RCMP investigate Chinese ‘police’ stations in Canada
RCMP say they are investigating Chinese « police » stations in Canada.
It comes after Spain-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders reported that there are more than 50 worldwide, including three in the Greater Toronto Area in predominantly Chinese communities.
They include a residential house and a one-story commercial building in Markham and a convenience store in Scarborough.
« In most countries, we think of it as a network of individuals, rather than a physical police station where people will be trained, » said Laura Harth, campaign manager at Safeguard Defenders. .
« It is completely illegal under international law. It is a serious violation of territorial sovereignty. »
In a statement to CBC in response to questions about these stations, the Chinese Embassy said local authorities in Fujian, China, have set up an online service platform to help Chinese nationals overseas.
“Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many overseas Chinese citizens are unable to return to China in time for Chinese driver’s license renewal and other services,” reads- we in the press release. « For services such as driving license renewal, it is necessary to have sight, hearing and a physical examination. The main purpose of the service station abroad is to provide free assistance to overseas Chinese citizens in this regard. »
The embassy said overseas gas stations are staffed with volunteers who « are not Chinese police officers » and are not « involved in any criminal investigation or relevant activity ».
But Safeguard Defenders said there is evidence that individuals linked to these stations have been involved in persuading nationals suspected of committing crimes to return to China to face criminal prosecution.
Foreign states can ‘intimidate or harm’ communities: RCMP
CBC News was unable to corroborate this, but in a statement the RCMP said they were « investigating reports of criminal activity in connection with so-called ‘police stations' ».
The RCMP also said it takes « threats to the safety of people living in Canada very seriously and is aware that foreign states may seek to intimidate or harm communities or individuals in Canada. »
« This is an outrageous intrusion on Canadian sovereignty, » said Conservative MP Michael Chong.
These stations are…another tool that Beijing can use to suppress Canadians here in the Chinese community in Canada.– Conservative MP Michael Chong
“We have heard of threats directly targeting people who defend minority rights in China, such as those in the Uyghur and Tibetan communities. These stations are now another tool that Beijing can use to suppress Canadians here in the Chinese community in Canada. , » he said.
« The government must take immediate action. At a minimum, they should drag the Chinese ambassador to Canada to the rug with a formal demarche and strongly express our outrage. »
Pursue fraud suspects overseas
The Chinese embassy’s statement did not address allegations of intimidation, but earlier this year China’s state-run newspaper Global Times reported that 230,000 telecom fraud suspects had been « persuaded to return to China from overseas to confess to crimes from April 2021 to July 2022. »
In September, China passed an anti-telecommunications and online fraud law in a bid to crack down on telecommunications and online fraud in China and abroad.
« Some may be guilty of economic crimes. We also know that these types of campaigns have been used to target dissidents, critics of the regime, even those within the Communist Party…those who might have resisted [President] Xi Jinping himself, » Harth said.
« These types of operations range from harassing and threatening family members back home to sending secret agents overseas to directly approach the target and coerce them back home, » he said. she declared. « [The] the worst-case scenarios are when they lure or even entrap people in a third country, from where they can have them expelled – or even kidnappings. »
At a House of Commons special committee on China-Canada relations on Oct. 4, Chong questioned Global Affairs officials about the existence of the police stations reported in the media.
“There is room for legitimate state-to-state police liaison cooperation,” said Weldon Epp, director general for North Asia and Oceania at Global Affairs, in response to a question from Chong.
« But the allegations reported in the press would fall well outside of that, and we would have deep concerns if they turn out to be true. »
Epp said Global Affairs was working with partner agencies to confirm the allegations.
CBC contacted Global Affairs and Public Safety Canada for comment, but both federal agencies referred to the RCMP statement.
Dissidents fear being targeted
Journalist and human rights activist Sheng Xue moved to Canada after the events of 1989. Tian’anmen Square Massacre escape repression.
She said she was repeatedly targeted by Chinese officials online for her activism and was arrested in Beijing in 1996 when she traveled there to visit her mother, as well as in Hong Kong in 2008. In both cases, Xue said she was forced to leave after being detained.
« They want to destroy my reputation. But since I’m in Canada, they can’t just kidnap or kill me, like many of my friends in Thailand or Vietnam. [or] Hong Kong, » she said. « [But] now chinese police station [is] here, a few miles from me, so I wonder where else I can escape?
Xue said some Chinese nationals in Canada may choose to cooperate with Chinese officials out of fear for their family members back home.
Uyghur activist Rukiye Turdush says many in her community in Canada are afraid to publicly criticize China’s actions towards the Uyghur Muslim minority because of the possible repercussions on the family in China.
« They live in Canada [and] they can’t express themselves freely like me, » she said.
A 2021 report written by the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights in Montreal and a Washington, DC-based think tank concluded that China « bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide » against the Uyghurs.
It detailed serious abuses, including mass internment, family separation, forced sterilization and abortions. China has denied the allegations, saying the crackdown on Uyghurs was aimed at combating extremism.
Turdouch leak China’s western Xinjiang region in the 1990s after his brother was killed by Chinese soldiers for protesting Chinese influence in the region.
Turdush said several Uyghur students in Canada told him « that they were intimidated by the Chinese police online and [the police] threatened them, threatened them… to come back [them] in China. She said she didn’t know where they were because the harassment happened virtually.
Turdush said out of fear for their safety, she has not communicated with her own family members at home for more than 20 years.
« I cut the connection, » she said. « I never communicate with anyone because if I communicate with them, maybe they’ll get in trouble there. »