part of our overall effort seeking an end to the brutal suppression of our spiritual practice. Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners travelled from Toronto, Montreal, and the surrounding areas to join Ottawa practitioners to appeal for justice and to help rescue and give voice to those being tortured and killed who have no voice. These hundreds of thousands of prisoners of conscience include several who have parents, children, and siblings in Canada.
We were distressed also because it would have sent a strong message to the visiting premier if he could have witnessed Falun Gong practitioners exercising their guaranteed right to freedom of expression without hindrance in Canada, in fact on Parliament Hill, the symbolic centre of the Canadian government. In stark contrast, countless practitioners in China have been arrested and tortured, even to death, simply for unfolding a banner on Tiananmen Square with words as modest and peaceful as “Falun Dafa is Good” and “Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance,” the three central principles of Falun Gong.
We had very much hoped that Premier Li could see us holding such banners and calling out these words in the place that is the seat of our government in Canada. The premier is among the officials at the highest levels in the current leadership who we know have not fuelled the persecution and have in fact arrested many corrupt officials who have persecuted Falun Gong. Having him see our large presence and determined appeal could have helped to impress upon him that there is strong advocacy in Canada for stopping the persecution and brining former leader Jiang Zemin to justice. That could have added weight in his and other top leaders’ determination to end the persecution of Falun Gong.
Concern about what appeared to be a selective and deliberate action targeting our protest during the Chinese leader’s visit
As indicated in our attached summary of the Sept. 22 incidents that took place on the Hill, our loudspeakers were silenced when the premier arrived on Parliament Hill in the morning, and therefore following the premier’s entry into Centre Block, we did our best to test out our speaker volume to ensure we followed the advice from two RCMP officers. We were grateful for the help of these peace officers who advised us on the acceptable volume.
When the premier came out of Centre Block again in the early afternoon, we believed that our volume setting was within the acceptable level, so we were completely bewildered and frustrated when a RCMP officer suddenly unplugged the power cord to our speakers again, effectively silencing our voice of appeal a second time, during the only and brief chance we had to convey our message to the premier on the Hill after being silenced in the morning.
While the officer, constable Clark Johnston, later informed us that the sound volume was higher than the acceptable level and that he was acting to enforce the rule, we are concerned that the RCMP enforcement was a selective and deliberate action to target our protest that day because the Chinese leader was on the scene. We give our reasons below.
• First, no one had ever expressed concern before about our speaker volume in the past 17 years we have held events on the Hill, where many times our events used similar sound volumes. In particular, we have held similar events when other top Chinese leaders visited Parliament Hill in the past, using the same loudspeakers to pass our messages in the same manner, and no incidents like this ever happened.
• In addition, we have seen other groups using bigger and more powerful speakers during their events on the Hill, yet we never saw their power supply unplugged or their use of the speakers being disallowed because of the volume.
• Moreover, it was clear we were in no way a threat to the safety of the visiting delegation, and our use of the speakers to amplify our appeal messages was only for a very brief moment. Yet the power was disconnected exactly in the middle of the short minute or seconds that we were able to convey our messages to the visiting Chinese leader.
• Further, we cannot comprehend any valid reason for allowing the delegation to drive away against the normal direction of traffic, the only reason we can see is that it was done so that the Chinese officials could avoid seeing our group on the Hill, simply because we were protesting wrongdoing by the Chinese regime. We feel that this is contrary to the spirit and true purpose of rules that are meant to ensure respect for our democratic society and the strong values Canada is much esteemed for, which include human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In addition, we are compelled to question the motivation of the RCMP’s actions due to a similar blockage at another location—The Westin Hotel—during the Chinese delegation’s visit. As CTV News reported on Sept. 23 in an report titled “Wall erected at Ottawa hotel to block Chinese premier's view of protesters,” the visiting Chinese officials did not want to see protesters across the street from their hotel, so they requested that a large temporary wall be built barricading the front of the Westin for the length of their stay (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/wall-erected-at-ottawa-hotel-to-block-chinese-premier-s-view-of-protesters-1.3086276). The hotel complied, and as the CTV report noted, it was not for security reasons but simply to block the premier’s view of the protesters, who consisted of Falun Gong practitioners.
From our past experiences (please see references in our attachments to this letter), we have reason to believe the Chinese officials likely made a similar request to Canadian officials to block the premier’s view of our protest on the Hill, whether stated specifically or by using other excuses for the same purpose. If so, this would have contributed to the RCMP’s actions on the Hill that greatly diminished our freedom of expression. “This is not appropriate behavior on Canadian soil,” said Prof. Elliot Tepper when he was interviewed for the CTV program.
We hope an investigation can shed light on this type of possible interference and pressure from the Chinese regime.
Upholding our cherished Canadian values
The interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told the House of Commons one day before Premier Li’s visit “that our openness to China should be about encouraging them to adopt our values for human rights, as opposed to us giving in to theirs.” What happened on Sept.22 causes us deep concern that Canadian officials may have indeed given in to the demands of the communist regime, instead of protecting Canadians’ rights and freedoms and encouraging China to adopt our core and cherished values.
We believe that blocking the premier from seeing and hearing our appeal also contributed to sending an unfortunate message to the Chinese authorities that Canada accepts a servile role in the Canada-China relationship, where our government would compromise our values including imposing restrictions on a peaceful, persecuted group’s right to freedom of expression in the interest of catering to the communist regime known for widespread human rights violations. This is quite inconsistent with Canadians’ concerns about China’s human rights record and wish for our government to put a high priority on addressing these issues, as indicated by public opinion polls in this country.
As a Canadian, I am proud that Canada was the first country to condemn the persecution of Falun Gong. It is a horrific campaign of hate and violence against a peaceful practice centered on the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.” Every Canadian prime minister in the past 17 years has expressed concerns of the persecution of Falun Gong to the top Chinese leaders.
Canada has a long tradition of defending justice and human rights, and we hope that this tradition will be proudly and courageously maintained. We sincerely hope it will not be compromised by pressure from communist China, but rather that it will serve as an upright example for China with respect to good governance, human rights, and the rule of law.
We express sincere appreciation to all the hardworking peace officers for their help and understanding during our events over the past 17 years on the Hill. Therefore, it is in a spirit of trust and optimism that we express our concerns with the hope that we can find a remedy for the issues.
• We would very much appreciate receiving an assessment and explanation of the measures that were taken, including justification of the enforcement taken.
• We would appreciate an apology for the fact that our rights to engage in a peaceful protest were unjustifiably infringed. Inconvenience and embarrassment are not legitimate reasons to restrict freedom of expression, according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law obligations.
• It would be helpful to develop clear guidelines to ensure that rights to peaceful protest are robustly protected and upheld by the RCMP and other security forces on Parliament Hill.
We have provided several attachments for your reference. Please feel free to contact me for further information.
We look forward to your principled and conscientious response.
Shawn (Xun) Li
Falun Dafa Association of Canada
1. The Incidents that Took Place on Parliament Hill on Sept. 22, 2016
2. Frequently Asked Questions about Falun Gong
3. A Brief Summary of the Persecution in China
4. Article in the Epoch Times, June 22, 2016:
Report Reveals Vast State-Run Industry to Harvest Organs in China
Up to 1.5 million organ transplants may have taken place in China since 2000, mostly harvested from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience
5. Motion of The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Feb.3, 2015 (attached)
6. Chinese Government’s Interference and Harassments against Falun Gong in Canada (attached)
7. Affidavit of Former Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin (attached)
8. U.S. Congress House Concurrent Resolution 304:
Similar incidents and issues addressed in this resolution have happened in Canada
The Incidents That Took Place on Sept. 22, 2016, on Parliament Hill
The Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) organized a rally on Parliament Hill on Sept. 22 on the occasion of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to the Hill that day. Several hundred practitioners of Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) attended. Our activities included performing the gentle exercises and meditation of Falun Gong and holding banners on the West Lawn. Falun Gong practitioners wished to call on the Chinese regime to end the persecution against our practice and to bring to justice former leader Jiang Zemin, who initiated the violent persecution in July 1999.
We also wished to call on the Canadian government to urge the Chinese regime to stop the persecution, which has included systematic and widespread arrests, torture, and killing for 17+ years, including the harvesting of vital organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, killing them in the process, to supply a state-run, for-profit transplant industry.
The FDAC received a permit for the rally, including the use of loudspeakers, microphones, and electricity for the speakers. Loudspeakers were required in order to provide instructions to the several hundred attendees. As well, they were especially needed to allow us to be able to clearly convey our appeal messages to the visiting premier from a distance, across that large open space, during his arrival that morning to attend meetings in the Center Block, and again during his departure in the early afternoon.
