Epoch Times: Edited Falun Gong Documentary Is 'Diluted', Says Producer
Epoch Times Toronto and Victoria Staff
CBC Newsworld aired a highly anticipated documentary on the persecution of Falun Gong Tuesday night following a media storm over the controversial pulling of the film two weeks ago.
CBC admitted that it pulled Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong, five hours before it was to air on Nov. 6 after being contacted by Chinese embassy and consulate officials, but denied it was giving in to Chinese pressure.
The documentary details the harsh eight-year persecution suffered by Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of the Chinese authorities.
In the edited version, some segments of the film dealing with reports of organ harvesting against practitioners by the Chinese authorities were removed, as well as some of the strongest statements regarding the 2008 Beijing Olympics. CBC holds the rights to broadcast the Games in Canada.
"I'm happy that the story's been told in a way that it was never told before to a national audience," says the film's producer, Peter Rowe. "But beyond that, in the last week the CBC cut 10 per cent of the film (about five minutes) either by forcing me to cut it out or by cutting it out themselves."
Rowe says he finds it "offensive" that while the national broadcaster promotes the 10 o'clock slot of The Lens as a platform for documentaries with independent perspectives, in his experience Red Wall was "diluted" because of "two years of interference in production by CBC."
While CBC was worried about "corroboration," says Rowe, those appearing in the film such as former cabinet minister David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas are people of "integrity and credibility" who are knowledgeable about China.
"In the search for balance, the ratio of the official from the Chinese Embassy was increased, but they cut David Kilgour who was saying something interesting and provocative and presenting a valuable piece of evidence from his organ harvesting report."
Rowe had told The Epoch Times earlier in the week that an executive of CBC Newsworld informed him Saturday morning that CBC reporters in Beijing had been "pestered" about the documentary by Chinese officials.
Zhu Tao, a staff member in the CBC Beijing bureau reached by telephone Tuesday confirmed that the Chinese authorities had recently contacted the bureau about a documentary. He referred The Epoch Times to CBC's Toronto office for details.
CBC spokesman Jeff Keay says he's aware of this, and that Chinese officials have also been in contact with CBC in Canada.
"We get repeated calls from them, but we haven't discussed the documentary with them."
CBC has vigorously denied bowing to Chinese pressure and has said it was not given a fair shake by the press which largely criticized the pulling of the original version of the film.
Much of the eliminated footage includes details from a 64-page report compiled by Kilgour and Matas on the illicit harvesting of the organs of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in order to supply the lucrative transplant industry in China.
One of the cut scenes showed the vast difference between wait times for transplants in other countries compared to those in China: Canada, 2555 days; United Kingdom, 1095 days; USA 1825 days; and China, 15 Days.
Human rights lawyer Clive Ansley, who appears in Red Wall, says that while the impact of the film was "blunted to some extent" by omitting these segments, it was still "very hard-hitting."
"It's probably the first exposure most people have ever had to this issue, and I think most Canadians will be shocked and will have heard things they haven't heard before."
Ansley says he regrets the CBC "took things out that would have added to the film," including his quote comparing the Beijing Olympics to Hitler's 1936 Berlin Games.
"That particular quotation was innocuous really except that it was one of the most upsetting things to Beijing because it dealt with the Olympics."
John Cruickshank, head of news for CBC, commented in a CP article that Rowe had included "an awful lot of Falun Gong footage," in Red Wall, the credibility of which CBC questioned.
But Rowe argues that such footage isn't exactly readily available and could only have come from Falun Gong practitioners.
Another edit was the addition of a title card saying Amnesty International (AI) had not corroborated the Kilgour/Matas report. However, David Matas says that can be "misleading."
"We know enough about Chinese propaganda to guess what they are saying to CBC behind our backs. The statement that AI has not been able to corroborate our report is typical and typically misleading."
Matas says AI's methodology, which insists on there being "two eye witnesses independent from each other, both of whom relate the same event, does not work where there are only perpetrators and victims and the victims are killed and their bodies cremated."
"AI silence on a human rights violation is not proof and not even evidence that the violation is not occurring. AI itself would say that," says Matas.
The original version of the film had initially been approved by CBC editors and lawyers, and has already been shown in French Canada, New Zealand and Spain.
Lucy Zhou, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC), says that while FDAC is pleased the CBC aired a film that will help Canadians understand the truth of the persecution, it regrets the "watering down" of certain segments.
"We still hope the CBC will have the courage--in spite of intimidation from the Chinese Communist Party--to air the producer's independent work one day," says Zhou.
The documentary will be aired again on CBC Newsworld on Saturday November 24 at 11pm ET/PT.
Category: Falun Dafa in the Media