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Tiananmen Massacre and labour camps case studies-Party-State In China Mocks Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Party-State In China Mocks Universal Declaration of Human Rights
-Tiananmen Massacre and labour camps case studies
by Hon. David Kilgour
Forum on Human Rights in China
214 Wellington Building, Parliament Buildings
May 27, 2009

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre and 10
full years since the merciless persecution of Falun Gong began, I feel
compelled to use my limited time today on these issues, despite those
who say any criticism of China''''s party-state should be muted during
the present world economic crisis. Both, including the use of mostly
Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in forced labour camps, are
haunting testimonials against a totalitarian political system, which
has over the past two decades also encouraged ''''anything goes''''

Tiananmen Massacre

In the spring of 1989, hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents, led
by university students, took their complaints against corruption by
officials to the streets following the sudden death of reform-minded
former Party Secretary Hu Yaobang. Taking advantage of the presence
of foreign journalists covering the visit to China''''s capital by then
Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, the demonstrators demanded
political reforms towards democracy and the rule of law. Their raw
courage inspired demonstrations across the country unprecedented since
Mao seized power in 1949. Almost a hundred million Chinese
participated in one way or another (1.). The protests continued even
after the Party declared martial law and brought in thousands of armed

Children of the Dragon, published in 1990 by the NGO Human Rights in
China, captures many realities of the period well because most of the
voices in it are survivours. For example, Cao Xinyuan, then a sculptor
in Beijing: "We kept trying to tell the soldiers that no-one wanted to
overthrow the government. We only wanted to get rid of corruption. We
wanted political reforms."

Deng Xiaoping characterized the events as a "counterrevolutionary
riot", but ordinary citizens offered more accurate perspectives. Wuer
Kaixi, one of the protest leaders, noted, "We repeatedly communicated
to senior levels of the government that if they wished the students to
withdraw they had to ''''give them a ladder to stand down'''', so to
speak,or else they would not go."

Ousting Zhao Ziyang

Literary critic Su Wei, who acted as as liaison between students and
intellectuals in Tiananmen Square, wrote: "...Li Peng and the other
elders had a premeditated plan. They were plotting to oust (liberal
Party Secretary) Zhao Ziyang and undo a decade of reforms. As the
government continued to provoke the students, it therefore became more
and more difficult to ask the young people to behave rationally." Zhao
lost his job as martial law was declared and lived nearly 16 years
under house arrest until his death in January 2005.

And most perceptively, Hu Ping, leader of the 1980 student movement,
remarked: "The spectacular pro-democracy movement in 1989 showed
eloquently that the Chinese people will pursue democracy and freedom
with compassion and self-sacrifice."

A resident today of Ottawa, who witnessed the events, remembers: "We
shouted, we argued, we begged, we bribed the soldiers, pleading with
them not to raise their arms against the defenceless people. However,
the government was not to be deterred from its plans for ''''restoring
stability'''' at any cost... Among the victims were my colleagues,
students, classmates and a former boyfriend. My heart ached and raged
with anger when I saw stacks of bodies, many crushed in half, in the
hospitals in the days that followed."

The two days that traumatized much of the world were consistent with a
forty-year record of on and off brutality against their own people.
China''''s rulers sent in tanks and machine guns for a bloody massacre of
fellow citizens.

The preface of Quelling The People (1992) by Timothy Brook, a Canadian
academic, captures the essence of what then occurred: "On the night of
June, 3 1989, tens of thousands of soldiers armed with assault rifles
forced their way into the city of Beijing and drove unarmed student
protesters from the central square at Tiananmen. When hundreds of
thousands of citizens and students blocked their paths, the soldiers
opened fire. On the morning of June 4, thousands lay dead and dying in
the streets, the hospitals and the homes of Beijing."

''''Retired Emperors'''' Decision
According to the respected Chinese journalist, Liu Binyan, those who
made the decision were "largely controlled by eight senile ''''retired
emperors'''', all over eighty years, who did not hold formal office in
the Party or government but who prop up their rule through brute force
and lies...To Deng as to Mao, people are nothing more than
instruments: in wartime, they serve as soldiers; in peacetime, they
are hands for production..." Liu was twice expelled from the Communist
party, repeatedly persecuted and died in exile for speaking the truth.

To divert the ensuing international outcry and re-assert its claim to
legitimacy, which was effectively nullified worldwide by the massacre,
the Party turned its attention towards economic growth. In short
order, China was refashioned into the world''''s factory, churning out
low-cost, often unsafe, consumer items made by women and men enjoying
minimal work safety and virtually no social programs, pensions or
environmental standards. This included prisoners of conscience who
toil without any pay in forced labour camps.

