Each year since 2018, Friends of Falun Gong has honored an individual or organization for their contributions towards supporting Falun Gong practitioners’ freedom of belief on a local, national, or international scale. The honorees are people who have contributed their time, talent, and effort to raise awareness of the persecution, and done so on a scale so as to create ripple effects throughout their fields, opening up new possibilities for advocacy.
The winner of the Friends of Falun Gong Human Rights Award is Dr. Sev Ozdowski. An Australian of Polish descent, Dr. Ozdowski has experienced the persecution of Polish communists against himself and his family, and now dedicates part of his time to countering the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong.
He has the unique distinction of serving as the president of the Australian chapter of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. As such he has worked closely with Falun Gong practitioners in Australia, holding talks and events to let more people know the truth of Falun Gong’s situation in China. Through his unique perspective as a Polish refugee, he has incisively and powerfully advocated for freedom and justice for the Chinese people. He has carried a torch in the Human Rights Torch Relay protests during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Watch FoFG Creative Director Christine Lin’s interview with Dr. Ozdowski below.
You can visit Dr. Ozdowski’s website here.
In a July 16 ceremony in Washington, D.C., Mr. Simon Vereshaka, a fellow Australian, received the 2021 FoFG Human Rights Award on Dr. Ozdowski’s behalf. In accepting the award, Dr. Ozdowski issued the following statement:
I am delighted to be the recipient of the 2021 Friends of Falun Gong Human Rights Award. I regret I cannot be in Washington, D.C., with you.
It is an honour to be the first individual selected by the Friends of Falun Gong committee for this award and to be recognised alongside past winners, David Matas and David Kilgour, the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) and the journalists, academics and researchers who contribute to Bitter Winter. Thank you for acknowledging my human rights work in this important area.
My interest in human rights and my work to advance and promote rights and freedoms dates to my youth in communist Poland. Human rights are the basic freedoms and protections that belong to every single one of us and that should be delivered by a state. However, my experience of communism in Poland taught me that a totalitarian state could be in fact the worst violator of human rights.
As Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Chair of Australian Multicultural Council, I developed close contacts with the Chinese community in Australia. The 2006 Kilgour–Matas investigative report about organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China was an eye opener. The report stated that “the source of 41,500 transplants for the six-year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained.”
Further research documented prosecution, imprisonments and murders of Falun Gong followers. This was my personal ‘call for action’ and was the start of my close cooperation with Falun Gong practitioners in Sydney.
However, back in 2006, I perhaps naively hoped that after the government crimes against the Falun Gong community were exposed, the Chinese Communist Party would take steps to eliminate the practice and punish those responsible.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. The persecution and organ harvesting continues to this day. Thus, we need to continue our fight.
Last but not least, I wish to dedicate my award to all the people in Australia working to advance the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners in China. There are too many of them to mention individually.
Be reassured, victory will be ours. History tells us that the persecution of religious and minority groups by a state leads only to one result; the submission of the state to the will of the people.
You will be able to practice your religion in freedom again.