Two years ago, a groundbreaking investigative report by two high-profile Canadian lawyers raised the horrific possibility that tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience in China were being killed so their organs could be sold in lucrative transplant deals.
Unfortunately, despite noteworthy progress, the practice is still occurring in China today, said one of the report's authors.
The report was released a few months after The Epoch Times first broke the story of illegal organ harvesting in China. The report concluded there is no known source of organs for some 41,500 transplants that took place in China from 2000 to 2005 besides the tens of thousands of detained Falun Gong practitioners. China's number of transplants skyrocketed after the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999.
In the two years since publishing their report, "Bloody Harvest: Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China," David Matas, an internationally respected human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, a former MP and Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, have traveled the world discussing their findings. Matas told The Epoch Times in an interview today that the report has attracted significant attention around the world but he does not think organ harvesting has ceased in China.
"In my view it is still happening," he said. He did mention some laudable developments in the past two years, however.
Israel, which used to fund trips to China for citizens needing transplants, has ceased that practice completely. Meanwhile the government of Taiwan has made efforts to stamp out transplant tourism from its country to China, which Matas credits for a large drop in the number of transplants in China.
But while the number of transplants has dropped, so too has the number of executed prisoners, China's only "legitimate" source of transplant organs. The number of transplants occurring still exceeds the number of executed prisoners, said Matas, suggesting prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, continue to be killed for transplant deals.
The report has also sparked numerous other efforts to curb transplant tourism, including a private member's bill by Canadian MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj that would criminalize the practice of Canadians traveling abroad to get organs from unethical sources like murdered Falun Gong practitioners. Matas said private members bill introduced in Belgium also addressed organ harvesting.
The Philippine government, said Matas, has also made efforts to shut down organ brokerages, businesses that set up trips for people that want to go to another country for a transplant.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr. Manfred Nowak, has repeatedly quested Beijing on this issue, and has publicly stated that he found the allegations in the report plausible. Despite that however Matas said few NGOs and institutions addressed the issue, something he finds regrettable.
"Your dealing, very often, with people and institutions that have to deal with China in some way and they are not sure how to do it."
To date China's communist government has done little to dispute the report's findings, evidence of its accuracy, said Matas.
Matas said he and Kilgour received no payment for their investigation and report, which they completed at the request of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. While many trips to speak about the report were paid for by their hosts (universities, NGOs and individuals) Matas said they rarely received payment for the speeches themselves, besides the occasional honorarium from a university. Matas said that he and Kilgour have also paid for some of their own travel expenses.