Concern 1: The driving route of the delegation and our location on the West Lawn blocked the Chinese delegation from having a clear view of our rally.
Our purpose of being on the Hill was to let the visiting officials see and hear us, so it was frustrating that they were unable to have a clear view of our group on the West Lawn because of their east-to-west driving route in the morning that ended in front of Centre Block, and also because of the crowd organized by the Chinese embassy standing on the East Lawn. That is the normal route, and therefore we cannot complain.
However, in the afternoon, the departure route from the Hill was from west to east, starting in front of Centre Block, again preventing the delegation from having a clear view of our rally. As this was against the normal direction of traffic on that one-way street, it raises questions in our minds as to whether the decision not to follow the normal direction of traffic was influenced by a request or pressure from the Chinese authorities.
Concern 2: Power to our speaker was disconnected during the brief moments when we had a chance to call out our appeal messages to the delegation upon their arrival and departure. We have never had our power cut off before or received any expression of concern about our use of loudspeakers in our past 17 years of events on the Hill.
When we arrived on the Hill in the morning, we were informed that our sound volume with the use of the loudspeakers should be kept below a certain level. We understood it was part of the rules, but because the RCMP had never notified us about a problem with our sound volume on the Hill before, we were uncertain as to how to determine what was acceptable.
At about 9:30 a.m., when the Chinese delegation arrived on the Hill, we started to call out our appeal messages using the speakers, and it caught us by surprise when our power supply was unplugged by the RCMP. The delegation could not hear us as they drove in the parliament hill and entered the Centre Block, and we were very disappointed that we missed the short minute of opportunity that we had to convey our messages.
After this experience, we made our best effort to test out our sound volume several times while calling out our messages. Then just after 12 p.m., a number of times individuals came out of Centre Block whom we thought were the delegation, and each time we called out our messages using the speakers for only brief moments before we realized they were not the delegation. During the process, two RCMP officers came to indicate to us to lower the volume, which helped us become more familiar with what was an acceptable sound level.
Around 1 p.m., we began calling out our slogans again when the Chinese delegation indeed came out of Centre Block, proceeding to board vehicles for their departure from the Hill. As we were on the West Lawn, while the premier’s vehicle was headed east, we saw that he was not going to be able to see our displayed signs and banners, and that the only way to deliver our messages to him was through calling out our slogans using the speakers.
It was during that brief moment, when we had an opportunity to be heard by the premier, that the power supply was unplugged by an RCMP officer, effectively silencing our voice of appeal again. (We later learned that it was unplugged by Constable Clark Johnston.)
It was only a very brief moment of time that we were able to pass our messages to the delegation before they drove away. Feeling this urgency, one attendee from our group quickly re-plugged the system in a spontaneous act, simply not wanting to miss the short opportunity. It is evident to us that whoever may have re-plugged the power was acting in good faith, to take steps to uphold our legitimate rights of freedom of expression. But within a few seconds, the power supply was disconnected again, leaving us both bewildered and distressed. In the past 17 years that we have held events on the Hill, our sound system had never been disconnected before until this Sept. 22.
Attachment 2: Frequently Asked Questions about Falun Gong
Q: What is Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa?
A: Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a peaceful spiritual discipline rooted in ancient Chinese traditions of health and self-improvement. It consists of two main aspects: the principles and the exercises. Practitioners cultivate, or improve, their mind, body, and spirit by incorporating into their daily lives Falun Dafa’s teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.” They also regularly practise Falun Dafa’s five sets of gentle exercises, which include four standing exercises and one sitting meditation.
Falun Gong emphasizes the cultivation of moral character. Practitioners lead normal family and work lives as responsible, contributing members of society. Should a conflict with others arise, a practitioner strives to look inward for self-improvement and become a better person under all circumstances. Practitioners also strive to take personal gain lightly.
Q: Who practises Falun Gong, and how do they find it beneficial?
A: Falun Gong is practised by people of all ages from all walks of life and cultural, social, and economic backgrounds in over 100 countries. It was introduced to the public in China in 1992. Practising Falun Gong has helped many people turn away from drugs, alcohol, and violence. Through their efforts at improving their moral character, many practitioners have experienced vast improvements in their health along with peacefulness and stress relief in their lives.
