ELIZABETH LI | EPOCH TIMES
MELBOURNE, Australia—Recently, Victorian MP, Bernie Finn, a Liberal Party member who is also part of Victorian Legislative Council, raised concerns in Parliament about the Hong Kong government’s extradition bill that could see local authorities pressured by the Chinese regime to hand over citizens of any nationality to face trial in its opaque socialist court system.
The bill has been widely protested by millions of Hong Kong people who perceive it as a tool used by the mainland to gradually erode their democratic freedoms.
“My support is clearly with those who are standing up for freedom,” Finn told The Epoch Times. “If the people of Hong Kong allow that freedom to be eaten away if they allow their rights to be handed over to Beijing, then Hong Kong as we know it will be no more.
“We will see people arrested in the same way that Falun Gong practitioners are arrested. We will see them taken away, and we will see the forced organ harvesting. We will see that sort of thing happening to the people of Hong Kong.”
Finn called on the Victorian government “to make it very, very clear that we support and stand with the freedom fighters of Hong Kong.
“I think we all have an obligation—a duty, a responsibility—call it what you will—to defend human rights, to defend freedom, to defend democracy in places where it is under attack,” he said. “And Hong Kong, at the moment, is probably a place where it is under attack more than anywhere else on the planet.”
Finn emphasized the need for greater awareness of the unstable situation in Hong Kong, “particularly given how close it is to Australia.”
“What is happening to Falun Gong people shows us how barbaric the Chinese government is. If they will do that to Falun Gong practitioners, who are very peaceful, calm, kind people, what will they do to the protestors in Hong Kong, who they might see as more aggressive?”
Persecution of Falun Gong
In a speech before the Victorian Parliament on Feb. 21, Finn called for the implementation of recommendations from a report by the Human Rights Sub-Committee for the inquiry into Human Organ Trafficking and Organ Transplant Tourism. The report acknowledged experts’ concerns that organs used in transplants in China were allegedly sourced from political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, and executed prisoners.
New findings have since emerged as the Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting of Prisoners of Conscience in China (the China Tribunal), chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, delivered a final judgment on June 17 that found it was “beyond doubt” that state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting for profit has been taking place in China for years “on a significant scale,” and on an ongoing basis.
The expert panel found that most of the victims are people who practice Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline which translates to “law wheel practice.” The discipline upholds central tenets of truth, compassion, and forbearance, with a set of meditation exercises.
In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party launched a state-wide suppression of Falun Gong, and those who subscribe to this belief have been persecuted in China through to the present day.
The China Tribunal described its findings as “indicative” of genocide, and called for international intervention.
Should Australia Intervene?
Finn told The Epoch Times that he has hopes the federal government will take some form of action, “particularly now that we have the report that proves what’s been said all along is true.”
“Every time it’s been raised to this point, the Chinese government has said: ‘No, we have not been doing that.’ This report proved that they basically are a pack of lies. That is something that we probably knew anyway, but this is the proof.”
Finn believes that China’s communist regime “craves” international approval more than anything else and that the global community will not grant such approval “unless they stop their barbaric practices.”
Noting the United States’ Magnitsky Act that serves to deny visas and the freeze assets of human rights’ violators, Finn said, “If the Trump administration is taking the lead there, that’s certainly something that the Morrison government should take on as well … if we are champions of freedom, as we say we are, and I believe we are.
“Human rights can be swept under the carpet very easily … it is not something we should do, and it’s great to see America leading the way on this. I would hope we would follow suit very quickly.”
Finn told The Epoch Times that there are practical steps Australia can take to address concerns of forced organ harvesting in China.
“Firstly, we make it clear that we condemn this practice,” he said. “Secondly, we do everything possible to ensure that Victorians are not involved in it [the procurement of organs from unknown sources in China]. That would involve some form of legislation… I’m happy to raise that again now that we have the proof.”
Finn acknowledged the importance of China-Australia trade relations.
However, he said, “The fact of the matter is, we’re not taking China on. We’re taking the communist government on.
“What we are saying is we are with the Chinese people. We are not with the Politburo, we are not with the people at the top of the government. We are with the people who are being persecuted.
“We have a responsibility to stand up and let the Chinese government know … we condemn what they are doing, and we call on them to respect the rights of their people and stop this dreadful slaughter that is occurring in China.”
Finn added, “I have to say, I think the freedom fighters of Hong Kong—they are brave people. If I was running Time magazine, they would be the men and women of the year because they have stood up against a monster in the Chinese government. I say good on them. And God bless them.”