David Matas: Lessons From the Holocaust, Organ Harvesting in China
David Matas: Lessons From the Holocaust, Organ Harvesting in China

“Everywhere [we see] this kind of harassment and interference,” Matas said, adding that Chinese embassies went so far as to call a parliament committee in Finland and demand they cancel a meeting with Matas and Kilgour.

Sometimes harassment turns into threats—personal threats. When David Matas spoke on a radio program in Australia—broadcast live into China—audience members were invited to call in for questions and comments. A man calling in from China said, “I’m from the Internet police. What you are doing is an attack on China. By insulting China you are putting your own life at risk. My question for you is: are you not afraid?”

“The problem is the abuse,” Matas replied. “Don’t blame the messenger. Blame the message. If you don’t want this sort of criticism, stop human rights violations. Stop killing Falun Gong for their organs.”

Responses from regime officials have been annoying, to say the least. The rare and belated responses consist mainly of two parts: typical propaganda attacks on Falun Gong and personal attacks on the two authors and their “subversive intrigue” against China.

Of note: no comment has been made to address the evidence listed in the reports, evidence which the investigators say is independently verifiable.

After repeated requests, Kilgour and Matas were granted a meeting at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa; a staffer showed up with a prepared statement consisting mainly of attacks on Falun Gong copied from Chinese propaganda materials. Mr. Matas described the staffer’s reference to the organ harvest report as “just silly.”

“The way it attempted to refute our report was to take statements from our report that had citations or [were] supported by evidence, strip the citations, and changed the quotations to ‘it’s said that’ or ‘it’s rumored that’ … to give the impression that our report was based on rumors rather than on evidence. And then he criticized the report for being based on rumors.

“For me and David Kilgour, we are two individuals working part time to take on the government of China, which has a budget of billions and full-time staff around the world,” Matas reflected, in our interview. “We know from defectors that [combating Falun Gong] is their number one priority. … They have more personnel devoted to combating the Falun Gong than to anything else. For us two part-time individuations to stand against this monolith is a mammoth task.”

Mammoth task as it is, giving up is never an option for Matas. Of Jewish descent, Matas says he’s learned important lessons from the Holocaust. “One of the reasons that the Holocaust happened was the global indifference, the notion that this is a country far away,” he said. “Crimes against humanity are not just crimes against the Chinese. It’s crimes against all of us.”

Matas said conscientious law professionals in China such as Gao Zhisheng also inspired him to persist.

Gao, nominee of the Nobel Peace Award for two consecutive years, has been repeatedly imprisoned, tortured, and placed under house arrest because of his efforts to appeal for persecuted Falun Gong practitioners. “If he can do all that,” Matas said, “what David Kilgour and I have done is the least we can do.”

According to the Matas and Kilgour report, systematic organ harvesting started as early as 2000 or 2001.

Four years have elapsed since the 2006 initial publication of the investigative report, and the persecution of Falun Gong is still going on. But Matas says he has faith.

“I’ve been in this business for a long time,” said Matas, now senior legal counsel to B’nai Brith Canada. “I know that human rights change doesn’t happen quickly,” he said. “But over a period of time I’ve seen a lot of changes.”

He added that over the last four years, the publicity surrounding systematic organ harvesting has forced China’s communist regime to at least admit that organs do come from prisoners; responding to public scrutiny, regime officials have also removed websites that overtly advertise harvested organs for transplant.

Both gentlemen have voluntarily carried the fight to expose the atrocities; when complimented for his generous deeds, Matas laughed, and dismissed the credit.

“It’s not about me. It’s about all the other people,” he said. “But from a personal perspective, I’m Jewish and I’ve been very much affected by the Holocaust. … I’ve been trying to think about the Holocaust, learn a lesson from the Holocaust and act on them as a legacy to victims of the Holocaust.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned is the need for people everywhere to act on human rights violations anywhere, to prevent those violations from happening.”

In the “Recommendation” section of the Bloody Harvest report, Matas and Kilgour request from us:

“To all those who are sceptical about the allegations, we ask you to ask yourself what you would suggest to prevent, in any state, allegations like these from becoming true. The common sense list of precautions to prevent the sort of activity here alleged have pretty much all been missing in China.”

Biography of David Matas (www.bnaibrith.ca)
David Matas is senior legal counsel to B’nai Brith Canada, and an internationally renowned refugee, immigration, and human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg. A former president of the Canadian Council of Refugees, he is also active in such organizations as Amnesty International, Helsinki Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists. He has represented B’nai Brith in many international fora, such as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He is an accomplished author of several highly acclaimed publications, among them “Justice Delayed: Nazi War Criminals in Canada” (1987) with Susan Charendoff; “Closing the Doors: The Failure of Refugee Protection” (1989) with Ilana Simon; “Bloody Words: Hate and Free Speech” (2000); and “Aftershock: Anti-Zionism and the Rise of Contemporary Anti-Semitism” (2005). His latest book is “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs” (2009) with David Kilgour. He has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from Concordia University.

For more information about David Matas, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Matas

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