Epoch Times Office Shot in Australia a Threat to Freedom of Speech
Posted by Author on November 3, 2010
By Shar Adams, Epoch Times Staff, Nov. 2, 2010 –
The Epoch Times offices in Queensland were attacked last week in an act of intimidation designed to suppress information about grave human rights abuses occurring in China.
The Epoch Times office in Queensland was shot at last week in what is understood to be an act of intimidation.
David Matas, a Canadian human rights lawyer in Brisbane to speak at an Epoch Times forum on illegal organ harvesting, says he has experienced intimidation at forums on the topic before, but was surprised at the violence involved.
“I would say that there is a pattern of intimidation, but it doesn’t normally descend to the level of shots,” he told The Epoch Times.
According to staff member Margaret Ramsey, Epoch Times staff were holding a meeting around 3pm on Friday Oct 29 at The Epoch Times offices in Sunnybank Brisbane, when an airgun projectile was fired from a passing car, hitting a large meeting room window facing the street.
“It was big enough to make a hole in the window, but because the glass was tinted, the window was shattered, but did not crumble,” she said.
Two staff members chased the car, a black Toyota, up the street and were able to get close enough to record the cars registration, Ms Ramsey said.
David Matas says that since 2006, when he and former Canadian Secretary of State Asia-Pacific David Kilgour co-authored a report on illegal organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, the two statesmen have spoken in over 70 cities around the world. During this time, there have been many instances of intimidation, which he believes are co-ordinated from local Chinese consulates and embassies.
“The global Chinese Communist Party/State campaign against our work is unlike anything we see from any of the other major human rights violators,” he said in a statement.
It includes forcing the cancellation of an event, bullying organisers to have them removed as speakers, sending bullying letters to other participants, cyber attacks and organising students to flood the event with noise and placards.
While he says it is nothing like the sort of intimidation that the ethnic Chinese community experience, which he notes includes threats to families in Mainland China, the bullying can be prohibitive.
He cited one example when he was speaking about his report in New York at Columbia University. In 2007, an organisation titled the Columbia University Chinese Students and Scholars Association posted a threat on its website.
The threat was this: “Anyone who offends China will be executed no matter how far away they are,” Mr Matas said in a statement.
On another occasion students stormed Mr Matas’s address yelling and waiving placards so that no one could hear him.
“On that occasion, the university provided security to remove them,” Mr Matas said.
Mr Matas said the intimidation impacted according to how an organisation responded.
“Some hosts just crumble; others look to help,” he said.
In 2008, Mr Matas was due to speak at a forum at Bond University. The forum had been approved by superiors, but suddenly an edict was issued from the vice-chancellor saying the event was political and would not be allowed.
An alternative event on the Gold Coast was then arranged and proceedings were broadcast on the Internet.
“The local as well as the Internet participants asked questions after the formal presentation was over,” Mr Matas said in a statement. “One of the Internet participants was a Chinese Government police official. This is the question, in translation, he asked me: ‘Are you afraid of death?
You are brutally interfering in our Party’s internal policies. Are you afraid of our revenge? Our revenge against you, we’ll take revenge against you, are you not afraid of that?’”
Mr Matas notes that Bond University has a high Mainland Chinese student population, that it is affiliated with three Chinese mainland universities and that Brisbane has a Chinese consulate.
David Matas is in Australia to speak at the International Human Rights Education Conference “Educating for Human Rights, Peace and Intercultural Dialogue” at the University of Western Sydney, November 4-6.
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