The atrocities committed by the Chinese regime in its decades-long persecution against Falun Gong practitioners amount to a “cold genocide,” according to a Canadian professor.
Maria Cheung, associate dean at the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba, spoke at the fifth session of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting on Sept. 25.
David Matas, a Canadian human rights lawyer; Dr. Torsten Trey, executive director of U.S. based advocacy group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting; and Cheung were among the four authors that published a 2018 paper, “Cold Genocide: Falun Gong in China,” in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.
Cheung said that what the communist regime has done against Falun Gong practitioners in China—while meeting the classical definition of genocide—is different, given the length of the persecution—now in its 22nd year.
“It is a genocide by attrition, which is a slow process of annihilation that reflects the unfolding phenomenon of mass killing of a protected group under disguise—the public don’t see an immediate unleashing of violent death,” she said.
She noted that she and her co-authors called it a cold genocide, “which is hidden and lingers for over two decades without much notice.”
Standing in contrast to “cold genocides” are “hot genocides,” which the authors defined in their paper as “destructive acts of high intensity which annihilate the victim group in a short time span.”
Practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that’s also known as Falun Dafa, have been heavily persecuted in China since 1999. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, millions of practitioners have been detained inside of prisons, labor camps, psychiatric wards, and other facilities in China, with hundreds of thousands facing torture while incarcerated.
While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been harvesting organs from executed prisoners since the early 1990s, the mass incarceration has offered a large, vulnerable population to provide organs upon demand for organ transplants. Shortly after the persecution of Falun Gong began, China’s organ transplant industry began to boom.
Many Falun Gong practitioners have shared how they were nearly victims of China’s organ harvesting. They’ve recalled being repeatedly asked to undergo physical examinations, including blood tests, while they were in detention.
“In my recent research data from three countries on the torture experienced by refugees who practice Falun Gong in China, about 75 percent have been subjected to these selective screening procedures for forced organ harvesting when they’re detained in China,” Cheung said.
In 2019, a London-based people’s tribunal published a report concluding that forced organ harvesting was happening on a “significant scale” in China, with Falun Gong practitioners being the main source of organs.
Cheung said China’s “cold genocide” against Falun Gong adherents isn’t only about the physical destruction of the group, which is what the forced organ harvesting represents—it’s also about psychological and social destruction.
Sleep deprivation, forceful feeding of psychotropic drugs, and watching Chinese propaganda films nonstop are some of the known brainwashing tactics that Chinese guards deploy against detained Falun Gong practitioners in an effort to force them to renounce their faith.
The social destruction comes in the form of financial persecution, as Chinese authorities have forced companies to fire Falun Gong practitioners or deprive them of their pensions. Chinese officials have also attempted to isolate practitioners in society by forcing family members to turn against their loved ones and co-workers against their colleagues.
“Social death and spiritual death, unlike physical massacre, are silent and bloodless, but they achieve a similar, profound effect in the pursuit of eradication,” Cheung said.
“We are facing a totalitarian regime that tries to achieve annihilation of a victim group [Falun Gong] over time under a cloak of inattention, ignorance, or apathy. It is not a matter for just the victim groups, or the Chinese people, but also to the global citizens.”