March 2, 2000: Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) today urged Canada to stop just talking and start acting to prevent human rights violations in China.
At a meeting held this morning in Ottawa between NGOs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian NGOs urged Canada to co-sponsor a resolution on China at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which is scheduled to begin on March 20 in Geneva.
"The serious deterioration of the human rights situation in China during the past year, marked by wide-ranging suppression of peaceful dissent, must be the impetus for direct action by Canada," an NGO Coalition on China told a press conference in Ottawa sponsored by Liberal MP (Mount-Royal) Irwin Cotler.
Members of the coalition include Amnesty International Canada, the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), the Toronto Association for Democracy, PEN Canada, the Canada Tibet Committee, the Canadian Labour Congress and Democracy China Ottawa.
"Arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and the extensive use of the death penalty cannot be allowed to continue without a concerted response from the international community," the representatives said in a joint statement.
The NGOs noted that the sentences passed out recently against followers of the Falun Gong movement have been among the most draconian in recent years. Political dissidents, labour rights campaigners, religious groups and members of ethnic groups in Tibet and Xinjiang continue to be targets of severe repression.
"China has tried to deflect attention away from the steadily deteriorating human rights situation through high-profile attempts at dialogue that have had no impact on the human rights situation", say the NGOs.
"Dialogue alone will never be enough. Canada must address China's human rights abuses by co-sponsoring a resolution at the Commission."
For further information:
Isobel Harry, PEN Canada, (416) 703-8448, #22
Cheuk Kwan, Toronto Association for Democracy in China, (416) 804-1527
Patricia Poirier, ICHRDD (514) 283-6073
Thubten Samdup, Canada Tibet Committee, (514) 867-6770
John Tackaberry, Amnesty International Canada, (613) 744-7667, #236
Michael To, Democracy China Ottawa, (613) 727-0941