William Pitt Union, University of Pittsburgh
28 March 2013
The conclusion that practitioners of the spiritually based set of exercises Falun Gong have been killed in large numbers for their organs relies on the confluence of a number of evidentiary trails. This evidence does not necessarily identify individual victims. Sometimes I am asked to do just that, to name names.
This request may be made out of scepticism. When I say that tens of thousands of practitioners of Falun Gong have been killed for their organs, sometimes I get the retort, name one.
Alternatively, the request to identify individual cases is made because activism around an individual case may be easier than advocacy around a general phenomenon. It is harder for the Government of China to skate round an inquiry when it is pointed, when we tell them of the name of the victim, the date of the victimization and the place where it occurred.
To identify individual cases is inherently difficult for a number of reasons. One is that typically individual victimizations leave no traces behind. The bodies of victims are cremated. Their records are not accessible. There are no witnesses except perpetrators who are unlikely to confess. The crime scene, an operating room, is cleaned up immediately after use. Criminals here as elsewhere make every effort to cover up their crimes.
In addition, the primary Falun Gong victims of organ harvesting are the non self-identified. Falun Gong refuse to identify themselves to their jailers to protect their friends, work places and families who are otherwise victimized for not having turned them in. Their jailers do not know who they are and their families do not know where they are. Those who victimize Falun Gong practitioners may know nothing about the practitioners other than that they are practitioners.
In principle, the need to identify individual victims should not matter. The evidence overall of the abuse is overwhelming even without this evidence.
As well, it does not fall to outsiders to show that the abuse is happening. It rather is the responsibility of the Government of China to meet standards of transparency, accountability and traceability, to show that the sourcing of organs for transplants is proper. This is something the Government of China has not done.
Indeed, since the report David Kilgour and I wrote on this subject first came out in July 2006, the amount of information the Government of China discloses to the world about its organ transplant practices has decreased, rather than increased. China, rather than moving towards transparency, has progressively increased the cover up of its transplant activities.
Nonetheless, a few individual named cases have surfaced. Seven of these are mentioned in the book Bloody Harvest. I want to mention for the first time now here an eighth case.
Five of the eight cases mentioned in the book Bloody Harvest come from family members of victims. These family members of Falun Gong practitioners who died in detention reported seeing the corpses of their loved ones with surgical incisions and body parts missing. The authorities gave no coherent explanation for these mutilated corpses.
There is no official explanation why the bodies were mutilated. Their mutilation is consistent with organ harvesting.
Case 1: Wang Bin, male
Home Address: Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province
Location of Detention: Dongfeng Xinchun Labor Camp, Daqing City
Date of Death: October 4, 2000
At the end of May 2000, Mr. Wang Bin went to Beijing to appeal to the Chinese government for the right to practise Falun Gong. He was arrested and taken to the Dongfeng Xinchun Labour Camp. He died in detention.
After Mr. Wang died, two doctors removed his heart and brain without consent of his family. The picture shows the rough stitches he received after his body was cut open to remove his organs. As of late 2000, Wang Bin’s corpse was stored at the morgue of the Daqing City’s People’s Hospital, but his heart and brain were missing.
The first version of our report had this picture. One comment we received back is that the stitches the photos show are consistent with an autopsy.
In general, organs may indeed be removed for autopsies in order to determine the cause of death. A corpse which has been autopsied may well have stitches similar to those shown in the photo. Outside of China, except for organ donors, that is likely the reason why organs would be removed from a corpse.
Similarly, outside of China, when people are blood tested, typically, the test is done for their own health. However, the suggestion that Falun Gong practitioners who are tortured to the point of death are blood tested for their health or that practitioners who are tortured to death are autopsied to determine the cause of death belies the torture experience.
Beatings caused the artery in Mr. Wang’s neck and major blood vessels to break. As a result, his tonsils were injured, his lymph nodes were crushed, and several bones were fractured. He had cigarette burns on the backs of his hands and inside his nostrils. There were bruises all over his body. Even though he was already close to death, he was tortured again at night. He finally lost consciousness. On the night of October 4, 2000, Mr. Wang died from his injuries.
