Norway: "Freedom of Speech in China" Seminar Held in Stavanger

On March 15th, 2007, a seminar entitled "Freedom of Speech in China" was arranged by Amnesty in Stavanger, Norway. Those who attended the seminar listened to Gerald Folkvord, leader of the China group in Amnesty Norway, talk about censorship and freedom of speech in China, as well as the many difficulties human rights activists and defendants of beliefs are facing in China. Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Kari Veseth presented a short speech about Falun Gong being persecuted and that practitioner's organs are harvested while they are still alive. Personal experiences of torture were exposed by the two Falun Gong refugees Mr. Li and Ms. Dai.

Gerald Folkvord (picture taken in Oslo, Norway, at another activity)

According to Gerald Folkvord, China is probably the country with the most surveillance and censuring of media and internet, and the authorities use all possible methods to control information and opinions. The Chinese government has a monopoly of defining what is seen as a "threat" to society, and any critics directed toward the government may be seen as an attack on state security. A large number of people are sentenced to several years in prison or even death for "disturbing public order," "undermining the state" and "destroying the reputation of the party," which in essence may include almost anything.

To illustrate this Mr. Folkvord used the case of Mr. Bu Dongwei. Mr. Bu is a Falun Gong practitioner who spent 10 months in forced labour camp in August 2000 for sending a petition to the government to reconsider the ban on Falun Gong. In May 2006, he was again arrested for "disturbing public order" because he possessed Falun Gong books and because he worked in the international organization Asia Foundation. Amnesty regards him as a prisoner of conscience and in great danger of being tortured.

Mr. Folkvord believes that China is using media as propaganda to defame critical voices before they are imprisoned. This was illustrated by Ms. Veseth which explained how the Chinese regime staged the so called Tiananmen Square Self-Immolation, where the regime claimed that five Falun Gong practitioner set themselves on fire. The goal was to create hatred and justify the use of brutal torture, humiliation, rape and so on against Falun Gong practitioners. Over 3,000 detailed cases have been documented where practitioners have died as a consequence of torture. However, the real number is unknown.

Exposing organ harvesting is also regarded as a "threat" to the society according to Ms. Veseth. Mr. Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for "illegally having contact with anti-China forces in and outside China" and for "illegally allowing interviews." He met and told Edward McMillan-Scott, the vice president of the European Parliament, that he had seen Falun Gong practitioners who later had their organs removed without consent in a detention center in China.

The accusations of the Chinese regime's harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong practitioners, who are later cremated to remove evidence, has been confirmed in the publication of the "Bloody Harvesting" report (1). It is written by the Canadian David Matas, human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, former member of the Canadian parliament and secretary of state. Their conclusion is clear: "When all information is placed together it shows a horrific picture." Between 2000 and 2005 there were 41,500 organ transplantations with no other possible donors than Falun Gong practitioners. Matas and Kilgour believe that the organ harvesting is still happening and they regard this as a crime against humanity.

From left: Translator Ms. Hong, and Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Li and Ms. Dai

At the end of the seminar, Mr. Li and his wife Ms. Dai shared their experiences from Chinese forced labor camps. Mr. Li was denied legal representation and was sentenced to 4 years in labor camp, while Mrs. Dai has been in labor camps for 5 years without legal proceedings. Both suffered numerous torture methods. Mr. Li was forced to stand strait several days in a row within a little circle on the ground and was deprived of sleep for several days in a row. Ms. Dai suffered shock with electric batons and became blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. Furthermore, she spoke about strict health checks only for Falun Gong practitioners, where they were asked about earlier sicknesses in their kidneys, liver and the heart. Later, she did not see several of the fellow practitioners again. When she escaped China and heard about the organ harvesting, she understood the connection and was greatly shocked.

The Chinese regime has officially denied the disclosure about the organ harvesting, and says that "nobody will believe this absurd lie". The Nazis also claimed the same about their camps. In 1943 a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the US refused to believe information from a polish diplomat about the Holocaust, saying: "I did not say that the young man lies. I said I was unable to believe what he told. There is a difference."

Footnotes:

2. Kilgour and Matas report "Bloody Harvesting" about the organ harvesting is available in different languages on: http://organharvestinvestigation.net/

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