IT'S TIME TO TREAT DEATH THREATS FROM BEIJING BACKERS SERIOUSLY
One ominous text message reads: `I want to kill you. I am going to kill you'
With the Canada-China relationship in tatters, the divide between Beijing's sympathizers/ appeasers and opposers has never been more obvious or more dangerous for Canada and Canadians.
On Sunday night, a prominent B.C. Chinese-Canadian human rights activist received a series of death threats both by text and by phone.
“I want to kill you. I am going to kill you ...” said one text written in English.
RCMP traced the number, spoke to the perpetrator by phone, and later met in person. While one of those conversations was taking place, the victim received another threatening call, suggesting the threats were coming from more than one person.
Despite this, the victim was told that the RCMP would not recommend charges unless there were grounds for more serious concerns.
The threats came two days after the victim was one of 13 signatories to a letter demanding that Premier John Horgan remove Bill Yee as co-chair of the province's 17-member Chinese-Canadian Community Advisory Committee.
Fearful of more intimidation, the victim has requested not to be identified. Details of the threats were described at a Wednesday news conference by other members of an organization that calls itself the Concern Group of Chinese Canadians on CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Rights Violations.
In its letter to Horgan, the group said Yee's “obvious pro-tyranny and anti-Canada stands not only tarnish the credibility of the B.C. government, but also misrepresent what the vast Chinese community aspires to.”
On Wednesday, the group demanded that B.C.'s solicitor general and attorney general instruct the RCMP to conduct a full investigation into who made the threats last weekend, their motivations, and “whether foreign influence is involved with the perpetrator.”
Speaking at a news conference organized by the Concern Group, lawyer Richard Kurland urged people not to rush to judgment, but said that the threat “merits immediate priority for law enforcement.”
“It's fair to say as soon as an attempt is made on Canadian soil to put Canadians in harm's way, we trust our governments — whether provincial or federal — will react swiftly and with conviction,” he said.
Intimidation of Chinese-Canadian activists isn't new. But now, they say it's relentless.
For Cherie Wong, it began in January 2020 when she answered the phone in a Vancouver hotel room she had booked under a false name prior to the launch of Alliance Canada Hong Kong.
“We are coming to get you,” she was repeatedly told.
Police told her there was nothing they could do about it. Since then, she has heard that response far too many times, including 10 days ago from Ottawa police after being chased while out walking her dog.
“I am f----g terrified,” Wong tweeted. “When will people help us? CCP dissidents should not live in fear every single day. I should be able to go walk my dog without running away from a man chasing me down the street.”
Activists are facing “a new wave of harassment,” she said. “It has been different from previous harassment campaigns — at a higher frequency, bolder tactics, a wider range of targets, and it has lasted longer than previous waves of attacks.”
Two of the Concern Group — Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, and Fenella Sung, founder of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong — told me in 2019 about being harassed at pro-democracy rallies in Vancouver by pro-Beijing counter-protesters.
They said it was the first time in 30 years of activism that they had felt afraid.
Other members of the Concern Group include Bill Chu, founder of Canadians for Reconciliation Society; Ken Tung, past chair of SUCCESS; lawyer Tommy Tao; economist Norman Sung; Eleanor Yuen, former head of UBC's Asian library; Asian holocaust educator Thekla Lit; former journalists Victor Ho and Thomas Lou; Rev. Howard Yeung; and Stanley Ng, president of the Institute for Christian Action and Contemplation.
The Sunday death threats underscore why Chinese Canadians are so concerned about who politicians are listening to and who their advisers are.
Yee is a retired provincial court judge and former Vancouver city councillor. His support for the People's Republic of China dates back at least 32 years to 1989, when he initially denied that hundreds of students were killed by soldiers in Tiananmen Square. He declined to speak to me for this column.
What triggered the group's letter to Horgan were Yee's comments following a unanimous vote in Parliament in February condemning China for the cultural genocide of Uyghurs.
“We all know that these (Canadian) politicians don't even know where Xinjiang (province) is,” Yee said in Cantonese on Toronto's A1 Radio. “There are no supporting facts. Especially for us who have visited Xinjiang, and know that Xinjiang's situation is like other places, people's lives are getting better and better.
“They use these lies, and those politicians, what kind of legal base can prove China has committed genocide, those actions, those policies? None.”
In its pointed letter to Horgan, the Concern Group asked: “Can you afford to have a genocide-denier and tyranny-defender as an adviser? Can British Columbians risk the perception of B.C. endorsing the Chinese Communist Party and embolden more People's Republic of China proxies to come out and spread CCP lies?”
The group has now posed an even more important question: Why aren't Canadian lawmakers and law enforcement doing more to ensure the safety of those brave enough to speak out about human rights, social justice and the possible corrosion of those values by apologists for an oppressive foreign regime?