The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled on April 27th, 2011 that the Ottawa Chinese Senior Association (respondent) breached the Ontario Human Rights Code and discriminated against Ms. Daiming Huang (complainant) on the basis of her belief. Ms. Michelle Flaherty, Vice-chair of the Tribunal, ruled, “The Falun Gong is a creed and the Association offers a service within the meaning of the Ontario Human Rights Code. I conclude that the respondents breached the Code and discriminated against the complainant on the basis of her creed. The Tribunal orders the corporate respondent to pay the complainant the sum of $15,000 for loss arising from the infringement of her rights under the Code.”
Several Canadian news media reported on the case.
A report by the Canadian Press pointed out: “The tribunal ruled that Falun Gong constitutes a creed, which is protected by Ontario's Human Rights Code. The tribunal ordered the seniors' association to pay Huang the damages and invite her back to the group within 30 days” and “(Falun Gong) Supporters say the Chinese government is trying to suppress and persecute the movement in other countries, including Canada.”
The Ottawa Sun interviewed Ms. Huang's daughter-in-law, Zhou Limin (Lucy). “'They were calling her practice an evil cult,' said Lucy Zhou, Huang’s daughter-in-law who translated the interview for The Sun [Editors note: Falun Gong is a spiritual practise without any definative structure or hierarchy. It is not a cult]. Zhou claimed the association is one of many Chinese groups 'very close' with the Chinese embassy trying to help the Chinese government crack down on Falun Gong. 'The practitioners are dehumanised,' she said. 'They treat you as an enemy of the state, so you’re not treated as a normal person - they’re trying to use that here.' Zhou said others have been denied participation in community events before or expelled, but many don’t bring their complaints forward. It’s 'so much effort,' she said. 'But if none of us take action, then we become persecuted here.'”
The Ottawa Citizen published a detailed report titled “Rights tribunal rules Falun Gong a protected creed,” in which David Matas, Ms. Huang's lawyer, was quoted: “Human rights lawyer David Matas, who represented Daiming Huang, 78, called the decision a 'push-back by the Canadian system' against persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese government, and organisations that cooperate with it in Canada and other countries. 'I consider this a judgment of global significance,' he said. 'It’s an assertion of Canadian human-rights values against Chinese Communist Party oppressive values.' The judgment doesn’t bind any organisation outside Ontario, he noted. But he said it has 'persuasive force' for human rights authorities in other jurisdictions. He said it’s also of value for people who have no connection with Falun Gong or the Chinese government. 'Human rights violations are a spreading stain. You can’t contain them in one group,' he said.”
The report also quoted Ms. Huang. “Speaking through an interpreter, Huang said the decision was a long time in coming, but she is happy with the result. 'After all we are living in Canada, not in China,' she said. 'The Chinese Seniors’ Association’s discriminatory behaviour here is not acceptable.'”
Other media also reported this case, including Brandon Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, Leaders Post, Hamilton Spectator and Yahoo news.
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