The Tiananmen Massacre and forced labour camps are examples of the
party-state''''s oppression of one fifth of the world''''s population and
its continuing failure to honour basic human rights under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Inhuman Camps

Forced labour as a consequence of human trafficking is all too common
in many parts of the world today, but only the party-state of China
uses it to punish and suppress Chinese citizens for political dissent
or religious beliefs. Any Chinese national can be sent to a camp
without any form of trial for up to four years upon committal by a
simple police signature. No appeal is possible. Mao closely
duplicated the work camp model set up in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s
Germany, which in China alone continues today.

In China, only Falun Gong inmates in the camps are used as a live
organ bank to be pillaged for sales to foreigners. Medical testing is
required before organs can be matched with recipients, but only Falun
Gong prisoners in the camp populations are tested medically on a
regular basis.

Since the 1950s, a vast network of labour camps has existed. In the
estimated 340 camps across China as of 2005, up to 300,000 "workers"
toil in inhuman conditions for up to sixteen hours daily without pay,
producing a wide range of consumer products, mostly for export in
violation of World Trade Organization rules.

For example, Montreal resident Ms. Guizhi Chen, 62, was subject to
four years of forced labour without pay in two different labour camps
camp. Among the products, some for export, she made were purses and
sweaters, worked on for an average of twelve hours daily. In the first
facility she occupied, located near the outskirts of Beijing, about
half of the other 700 female labourers were Falun Gong practitioners.
In the second, located far from the capital, there were about 300
women labourers, again with approximately half being Falun Gong. Only
the Falun Gong practitioners in both, she says, were examined
medically with blood tests and x-rays.

Mocking Universal Human Rights Declaration
Such practices anticipated the Party''''s intransigence against calls to
improve human rights. They are fully consistent with Beijing''''s
rejection of the recommendations advanced by a number of governments,
including Canada''''s, in a recent Universal Periodic Review by the UN
Human Rights Commission.

Among the rejected recommendations: ending all forms of arbitrary
detention, including labour camps; guaranteeing freedom of belief and
the right to worship in private; implementing the recommendations of
the UN Committee Against Torture, which included references to the
persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and organ pillaging from them;
and ensuring that lawyers can defend their clients without fear or

Commerce with China, where no media freedom exists, has been a costly
proposition for many. In the words of Phelim Kine who pinpointed the
consequence of unfree media in China: "The truths of corruption,
public health scandals, environmental crises and abusive local
authorities may be inconvenient...( but to) smother the reporting of
these truths has contributed measurably to other global debacles,
including recall of tainted food and toys."

These and a host of other violations of normal international trading
practices contributed to Canada''''s bilateral trade deficit rising in
China''''s favour from $3.9 billion in 1997 to $26.8 billion in 2006,
while costing many manufacturing livelihoods across Canada.

Fighting spirit of the people

The Chinese government continues to deprive the people of China of
basic human rights and the rule of law. While the world closed ranks
and collectively condemned the Tiananmen killings, much of the
international community today have averted their attention from the
forced labour camps, which continue to operate as instruments of
oppression and vehicles for illegal trade practices.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Beijing''''s June 4 bloody
crackdown of the student-led democratic movement, the regime has
intensified its crackdown against human rights activists, according to
Roseann Rife, Amnesty International''''s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.
“Most worrying is the complete disregard for national laws and the
obstructions thrown in front of lawyers trying to do their jobs.”

It is clear that there has been no substantive improvement on human
rights in China over the past twenty years. As John Delury of
Malasia''''s New Strait Times writes: "Sure enough, urban development,
investment, and gross domestic product growth accelerated throughout
the 1990s, but so did the gap between urban winners and rural losers."
Such discrepancies and the consistent oppression of dissenting groups
and ordinary citizens have led to more than 80,000 mass disturbances
across the country last year, by Bejing''''s own admission, a sign that
the regime has not been successful in crushing the fighting spirit of
the Chinese people


As the world experiences the economic crisis and seeks China''''s
cooperation in dealing with its challenges, it is tempting to
overlook Beijing''''s human rights record. We must remind our leaders
that to equivocate on China''''s record here is a departure from Canada''''s
own values of human dignity and rule of law. We must caution them that
trade with China at any price is costly both for the people of China
and the peoples of the world. We must remember the sacrifices of
victims of the massacre and other abuses. We must demand that, instead
of mocking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, China should
honour its provisions.

Thank you.


1-Source: Zhang Liang and The Tiananmen Papers, 2001, p x1

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