An Epoch Times distribution worker who was arrested in Hong Kong while spreading promotional material during a recent protest says a police officer threatened to send her to mainland China and have her “organs harvested alive.”
Chen Xiaojuan is one of four Epoch Times personnel who was arrested on July 1 in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area.
Thousands of Hongkongers had poured into the streets to protest the new national security law that Beijing imposed on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the city’s transfer of sovereignty to China from UK rule. The four workers were trapped behind police cordons along with protesters before being taken separately into police custody at the North Point Police Station.
While they were released on bail on July 2, their phones were confiscated.
After her release, Chen said a male officer made the threat after she refused to change into a police-issued outfit and removed a shirt that a female officer tried three times to put over her head.
“You don’t sign your names, nor do you wear the [police-issued] clothes. How about we send you to mainland China and have your organs harvested alive?” Chen recalled the officer telling her.
Chen said the officer’s remark, and the implied endorsement of state-sanctioned organ harvesting, left her in tears, since she previously learned about allegations that the Chinese regime harvested organs from prisoners of conscience for use in transplant surgery.
In July 2019, a London-based independent people’s tribunal, after hearing testimony from more than 50 witnesses, concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that state-sanctioned organ harvesting has taken place in China for years “on a significant scale,” and continues today. The tribunal also stated that the main source of organs were adherents of the persecuted spiritual group Falun Gong; thousands of adherents have been arrested and detained in China’s prisons, labor camps, and brainwashing centers since 1999.
Since 2015, the Chinese regime has claimed that all organs for transplant surgeries are sourced from voluntary donations. But a 2019 study, published in BMC Medical Ethics, found that China’s organ donation numbers conform “almost precisely to a mathematical formula,” suggesting they likely have been falsified.
The allegations have drawn scrutiny internationally, with Belgium and Austria being the latest countries to draft resolutions to combat such abuse.
Chen wonders whether Hong Kong police have actually sent anyone back.
“Do you all agree with organ harvesting? It’s such an evil thing,” she said in response to the officer, who didn’t reply. She continued to resist wearing the uniform, despite the threats.
“I told them I didn’t do anything wrong,” Chen said. “They arrested me and put me in police custody, so they are at fault.”
The Hong Kong police didn’t immediately return a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
The following day, a female officer—whom Chen observed to be more senior in rank—insisted that Chen couldn’t use the restroom without wearing the uniform. When Chen tried to explain why she didn’t wish to wear it, the officer appeared agitated, and said she was “about to join the Chinese Communist Party.”
Eventually, the officer relented.
Zhang Yan, another Hong Kong Epoch Times worker who was arrested the same day, was handing out promotional materials a day earlier at the Prince Edward metro station, when a police officer warned twice, without explanation, that “this would be the last time” her actions would be allowed.
“I thought … Are they going to change their attitudes toward our Epoch Times distribution personnel after July 1? And they did.” Zhang said, referring to the first day the law was in effect.
The four are due to report back to the police station on Aug. 4.
While concerned for their own safety, Zhang and Chen say they will keep doing their jobs so the public has access to diverse perspectives.
“A lot of Hong Kong media have been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” Zhang said. “If people miss out on the voice from the other side, and only receive the Party’s propaganda, the brainwashing will change them gradually just like in the mainland … and Hong Kong will become just another Chinese city.
“Someone has to do it,” she added.
The Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times has condemned the police for indiscriminate arrests and the threat that such actions pose to the city’s press freedom and freedom of speech. In a statement, the bureau also vowed to continue reporting on the truth and defending Hongkongers’ rights to be informed.