On Tuesday November 20th the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) finally aired the documentary "Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong", an hour-long film about the Falun Gong, the spiritualist movement banned most vigorously by China. By "finally" we mean that we were supposed to see the film on November 6th but on the last minute it was cancelled without explanation. CBC replaced "Beyond the Red Wall" with a documentary about Pakistan, which they had already shown, because it was topical (which it was, Pakistan was in turmoil).
The Chinese Embassy complained vigorously about the documentary being shown at all despite that their representative was given time to dispute the content on air.
When the CBC buckled down it became obvious it was to pressure from the Chinese Embassy which at any conflict threatens Canada with economic consequences. This is unusual since China sells Canada far more ($65 billion a year more) than the other way around, unless one considers the railway Bombardier is building from Tibet to central China for $365 billion, but that may not benefit the majority of Canadians. The tragedy is that Canada gave in.
If any other nation, say the United States, were to exercise that kind of control over CBC’s broadcasting content the screaming would go on for a long time.
After the phone lines to the CBC were tied up with complaints the "mother corp" decided that they would run the documentary after all, but to keep their new masters happy, they had to make a few "changes", the last ones on the Saturday before the showing.
"The changes were significant, they involved the immolation (of the so called Falun Gong on Tiananmen Square which was too contrived by the CCP), the organ harvesting and the Olympics," said Danielle Zhu, Senior Producer at New Tang Dynasty TV.
Disaster turned into advantage. The producer/director/writer Peter Rowe said the publicity from CBC cancelling the video has brought considerable attention to the project.
Beyond the Red Wall: The Persecution of Falun Gong is a well-documented analysis of Falun Gong (Vital Energy) movement with insightful commentary by both Chinese but mostly non-Chinese people very familiar with the spiritual exercise program.
Falun Gong started around 1993 and seemed to exist quite nicely within the Chinese system where it grew rapidly exceeding the communist party itself. Then in 1999 president Jiang Zemin declared Falun Gong illegal, because they were growing too quickly and too large and the persecution proceeded in earnest. Nearly 100,000 have been incarcerated and others have been killed through organ harvesting.
Zhang Kunlun, an artist and teacher at McGill University, a Canadian citizen and Falun Gong member, went back to China and was sent to labour camp for three years where he was tortured. It was only thanks to outcry from Canada, largely from the Honourable Irwin Cotler, federal Liberal minister, that he was released. Now back in Canada, Kunlun is a cheerful person using his art to illustrate the persecution. He attributes Falun Gong as having cured him of physical ills.
Other experts were Dr. David Ownby, a Professor of History at the University of Montréal; Ian Johnson, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book on the Falun Gong, who had been in China for eight years; Clive Ansley, a lawyer with the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong; Cathy Gillis, an Ottawa artist; the Honourable David Kilgour, former Minister of Asian Affairs and Lawyer David Matas— both of whom investigated the body parts harvesting by the Chinese from Falun Gong; two US Congress members, Ilena Ros-Lehtinen and Chris Smith; and the founder of the Falun Gong, Li Hong.
Whatever it was that angered the Chinese Communists against the Falun Gong, whether their popularity (28 million have declared their departure from the Chinese Communist Party) or something else, the documentary Beyond the Red Wall: the Persecution of the Falun Gong tells the story well. It would have been even better if it had left in its original form. The CBC should answer for their censorship. Thanks to Peter Rowe for a job well done.
CBC finally airs documentary on Falun Gong