A human rights advocate has urged the international medical community to stop buying into the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda that denies its systemic forced organ harvesting from detained Falun Gong adherents and other prisoners of conscience.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline with meditative exercises and moral teachings. It was introduced in China during the 1990s and grew in popularity such that up to 100 million people were practicing in China by the end of the decade. Perceiving this to be a threat, the Chinese regime in 1999 launched a nationwide campaign seeking to eradicate the practice.
Millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in jails and detention facilities across the country, where they are subjected to torture and forced organ harvesting.
A June 2016 report by David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state for Asia-Pacific; David Matas, a Canadian human rights lawyer; and Ethan Gutmann, an American investigative journalist, estimated that China could be performing between 60,000 to 100,000 vital organ transplants per year. Many indicators point to the main source of these organs being Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.
China announced an end to organ harvesting from executed prisoners in December 2014 and presented an allegedly operational organ donation system in unrealistic record time, according to Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH.)
Since the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS) pilot program began, China’s health care officials have reported extraordinary successes. According to COTRS data, from 2010 to 2018, annual voluntary deceased donors went from 34 to 6316, an increase by 185 times; kidney and liver transplants went from 63 in 2010 to 10,481 in 2016 (the last year for which precise data is available), an increase by 166 times, a BMC Medical Ethics article stated.
“They’re just some clearly absurd statistics that make it quite clear that they are not telling the truth about this,” Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice said during an interview on EpochTV’s American Thought Leaders program.
Swett cited the divergence between the U.S.’s voluntary organ donors of 140 million and China’s alleged 1.16 million registered donors as of March 2019.
“With a huge number of voluntary organ donors in this country, we have enormous waiting lists, many people pass away because organs don’t become available in a timely fashion,” she said.
“And yet, somehow, in China, organs can be almost ordered up within a couple of weeks. The numbers simply don’t add up,” she added.
London-based China Tribunal, an independent panel that did a thorough review of the available evidence of the practice in 2019, stated that “a great deal of evidence” showed that wait times for organs promised by doctors and hospitals in China for transplantation were extraordinarily short—timeframes not possible under normal voluntary organ donation systems.
The evidence included undercover phone calls to Chinese doctors, as well as testimony from an Israeli doctor who recounted how his patient was told he could receive a heart transplant in China in two weeks.
Hope for Change on the Ground
Swett said that she is very “alarmed and kind of sickened at the way some of our top medical institutions [and] medical schools have been willing to accept China’s denial of responsibility for this, and their false assurances that the practice has stopped.”
She called the sentiment an “inexcusable level of naivete.”
The BMC Medical Ethics article stated that “the World Health Organization [WHO], the Transplantation Society, the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences have all provided endorsements of the reforms based on what appears to be contaminated data.”
As the co-chair of the recently concluded International Religious Freedom Summit, Swett said she was so struck by the fact that the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), “from the summit plenary stage directly addressed the issue of forced organ harvesting.”
As McCaul had drawn attention to this issue, she hopes that perhaps hearings would follow in the United States Congress.
“These shine a light, and shining a light is a kind of disinfectant. It begins to bring the light of truth, the light of day, the light of exposure to practices and, we have to hope that, it will lead to change on the ground in China,” Swett said.
Cathy He contributed to this report.