(Minghui.org) The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs responded to an online petition that demands sanctions against Chinese officials for persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.

Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in his response on November 19, 2020, that Canada has and will continue to “raise its concerns about the human rights situation in China and we will continue to call on China to live up to its international obligation.”

He said the Canadian government is very concerned about the intimidation and repression of ethnic minorities and religious groups, including Falun Gong practitioners, and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity, including presenting their concerns directly to top Chinese officials, making recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council, and signing joint statements in support of religious freedom.

Minister Champagne said the Canadian government has established the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI) to actively engage in the conversation and advocate for human rights. Meanwhile, it is also working to address human trafficking and the illegal organ trade in an effort to stop the atrocities of forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China.

The Petition

The petition was presented by MP James Bezan on October 6, 2020. It included 1,806 signatures gathered between August 27 and September 26.

The petition said, “The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (the Magnitsky Law) sanctions foreign officials responsible for gross human rights violations or acts of corruption.”

It noted that “Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that includes five peaceful slow-moving exercises. Its core teaching is centred on the principles of 'Truth, Compassion and Tolerance'. People who practise Falun Gong conduct their life and behaviour in accordance with these principles;...”

It said, “For over 21 years, China’s corrupt communist party officials have been orchestrating the torture and killing of large numbers of people who practise Falun Gong, especially for their vital organs for the profitable transplant industry in China on a massive scale;...”

The petition also listed cases of Canadians who practice Falun Gong being targeted by the CCP. For example, “Canadian Citizen Ms. Sun Qian has been sentenced to eight years in prison and another eight Falun Gong practitioners with Canadian ties are suffering imprisonment in China with sentences of up to 16 years for their belief;...”

In the end, the petition called upon the Canadian government to “deploy all legal sanctions, including the freezing of assets and the barring of entry to Canada” to fourteen key corrupt officials and former corrupt officials of the CCP who have demonstrated prime culpability in the human rights atrocities, including Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan, Liu Jing, Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Li Lanqing, Wu Guanzheng, Li Dongsheng, Qiang Wei, Huang Jiefu, Zheng Shusen, Wang Lijun, Zhang Chaoying, and Jia Chunwang.

Below is Minister Champagne’s full response:

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy and a priority in our government’s engagement with China. Canada has consistently called on China to respect, protect and promote freedom of expression, assembly and association, and religion or belief for all.

Canada has publicly voiced concerns about the intimidation and repression of ethnic minority and religious groups, as well as Falun Gong practitioners, and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity.

Canadian engagement on human rights encompasses high level visits; public statements; representations on specific issues and cases of concern bilaterally as well as in multilateral forums; interventions and advocacy by the Embassy of Canada; as well as outreach to civil society.

To ensure the protection of all human rights, including freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), Canada addresses rights comprehensively through the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion (OHRFI), encouraging a climate of inclusion and respect for diversity to advance the rights of those too often marginalized in society. To this end, the OHRFI regularly engages with a diverse range of diaspora and faith and belief communities, and the broader international community to inform its approach in advocating for human rights, including freedom of religion or belief.

The Government of Canada has presented concerns regarding human rights practices directly to Chinese authorities on numerous occasions. These concerns are raised with the Government of China at the highest levels, including during the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Canada in September 2016, the Prime Minister’s visits to China in August 2016 and in December 2017, the Governor General’s visit to China in July 2017, and during a visit of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister to China in August 2017. The Prime Minister and Premier Li also had a frank and open discussion on human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of religion as part of the third Canada-China Annual Leaders’ Dialogue in November 2018. At the G20 Foreign Minister’s meeting in Japan in November 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada raised the human rights situation in China directly with his Chinese counterpart during a bilateral meeting. And most recently in August 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the human rights concerns with his Chinese counterpart during a bilateral meeting in Rome.

On November 6, 2018, Canada made public recommendations to China on human rights as part of its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. At that time, Canada called on China to end the prosecution and persecution on the basis of religion or belief, including for Falun Gong practitioners. Most recently, at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (October 6, 2020), Canada co-signed, along with 38 other countries, a joint statement on the human rights situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

In July 2019, Canada signed a joint statement, at the U.S. Ministerial Meeting to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington. This meeting is U.S.-led initiative where issues of religious freedom violations worldwide are addressed and that brings together foreign ministers and government representatives, civil society, as well as victims of religious persecution and discrimination. The joint statement emphasized concern about the significant restrictions on religious freedom in China and called on the Chinese government to respect the human rights of all individuals. The text stated that many members of religious minority groups in China face severe repression and discrimination because of their beliefs, including Falun Gong practitioners. On October 27, 2020, in a statement on International Religious Freedom Day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated concerns over the ongoing persecution of faith and belief communities in China, including Falun Gong practitioners.

The Government of Canada remains committed to combating all forms of human trafficking, including for the purposes of organ removal. The Government of Canada is actively engaged with other states, including China, to advocate and advance the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime’s Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children which promotes cooperation to more effectively prevent and combat trafficking in persons, including for the purposes of organ removal. Addressing the illegal organ trade is complex and requires international cooperation. Canada actively participated in the development of the revised World Health Organization’s Guiding Principles on Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation, which Member States, including China, adopted in 2010.

The promotion, protection and respect of human rights are core priorities in our foreign policy. Canada will continue to raise its concerns about the human rights situation in China and we will continue to call on China to live up to its international obligation.