[Vancouver]: Vancouver Falun Dafa Practitioners were joined in a press conference on March 23 by various speakers from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in an attempt to convince the Canadian government to co-sponsor the American resolution on China's human rights record at the current meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

Twenty-two NGOs, including Canadian chapters of Amnesty International, the Coalition for Responsible Trade With China, the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, and Green Peace, have signed an open letter asking Prime Minister Jean Chretian to "apply strong international pressure to demonstrate that the world community requires China to keep the promises it made" by initiating "a resolution to censure China for its accelerating pace of human rights abuse."

This initiative is also strongly supported by BC MPs Svend Robinson and Libby Davis. In a letter read to the assembled media, Mr. Robinson cited Amnesty International's documentation of China's "systematic oppression" of practitioners of Falun Dafa, of dissents and labour groups in Tibet and of the Muslim population in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. Robinson is insistent that the government "must speak out strongly at the United Nations and stop putting corporate profits ahead of justice and fundamental human rights."

Sadie Kuehn of the World Conference Against Racism noted that if Fidel Castro has been banished from attending the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Quebec City for his violations of the human rights of his citizens then "Canada is obliged to set the tone" in any future negotiations with China regarding the appalling human rights violations of its government.

Victor Wong of the Association of Chinese Canadians also cited China's "deplorable" human rights record and recalled that in 1993 he was in Geneva lobbying the UN to put forward an identical resolution. The fact that China was also making an Olympic bid at the same time gave him a feeling of "deja vu" and he castigated then Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy for "chickening out and look what has happened since!"

Mr. Wong also expressed disappointment that, on this issue, Canada has now been "out-flanked" by the U.S. and sadly noted the passing of the Pearsonian era when Canada led the world in defending international human rights.

The media also viewed a six-minute video that dissected the "self- immolation" footage released by the Chinese State Media CCTV following the incident in Tiananmen Square last January. At the time the Falun Dafa Information Center in New York released a statement saying that practitioners of Falun Gong would never appeal in such a manner, as suicide or murder of any kind violates their essential beliefs. Doubts concerning the incident have already been raised in the February 4 edition of the Washington Post under the heading "Human Fire Ignites Chinese Mystery" and, very courageously, in an editorial that appeared in the Apple Daily in Hong Kong on January 30 which concluded that: "The news and scene reported by Xinhua Agency are indeed quite questionable."

The release of this video is timely, as information has just been leaked in China that the Chinese public security departments are planning to stage new self-immolation incidents in some areas.