The Chinese embassy's fierce denunciation of a report that found vital organs are being harvested from living Falun Gong practitioners detained in China fails to negate any of the report's findings, say its Canadian authors.
At a Parliament Hill press conference on July 6th, Canada's former secretary of state for Asia Pacific David Kilgour and a prominent international human rights lawyer David Matas released the report on their two-month long investigation into the allegations of organ harvesting. They concluded that the practice is in fact widespread, and estimated that in the last six years, approximately 40,000 organ transplant operations in China may have been done using organs from involuntary Falun Gong adherents.
It's a practice Matas called "a form of evil we have yet to see on this planet…a new form of evil."
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa refuted the report within hours of its release, likely indicating that they had not actually read through the 45-page document's findings.
In a statement posted on its website, the embassy called the claims a "lie" made up by Falun Gong intended to "smear China's image." Defending the regime's organ transplant system, it called the report "groundless and biased." It then took aim at the authors and at Falun Gong, parroting the communist party's line that Falun Gong is an "evil cult."
But while the Chinese authorities were quick to disclaim the report to the western press, they were not so quick to address the Chinese public. The statement could not be found on the Embassy's Chinese version.
According to research by this reporter, there was also no mention of the organ harvesting report in median in Mainland Chinese, where the communist regime wields tight control of the press.
In a response to the embassy statement, Kilgour and Matas expressed concern with how the Chinese authorities were treating the issue.
"The report has to be judged on its merits," their statement read. "Attacking its authors is not an appropriate response."
Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual discipline that combines meditation and a moral philosophy of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, was outlawed by the Chinese regime in July, 1999 as a threat to its communist ideology. Hundreds of thousands of adherents have been arrested, detained, and routinely tortured since then for refusing to renounce the practice.
The cost of policing and detaining Falun Gong practitioners has cost the Chinese economy billions of dollars according to some estimates. But it appears that in 2000, the Chinese regime made the business of suppressing the spiritual practice profitable by removing and selling the organs of Falun Gong detainees. The number of organ transplant surgeries in China spiked dramatically. According to figures posted on one Chinese hospital's website, the organs from one body can fetch as much as US $640,000. After all organs are removed, the body of the unwilling donor is cremated to destroy any evidence.
The allegations were first uncovered in March of this year, when a Chinese journalist now residing in the United States approached the Epoch Times with information about a hospital in northeast China, where he said upwards of 6,000 Falun Gong adherents were detained for the purpose of extracting their organs. Not long after, another woman came forward, saying that her husband was a surgeon at the hospital. He had apparently confided in her that he removed the corneas from an estimated 2,000 Falun Gong adherents.
The report by Kilgour and Matas even includes taped transcripts of phone conversations with several Chinese hospitals. Several hospital staff at different locations in China admitted to using Falun Gong organs for their transplant operations.
Kilgour and Matas are not alone in being dealt denials and attacks after raising concerns with the Chinese. In an April 16 interview with CTV, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Mckay expressed concerns over credible reports of Chinese economic espionage in Canada. On April 18th, the Chinese embassy released a statement flatly denying the espionage allegations and calling the statements "irresponsible and unjust."
And in June the Chinese regime applied the same strategy to Amnesty International, which criticized the Chinese for selling weapons to some of the most repressive regimes and war-torn countries in the world. In a piece of news published in June 17th on www.qianlong.com, a popular news website in China, it said that Amnesty International "colludes with overseas anti-China activists in fabricating sensational rumors."
In their reply, Kilgour and Matas said the embassy's statement that "China prohibits the sale of human organs and the donor's consent must be obtained beforehand" is also belied by the facts, referring to the well-documented practice in China of harvesting organs from prisoners.
"Human Rights Watch has reported that consent is obtained from executed prisoners in only a minority of cases," they noted in their statement.
They also emphasized that, despite the embassy's claim that their report was just 'Falun Gong rumours', neither of the authors nor their main witness, the ex-wife of a surgeon allegedly complicit in organ harvesting, are Falun Gong practitioners. They added that they carried out the investigation as volunteers and that the findings represent their own opinions.
"Every finding we make is sourced and independently verifiable," they said.
They also stressed that the embassy's attack on Falun Gong was evidence of the kind of repression Falun Gong faces in China that makes the organ harvesting crimes possible.
"Calling the Falun Gong an evil cult exemplifies the vilification heaped on the Falun Gong," they wrote. "Calling a group of innocent civilians an 'evil cult' is a form of incitement to hatred, unacceptable in Canada."