1.5 Million in 53 Countries Say ‘No’ to Organ Harvesting in China
Petition Delivered to UN High Commission in Geneva
A grass-roots movement that has spanned 5 continents and 53 countries reached a climax Monday morning in Geneva when a delegation from the organization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting formally presented to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights a petition that has garnered almost 1.5 million signatures. The presentation was timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day, which falls on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
The petition asks the high commissioner to call for “an immediate end of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China,” to initiate investigations that will lead to the prosecution of those responsible for this crime against humanity and to call upon the Chinese government to end the persecution of Falun Gong.
In a one and one-half hour meeting in a conference room in the U.N.’s Motta Building, Torsten Trey, M.D., executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), along with three doctors and three lawyers from six countries and three continents, presented a letter for the high commissioner and briefed the high commissioner’s staff on the forced organ harvesting taking place in China.
In a phone conversation, Torsten Trey explained how the petition got started. The members of DAFOH were frustrated, Trey said. They knew an atrocity was taking place in China, but governments and professional and human rights organizations had often been slow to react.
The DAFOH members thought that if people were asked directly, they would respond. In June DAFOH reached out to a few supporters to start collecting signatures for a petition. The signature collection started in earnest in July.
The petition took off. The more people heard about the organ harvesting taking place in China, the more volunteers and organizations wanted to help gather signatures, in more places around the world. Like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, the petition rapidly started getting bigger.
By the end of September it had 400,000 signatures. By the end of October, the signature count doubled to approximately 800,000. By the end of November, when the petition was closed, it had almost doubled again, to 1.48 million.
The work of gathering signatures was done by volunteers, with Falun Gong practitioners taking the lead in most areas, but then often finding non-practitioners jumping in to assist. Getting signatures was not a hard sell.
Zek Halu, a real estate developer in his mid-60s, would show up in London’s Chinatown with two clipboards under each arm, one in his hands, and pens sticking out of his pockets.
On the weekends, the streets of Chinatown are thronged with people, mostly European tourists. Halu would plunge into a group and find one person who wanted to sign. “Soon, everyone wants to sign, and then the clipboards with the petitions start getting tossed around in the crowd from one to the other. One can’t keep up.”
Also collecting signatures in London’s Chinatown was a couple in their sixties from mainland China each of whom had been tortured in mainland China for their belief in Falun Gong. Without speaking any more English than “please sign” and “petition,” they would collect signatures every day.
“Their faces are so kind,” Halu said, “People want to do whatever they ask.”
In fact, formidable, elderly Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong with limited English skills collected signatures in major cities all over the world. In Toronto, the 75-year-old Ms. Li Jiayu collected 8,000 signatures from July through November.
In Switzerland, the Swiss chapter of the human rights organization International Society for Human Rights organized the signature collection.
Silvan Fedier, a 40-year-old educator, headed up the project for the society. “Individuals from churches would simply pick up a petition somewhere without our knowing and take it to their church,” Fedier said in an email, “And then they would send us the filled-out signature sheets.”
In Korea, tables at which doctors could sign the organ harvesting petition were set up at 18 different meetings of medical societies; 7,000 doctors signed.
While people were willing, most had not heard of the forced organ harvesting before and were not prepared for what the volunteers had to tell them.
“80 to 90 percent were disgusted,” said Thanh Le a retired manager for Los Angeles County in California. “They couldn’t believe it. ‘This is the most inhumane thing,’ they would say.”
Toronto’s Ms. Zhou Chuanying said through an interpreter, “What impressed me the most was how many people’s faces were shocked after they read the petition letter. With some, their eyes reddened. With others, there were tears on their cheeks.”
The information in the petition letter first came to the world’s attention in March 2006, after an investigative reporter for a Japanese TV station and the wife of an eye surgeon fled the country for the United States, where they told a gruesome story.
They provided credible details about a camp near a hospital in northeastern China in which Falun Gong practitioners were held as a kind of live organ bank. When the hospital needed an organ for transplantation, they would check the records of individuals in that camp, and if one matched, pluck that person out and harvest all of his or her salable organs, killing the practitioner in the process.
After this story broke, international human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour began investigating the allegations that forced organ harvesting was taking place on a mass scale in China.
In the report Bloody Harvest (released in July 2006 and since published as a revised report and then a book), they concluded the allegations were true. They estimated that in the years 2000–2005, Falun Gong practitioners had provided organs for 41,500 transplantations.
Among other pieces of evidence, Kilgour and Matas pointed to the following: unexplained blood tests and medical exams given to detained Falun Gong practitioners, but not to other prisoners; phone admissions by doctors in China in 2006 that they had or could get access to “fresh organs” from Falun Gong practitioners; the way in which the number of transplants done in China shot upward after the persecution of Falun Gong began in China; and the absence of any other source other than Falun Gong practitioners that could provide the organs for this rapid increase.
Bloody Harvest understands the forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners to be part of the persecution of Falun Gong launched by then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin in 1999.
Falun Gong involves practicing meditative exercises and seeking to become a better person by living according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. After first being publicly taught in 1992, it rapidly became very popular. According to official Chinese state reports at the time, at least 70 million people had taken up the practice. Practitioners say the true number was over 100 million.
Jiang feared how popular Falun Gong had become—more were practicing it than were members of the Chinese Communist Party. He also feared that the traditional moral teachings of Falun Gong would erode the authority of the Communist Party’s atheist ideology.
David Matas is well-positioned to gauge how the public is responding to the forced organ harvesting taking place in China. In an email, Matas wrote that he had traveled “almost continuously” for more than seven years—since completing Bloody Harvest in July 2006—meeting with groups and politicians to tell them about these crimes against humanity.
