BY HON. DAVID KILGOUR, J.D.
HARD TO BELIEVE AND HUMAN HARVEST
These films have won numerous prizes and continue to be screened in many parts of the world. In Oslo, for example, I was told that there have been to date about 52,000 separate viewings of Human Harvest by Norwegians. Leon Lee of Vancouver devoted 7-8 years to researching, financing (the Canada Media Fund helped) and producing Human Harvest.
Hard To Believe also examines the issue of forced live organ pillaging from prisoners of conscience across China. The producer is two-time Emmy winner Ken Stone.
There is increasing commentary now internationally about the inhuman commerce begun 16 years ago and still run today by the party-state in Beijing. One was a 7-page cover story quite recently in Salud, a medical magazine read in Spain and other Spanish-speaking nations.
As we see in the films, prisoners of conscience often convicted of nothing are the primary source of pillaged organs. They include Uyghurs, Tibetans and house Christians, but are overwhelmingly Falun Gong practitioners dehumanized since 1999 in party-state media throughout China. Falun Gong was a China-wide exercise and meditation movement derived from Buddhism/Daoism, which numbered 70—100 million persons of all ages and walks of life in the mid-1990s by the regime’s own estimate.
In mid-2006, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) asked David Matas and me as volunteers to investigate persistent claims of organ pillaging/trafficking from Falun Gong practitioners. We released two reports and a book, Bloody Harvest, and have continued to investigate (Our revised report is available in 18 languages from www.david-kilgour.com). We concluded that for 41,500 transplants done in the years 2000-2005 in China, the sourcing beyond any reasonable doubt was Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
Our main conclusion reads that there “continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners (…) 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”.
EVIDENCE OF ORGAN PILLAGING
Here are three of the 18 kinds of evidence that led to our conclusion:
Investigators made many calls to hospitals, detention centres and other facilities across China claiming to be relatives of patients needing transplants and asking if they had organs of Falun Gong for sale. We obtained on tape and then transcribed and translated admissions that a number of facilities were trafficking in Falun Gong organs.
Falun Gong prisoners, who later got out of China, indicated that they were systematically blood-tested and organ-examined while in forced-labour camps across the country. This could not have been for their health since they were regularly tortured, but is necessary for successful organ transplants and for building a bank of live “donors”.
We interviewed “Annie”, the ex-wife of a surgeon from Sujiatun in Shenyang City, Liaoning. The surgeon told her that he had removed corneas from 2,000 Falun Gong prisoners between 2001 and 2003. He told her that none of these sources survived because different surgeons removed other organs and their bodies were then burned. As a Crown Attorney for most of a decade, I found her to be both credible and convincing. She was the first person to disclose the grave issue to the world beyond China.
A Nobel Peace Prize nominee and co-founder of the International Coalition to end Organ Pillaging in China, Ethan Gutmann’s 2014 book, The Slaughter, places the persecution of the Falun Gong, Tibetan, Uyghur, and house Christian communities in context. He explains how he arrived at his “best estimate” that organs of 65,000 Falun Gong and “two to four thousand” Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians were “harvested” in the 2000- 2008 period.
The closing words of The Slaughter are addressed to responsible governments, organizations and persons: “No Western entity possesses the moral authority to allow the (P)arty to impede the excavation of a crime against humanity in exchange for promises of medical reform. As a survival mechanism of our species, we must contextualize, evaluate, and ultimately learn from every human descent into mass murder … The critical thing is that there is a history. And only the victims’ families can absolve the (P)arty from its weight.”
Matas, Gutmann and I released an Update on our two books in June 2016 in Washington, Ottawa and Brussels (accessible from the International Coalition to end Organ Pillaging in China at www.endorganpillaging.org ).
It provides a thorough examination of the transplant programs of hundreds of hospitals across China, drawing on medical journals, hospital websites, and deleted websites found in archives. It analyzes hospital revenues, bed counts and utilization rates, surgical personnel, training programs, state funding and other factors.
We conclude cautiously that a minimum of 60,000 transplants per year are being done across China, not the approximately 10,000 its government claims. This means that on average 250 persons a day are being killed for their organs.
We provide much evidence of a state-directed organ transplantation network, controlled through national policies and funding, and implicating both the military and civilian healthcare systems.
Gutmann recently noted: “For governments and the media, our (2016 update) represented the final tipping point: Our report was covered by global press ranging from the New York Times to the (UK) Daily Mail while the US Congress and the European Parliament passed nearly identical resolutions in the Summer of 2016 condemning the Chinese State for the harvesting of prisoners of conscience. In short, the Chinese medical establishment effectively lost the argument”.
Dr. Torsten Trey, founder and Executive Director of the international NGO Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, says legislators should make illegal the purchase of trafficked organs, with such measures to apply extraterritorially to residents of their respective countries, and enact penalties for those convicted of participating in the trafficking in organs which enter their countries.
