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Ending a Crime Against Humanity in China PDF Print E-mail
Global Stage
By Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.   

China’s 5000-year-old civilization deserves the respect of the entire world. This talk is about governance and violence committed by its party-state since 1949 on those deemed its opponents, which has most recently resulted in large scale pillaging of vital organs from Falun Gong practitioners for commercial transplantation purposes.

 

When Australian Prime Minister Gillard quite properly spoke out on International Woman’s Day against trafficking in women and girls, many around the world could have added that trafficking in human organs across China is also an ongoing crime against humanity. No “donors” survive transplant operations anywhere in China because both kidneys and all other vital organs are invariably seized and their bodies are then cremated.

 

David Matas and I located 52 kinds of direct and circumstantial proof about this vile commerce occurring since 2001, so I was surprised to learn from one of your China desk diplomats in Canberra the other day that he at least does not accept our evidence as convincing. According to our research, set out in our book Bloody Harvest, practitioners have been killed in the thousands since 2001 so that their organs could be trafficked to Chinese and foreign patients. For the period 2000 –2005 alone, Matas and I concluded that for 41,500 transplants the only plausible explanation for sourcing was Falun Gong.

 

The main conclusion of our book is that there “continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong (…) Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.” Our revised report is accessible in 18 languages on the Internet (www.david-kilgour.com).

 

State Organs

In the 2012 book, State Organs, writer Ethan Guttman’s best estimate is that  65,000 Falun   Gong were killed for their organs during the years 2000-2008 from about 1.2 million practitioners interned in China’s forced labour system (Laogai). A police signature is enough to send anyone to the camps. As Mark Mackinnon of Canada’s Globe and Mail put it recently, “No charges, no lawyers, no appeals”.  In 2007, a U.S. government report estimated that at least half of the inmates in 340 camps were Falun Gong. It is Leninist governance and 'anything is permitted' economics that enable organ trafficking to occur.

 

Falun Gong (or Falun Dafa) is a spiritual discipline which seeks to improve body and ethics. It contains features of traditional systems, like Chinese Qigong, Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism), combined with a set of gentle exercises.  Because it grew astonishingly rapidly in popularity from its inception in 1992, the Party saw it as a threat, labelled it a cult, and commenced persecution against its practitioners from mid-1999 on.

 

After 1980, the post-Mao Party began withdrawing funds from the health system across China, requiring it to make up the shortfall from service charges to mostly uninsured patients. Selling the organs of executed convicts became a source of extra income for surgeons, the military and other participants. After 1999, Falun Gong prisoners of conscience became a vast live organ bank for wealthy Chinese patients and ‘organ tourists’ from abroad, who often preferred that the "donors" were Falun Gong, being healthy persons normally, rather than convicted prisoners.

 

Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview Falun Gong practitioners sent to China's forced labour camps, who later managed to leave the camps and the country. Practitioners told us of working in appalling conditions in camps for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and little food, crowded sleeping conditions and torture. They made a range of export products as subcontractors to multinational companies. This is gross corporate irresponsibility and a violation of WTO rules; it shrieks for an effective response by all trading partners of China. Each government should ban forced labour exports by enacting legislation which places an onus on importers in each country to prove their goods are not made by slaves.

 

Constructive Engagement

The responsible international community should engage as constructively as feasible with the new government in Beijing while pressing it constantly to end organ pillaging.

 

Democracy with very Chinese characteristics is probably closer than many of the sino-cynics think. The values we represent on the issue are universal, including equality for all citizens, the rule of law and independent judges, multiparty democracy, corporate social responsibility and the need for manufacturing jobs everywhere. The people of China should know that democrats everywhere stand with them, not their government, just as we did with central/east Europeans during the Cold War and with South Africans during the lead up to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and his election as president of a democratic nation.

Foreign Investors in China

Selling services, goods and natural resources to virtually any country is in my view acceptable (subject to security considerations), but investing in ones without full reciprocity for foreign investors and governments without respect for their own citizens is inevitably problematic. No responsible government should permit the sale of its businesses to state-owned companies (SOEs) from anywhere.

 

Much goes wrong for foreign investors in China. For example, McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Beijing a number of years ago under what it thought was a twenty-year lease. Two years later, it was told to get out because a large domestic developer wanted to build over its location. What hope of fair treatment is there for most foreigners if McDonald’s is abused thus?