He wrote that when he returns to a location after time has lapsed, he can see that awareness of organ harvesting, and activism opposing it, has increased, with more concern at higher levels of society. “The story of organ transplant abuse in China has, over the years, spread wider, higher, and deeper,” Matas wrote.
“There is a gathering global momentum finally to set in place the mechanisms to prevent the transplant abuse we have seen and continue to see in China.” Matas wrote. “The petition both reflects and adds to the momentum.”
That momentum has recently broken through in several legislatures. On Dec. 6 legislation was introduced in the Canadian Parliament that would sanction those involved in organ trafficking. On Dec. 12, the European Parliament is scheduled to vote on a resolution condemning organ harvesting. The U.S. House of Representatives is also expected in early 2014 to vote on a resolution condemning organ harvesting.
A state in Australia is considering legislation that would prohibit individuals from receiving organs harvested from unwilling victims. New legislation has been discussed in France. In Sweden recently, 20 MPs took part in a brainstorming session that discussed possible new legislation.
“Out of the Chinese Communist Party’s killing of Falun Gong for their organs will arise a global legacy, an ethical global organ transplantation system,” Matas wrote. “That legacy will survive long after the Communist Party of China is a bitter, distant memory.”
Additional reporting by Allen Zhou
LA Falun Gong Practitioners Appeal to Stop Organ Harvesting
SANTA MONICA, Calif.—More than two hundred Falun Gong practitioners and supporters held an annual rally on a high bluff overlooking a Southern California beach on... Read more
China’s Forced Organ Transplant Industry Much Larger Than Suspected, Say Canadian Investigators
A decade ago, two Canadians released a report on illicit organ harvesting in China so shocking that many struggled to believe it. Since then, the... Read more
‘Slow Motion Genocide’ Subject of New Report on Organ Harvesting in China
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The authors of a new report about state-led organ harvesting in China presented their findings at the National Press Club on June 22, calling... Read more
Interview With David Matas, Co-author of New China Organ Harvesting Report
Epoch Times: What is this new report? What’s new and significant about it? David Matas: It’s an update on the work Ethan Gutmann and I... Read more
Interview With David Kilgour, Co-author of New China Organ Harvesting Report
Epoch Times: What’s the most important new finding in this new report? David Kilgour: The Party-state in China argues that there are around 10,000 organ... Read more
Report Reveals Vast State-Run Industry to Harvest Organs in China
WASHINGTON—Transplant surgeons in China are awash in human organs. Some complain of working 24-hour shifts, performing back-to-back transplant surgeries. Others ensure they’ve got spare organs... Read more
Interview With Ethan Gutmann, Co-author of New China Organ Harvesting Report
Epoch Times: Can you introduce me to this new report that is coming out? Ethan Gutmann: Well, it doesn’t have a flashy title. It’s simply... Read more
US House of Representatives Unanimously Passes Legislation Condemning Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong in China
A decade after evidence emerged of one of the gravest and most extraordinary human rights violations today, the United States House of Representatives has added... Read more
Capitol Hill Forum Highlights New Developments in China Around Persecution of Falun Gong
WASHINGTON—Resistance in mainland China to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is growing by the day, according to human rights activists and China experts speaking... Read more
Organ Transplant Advocacy Group Is Nominated for Nobel Prize
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, a network of doctors and surgeons who concern themselves with ending the practice of coercive organ transplantation, was nominated for... Read more
Investigative Report: A Hospital Built for Murder
By 2006, from his base at the Tianjin First Central Hospital, Dr. Shen Zhongyang had performed over 1,600 liver transplantations, boastful Chinese media reports say... Read more
Raped and Almost Killed for Her Organs, Chinese Woman Tells Horrifying Story
In 2006, a Chinese woman from the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing was abducted by a group of men who tied her up and brought her... Read more
Son of Chinese Revolutionary to Xi Jinping: Redress Injustices First Step to Democracy
If Chinese regime leader Xi Jinping wishes to set China on the path of democratic reform while in office, he must earn the support and... Read more
China’s Transplant Tourism Is Murder on Demand
With their tenets for daily living of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners from around the world, in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with “Falun... Read more
Hope That China Will Stop Killing Prisoners for Organs Is a Dream, Say Experts
A recent medical report by medical experts shows a conflict between organ transplantation practices in China and the West. The report states concerns that “organs... Read more
Huang Jiefu’s Sleight of Hand: Hiding the Organ Harvesting Taking Place in Plain Sight
Dr. Huang Jiefu, Beijing’s point man for selling its murderous organ transplantation system to the world, has been on a roll. In October, Beijing Youth... Read more
Canadian MPs Speak Out on 16-Year Persecution of Falun Gong in China
PARLIAMENT HILL—Some 700 people gathered on Parliament Hill on Dec. 9, the eve of Human Rights Day, to deliver 95,000 petition signatures to Prime Minister... Read more
Peace Award Given to Chinese Transplant Official, but Not All Celebrate
To his champions in the West, he has brought transparency to a secretive system; to his critics, he has worked to cover up mass crimes... Read more
Student Leads Effort to Condemn Organ Harvesting
When 20-year-old John Perry began to practice Falun Gong in late May, he felt a duty to tell people about the danger other Falun Gong... Read more
Chair of Foreign Affairs Committee Supports US Condemnation of Organ Harvesting in China
Last year, approximately 20,000 people from U.S. Congressional District 39 in California signed a petition to support a house resolution condemning forced organ harvesting in... Read more