David Matas: Discovering Organ Harvesting in China
David Matas: Discovering Organ Harvesting in China

Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Matas speaks at a book presentation at Vancouver Public Library.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Matas speaks at a book presentation at Vancouver Public Library.
VANCOUVER, Canada—On a serene evening in Vancouver, a full house of about 70 came to Vancouver Public Library for Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Matas’ book tour. Matas spoke about the research that led to the discovery of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. 

The research process wasn’t an easy one. Although many are aware that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China began in 1999, no one knew for sure if organ harvesting as method of persecution was actually used.

“The very basis of the story was difficult to assess one way or the other,” said Matas, senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada and a member of the Order of Canada.

“Because what we were told was that the victims were killed and the bodies were cremated … There wouldn’t be any records in the Chinese hospital record—it wouldn’t be available to us or any researcher. The scene of the crime and the operating room in the hospital is cleaned up after operation, so there’s no crime scene.”

Although they didn’t want to believe in the “worst of humanity,” as Matas put it, Matas and his partner David Kilgour, former Canadian cabinet minister and crown prosecutor, in 2001 they started their independent research as volunteers in their free time in case the organ harvesting was truly happening on the other side of the globe.

Among their many research methods, they had callers calling hospitals across China pretending to be relatives of patients needing organ transplants.

“We got hang ups and we got rejections,” said Matas, but some hospitals did admit that they had organs of Falun Gong practitioners for sale. 

Another piece of evidence was blood testing of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners.

“Obviously we didn’t interview anybody who had their organs taken,” said Matas. “But we were interviewing people who got out of prison and what they told us was that Falun Gong practitioners in prison were being systematically blood tested and had their organs examined and the non-Falun Gong practitioners were not. We heard this from both Falun Gong practitioners and non-Falun Gong practitioners.”

Statistically, China is the world’s leading transplant center after the United States in terms of volume. Yet there was no donation system until last year. 

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