EDMONTON—The crime is too horrible to imagine, and yet forced organ harvesting from incarcerated Falun Gong practitioners in China—while they’re still alive—continues to this day, say experts.
What makes the matter even more shocking is that the crime is being carried out by the state.
This was the topic of discussion at the State Organs Forum put on by the Falun Dafa Association of Edmonton on Jan. 19 at the University of Alberta.
“In 2001, American reports, asylum-seeking [Chinese] doctor Wang Guoqi, and the good work of David Matas and former Edmonton member of Parliament David Kilgour leave little doubt in my mind that the involuntary and therefore illegal harvesting [of organs] … occurs,” Brent Rathgeber, MP for Edmonton-St. Albert and one of the keynote speakers, told the forum.
“I further have no doubt that Falun Gong has been targeted in this horrific practice.”
The blood testing and organ examination could not have been for the health of Falun Gong [practitioners], since they had been tortured, but it would have been necessary for organ transplant.
—David Matas, international human rights lawyer
Falun Gong is a Chinese meditation practice based on the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance. The practice, which was introduced to the public in 1992, attracted over 70 million adherents within a matter of a few years, thanks to its positive health benefits.
“By 1999 Falun Gong practitioners were, according to [Chinese] government surveys, more numerous than the membership of the Communist Party,” said Winnipeg-based international human rights lawyer David Matas, speaking at the forum.
“At that point, out of fear of losing its ideological supremacy and jealous of its popularity, the [Chinese Communist] Party banned Falun Gong.”
Those who continued to practice Falun Gong after the ban were arrested, and if they refused to denounce the practice, were tortured, said Matas. As for those who still refused to recant after torture, they disappeared.
“David Kilgour and I concluded that many of the disappeared were killed for their organs.”
Matas and Kilgour published the results of their investigation in a book titled Bloody Harvest.
Some of the evidence, which Matas mentioned very briefly during the forum, included investigators calling hospitals throughout China pretending to be relatives of patients needing transplants and asking for organs of Falun Gong practitioners, since Falun Gong practitioners maintain a healthy body through exercises.
The result was that the hospitals would tell them they had organs from Falun Gong practitioners for sale.
Many Falun Gong practitioners also report that they routinely underwent blood testing and organ examination while in detention in China, while other detainees did not.
“The blood testing and organ examination could not have been for the health of Falun Gong [practitioners], since they had been tortured, but it would have been necessary for organ transplant,” Matas said.
The great number of transplant operations and the extremely short waiting times for transplants in China are another damning piece of evidence.
“Everywhere else in the world, waiting times are months and years. Short waiting times for a deceased donor transplant means that someone is being killed for that transplant,” Matas said.
“There is no explanation for the transplant numbers but sourcing from Falun Gong.”
Persecution Spreads to Alberta
In his remarks, Matas also mentioned some points that give the persecution an “Alberta perspective.”
As an example, there are many Falun Gong practitioners living in Alberta who had undergone torture when they were in China.
The fact that we’re aware of it and we talk about it promotes incremental change.
—Brent Rathgeber, MP for Edmonton-St. Albert
There are also cases of China’s persecution spreading to Alberta, an example of which is when Calgary Chinese consulate officials spread anti-Falun Gong leaflets during a conference at the University of Alberta in 2004.
“[Falun Gong practitioners] complained to the police that the literature amounted to a hate crime against Falun Gong. The police agreed,” Matas said.
The forum also heard from Dr. Shawn Wu, associate director of medical affairs with the Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting organization.
Dr. Wu, a medical doctor based in Boston, presented evidence based on his organization’s research and his own research into forced organ harvesting in China.
“We continue to make urgent appeal to the international community. … We are calling for investigation into Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners and other groups of people,” Dr. Wu said.
Awareness ‘Promotes incremental change’
MP Rathgeber, who is also the chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong, said he attended the forum because he is a supporter of the rights of Falun Gong practitioners and human rights in general.
He said more people should be made aware of this grave human rights concern.
“I think when you’re dealing with China you don”t have a free and open media, far from it. You have a state-run media that is less a news source and more a propaganda machine,” he said.
“Forums like this are important to inform and educate Canadians, to educate students at the University of Alberta, educate Chinese diaspora, Chinese people who are living here, and Canadians generally that this practice exists.
“The fact that we’re aware of it, and we talk about it promotes incremental change.”
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