Another Virginia county has adopted a resolution to curb organ transplant tourism to China, making it the third one since January to take a stance against Beijing’s forced organ harvesting practices.
“It’s a travesty and completely unacceptable,” said Yesli Vega, supervisor for Coles district in Prince William County, who initiated the effort.
Allegations that the Chinese regime has been mass-killing prisoners of conscience and extracting their organs for transplant first emerged in 2006, when whistleblowers approached The Epoch Times to expose the issue.
It has since drawn international attention, with a London-based people’s tribunal in 2019 concluding that such practices have been “committed for years throughout China on a significant scale.” Imprisoned adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that has been subjected to brutal persecution for the past two decades, remained the principal victims for the abuse, the tribunal found, calling the actions “indicative of the crime of genocide.”
“We need to take action. There has to be consequences to what’s happening,” said Vega in an Epoch Times interview. “This is clearly a violation of the law. And it’s an inhumane act that’s happening and needs to stop.”
Passed on Feb. 16, the measure aims to educate the county’s roughly 460,000 residents about the risks of traveling to China for organ transplants so that they don’t become unintentional accomplices of the illicit act. It came after around 100 local citizens highlighted the issue in a petition to the county’s board of supervisors, the resolution stated.
The atrocity, Vega said, calls for everyone to speak up and hold the Chinese regime accountable. “We can’t turn a blind eye or pretend like we can’t hear what’s happening,” she said.
Falun Gong consists of moral teachings based on three core principles, truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, along with five sets of gentle exercises. It had an estimated 70-100 million adherents in the late 1990s before the communist regime launched a campaign in 1999 to eradicate the practice.
Local resident Linh Pham, a Falun Gong practitioner, applauded the action in a speech at the Feb. 16 board meeting. She said that the resolution was necessary to stop more human rights abuses, given the limited media coverage on the issue.
A number of Falun Gong survivors of persecution who settled in Virginia have related stories of torture and being subjected to medical procedures for organ matching while in prison—blood tests, X-rays, and sonograms—indicating they were being treated as potential organ donors, Pham said.
“Harvesting the organs of Falun Gong practitioners has set a precedent in China. If it remains unchallenged, the CCP may well use it to suppress and persecute other groups, which will cost even more innocent lives,” she said.
Jim Giragosian, who lives on the west side of the county and also a Falun Gong adherent, said that the Chinese regime has “gotten away with unconscionable human rights violations” through extensive influence operations targeting every facet of American society.
The Chinese Communist Party “is targeting the most vulnerable members of our communities—the terminally ill—by telling them that if they come to China, they don’t have to wait months or years for an organ transplant,” he said. “They just don’t tell us where the organs are coming from.”
Giragosian added that Americans “have seen unprecedented calls for justice for all people” around the country and around the world. The resolution is one step closer to achieving inclusiveness, to “help bring justice to all people, including Falun Gong practitioners in China,” he said.
Several county residents present at the session also voiced their support for the board’s action.
“Harvesting organs and doing things like that are a great evil, and we have to crush that evil,” said Barbara Dodge, who had years of experience working at the American Red Cross.
Her husband, retired U.S. army colonel George Dodge, said he has heard about the persecution of Falun Gong for years. He described the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners as “very tragic.”
“They really are not a threat to the Chinese government,” he said in an interview. “They are a peaceful people. They are not doing anything threatening to the government, the government should leave them alone.”
Sherry Dong contributed to this report.