[xtypo_dropcap]T[/xtypo_dropcap]he Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD has urged the EU to investigate the alleged harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
The Minister said, "I have instructed my Department to raise the issue at EU level, to liaise with EU Member States in investigating the allegations, and to seek a response from the Chinese authorities."
Mr Martin said the Irish Government have been asking questions about these allegations since 2006 and that the answers received have not dispersed the ongoing rumours that the authorities in China are harvesting the organs of living prisoners in detention, and then selling them for profit. He said, "We have taken very seriously allegations which have been made in the past claiming that live organs have been harvested from Falun Gong practitioners in detention.
"Extensive inquiries on this issue were made by my Department within the EU and UN frameworks in 2006/2007, as well as through our Embassy in Beijing and with a variety of human rights organisations."
However, he continued, "At that time, we failed to identify sufficient reliable and independent evidence to substantiate the allegations, but the matter has been kept under review."
The statement from the Minister was in reply to a question raised by Fine Gael councillor P. J. Sheehan. In his response to the question the Minister concluded, "The most recent allegations to which the Deputy refers relate to the alleged execution of prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Christians and Uighurs and the harvesting of their organs for sale. These are allegations of the most serious kind and I have instructed officials of my Department to try to establish whether or not they can be substantiated."
This latest statement from the Minister follows on from a number of briefings that David Matas and David Kilgour made to the Irish Government starting in 2006. Mr Matas a prominent human rights lawyer and Mr Kilgour a former member of the Canadian Government conducted an investigation into the harvesting of organs of Falun Gong practitioners in China, in which they concluded that it was their belief that organ harvesting was ongoing.
In the Kilgour/Matas report Bloody Harvest it says, "We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres 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."
At the end of a 2007 briefing to the Dail Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Paul Bradford a Fine Gael senator who was chairman at the time said that the committee would "investigate it to the maximum extent possible" whether organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners was occurring in China. However three years later the findings of this report have not been published.
Although the Irish Government has bigger issues to handle at the moment rather than occupying itself with the affairs of other states, the issue of whether a regime controlling a state of 1.4 billion people is harvesting the organs of living people to then sell on is worthy of investigation.
This is especially the case since every function of the Irish Government relating to Foreign Affairs, including government departments, Dail Committees, and even the manifesto for government for the Green party has called for the issue to be "raised at every possible opportunity."