Edward McMillan-Scott made his announcement as he joined others in marking the ten-year anniversary of the “April 25th Appeal” that many China experts say was the beginning of the persecution against Falun Gong in China.
“This amounts to the ongoing genocide of an innocent group,” said McMillan-Scott, Member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber, speaking at a press conference in London on Tuesday.
McMillan-Scott has been personally researching the suppression of the spiritual discipline for the past three years. He described how, following a fact-finding visit to Beijing in 2006, all his Falun Gong contacts were arrested, imprisoned and in some cases tortured up to the present day.He explained how one of the people he interviewed saw the dead body of his Falun Gong friend who had died while in detention. The corpse had telling holes where organs once were.
In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party declared its intention to eradicate the Falun Gong spiritual group with the mandate from Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, who gave the following orders: “Destroy their reputation, bankrupt them financially, and annihilate them physically.”
This week McMillan-Scott, together with a letter to the head of the UN, submitted an application for investigation of the persecution of Falun Gong in China under Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention.
Ethan Gutmann, award-winning investigative reporter on China issues, described how the Western media took their cues from Beijing right from the appeal of April 25th, 1999 and didn’t report on the persecution of Falun Gong.
Speaking at the press conference alongside Edward McMillan-Scott on Tuesday, Gutmann described how as the years rolled on and the body count of verified deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in detention rose to 3,000, the media reporting on Falun Gong actually dropped.
So in 2006, when charges of the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners were first raised, very few media organisations were reporting on the issue.
“Organ harvesting is the surgical removal of the prisoner’s retail organs, that is their kidneys, liver, cornea, occasionally the heart or the lungs. Usually this operation takes place while the person is still alive,” said Gutmann.
For the past two years Gutmann has been intensively interviewing over 100 people for a book on the fate of Falun Gong at the hands of the Chinese communist regime. Of those 100 people, 50 had been imprisoned for their belief in Falun Gong. Gutmann describes how something curious emerged from his in-depth interviews, namely that about 30 per cent of the Falun Gong practitioners who had been imprisoned had been given inexplicable and expensive medical tests, things like close physical examinations of their corneas, but with no attempt to check visual brain function.
“Fifteen per cent [of the 50 interviewed] had clearly been assessed for harvesting, in many cases, again and again, endless blood tests and urine tests and so on,” said Gutmann, who wasn’t expecting to find this information.
How many Falun Gong have been harvested for organs? “I come up with a total of 13,500 on the low end. On the high end 162,000 have been harvested,” said Gutmann, acknowledging that reliable data is hard to come by.
Explaining how organ harvesting can take place, Gutmann said, “It was just business.”
“Organ transplants are very profitable. They’re averaging about US$50,000 per person. Potentially as high as $200,000 per practitioner if several foreigners are being serviced simultaneously.”
Professor Tom Treasure, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery with extensive experience in transplantation, did not have trouble believing the reports he had read about organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. “This all seems likely and I’m not in any real doubt,” said Professor Treasure.
“It was the doctors in Germany who systematically through the 1930s devised the ways in which unwanted groups could be exterminated,” he said.
He went on to describe how these German doctors were enabled to do their research through a process of steps, not unlike how transplantation is done, where one group finds the donors, another group runs the tests, etc. This system makes it very easy for each person at each stage to claim ignorance.
When Professor Treasure wrote about Falun Gong organ harvesting in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, it was met by silence. He cornered a friend and asked him about it. His friend’s response was that he believed the prisoners are shot in the head and there are “death vans” with doctors or technicians who remove the organs for transplantation. This acted like a separation between the judicial and the medical.
For Professor Treasure this explained how “the belief in the bullet in the head and the death van enabled completely honourable people to somehow live alongside this practice without quite acknowledging it in its detail. I’m not sure he’s right. That was the last little bit of the jigsaw. This is how they can live with themselves. While the evidence seems to be that this horrific practice continues.”