 

A Canadian family I knew invested their life savings and those of friends in a pharmaceutical firm not far from Beijing about a dozen years ago. The mayor of the adjacent city had run the business before it was privatized, but wanted it back. He evidently pulled enough levers under the table that the plant was soon padlocked. The Canadians lost every penny of their investment; the respective embassies in Ottawa and Beijing said they could do nothing to help.

 

Sino-Forest Inc. was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange last year; approximately 50 Chinese companies have been delisted by the SEC in the U.S. Investors and consumers alike in and outside China are fed up with toxic toys, poisonous food, theft of intellectual property and other business fraud. Only days ago, thousands of dead pigs floated down a river near Shanghai. A perfect symbol of putrescent governance.

 

‘Ponzi Capitalism’

Canada’s international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe wrote in the Vancouver Sun a couple of years ago that what prevails in China are variations of a Ponzi scheme: “A local government, without a functioning system for raising tax revenue—and… riddled with corruption…sells development land to garner cash…(first getting rid of (farmers) living on the land)…And, this being China…the municipality has the power to instruct the banks to lend the development company the money for the sale. So the local government gets its cash, the municipally owned company gets to build a speculative residential or industrial complex, and all seems well.”

 

If anyone in Australia or Canada thinks that a bilateral investor protection treaty will prevent similar problems, consider the experiences of Clive Ansley of Canada. He practised law in Shanghai for thirteen years and observes, “There is a …saying amongst Chinese lawyers and judges who truly believe in the rule of law…’Those who hear the case do not make the judgment; those who make the judgement have not heard the case.’” Another factor which caused Ansley to leave China was an edict that went out to all judges across the country, telling them that foreigners were not to win in China’s ‘courts’ in future.

 

Fear is un-Australian

Having visited Gallipoli in Turkey a few years ago, I know how brave and determined Australians and New Zealanders are. Last weekend, I noticed on the window of a Melbourne clothing store a quotation from Thucydides, “The secret of freedom is courage.” When some Australians claim that your governments are afraid to stand up to the party-state in China on organ trafficking out of fear of losing export markets, I cannot agree.

 

The late Vaclav Havel was threatened that his country would lose exports to China if he invited the Dalai Lama to Prague. The visit took place and nothing appears to have been lost. When Prime Minister Harper stood up to Beijing after 2008, the same threats were made. Bombardier Inc announced one of its biggest contracts ever in China not long after our prime minister demonstrated what Canadian values stand for in the world. In short, bluster aside. the Party in Beijing appears to respect those who stand up for universal values.

 

International Initiatives re Organ Pillaging

United Nations

Since 2006, several UN Special Rapporteurs have asked China’s government for an explanation of the serious allegation about organ pillaging from live Falun Gong practitioners. They pointed out to the government that a full explanation would disprove the allegations, but it has provided no meaningful answer, simply denying woodenly the charges.

 

Following are two conclusions drawn by the Rapporteurs:

“Organ harvesting has been inflicted on a large number of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations for the purpose of making available organs for transplant operations.  The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure, and therefore were killed in the course of the organ harvesting operations or immediately thereafter.”

 

“ It is reported that employees of several transplant centres have indicated that they have used organs from live Falun Gong practitioners for transplants. officials from several detention facilities have indicated that courts have been involved in the administering the use of organs from Falun Gong detainees.”

 

The Chinese party-state replied to the Special Rapporteurs’ with a categorical denial. They, however, later reported:  “New reports were received about harvesting of organs from death row prisoners and Falun Gong practitioners” [1] and “information received that Falun Gong practitioners have been extensively subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and that some of them have been used for organ transplants.”

 

In 2008, the United Nations Committee against Torture recommended that Chinese authorities investigate and punish those responsible for forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong.

 

European Parliament

In September 2006, The European Parliament conducted a hearing  (Matas and I testified) and adopted a resolution condemning the detention and torture of Falun Gong practitioners, and expressing concern over reports of organ harvesting; the issue was also raised by direction of the EU troika leadership through the Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja meeting bilaterally with China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the EU-China summit that year in Helsinki.

