NEW YORK—As the international community gathers for the United Nations’ General Assembly, voices of the oppressed rise at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza—the small slice of New York opposite the U.N. building that protesters are corralled into.
Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) practitioners made what has become a yearly visit to the plaza to raise awareness about their plight as the largest persecuted group in China. Quieter than other groups, the practitioners mainly mediated and did slow-moving qigong exercises—a sharp contrast to the posters they displayed that showed some of the torture methods used on practitioners in China.
More than 100 million in China were practicing Falun Gong by 1999 when the Chinese Communist Party, led by Jiang Zemin, created an extrajudicial Party organ for the purpose of conducting a statewide persecution campaign against the practice.
Thirteen years later, reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, the U.S. State Department, and independent investigations all expose large-scale, state-sanctioned atrocities. In 2006, reports of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China began to surface.
Canadian human rights lawyers David Matas and David Kilgour have released two reports and a book detailing the organ harvesting practice in China.
Matas estimates that every year, to supply 10,000 organ transplants in China, 1,000 death row prisoners are killed for their organs, 500 transplants come from living donor relatives, 500 come from Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Eastern Lightning House Christians, and 8,000 come from Falun Gong practitioners.
Yi Rong, chairwoman of the New York-based Global Service Center for Quitting the Communist Party, handed out fliers to passersby at the plaza Tuesday, hoping to reach more of the international community.
“They should pay attention and help stop this terrible crime,” she said. “Nothing’s more important than people getting killed and their organs being harvested for profit.”
Luo Ma Luan had been captured and placed in a labor camp for practicing Falun Gong. She was severely tortured, including being denied sleep for a month. At other times, she worked 12-hour shifts making products such as plastic toys.
Communist officials attempt to force Falun Gong practitioners to denounce the practice through torture. One official threatened Luo that she would be sent to a remote area if she didn’t renounce her belief. In order to get out of the camp, she eventually signed a renunciation statement.
Luo believes the official was indicating she would be sent to a remote area for organ harvesting.
She said through a translator she appreciates the people and government of the United States, “because they give me a place to freely practice Falun Gong and expose the persecution by the Communist Party.”
Efforts by the practitioners at the U.N. to bring attention to the issue of organ harvesting had been preceded by a recent congressional hearing on the topic.
Led by investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann and Damon Noto of the organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, a hearing on Capitol Hill recently explored the gruesome topic of organ harvesting in China. Gutmann has estimated approximately 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been killed for their organs.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), main chair of the hearing, said: “What we’re talking about is a monstrous crime. … To rip open the body of someone who is simply involved in a religious or personal or political idea that is contrary to the wishes of the ruling elite, and not a physical threat to the regime, this is about the most monstrous crime that I can conceive of.”
“This hearing goes to the heart of what America is all about,” Rep. Rohrabacher said. “If we don’t care about things like this, what kind of country and people would we become?”
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