Falun Gong has received recognition from communities and governments in many countries worldwide, including proclamations and congratulatory letters from many dignitaries in Canada.
Q: Why has the Chinese government persecuted Falun Gong practitioners?
A: Falun Gong has no political agenda or affiliation. Before the persecution, founder Li Hongzhi had received many honours from the Chinese authorities for his teachings’ positive contributions to the health, wellbeing, and productivity of Chinese society. At the same time, Falun Gong’s principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance also highlighted the opposite qualities of the communist system, characterized by lies, violence, intolerance, and oppression.
Former leader Jiang Zemin saw Falun Gong’s popularity, with an estimated 70-plus million practitioners in China, as out of line with communist ideology and authority, and in 1999 banned the practice and launched a persecution aimed at eradicating it. A massive propaganda campaign was disseminated to defame Falun Gong in China and abroad to justify the persecution.
Q: How are Falun Gong practitioners responding to the Chinese regime’s persecution?
A: Practitioners in China have appealed to the authorities via peaceful means and through proper legal channels, including legal complaints filed against former leader Jiang Zemin by more than 200,000 Chinese citizens. There has not been a single report of responding with violence, destroying property, or the like, despite beatings, torture, jailing, and other grave injustices including the harvesting of practitioners’ vital organs to supply a state-run organ transplant industry, killing the prisoner in the process. This kind of conduct, in the face of such torment and injustice and exhibited on such a large scale, speaks to the fundamentally peaceful and compassionate nature of Falun Gong.
Practitioners outside China have raised awareness through peaceful efforts such as rallies, long marches, sit-ins, letter-writing campaigns, press conferences, and publications documenting the severe rights abuses.
Attachment 3: A Brief Summary of the Persecution in China
The brutal persecution of Falun Gong began in July 1999. Then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin ordered that the practice be “eradicated” due to his intolerance of Falun Gong’s growing popularity. Arbitrary arrests, torture, killing, imprisonment, brainwashing, and hate propaganda demonizing Falun Gong persist today. Jiang has stated that when dealing with Falun Gong, “no measures are too excessive,” and “those who are beaten to death will be counted as suicides.”
While “torture is systematic and widespread,” the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture reported that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66% of victims of alleged torture while in government custody.
Freedom House reported in 2015 that Falun Gong practitioners are the largest contingent of prisoners of conscience in China and among the most likely to be killed in custody.
Former Canadian secretary of state for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour, Canadian international human rights lawyer David Matas, and China analyst and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann in June 2016 released a comprehensive update to their books “Bloody Harvest” and “The Slaughter.” Their update examines China’s organ transplant industry and specifically addresses the use of prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong practitioners, as a profitable organ source, supplying organs for tens of thousands transplants a year since 2000. It could mean hundreds of thousands, or as many as over a million, people have been murdered for their organs over the last 15 years.
The international community has condemned and called for an immediate end to this systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. Initiatives include U.S. House Resolution 343 unanimously passed in 2016, a European Parliament resolution passed in 2013, European Parliament Written Declaration 48 adopted in 2016, and a motion unanimously passed by Canada’s Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights in 2015.
The atrocities the Chinese authorities have committed over the past 17 years against Falun Gong:
• hundreds of thousands, or as many as over a million, prisoners of conscience killed for their organs;
• thousands of deaths in custody from inhuman treatment; millions sent to brutal labour camps without trial; detention in mental institutions, subjected to electric shocks and forced injections of dangerous drugs; many female practitioners sexually abused and physically tortured, including rape, forced abortion, and shocking of genitals with electric batons;
• countless people having lost jobs, homes, and social benefits for refusing to renounce Falun Gong; children and university students being required to renounce Falun Gong in school or be expelled;
• many parents sent to jail or labour camps, thousands of families broken, and countless children left homeless;
• state-run media subjecting all segments of society to constant hate propaganda against Falun Gong; and
• a reign of terror reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution aimed at eradicating Falun Gong.
Practitioners have only used peaceful means to appeal but have only met with mounting violence. They have all appeal and legal channels closed to them, state-controlled media demonizing them, and state-sanctioned terror persecuting them.
Please visit www.faluninfo.net and www.endorganpillaging.org for more information.