 

On December 1, 2009, the European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee held hearings on organ transplant abuse in China. The European Parliament resolution of 19 May 2010[2] "Action plan on organ donation and transplantation (20092015)" states in part:

 

"Notes the report of David Matas and David Kilgour about the killing of members of Falun Gong for their organs, and asks the Commission to present a report on these allegations, along with other such cases, to the European Parliament and to the Council;"[3]

 

On December 6, 2012 organ pillaging in China was among the main topics in a hearing in European Parliament on Human Rights in China. David Matas testified.

 

Australia

In December 2006, your Queensland Health Ministry announced the abolition of training programs for Chinese doctors in organ transplant techniques at the Prince Charles and the Princess Alexandra Hospitals, as well as banning joint research programs with China on organ transplantation

 

Taiwan

In August 2007, Hou Sheng-mao, then Director of its Department of Health, reported requesting Taiwanese doctors not recommend to their patients to travel to China for transplants. The Taipei bar association recently passed a resolution, condemning ‘organ tourism’ in China.

 

Canada and Belgium

In 2006, Two Belgian senators introduced into the Belgium Parliament a law which addresses organ transplant tourism. Former Canadian MP Boris Wrzesnewskyj introduced into our House of Commons extraterritorial legislation banning "transplant tourism" in 2008. Both would penalize any transplant patient who receives an  organ without consent of the donor where the patient knew or ought to have known of the absence of consent.

 

France

Parliamentarian Valérie Boyer and other members of the National Assembly proposed a law in 2010 which sets out certificate and reporting requirements similar to Canada’s proposed law.  It would require every French resident who undergoes an organ transplant abroad to acquire at the latest 30 days afterwards a certificate stating that organ was donated without payment. The organ recipient must provide the certificate to the French Biomedical Agency before returning to France.

 

Israel in 2008 passed a law banning the sale and brokerage of organs and ending funding through the health insurance system of transplants in China for Israeli nationals. It also offered a number of interesting initiatives to encourage nationals to donate organs, including giving priority for to transplants to persons who signed donor cards. After the bill was enacted, ‘organ tourism’ by Israelis to China ceased immediately.

 

United States

In September 2006, the Congress held a hearing on organ harvesting from Falun Gong. http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/intlrel/hfa30146.000/hfa30146_0f.htm

 

On Oct. 3 2012, 106 Members of Congress wrote to then Secretary of State Clinton, urging her to release information on organ pillaging in China from Falun Gong practitioners and other religious and political prisoners, and for the release of any information it might have that former Chongqing deputy mayor Wang Lijun is believed to have provided during his brief sanctuary in a U.S. consulate in February. Wang and Bo Xilai, both now in prison, were directly involved in organ harvesting practices.

 

The State Department finally acknowledged, albeit weakly, in its 2011 Human Rights Report, released in May 2012,  that “Overseas and domestic media and advocacy groups continued to report instances of organ harvesting, particularly from Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs.” http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

 

From June 2011, the online U.S. non-immigrant visa application, Form DS-160, requires the following information from the applicant: “Have you ever been directly involved in the coercive transplantation of human organs or bodily tissue?”

 

NGOs and Medical Organizations

Various NGOs and medical organizations have issued statements urging the investigation and measures to stop the forced organ pillaging from prisoners of conscience, particularly Falun Gong. Some examples:

 

In 2007, the Transplantation Society introduced new policy on interactions with China, against using the organs from prisoners. https://www.dafoh.org/TTS__policy_on_Interactions.php

 

  • The policy of the WMA (World Medical Association) includes now a paragraph that organ donation from prisoners is not acceptable in countries where the death penalty is practiced. This is a new policy.
  • The NGO Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) seeks to promote ethical standards in medicine and to end forced organ pillaging across China. In 2012, DAFOH initiated several petitions in Europe, Australia and U.S. (including the so-called White-House-Petition) calling for an end of organ pillaging in China and further investigation through the UNHRC. Within 3 months, the petitions garnered 250,000+ signatures.

 

Recent Individual initiatives


  • In July 2012, Dr. Torsten Trey and David Matas published a volume on organ transplant abuse in China, including the killing of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. The book, State Organs, is a collection of essays by leading medical professionals and other commentators which consolidates evidence of these abuses, discusses their ethical implications, and provides insight on how to combat these violations.

On December 2, 2012, three medical doctors, Arthur Caplan, Alejandro Centurion and Jianchao Xu, initiated a petition calling upon the Obama administration to investigate and help stop forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong in China. The petition is posted within the “We the People” section of the White House website. The petition is available at: http://wh.gov/5Jmn.

 

Unfortunately, these and other initiatives have not yet ended the trafficking in organs from involuntary “donors” across China.

 

The Ebook is available from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_12?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=state+organs+transplant+abuse+in+china&sprefix=state+organs%2Cdigital-text%2C256

 

China

The government of China now accepts that sourcing of organs from prisoners is improper. Deputy Health Minister Huang Jeifu in 2009 stated that executed prisoners “are definitely not a proper source for organ transplants.”  In 2005, Huang admitted that over 95% of the organs transplanted in China came from executed prisoners. China had been denying using prisoners’ organs prior to this admission.

 

In 2006 a World Medical Association resolution demanded that China stop using prisoners as organ donors, and in 2007 the Chinese Medical Association agreed to do so. In 2010 at a transplant conference in Madrid, Minister Huang stated that between 1997 and 2008 China had performed more than 100,000 transplantations, with over 90% of the organs being from executed prisoners.

 

Human rights organizations fear the number could be even higher.  Roseanne Rise, from Amnesty International, says, "We're concerned that prisoners aren't really independent enough to give meaningful consent... When they’re under the control of the state and dependent on it for all of their daily needs it’s difficult to assess whether they’re really giving voluntary consent."

 

In February of 2012, Huang again stated that the practice of organ harvesting from prisoners continues in China today, but that the government wants to phase it out by 2015 and build up a national donation scheme.  This will be very difficult to achieve because many Chinese are unwilling to donate their organs.

 

Before the party-state abolishes organ harvesting from executed prisoners, tens of thousands more will be killed for their organs. Since Matas and I began our voluntary work, the number of convicted persons sentenced to death and then executed has decreased, but the number of transplants, after a slight decline, rose to earlier levels. Since the only other substantial sources of organs for transplants in China, apart from Falun Gong, are prisoners sentenced to death, a decrease of sourcing from that population means an increase in sourcing from Falun Gong.

 

In the past, the death penalty was administered by gunshot, but lethal injection is now the most common practice because organs are preserved. Most executions in China take place in mobile buses, which are often parked next to hospitals.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Some pharmaceutical companies, such as Novartis and Pfizer, have voluntarily pulled away from trials of anti-rejection drugs in China because of ethical concerns. There is, however, need for binding national regulation. Arne Schwarz in State Organs and David Matas in a speech detailed a wide range of trials of anti-rejection drugs done in China. Some were conducted in hospitals from which our telephone investigators obtained admissions that they were selling organs of Falun Gong.

 

Recommendations

Matas and I would encourage Australian legislators and all parliaments to consider our recommendations, including, urging the party-state in China to:

  • cease the repression of Falun Gong;
  • cease organ-pillaging from all prisoners;
  • remove its military from the organ transplant business;
  • establish and regulate a legitimate organ donor system;
  • open all detention centres, including forced labour camps, for international investigation; and
  • free Gao Zhisheng and many other prisoners of conscience.

Implement the following measures until organ pillaging from prisoners ceases:

  • MDs from outside China should not travel there to give training in transplant surgery;
  • contributions submitted to medical journals about experience with transplants in China should be rejected; and
  • pharmaceutical companies everywhere should be barred by their national governments from exporting to China any drugs used solely in transplant surgery.

Conclusion

Australia, Canada and other responsible governments should enact measures to combat international organ transplant abuses: exterritorial legislation, mandatory reporting of transplant tourism, health insurance systems not paying for transplant abroad, barring entry of those involved in trafficking organs.

 

To those who in effect excuse what is happening in China today, saying that only a small number of Australians are still going there for organ transplants, I ask, would you say the same if your fellow citizens were going to Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia for transplants a generation ago?

 

Many of us in and beyond China ought now have greater impact on the future of this grave matter, not only because it is necessary for tens of millions of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners and their families, who have been torn apart across China, but also because it is good for China and the international community as a whole. We all want a China that enjoys the rule of law, dignity for all and democratic governance.

 

Thank you.

This is a speech given at Parliament House, Canberra, Australia on March 20th 2013.


[1] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/10session/reports.htm (document number: A/HRC/10/44/Add.5).

[2] 2009/2104(INI)

[3] Paragraph  39.

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 March 2013 10:28
 

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