March 18, 2002

The Right Honorable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada
309-S, Center Block
House of Commons
Ottawa K1A 0A6

Re: 25 NGOs Urge Canada To Take Action Condemning China's Human Rights Abuses

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned organizations from across Canada, are writing to express our concern over human rights abuses in China and to urge the Canadian government to put forward a resolution at the upcoming United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Geneva this March, which condemns these abuses.

We are concerned with continued reports that many religious and spiritual groups, and their members, are being persecuted for their beliefs; Christians, Roman Catholics, Tibetans, Falun Gong to name but a few. The systematic persecution of Falun Gong is a well-documented example of the severity that this repression of fundamental freedoms can reach under the current regime in China.

Human Rights Watch mentioned in a recent report that, The Chinese government has used increasingly violent tactics as Falungong followers have mounted peaceful demonstrations against the crackdown. It has also used administrative detention procedures to hold followers in reeducation camps and psychiatric facilities. The Chinese judiciary has reinterpreted existing law to facilitate arrests of Falungong supporters.

Amnesty International stated that, in regards to the Falun Gong, and religious groups in China. The human rights violations appear in many forms: arbitrary arrests and confinements, torture, unlawful processes, long term confinements without conviction or hearing, administrative penalties without a process of law, and frequently applied death penalty. The number of Falun Gong practitioners that have died in prison has risen exponentially from 124 in the beginning of 2001 to more than 370 now. Most of the adherents have collapsed from injuries inflicted by severe torture. China's jailing of a Hong Kong businessman for smuggling Bibles to the mainland has sparked deep worry among Christian groups in the territory with close links to their brethren across the border.

Furthermore, many other third-party organizations have documented the unlawful detention, torture, psychiatric mistreatment, and even murder of innocent and peaceful people who only wish to uphold their respective beliefs or faiths, and have the right to practice them.

We believe that the Canadian government is indeed well-informed regarding the extent of theses abuses which violate international treaties China has signed, as well as her own laws and constitution. It is now time for our government to take a clear and public action regarding these violations of fundamental human rights by the Chinese government against its citizens and world citizens.

The United States puts forward a motion censuring China every year at the UNCHR. This year, they will not be participating in the meeting. We hope that Canada - with its commitment to human rights -will take the lead on this matter, demonstrating greater international leadership in this area, and not let these tragedies against humanity go undressed. They have certainly not gone unnoticed.

We hereby ask that Canada initiate a resolution at the UNCHR in March 2002, censuring China for the gross violation of basic human rights. Let this year's UNCHR meeting in Geneva herald in a new chapter for basic freedoms in China.

Let Canada play her role as a great leader for a peaceful, tolerant, and harmonious world, and let other countries follow her lead in taking a great step forward to ensure such a world, one we can be proud of passing on to future generations - of all peoples.


Names of NGOs omitted