Canada: Letter from Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham to Member of Parliament Svend Robinson

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January 16, 2003

Dear Mr. Svend Robinson, MP

Thank you for your letter of November 8, 2002, with which you enclosed a copy of correspondence from Ms. Michelle Zhang concerning her sister Yunhe (Jennifer) Zhang, believed to be incarcerated in China for practicing Falun Gong.

I have noted the case of Ms. Zhang's sister and many similar cases. Canada has consistently spoken out publicly about human rights in China in statements at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and General Assembly. Through our bilateral dialogue on human rights, we have expressed to all levels of the Chinese leadership Canada's concerns, including in relation to ongoing reports of the suppression of freedom of expression and spiritual practice. The most recent dialogue session occurred in Beijing and Urumqi in November 2002, at which time the issue of Falun Gong was specifically raised. Departmental officials briefed Canadian human rights non-governmental organizations after the session, and representatives of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada participated in the briefing.

In July 2001 and July 2002, in meetings with the Chinese Foreign Minister, I and my predecessor raised continuing Canadian concerns about human rights in China, including freedom of spiritual practice. At the October 2002 APEC Leaders Meeting in Mexico, a senior Canadian official took advantage of the opportunity to present a copy of the October 24, 2002 House of Commons resolution on Falun Gong to a senior member of the Chinese delegation.

Please be assured that we will continue to make our views known to the Chinese authorities.

Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely,

Bill Graham
Foreign Affairs Minister for Canada

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