DAFOH cautions policy makers not to accept at face value Beijing’s latest promises to end the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners. It notes that the party-state has a lengthy record of “secrecy, misleading numbers and contradictory statements, and… has refused to acknowledge the illegal harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience.”
DR. JACOB LAVEE
A former member of the Ethics committee of the Transplantation Society (TTS) and DAFOH member, Lavee wrote recently: “Last month a top transplant official (in China, Huang Jiefu), speaking at an international organ trafficking summit at the Vatican, reiterated the claim that since January 1, 2015, China has eliminated the use of prisoner organs, and now only uses organs from donors who die in the intensive-care units of hospitals… the history of organ transplantation in China raises disturbing questions about past, and possibly ongoing, abuses…Given that Huang Jiefu is now supplying apparently falsified data in international medical fora, while transplants with unexplained sources in China continue, answers to these questions are a matter of urgency. Unannounced visits to hospitals by international medical inspectors, and the disclosure of historical and current hospital-level transplant data, would be a place to start.”
PROF MARIA FIATARONE SINGH
Dr. Singh of the Sydney University Medical School and DAFOH member stresses, “… individuals who are not free to consent can never be used as organ donors, as this not only prevents them from achieving their human potential, it completely dehumanizes them, and should be thus unacceptable to any society in the twenty-first century… It may appear an overwhelming or daunting task to stop a vast enterprise of organ harvesting… Hearts are indeed bleeding among the Falun Gong, the Tibetans, the Uyghurs and the house Christians in China. As physicians, we are bound by our oath and this includes acting to protect those who are being harmed by others. As humans, we can do no less.”
THE TRANSPLANTATION SOCIETY (TTS)
The Transplantation Society (TTS) TTS is a non-profit NGO in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). Providing global leadership in transplantation, its core mission includes the development of the science and clinical practice, scientific communication, continuing education and guidance in the ethical practice.
It seems reasonable that TTS would be interested in, and deeply concerned about, strong indications of unethical transplantation anywhere in the world. However, the opposite has occurred. TTS feels that the issue of forced live organ pillaging from prisoners of conscience across China has not, in spite of all our research, been sufficiently “proven”. The TTS does not appear to acknowledge that it is even a possibility that prisoners of conscience convicted of nothing are the primary source of pillaged organs. Unlike DAFOH, TTS appears to believe what it is told by party-state spokespersons. The unfortunate result is that DAFOH today appears to be the bête noire of TTS despite what should be a common goal.
When a government covertly and systematically targets and abuses a specific group of people, word eventually leaks out and fair-minded people from afar attempt to pay an official visit to where those supposedly being oppressed are being detained. Their purpose is to determine whether those who detained are being maltreated. These “official visits”, whether to a Chinese military hospital suspected of performing illegal organ transplants in the early 21st century or to a Nazi ghetto concentration camp in the 1940s, are highly unlikely to reveal truth when those in charge have advance opportunity to cover up what is really going on.
One such example took place at Theresienstadt “camp-ghetto”, quite close to Prague, at the end of WW2. On June 23, 1944, delegates from the International Red Cross and the Danish Red Cross visited the camp. Unbeknownst to the delegates, Theresienstadt had been “cleaned up” by the Nazis prior to their visit and rearranged as a model village for the gullible. The Red-Cross visitors came away with quite a positive impression; the Nazis later made a propaganda film about it. To mislead about or conceal its physical annihilation of European Jews, the Nazi regime employed general fiction, today is notoriously known as “alternate facts.”
In 2017, we cannot verify self-proclaimed medical reform by arranged visits to a few Chinese transplant hospitals. In the words of Dr. Jacob Lavee, a former member of the Transplantation Society (TTS) and a DAFOH member: “As a son of a Holocaust survivor, I feel obliged to not repeat the dreadful mistake made by the International Red Cross visit to the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp in 1944, in which it was reported to be a pleasant recreation camp.”
FORCED LABOUR CAMPS
Many of the Falun Gong prisoners of conscience who are unwilling organ “donors” are in the estimated 350 forced labour camps across China. Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview Falun Gong, who managed to leave both the camps and the country. They told us of working in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily in these camps with no pay and little food, crowded sleeping conditions and torture. Inmates make a range of export products as subcontractors to multinational companies. As indicated by Jennifer Zang and Charles Lee in the film, Free China-The Courage to Believe, inmates make numerous exports for consumers in the West. This constitutes gross corporate irresponsibility and a violation of WTO rules; it also calls for an effective response by all trading partners of China. Every government should place an onus on importers to prove their goods are not made in effect by slaves.
