Pulses were sent racing again Wednesday as further revelations surrounding China's Sujiatun concentration camp were reported by an investigative body, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG, website ).
The disclosures follow a week of passionate protests and demonstrations around the world, set off by news of the secretive camp for Falun Gong adherents in northeastern China. The camp reportedly holds up to 6,000 at a time and kills detainees for their organs, which are then sold for profit.
News of the camp's existence broke on March 9 when a China-based journalist leaked his findings to The Epoch Times. His was the first report detailing this type of concentration camp since 1999, when then-leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong (a.k.a. Falun Dafa).
The WOIPFG report likely puts to rest any lingering hopes that the alleged camp was more fictive than real. Emerging from the two-page piece is a picture of secrecy, complicity, and murder.
“As the image of the camp comes into focus,” said Levi Browde, a spokesperson for the Falun Gong, “it is only adding to the visceral sense of horror we felt at its first disclosure.”
“This looks to be far worse, and far more grotesque, than we imagined,” Browde said.
Drawing on sources in China, the WOIPFG report portrays an efficient machine driven by profit and a confidence born of state-backing. The camp is described as running “a systematic procedural practice” that began as early as 2001.
Located in the Sujiatun district of Shenyang city in Liaoning province, the camp is said to have been mostly built underground upon the preexisting infrastructure of an aerial defense compound. Even locals, word has it, are not aware of what goes on behind its massive walls.
According to the China-based journalist, the camp's austere outside masks “unimaginable” horrors inside.
A Bustling Business
The camp was reportedly constructed for the express purpose of “harvesting” organs from captive Falun Gong practitioners, which are then sold for profit or used at neighboring hospitals. Victims' bodies are then destroyed on site via a crematorium.
Procedural practices, such as notifying the family of the deceased, are altogether aborted.
The WOIPFG report, said to be the first in the organization's ongoing investigation, cites one witness describing the camp's operation as “too horrible to watch.” Organs are allegedly removed while the victims are still alive, so as to ensure freshness and maximum functioning. The camp itself is located in close proximity to one of Sujiatun's hospitals.
Black-market organ sales is known to be a lucrative business in China, say human rights groups. Amnesty International and others have linked China's staggering number of state-orchestrated executions to the organ trade, with figures approaching 10,000 executed in recent years. Testimonies from Chinese physicians presented to the United States Congress indicate that victims rarely grant consent. As in Sujiatun, bodies are often cremated immediately following organ removal so as to eliminate evidence.
Chinese officials have denied the practice, claiming the charge is part of a conspiracy by “hostile” democratic nations.
Disturbing Beyond Words
WOIPFG president John Jaw says that most all of the Falun Gong practitioners believed to be held in the camp were likely arrested on extrajudicial grounds and administratively sentenced. They have been detained “for their affiliation with the Falun Gong as opposed to having committed some sort of criminal act,” he said.
Adherents of the popular spiritual discipline have been detained by the hundreds of thousands since 1999, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI, www.faluninfo.net). While the info center has details of nearly 3,000 Falun Gong adherents who have died as a result of mistreatment and torture in custody, countless remain missing.
“The pattern seems to be that they are first sent to the labor camps, without trial or hearing, and if they don't break down there and 'repent' or renounce their beliefs, they are… transferred to Sujiatun,” Jaw said. “There they've found a 'solution' for such people. They are turning 'the Falun Gong problem' into a source of dirty money.”
Few know about the deaths, the investigative organization president added, as the victims are transferred secretly to the camp. Family members are rarely told of their whereabouts. “All of this is disturbing beyond words,” Jaw said.
Those who are aware of the camp and its dark practices appear to be under enormous pressure. WOIPFG's report describes that many of the medical staff involved in the organ removal have “suffered severe psychological trauma.” In some cases, doctors have looked to prostitutes for escape and staff suicides are said to have even taken place.
The death camp is reportedly being steered by provincial-level CCP officials in Liaoning, as well as Shenyang city officials. Particularly involved are managers in health bureaus, who stand to gain the most financially.
The WOIPFG findings are thus far consistent with the shocking Sujiatun disclosures of last week by an unnamed Chinese journalist.
Those disclosures, first reported by The Epoch Times on the 10th ( news ), set off alarms among China watchers and those documenting abuses of the Falun Gong. Word of concentration camps for China's Falun Gong had circulated since at least October 2000, when a source told Agence France-Presse of two camps, each capable of holding up to 50,000 persons. A report that same month from China told of a similar camp in northwestern China's remote Xinjiang region.
It is believed no independent bodies have since investigated the claims, likely owing to obstacles from Chinese officials and the risks involved. Foreign reporters must apply with CCP authorities for permission to leave the capitol should they wish to explore such allegations. Several dozen journalists have been arrested for attempting to report on the Falun Gong.
The recent informant, who had been a journalist for a Japanese news agency in China, painted a grim picture of the Sujiatun camp.
“Why was a crematorium built, and why are so many doctors housed there? … The answer is something unimaginable,” said the source, who chose to remain anonymous.
“If Falun Dafa practitioners are sent to Sujiatun,” he said, “they have no chance of coming out … The CCP won't let a prisoner consume food forever. So what are they up to, then? … the Falun Dafa practitioners are killed for their organs.”
The source also indicated that the Falun Gong make a prime “source” of organs, owing to their nearly limitless supply—as many as 2 million Falun Gong adherents are said to currently be held in China's vast system of labor camps and prisons.
“They [CCP authorities] can't find enough bodies through executions, and no bodies are more readily available for this business than those of the [Falun Gong] practitioners,” he explained.
Falun Gong sources said on Tuesday that “warning signs” have surfaced in recent months that should have been taken more seriously.
In a March 9 press release FDI pointed to an ominous report from the Paris-based Intelligence Online. That report described a “crisis meeting” last June by CCP authorities in which Liu Jing, China's deputy minister of Public Security, was assigned the job of “stamping out” Falun Gong “before the Olympic Games in 2008.”
Rights violations have become commonplace in preparation for the games, groups such as the Czech-based Olympic Watch (www.olympicwatch.org) say.
Thousands of Beijing residents have been unlawfully evicted from their homes, many report, and recent months have seen increasing censorship of media.
Fears of a “Falun Gong purge” in connection with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics have been articulated by several human rights groups.
“Beijing is seeking to use the Olympics as a pretext for carrying out what is a dirty, brutal, and completely unlawful program of genocide targeting the Falun Gong,” said spokesperson Browde.
“All the press about how the Olympics will open up Chinese society and put the CCP regime under scrutiny is nonsense, if not self-delusion, unless reporters proactively push the regime and investigate serious allegations of human rights abuses like we're now receiving,” he said.