Congress Holds First Hearing on Organ Harvesting

October 2, 2006 Updated: July 5, 2015

As many as 41,500 healthy people who practice Falun Gong became involuntary victims of organ transplants and murdered between 2002 and 2005, according to a report that was presented before the U.S. Congress on September 29th.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) chaired the first Congressional hearing on the allegations, and in particular, this report. He said that now it is important for this “to get the attention of the American people.”

“It’s important to get this on the record officially,” said Rohrabacher. Referring to the David Kilgour’s and David Matas’ Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, he said it has already generated much worldwide media attention.

Rohrabacher explained that the human rights violations get short shrift by American businessmen due to the lucrative trade with China. But they don’t see, he says, that their huge profits are being made from “an evil system of injustice that is keeping the people of China under control and oppressed.”

Rohrabacher is Chairman of the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigations, which is under the Committee of International Relations.

Missing at the hearing was a representative from the U.S. Department of State (DOS). At least, no one “officially” was from the DOS, noted the Congressman, leaving open the possibility that an observer from the DOS was present in the hearing room. Congressman Rohrabacher expressed his disappointment at the DOS absence, and turned to an aide to confirm that an invitation had been extended to the DOS.

Highlights of the evidence for the alleged crimes were discussed by four witnesses, including David Kilgour and David Matas–authors of the report.

The report described China’s harsh, even genocidal, policies towards Falun Gong. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, found that nearly two-thirds (66%) of victims of torture and ill-treatment in Chinese prisons are people who practice Falun Gong, said Kirk C. Allison, Ph.D.

Dr. Allison is Director, Program of Human Rights and Health at the School of Public Health, Medical School, University of Minnesota. Dr. Allison said he was speaking for himself, and not for his affiliated institution.

“The systematic program of ideological eradication of Falun Gong coincided with an inexplicable increase in whole organ transplantation, and international organ transplant tourism to China,” testified Dr. Allison. Between 2000 and 2005 the source of organs within China is hard to prove. Elsewhere, in a special article for the Epoch Times, Dr. Allison had looked into the source of the increase of transplant operations in China.

“Family donors or nonfamily brain-dead donors account for less than 1% of donation in China. A national voluntary donor program is undeveloped. Kidney transplants nearly tripled in the same period. Liver transplants increased nationwide from about 135 in 1998 to over 4000 in 2005. Various advertised ranged widely from about $24,000 (200,000 yuan) for Chinese to $98,000 or more U.S. dollars for foreigners,” said Dr. Allison.

That would seem to leave only executed prisoners and Falun Gong detainees for this highly profitable business. China only acknowledges the executed prisoners–death row inmates–as a “minor” source for organs. But it must be large enough to require the active support and coordination of the state, notes Allison. The China International Transplant Center proudly and openly states on its website, according to Dr. Allison, who quotes from it, that the many transplantation operations are “owing to the support of the Chinese government.” The names of the courts, police, judiciary and health department, etc. are listed to show potential customers the regime’s “unique” role in providing this “service.”

Dr. Allison cited a BBC story appearing on Wednesday, September 27, which said that the sale of organs from executed prisoners appears “to be thriving,” based on the work of an undercover investigation. At a hospital in Tianjin, the BBC correspondent posed as someone in need of a liver for his sick father. He was told he could obtain one in three weeks.

The hospital spokesperson said the organs from the executed prisoners were donated freely, but the BBC correspondent wrote, “…whether prisoners really are free to make up their own minds on organ donation just before they are executed is not at all clear.”

The Kilgour-Matas report states that between 2001 and 2005, there were over 41,000 recorded transplants in China without identifiable sources. Rohrabacher’s own summary of the report, notes, “It is impossible to attribute all of the organ transplants in China to executed prisoners, family members, and willing donors. The increase in organ transplants in China parallels the increase in persecution of Falun Gong.”

David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific and co-author of the report, spoke of “China’s most bloody harvest,” for which there is mounting evidence that the victims were largely Falun Gong “prisoners of conscience.”

“Most of the victims were convicted of nothing; they were murdered by medical professionals for their vital organs.”

Kilgour said that he has a reliable source that nearly 85% of the organs transplanted in the Tianjin hospitals are going to non-residents of China.

“Many such patients probably hope they are getting an organ from a convicted murderer or rapist…but they should know that China has 68 offences for which one can be executed, including tax fraud. In reality, it is probable that the organ is coming from a young Falun Gong prisoner, whose crime was to believe in ‘truth, compassion and forbearance’.”

David Matas, International Human Rights Attorney and co-author of the report, noted in his testimony that the response from China only reinforces their belief that the Communist regime is guilty. “Despite all their resources and inside knowledge, they have not provided any information to counter the report. Instead, they have attacked us personally, and, more worrisome, attacked the Falun Gong with the very sort of verbal abuse which we have identified as one of the reasons we believe these atrocities are occurring.”

David Kilgour related a chilling story in his testimony. This summer a world transplant conference was held in Boston. A medical doctor from Germany and his wife were chatting with a surgeon from Tianjin, China, who told them that in his hospital–one of three in Tianjin that does transplantation–there were 2,000 live transplants in the past year. (In Germany, all hospitals combined do a total of only about 700 per annum, according to the German doctor.) Quoting from Kilgour’s testimony:

“At the end of the friendly conversation, asked who the organ donors are, the surgeon replied to the couple: ‘Ask the [Falun Gong] demonstrators outside the hotel’.”