“LEGAL SYSTEM” IN CHINA
Canadian Clive Ansley, who practised law in Shanghai for 14 years until the mid-2000s and is on the Advisory Board of the International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China, notes:
China does not have a legal system in any meaningful sense. It is a completely bogus system, which was introduced in 1979 for reasons having little or nothing to do with any desire to implement Rule of Law… China is a brutal police state… Our position (on organ pillaging/ tourism) is based on irrefutable evidence of what is actually happening…; we can prove the statistics on actual transplants carried out; we can prove that these numbers are utterly irreconcilable with the available sources, in the absence of mass murder perpetrated against prisoners of conscience. We are interested only in the evidence of what is actually happening.”
Unwavering Convictions is a book by Gao Zhisheng about Gao’s Ten-Year Torture and Faith in China’s Future. The book is co-published by the American Bar Association Section of International Law and Carolina Academic Press. Gao He Geng, the author’s wife now a refugee in America, gave me a copy of Unwavering Convictions a few days ago at Stanford and I’ve since managed to read it with grave concern. The torture and many other abuses Goa experienced from agents of the party-state over a decade for his unwavering belief in human dignity for all Chinese and the rule of law are both inhuman and incredibly brutal.
Former Congressman Frank Wolf notes in his cover endorsement that it “reads like a contemporary Chinese version of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago…As a Christian, (Gao) chooses to defend the rights and freedoms for all–from abused Falun Gong practitioners and house church pastors to illegally imprisoned petitioners and free election advocates”.
Former European Parliament vice-president Edward McMillan-Scott, in endorsing the book, compares Gao to Nelson Mandela and predicts that he will be a “key voice in the democratic future of China…which is still ruled by the most murderous regime in history.” He also mentions Gao’s legal defences of Falun Gong, including the evidence he gave to the UN’s torture rapporteur, Dr. Manfred Nowak, in 2006: “(Nowak) estimated that some two-thirds of the seven to eight million detained in China’s re-education through labor system were practitioners of Falun Gong. Thousands of them perished from the illegal harvesting of their vital organs as part of the People’s Liberation Army’s lucrative organ transplant trade.”
Gao himself says inter alia in the book: “The number of people held in Chinese prisons has always been highly classified. My personal and conservative estimate is that the number cannot be less than 15 million. China has far more prisons than universities. (It was only after years of working as a lawyer that I found out that there are more than 5,000 detention centers used for holding those on remand…)
On governance, he concludes sadly, “What family of past or current Politburo Standing Committee members is not as rich as a small nation? In the end, whether it is Mao, Deng or Xi, in terms of political logic, motives and modus operandi, they are birds of a feather, and the result is a continuation of historic disasters.”
Canada’s Globe and Mail recently referred to a current Nanos national opinion survey as follows: “Almost 90 per cent of Canadians do not want the Trudeau government to grant China’s state-owned enterprises unfettered access to the country’s economy, and a solid majority want Ottawa to link human rights to talks on a free-trade deal with China…
James Mann, author of China Fantasy and former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, notes “…Democratic governments around the world need to collaborate more often in condemning Chinese repression — not just in private meetings but in public as well…Why should there be a one-way street in which Chinese leaders send their own children to America’s best schools, while locking up lawyers at home? The Chinese regime is not going to open up because of our trade with it…”
Wen jiao-baoFormer premier Wen jiao-bao noted before he leaving office, “Without the success of political structural reform, it is impossible for us to fully institute economic structural reform. The gains we have made… may be lost, new problems that have cropped up in China’s society cannot be fundamentally resolved and such a historical tragedy as the Cultural Revolution may happen again.”
Governments, investors and business people should examine why they are supporting the violation of so many basic human rights in order to increase trade and investment with China. For years this has resulted mostly in national jobs being outsourced to China and continuous increases in bi-lateral trade and investment deficits. Are we so focused on access to inexpensive consumer goods that we ignore the human, social and natural environment costs paid by abused Chinese nationals to produce them?
The world’s democrats, including our national governments and civil society institutions, should continue to engage with Beijing and the broadest possible range of citizens across China. Democracy with very Chinese features is probably much closer than many think. No-one on the democratic side should forget that the values we represent include dignity for all, the rule of law and independent judges, multi-party democracy, corporate social responsibility, transparency and accountability.
The people of China seek the same things as the rest of the world: safety and security, the rule of law, respect, education, good jobs, democratic and accountable governance and a good natural environment. If the party-state ends its systematic violations of human rights and begins to treat its trade partners fairly, the 21st century can move towards harmony and coherence for China and the world. The first step in a better direction is to end organ pillaging/trafficking/tourism now.
To conclude, ponder the reality that even if only 60,000 transplants per year are done across China it means 250 persons per day on average are being killed for their organs.
Permit me to invite all of you to join our International Coalition against Organ Pillaging in China, which you can do easily at: endorganpillaging.org