Canada and other free countries should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics if the communist regime in China continues harvesting organs from detained Falun Gong practitioners, a prominent Ottawa rabbi said on Sunday.
Speaking at the annual congress of the World Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, Rabbi Reuven Bulka urged the Canadian government to force the Chinese regime to "cease this horrible practice."
Bulka's remarks come after a report released last month by former Liberal cabinet member David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas found Falun Gong practitioners' organs were being systematically removed and sold in a lucrative state-run organ trade in China.
"It's a big payoff for them," Bulka told The Epoch Times. "They're making hundreds of millions of dollars on this, and they probably think they're going to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Olympics too. But if we tell them they're persona non grata in the international community until this is stopped they'll get the message."
The communist regime launched a brutal crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999, believing the popularity of the meditation practice threatened the officially atheistic ideology of the state. Hundreds of thousands of adherents have been illegally arrested and detained, the Falun Dafa Information Center says, while thousands have been killed and many others have simply disappeared.
While the organ harvesting report didn't call for a boycott, Kilgour said last week in Australia that the Olympics provide a "window of opportunity" to pressure the Chinese into halting the practice.
Kilgour and European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott are now on a tour to raise awareness of the report and seek support from governments for an international investigation.
The Canadian government has said it plans to investigate the claims in the report, while the Australian government went further and last week pressed Chinese officials to allow an independent investigation. Kilgour praised Australia and hopes other countries will follow suit.
The evidence in the report includes numerous conversations with hospital staff in China wherein they openly state that vital organs are extracted from "batches" of living Falun Gong practitioners; calls to police and judicial authorities indicate that Chinese courts arranged enough organ "suppliers" to meet demand. The report estimates that about 41,500 organ transplants between 2000 and 2005 have no identifiable source based on official statistics.
The authors say the Communist Party's policy of repression and hate incitement against Falun Gong means adherents are solely at the mercy of corrupt authorities.
"The incitement to hatred against the Falun Gong and their dehumanization means that they can be butchered and killed without qualms by those who buy into this official hate propaganda," the report states.
David Matas, a co-author of the report, says it may be more effective to use a boycott to pressure Beijing to halt the persecution of Falun Gong altogether, rather than the more recent reports of organ harvesting. While the organ harvesting evidence is largely circumstantial, Matas says there is "incontrovertible proof" that other persecution is being inflicted on Falun Gong in China.
New Law Not Expected to Stop Organ Crimes
Matas says that although the Chinese regime enacted legislation banning organ sales on July 1, there's no evidence that the new law is being enforced — something that doesn't surprise Guo Guoting, a Chinese human rights lawyer now living in Canada.
Chinese authorities harassed Guo and closed his law firm over his defence of political dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners, and his criticisms of the communist regime on the Internet.
Guo says many laws in China are "only for show," and are never implemented. He says the new legislation was passed soon after the organ harvesting story initially broke in the West — a tactic the regime used to create a perception that "they will control this kind of thing under law."
"They passed this so-called law, but actually it's just to deceive the international community, not to protect the people's rights."
NDP Deputy Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston says Canada should wait until Amnesty International and the UN are able to investigate the organ harvesting reports before using the Olympics as leverage. He believes that since China has become "more of a trading nation looking for partnerships in the world" Beijing may be more open to allowing investigators into the country than in the past.
Kilgour and Matas requested visas for their investigation in China but were refused.
The Falun Dafa Association of Canada, a group that speaks for Falun Gong practitioners in Canada, has called on Ottawa to publicly condemn Beijing for the mass harvesting of organs and urge the Chinese regime to end the persecution of Falun Gong.
"Canada needs to end its policy of appeasement in the face of Communist China's human rights atrocities as soon as possible," says an FDAC statement.
Speaking at an organ-harvesting seminar in New South Wales on Sunday, Kilgour said the fact that Canada and the U.S. have strong trade ties with China needn't be a deterrent to condemning that country for its poor human rights record.
Rabbi Bulka agrees.
"Every single country has to make a principled decision. It's true that trade may be jeopardized, but they have to ask themselves whether they want to trade with anyone who does something as heinous as this. And if they do, then there is a serious moral problem."
The U.S. National Kidney Foundation says unethical organ transplants should be condemned by the international transplantation community. The foundation released a statement saying it is "deeply concerned" about the findings of the Kilgour-Matas report and that it opposes any payment for organs because of the possibility for exploitation.
The China International Transplantation Network Assistance Centre advertised prices for organs on its website. The centre charges up to US$130,000 for a liver and US$62,000 for a kidney. Its website claims that organs — including lungs and hearts — can be found immediately, and that at least 5,000 kidney transplants are performed annually in China.
Bulka, a member of the Canadian Council for Transplantation and Donation, which advises Health Canada, says that if more people in Western countries were to donate their organs the scarcity would be alleviated, thereby eliminating the need for Canadians to travel abroad for transplants.
In the meantime, he believes the Canadian government will come through with a boycott on the Games "if the Chinese don't come clean."
"This situation is so serious that we need to use whatever muscle we have," says Bulka. "The Canadian government is seeking to corroborate the report, and based on the way they've been behaving up to now, I have full confidence they'll do the right thing."
Matas says new evidence is forthcoming in a follow-up report in October.