Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/1/2012 (1999 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — INTERNATIONAL human rights lawyer David Matas is banned from Russia, along with his report on the harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners’ organs.
The report by Winnipeg’s Matas, a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and former Edmonton MP David Kilgour was labelled extremist literature and banned in Russia.
Matas said he didn’t know about the ban until he was the keynote speaker at a 2011 conference on Internet hate speech in Kyiv. "This activist who was tracking the ban on extremist literature in Russia came up to me and said ‘Did you know that what you’ve written is on the banned extremist literature list in conjunction with a number of Falun Gong members?’ " What he co-wrote was a report that said Falun Gong practitioners were being killed for their organs for transplants.
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice banned in China in 1999 because its increasing popularity led the Communist Party to fear for its ideological supremacy, Matas said.
After the ban, practitioners were arrested and asked to renounce the practice in writing. Those who refused, even after torture, disappeared in the hundreds of thousands into Chinese gulags, a network of re-education through labour camps, the report said. The camps became a vast forced organ donor bank, it said.
The report was published in three versions, first in 2006 and 2007 then as the book Bloody Harvest in 2009. The first and second versions were translated into Russian and distributed in Russia.
The Pervomayskiy court in Krasnodar, Russia banned the report in August 2008.
The Russian ban was based on a courtchosen expert opinion the report "can create for the readers a negative image of China, its social and political system, representatives of authorities, medical workers, military, etc."
It was appealed by Russian activists who worried the ban on extremist literature was being misused to silence opposition and could be used as a vehicle of oppression.
Matas and Kilgour filed a statement for the appeal.
"A report cannot be considered extremist simply because it is critical of the policies or practices of any government system, representatives or officials," they told the Russian court. "... Neither international nor Russian law is intended to render the policies or practices of any government system, representatives or officials, whether domestic or foreign, immune from criticism."
Last month, the ban was upheld on appeal by the Krasnodar regional court.
Matas is asking the federal government to issue a diplomatic note of protest to Russia over the banning of the report.
Matas and Kilgour can’t enter Russia to present the findings of their report, he said. The 2002 Counteraction of Extremist Activities prohibits foreign nationals on the territory of the Russian Federation as representatives of the given organization.
That’s put the kibosh on an invitation he received in Ukraine to speak at a conference in Russia this year.