We, members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, represent groups across the country who are deeply concerned by systemic and unrelenting violations of human rights by the Government of China. We are also deeply troubled by the longstanding and worsening efforts, carried out by individuals and organizations that are led, backed or encouraged by the Chinese government, to harass and intimidate human rights defenders from our communities here in Canada. We reiterate our calls for the Canadian government to prioritize concern for human rights in our relationship with China.
We welcome the recent statement by Prime Minister Trudeau calling attention to the intensification of intimidation and harassment, here in Canada, by agents and proxies of the Chinese government, in an effort to silence and intimidate voices raised against wholesale intimidation, cultural genocide, linguistic suppression and curtailing the freedom of conscience and religion.
Human rights defenders and pro-democracy campaigners in Canada who are from the Uighur, Tibetan, Hong Kong and Chinese communities, and practitioners of Falun Gong have borne the brunt of these unlawful tactics in a very direct manner. This is intolerable and in breach of international human rights norms as well as Canadian laws.
So, while applauding the Prime Minister’s remarks on this issue, we collectively urge him to review the 2017 and 2020 reports from our Coalition, prepared by Amnesty International, with concrete recommendations to counter this mounting pattern of interference and intimidation. The first step would be to appoint a central focal point where individuals and groups can report the harassment and threats they experience. That must be accompanied by a robust suite of measures to counter this systemic and wholly unacceptable intimidation. The China Coalition therefore recommends that the Government of Canada adopt the following further measures:
- Establish a foreign agents transparency scheme to guard against interference and intimidation in Canada carried out by individuals and organizations affiliated with foreign governments and entities.
- Make amendments to the Criminal Code to further define criminal activities related to foreign influence and interference.
- Invoke the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act to sanction Chinese government officials who are responsible and/or complicit in gross human rights violations.
- Create reporting and support mechanisms for victims of foreign state harassment, in collaboration with Canadian diasporic communities.
- Expedite and waive costs of family reunification for those fleeing persecution, whether they are Uighur, Tibetan, Hong Kong or Chinese human rights activists or dissidents, or Falun Gong practitioners.
Failure to take concrete measures will only embolden the Chinese government and its proxies, leading to intensified harassment and intimidation against us here in Canada. We know from long experience, that hesitation is read as weakness by the Government of China and will be exploited. We urge the Canadian government to act now and take up our recommendations.
This statement is endorsed by the following members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China:
Alliance Canada-Hong Kong, Amnesty International Canada (English & Francophone Branches), Canada-Hong Kong Link, Canada Tibet Committee, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, Federation for a Democratic China, Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, and Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement.