A new report from the US State Department sharply contrasts the degree of religious freedom in Taiwan and China.
While Taiwan is praised for respecting religious rights, the government of China is singled out for harassment of Tibetan Buddhists, house church Christians and Uighur Muslims.
“This report upholds the standard of the individual freedom of conscience and belief against political tyranny, cultural pressure and the all-too-common human fear of those who are different than ourselves,” said Congressman Chris Smith, a prominent human rights leader and original cosponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act.
“In China, the religious freedoms of Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and Falun Gong practitioners are systematically repressed with relative impunity despite the rise of China on the world stage and the high priority of US-Sino relations in American foreign policy,” he added.
Most Canadians were surprised when Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Richard Fadden raised the issue last June of foreign influence being exerted on municipal and provincial politicians in this country.
The Ottawa-headquartered Falun Dafa Association of Canada was not.
Association spokesperson Lucy Zhou issued a news release on Thursday detailing the influence her organization believes the Chinese Government has exerted domestically for the purpose of encouraging local politicans to thwart the Falun Gong’s efforts to participate in Canadian life.
“As victims of the Chinese Communist regime’s influence in Canada, Falun Gong practitioners’ experience in the past 11 years corroborates the general comments of [Fadden]…”
Citing one high profile example, Zhou recalled efforts made by former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, who had visited China, to invoke a city bylaw back in 2005 to try to shut down their vigil with display boards, set up nine years ago at the Chinese Consulate on Granville Street. Such use of that bylaw has since been ruled unconstitutional by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
She says the Chinese have tried to interfere with the holding of ‘Falun Dafa Days’ in cities throughout Canada. And, Zhou believes, in 2009 the Chinese attempted to have Montreal city councillor Marcel Tremblay block the Falun Dafa’s Tian Guo marching band’s performance in the Montreal Caribbean Festival.
The news release goes on to state that “these examples show us a serious cause for alarm for all Canadian citizens that our cherished democratic values, freedom and principles of Canada can be eroded and sacrified by foreign influence.”
Fadden was strongly criticized at the time of his remarks for tarring all politicians with one brush when he made his vague accusation. But if he has helped flush out instances of interference such as the ones Zhou has detailed, Fadden in fact has done Canadians a service.