NEW YORK—A petition of nearly 25,000 signatures calls on the United States to put pressure on China through the U.N. to stop the practice of forced organ harvesting.
The petition, delivered on Sept. 26 to the office of Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the U.N., also calls on the U.S. government to release any information it has about the involvement of Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, China, who was just sentenced to 15 years in prison, in organ harvesting activities.
Since 2000 such activities have to a large degree targeted prisoners of conscience, specifically practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline. At least 60,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been killed as their organs were extracted, according to the estimates of analysts who have studied the matter. The organs are sold at tens of thousands of dollars to wealthy Chinese, Party officials, and foreigners in need of organs, according to the petition.
“We want to break the silence, for the United States to stop being just observers but step forward internationally and call for a stop to the practice,” said to Dr. Torsten Trey, the executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, in a telephone conversation.
His medical advocacy group collected the petitions and had them delivered to Rice’s office at the U.N. building.
“We need to see international investigations to get to the bottom of this. That’s what the petition is about,” he said.
The signatures were collected by volunteers over the last four to five weeks in U.S. cities, and were then scanned, burned to a CD and a DVD, and delivered to Rice’s office along with the cover letter.
“We ask you to take a stance for those who signed and carry their voice to the United Nations,” the letter said.
The group had collected over 24,300 by Sunday and estimates that it easily crossed the 25,000 threshold in the intervening period.
Rice’s office did not respond to a request for comment in the afternoon of Sept. 26.
People were overwhelmingly receptive to the petition, Trey said, citing anecdotes from volunteers in the field.
“We’ve seen a tremendous echo from the people. Many offered their help or came up with other suggestions and support,” Trey said.
“They say, ‘I want to know what’s going on, and if people are being killed for their organs, I want to stop it.’ They have a straightforward wish to do the right thing,” he added.
“We could easily have got 100,000 plus signatures in all the U.S. within a month,” he added.
Dr. Wenyi Wang, a member of DAFOH (Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting) and a former journalist with the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, was present on the day and helped to deliver the petition to Rice’s office.
“When people know the truth, they will make the right choice,” she said afterward. “The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights came into being many years ago; we came here to submit the petition to remind the U.N. that the Chinese regime is not complying with the declaration.”
Dr. Cynthia Liu, a pathologist at New York University Medical Center, and a member of DAFOH, helped to deliver the petition.
The letter and petition outlined the evidence available of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, and noted, “Senior Chinese Communist Party officials are involved in directing the forced organ harvesting.”
These claims are based on secretly recorded phone calls from the investigative group World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, whose researchers have called China posing as various communist functionaries, elicited admissions from Party officials, and published the calls online.
“It is believed that Wang Lijun, in his attempt to defect at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February 2012, provided vital information about organ harvesting to the consulate staff,” the letter said.
When asked about the matter during the briefing on the 17th U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner gave an equivocal answer.
Whether the Department of State has been more forthcoming with Congress is not known. A members-only briefing was held for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a classified setting on April 26. Staff members of congressmen were not allowed to attend, and the committee made no comment on the content of the briefing after its conclusion.
Subsequently, multipronged pressure has been applied to the administration to divulge what it knows, and to push for broader international attention and investigation.
A congressional hearing was recently held by two subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which called witnesses to testify. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), chair of one of the subcommittees, described the organ harvesting as a “monstrous crime.”
Members of Congress are now circulating a Dear Colleague letter, aiming to get hundreds of signatures on a document that will be sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking the State Department to publicly divulge what it knows about live organ harvesting in China, and what information Wang Lijun provided.
“If such evidence was received and brought to light, measures could be taken to help stop such abominable abuses,” the letter says. “We therefore ask that the State Department release any information it may have that relates to transplant abuses in China, including any documentation that Wang Lijun may have provided to our consulate in Chengdu.”
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed reporting.
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Editor’s Note: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing any longer to participate in the persecution. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.