A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate is aiming to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for forcibly harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience.
The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act, or S.761, would authorize the State Department to deny or revoke passports and visas to anyone involved in forced organ harvesting. It also would require annual government reporting on the illicit activity in foreign countries and impose sanctions on facilitators. A House version of the legislation is headed to the full chamber after advancement on a unanimous vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 28.
“There is growing evidence that the Chinese Communist Party has and continues to harvest organs from persecuted religious groups, prisoners of conscience, and inmates,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who is co-sponsoring the legislation with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), said in a March 9 statement. He added that it’s “past time to hold Beijing accountable for these heinous acts.”
Coons, who is co-chair of the chamber’s Human Rights Caucus, described forced organ harvesting as “cruel and immoral,” noting that it often targets “ethnic and religious minorities and some of the most vulnerable groups in the world.”
“I am proud to re-introduce the bipartisan Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act that will empower the Biden administration to take action against those who practice this despicable crime,” he said.
In communist China, the state-sanctioned program of forced organ harvesting is worth $1 billion a year, according to findings from the independent China Tribunal in London.
After more than a year’s investigation, the tribunal in 2019 reached the conclusion that the practice had been occurring “on a significant scale,” sourcing primarily from imprisoned adherents of Falun Gong. The spiritual discipline, which features core values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as well as meditative exercises, has been the target of a brutal persecution for the past 23 years at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Dr. Torsten Trey, who founded the nonprofit group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, has called the abuse inflicted on Falun Gong practitioners a form of “cold genocide,” or the “destruction of a group that takes place but in a slow motion and slow-moving pattern.”
The House version’s chief sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), said he hopes the legislation can stop Americans who seek organ transplants overseas from unintentionally abetting human rights violations.
“Anyone who does get a transplantation should be very aware of its source to ensure the dead person voluntarily offered their organ—be it a heart, liver, or whatever it might be—[and] that they were indeed dead at the time of the organ transplant,” Smith previously told NTD, a sister outlet of The Epoch Times.
“But in China, everything is reversed. They go and pick and ‘cull’—as they call it—these very healthy people, and the Falun Gong practitioners are extraordinarily healthy because of their religious practices, because of their lifestyle, so they become victimized by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Other senators listed as co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).