The cadres who picked up the phone—among them some of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party—knew that they shouldn’t have been speaking about the subject on an unsecure line. Yet the brief answers they gave to a covert caller from a human rights group are implicit admissions of knowledge, and in some cases participation, in the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a human rights group, on April 30 published audio recordings of six phone calls, made between 2008 and mid-April 2012, which show that knowledge of organ harvesting is apparently widespread among top-level Party leaders.
Wang Zhiyuan, the spokesperson of WOIPFG, would not say how they obtained the target phone numbers, nor provide the identity or location of the caller. Experts who have listened to the calls believe they are genuine.
“These calls clearly show that the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), and Zhou Yongkang, were directly involved in the live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. This is the first time we’ve provided this evidence. This is a genocide,” Wang said.
Wang said that WOIPFG is able to provide telephone company records to researchers to prove the authenticity of the telephone calls.
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Last month, Propaganda Minister Li Changchun was asked about using “Bo Xilai’s involvement in murdering and removing organs from Falun Gong practitioners to convict Bo.”
Li Changchun responded by saying, “Zhou Yongkang is in charge of this specifically. He knows it.”
Bo Xilai was the Party chief of Chongqing and member of the Politburo before his political destruction beginning in February, when his deputy Wang Lijun fled to the American consulate in Chengdu, southwestern China. An investigation into Bo’s violations of Party discipline was underway at the time.
In May 2008, Zhou Yongkang was asked by the investigator about a group of Falun Gong practitioners who escaped from military compounds in Sichuan Province after the earthquake in 2008, Zhou responded with the question “How many people [escaped]?”
A call placed last month to Tang Junjie, who served as head of the PLAC’s regional branch in Liaoning Province, indicates that in meetings of top Party officials the forced organ harvesting was discussed.
The investigator asked, “What kind of directions did Bo give regarding removing organs from Falun Gong practitioners?”
Tang Junjie said, “I was asked to take care of this task. Actually Party Central is taking care of this… At that time we mainly talked about it during the meetings within the Standing Committee.”
Party Central (zhongyang) refers to the top CCP leaders in Beijing; the Standing Committee in this instance would refer to the Liaoning Province Standing Committee, which is the top Party authority in the province.
The calls do not answer the question of whether organ harvesting of the Falun Gong was carried out as part of a deliberate, systematic, top-down strategy, or whether locally as a revenue-generator, which central leaders later implicitly or otherwise consented to.
No direct admission to involvement or participation in organ harvesting are made by the target officials. Those who are on the phone often become wary quickly and talk about speaking on the “red phone,” a line used to communicate securely between top-level officials.
But the responses indicate familiarity with the practice.
“Nobody denies anything, and everything is consistent with what we know,” said David Matas, an international human rights lawyer who co-authored a report on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
“This is the most striking aspect,” says Ethan Gutmann, an investigative journalist who has published extensively on the abuse of organ transplantation by Chinese security forces. “Not a single one of the subjects simply says: ‘What is this garbage? I don’t know what you are talking about.'”
Read The Epoch Times’ conversation with Ethan Gutmann: