David Matas: Lessons From the Holocaust, Organ Harvesting in China

June 21, 2010 3:58 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 7:49 pm

Men of conscience often face tremendous challenges in life. Driven by their hearts, when exposed to injustice and evil, they cannot turn away; despite the risks, they choose to do what they believe is right.

Oskar Schindler, the heroic figure portrayed in the 1993 Spielberg film “Schindler’s List,” is a historic example of a person who risked everything to save nearly 1,200 Jewish workers from certain death during Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” genocide targeting European Jews—the Holocaust. The brave Schindler risked life and limb to stand against tyranny and follow his conscience.

Canadian David Matas is also a man of conscience. Although he does not find himself living and surviving daily while surrounded by oppressors, he has seen evidence of great tyranny. His determination to expose unspeakable evil may potentially save hundreds of thousands from the clutches of one of the most oppressive regimes in human history.

David Matas. (Mingguo Sun/The Epoch Times)
David Matas. (Mingguo Sun/The Epoch Times)
Matas, along with former Canadian government official David Kilgour, published “BLOODY HARVEST—Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.” In the report, they summarize their shocking investigation into a modern-day mass genocide:

“We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centers and ‘people’s courts,’ since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.”

This conclusion was reached after months of documented, investigative research, and the eventual report released in July 2006. A subsequent 2007 revision of the report, and recently published book “Bloody Harvest,” include new evidence collected by the two authors in ongoing efforts to expose the mass killings.

How does one investigate crimes committed by a communist regime that controls the very flow of information and stifles transparency? “The allegations, by their very nature, are difficult either to prove or disprove,” Matas and Kilgour stated in the “Difficulty of Proof” section in their 2007 report.

Mr. Matas elaborated on this assertion in a recent interview with The Epoch Times. “What was difficult was to figure out a method to approach the issue when there are no corpses [according to the allegation, the victims’ bodies were cremated], no crime scene, no records, no independent media, no human rights NGOs working within the country.”

Request for Help

The investigation began when a non-governmental organization (NGO)—the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China (CIPFG)—sent the men a request for help in investigating emerging allegations that Falun Gong practitioners were being targeted for organ harvesting.

With decades of experience as a human rights attorney—and participation as a Canadian delegate in the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust—Matas, along with Kilgour, immediately knew this investigation was no easy task.

But they accepted the challenge and, drawing from lessons learned during the time of Oskar Schindler, couldn’t dismiss such allegations as mere rumor.

“One of the lessons we’ve learned from the Holocaust is that human nature does not change,” Matas stated to The Epoch Times. “What changes is the technology, but the capacity for doing evil remains the same.”

Once they decided on an approach to prove or disprove the allegations, no time was wasted in collecting evidence—not so easy when the Chinese regime was determined to thwart investigators.

“First of all they wouldn’t let us go to China [to investigate the case],” said Matas. “They said, ‘We know what’s going on. We’ll tell you. You don’t have to go.’”

Communist authorities also tried to prevent the investigators from interviewing witnesses by threatening those they wanted to interview.

Still, the researchers were able to interview a substantial number of people, including released Falun Gong practitioners, non-Falun Gong former prisoners, and a family member of a surgeon involved in organ removal operations, as well as organ recipients.

Investigators, posing as potential recipients inquiring about transplants, also contacted Chinese hospitals requesting organs and donor information.

‘Shocking and Chilling’

The findings, Matas said, were “shocking and chilling,” and were more than enough to reach a conclusion. “Together, they paint a picture,” he stated in the 2007 report, “… particularly when there are so many of them.”

Since the release of the first report, the two authors have been invited to 80 cities in 40 countries to present their research, while accumulating more evidence. Along the way, the biggest barrier has always been the Chinese regime’s obdurate interference around the world.

When invited to speak of the genocide at certain universities, for example, Chinese student groups guided by the regime would show up in protest; in some cases, these students were so violent and disruptive that campus security ordered them to leave. In other cases, hosting organizations canceled the presentations on organ harvesting due to threatening pressure from Chinese embassies.