Report: China emboldened by weak gov’t response to its bullying of activists in Canada

(Photo courtesy: Amnesty)

(, May13’20) – A coalition of human-rights groups led by Amnesty International Canada has on May 12 accused Chinese government officials and supporters of the Communist Party of China of increasingly resorting to “threats, bullying and harassment” to intimidate and silence activists in Canada, including those raising concerns about democracy and civil rights in Hong Kong and Beijing’s mistreatment of Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners.

“Chinese state actors have almost certainly become emboldened by the inadequate responses of Canadian officials,” the coalition has said in a report titled Harassment & Intimidation of Individuals in Canada Working on China-related Human Rights Concerns.

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China has called for a public inquiry into threats at Canadian educational institutions and recommended that Ottawa set up a monitoring office to collect complaints of harassment and refer incidents to police.

Sounding alarm over escalating intimidation and interference at Canadian schools and universities, the coalition has said: “Academic freedom and freedom of expression of university students in Canada speaking out on China has been increasingly stifled, as many individuals fear that Chinese government or consular agents are monitoring their speech or their activities.”

Referring to the range of threats and intimidations, Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, has said, “It takes place on social media, through surveillance, monitoring and hacking of phones, computers and websites … on university and college campuses, at public rallies and cultural events.”

“Individuals responsible for the threats often remain anonymous or invisible, but make it clear that they are strong backers of the Chinese government, often leaving no doubt that they are directed, supported or encouraged by the Chinese government.”

He has said the threats were “bullying, racist, bigoted and frequently involve direct threats of violence, including sexual violence and even death.”

The report documents incidents of Chinese harassment between Jul, 2019 and Mar 2020, aimed at “suppressing dissidents and mobilizing overseas Chinese communities to act as agents of China’s political interests.”

The coalition wants the Canadian government to treat the issue with increased urgency “as it has resulted in insecurity and fear for human-rights defenders in Canada working on Chinese human-rights issues.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government welcomed the report and would study its recommendations closely, reported May 12.

“Chinese government representatives in Canada, like all foreign government representatives in Canada, have a duty under international law to respect the laws and regulations of Canada,” the minister was quoted as saying.

He has promised that his government will “continue to use every opportunity to call on China to uphold its international human-rights obligations, including in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion or belief.”


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