The purpose of an autopsy report is to determine the cause of death when the cause is otherwise unknown. But in the case of Wang Bin, the cause of death was known before his organs were removed. The suggestion that Wang bin would be autopsied to determine the cause of death after he was tortured to death is not plausible. His family was not asked for consent before the organs of the victim were removed nor provided an autopsy report afterwards. The suggestion of an autopsy is not a tenable explanation for the stitches on Wang Bin’s body.
Case 2: Yang Zhongfang, female
Home Address: Chengdu City, Sichuan Province
Location of Detention: Jiangong Police Station, Yanji City
Date of Death: July 1, 2002
At 6:00 a.m. on July 1, 2002, officers from the Jiangong Police Station surrounded 37 year old Yang Zhongfang’s home and arrested her, her husband, son, and daughter. Yang Zhongfang was beaten to death that night.
By the time Yang’s family and relatives arrived at the police station, her internal organs had been removed and the body sent to a crematorium. When the test results finally came out, the officials claimed Yang had died from “more than a dozen acute illnesses.” Yang Zhongfang was healthy, as shown in her annual physical examinations.
The authorities in charge at the time of Yang’s death include:
Yu Minghuan: instructor at the Jiangong Police Department, Yanji City, 86 433 2824004 (office), 86 433 2754022 (home), 86 13844335577 (cell) Cui Songguo: head of Jiangong Police Department, Yanji City, 86 433 2834145 (office), 86433 2857752 (home), 86 13904435380 (cell) Li Dongzhu: deputy head of Yanji City Police Department in charge of persecuting Falun Gong, 86 433 2514600 (office), 86 433 2525232 (home), 86 13804487858 (cell)
Case 3: Zhang Yanchao, male
Home Address: Lalin Town, Wuchang City, Heilongjiang Province
Location of Detention: Division 7 of the Harbin City Police Department
Date of Death: April 30, 2002
In early April of 2002, Mr. Zhang Yanchao, a Falun Gong practitioner from Lalin Town, Wuchang City, Heilongjiang Province, was arrested and detained by agents from the Hongqi Township Police Station. Several days later, officers from Harbin City Police Department took Mr. Zhang away.
On April 30, 2002, Mr. Zhang’s family was notified that he had died in police custody. Police did not ask for any consent from the family regarding Zhang’s body.
At the Huangshanzuizi Crematory in Harbin City, Mr. Zhang’s family members saw his body, which had been brutalized beyond recognition and was appallingly disfigured. One of his legs was broken. One of his eyeballs was missing and the socket was caved in, leaving a gaping hole. There was virtually no skin on his head, face, and most parts of his body, and there was not a single tooth left in his lower jaw, which was shattered. His clothes were also gone. Bruises and wounds could be seen everywhere on his body. There was a long cut on his chest, which had obviously been sewn up later. His chest was also caved in, his skull was opened, and a part of his brain was removed. His internal organs were missing.
More than 60 armed policemen were present in the crematorium during the visit of Zhang’s family. They declared that whoever appealed for Zhang Yanchao would be arrested immediately and handled as a “counterrevolutionary.”
According to insiders, Zhang Yanchao was held in a torture chamber at Division 7 of the Harbin City Police Department where more than 40 torture tools were present. He died after one day and one night.
Case 4: Ren Pengwu, male
Home Address: Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province
Location of Detention: Hulan County Second Detention Centre
Date of Death: February 21, 2001
On February 16, 2001, Ren Pengwu was illegally arrested by the Hulan County police for giving out factual information about the alleged Falun Gong self immolation incident. After his arrest he was detained in the Hulan County Second Detention Centre. Before dawn on February 21, he was tortured to death. The officials declared that Ren Pengwu died due to heart disease. Eyewitnesses confirmed that during his imprisonment, Ren Pengwu endured long, brutal beatings and cruel force feeding by the police on many occasions. After suffering brutal, unrestrained beatings by the police, it became obvious before dawn on February 21, 2001 that Ren Pengwu’s life was in danger. His cellmate saw that he was near death and immediately reported this to the police. The police didn’t send Ren Pengwu to the hospital until four hours after receiving the report; as a result, he was dead on arrival at the hospital.
Police did not permit Ren Pengwu’s family members to take photographs of the disfigured body. Without obtaining the family’s permission, at the order of the authorities all of Ren Pengwu’s organs were removed, from his pharynx and larynx to his penis. His body was then hastily cremated.
Case 5: Zhu Xianghe, male
Home Address: Wumutun Village, Suining County, Jiangsu Province
Location of Detention: Sutang Brainwashing Centre in Suining County Date of Death: April 20, 2005
While Zhu Xianghe was working at home on April 1, 2005, officers from the village police station illegally arrested him and took him to Sutang Brainwashing Centre in Suining County, where he was beaten to death. A witness said that Zhu’s fingers and toes were completely black. The family discovered that his eyes and internal organs had been removed. To keep the family quiet, the county’s 610 office and local police paid Zhu’s family 15,000 Yuan for the burial, and gave Zhu’s wife a monthly allowance of 150 Yuan. Then, the 610 office and police cremated the body.
Suizhu’s 610 Office leader: Zhang Shujun, home telephone number: 86 516 8323943
Yang Shuguang: 86 516 8381755, 86 516 8382317
Xuzhou Police Station: 86 516 3745000 Suining County is governed under Xuzhou City Suining County Police Department: 86 516 8331804
Case 6: Yuzhi Wang, female
Place: Harbin No.1 College Hospital
Date: April 2002
Yuzhi Wang is different from the other seven cases in that she was almost killed for her organs, but managed to avoid that fate. After many tests, she was rejected for organ harvesting because, in the word of the examining doctors, her “organs were useless”.
She managed to escape detention and China. When interviewed for our book Bloody Harvest, she was living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is her story in her words:
“Between 2000 and the end of 2001, the Chinese communist regime abducted me three times. I spent most of that time in labour camps. In the labour camps 20 to 50 people we were squeezed into a room of about 15 square metres. It was very crowded. We could sleep only on our sides, pressed together like sardines.
I went on a hunger strike after my request to be released unconditionally was refused. For this, I was brutally force fed many times.
After more than 100 days of hunger striking and force feeding, I felt dizzy even when lying down. I was tormented both mentally and physically and my eyesight was failing.
People from the 610 Office the government institution established on June 10, 1999, specifically to persecute Falun Gong practitioners took me to four hospitals in Harbin City for comprehensive physical examinations between October 2001 and April 2002. The four hospitals were: Harbin Public Security Hospital, No. 2 Hospital of Heilongjiang Province, No. 1 Hospital of Harbin City, and No. 2 Hospital of Harbin City.
At each hospital, blood samples were taken. They told me my blood type was AB, which is quite rare. I was beaten severely because I resisted the examinations.
The police ordered the doctors to inject unknown substances into me, which caused me to lose consciousness. I waited for the final health exam results at Harbin No.1 College Hospital.
The doctor said all hospitals suspected that my organs had problems. It was decided that my body was ‘useless’.
In order to treat my illness, the hospital demanded about 50,000 yuan from my family. However, the 610 Office suddenly lost interest in me when the doctor said I would be a ‘walking dead person’ even if I recovered. Finally, I managed to escape from the hospital.”
Case 7: Chen Qi Dong male
Date: November 2006,
Place: Cell 311 in Wu Xi Number 1, prison, Wu Xi City, Jiangsu province, near Shanghai
A former prisoner from China I interviewed in July 2008 told a chilling story. This story provides an insight into hospital operations from a prison perspective.
While in prison, the prisoner, to whom I gave the pseudonym Lanny, was kept in various prison cells averaging twenty persons per cell. In over ten instances, one of his cell mates was a prisoner sentenced to death. He became familiar with the pattern of execution of these prisoners.
A few days before execution, a man in a white coat would come and extract a blood sample from the prisoner. The day of execution, four or five men in white coats with white gloves would arrive. The prisoner would be escorted away by the men in white. Outside waiting, visible through the prison windows, was an ambulance hospital van in white with a red cross.
In one case, when Lanny was in interrogation, he saw one of these death penalty inmates in an adjoining room with a needle with a syringe sticking out of his neck. The syringe was half full of liquid. An hour later the prisoner was still there, but the syringe was empty.
What Lanny learned from cell leaders was that prisoners sentenced to death were being organ harvested for transplants. Their date of execution was set by arrangement with a nearby hospital, arranged for when organs were needed. The money paid for the transplant was split fifty between the hospital and the prison guards. About the man with the needle in his neck, his cell leader, when he returned from interrogation, told him that the prisoner was being injected with an anaesthetic to make him numb and preserve his organs until they were harvested.
In November 2006, Lanny was transferred to cell 311 in Wu Xi Number 1, prison, Wu Xi City, Jiangsu province, near Shanghai from another cell in that same prison. Shortly after his arrival, the guards asked Lanny to sign a statement that prisoner Chen Qi Dong had died of illness. The guards wanted the statement to show the family.
Chen Qi Dong had been in cell 311 before Lanny arrived but died a few days before Lanny was transferred to that cell. Lanny never met him and refused to sign the statement about his cause of death. The others in the cell signed.
Cell 311 leader Wang Yao Hu as well as seven or other eight cell members, including Wang Shi Cun from Wu Xi and Shai Hai, told Lanny what had happened to Chen Qi Dong. Chen was a Falun Gong practitioner who refused to recant and insisted on continuing the meditation and Falun Gong exercises while in prison. Guards beat and tortured him for doing so.
In reaction to his mistreatment, Chen Qi Dong went on a hunger strike. The guards in turn force fed him by pouring congee down a tube jammed into his throat. But the congee was too hot and scalded his digestive system. Chen Qi Dong got a fever.
At this point, the man in white arrived and took a blood sample, a few days before Chen was taken from his cell. The day Chen left the cell for good, four men with white coats and white gloves came to fetch him. One of the prisoners in the cell, that day in interrogation, saw Chen in the next room, with a needle in his neck. Through a window, the prisoners in cell 311 could see waiting a white hospital ambulance van with a red cross. The cell leader told Lanny that Chen had been organ harvested.
During his stay in prison, Lanny heard of 2 or 3 other such cases, but without the detail he heard in the case of Chen. There was a similar pattern in these cases. A Falun Gong practitioner refused to recant and continued his meditation and exercises in prison. The guards beat and tortured the practitioner in response. The beating and torture got out of hand to the point where the practitioner was permanently injured. The guards, in order to remove any trace of their own misdeeds, arranged for the telltale evidence to disappear through organ harvesting of the practitioner.
Case 8: Yang Qing, female
Place of harvesting: First hospital of Fuzhou City, Fujian province
Date of Harvesting: May 16th 2001.
I went to San Diego May 9 to 12, 2011 to give a talk and while there met with Chen Jin several times to interview him and take down his story. At the time, to protect his wife who was still in China, he asked me not to make the story public. I was told in January this year that the wife had escaped China and come to Thailand. Chen Jin said that it was now ok to make public the statement he gave me. This past week I was in Bangkok and I met his wife. She is attempting to reunite with her husband in the US.
Chen Jin began the practice of Falun Gong in 1998. After the banning he was arrested three times, for 25 days on January 1, 2000, for a year from March 2000 in a labour camp, and for seven years from December 3, 2001 till December 2, 2008. Almost two years after his release in November 4, 2010 he came to the United States.
Between his second and third arrest, Chen Jin continued the practice of Falun Gong. He was living in Fuzhou City, Fujian province.
Realizing, because of this two previous arrests, that practising Falun Gong put him at risk, Chen Jin took some precautions to avoid detection. Rather than stay at his residence, he rented an apartment under another name, of an unexposed practitioner.
Rather than use his own cell phone, which the authorities could use to trace him, he used the cell phone another practitioner had given him, Yang Qing. He had a phone card bought from another city, not traceable. She bought this phone from another city using another name. This practitioner had two names, Yang Qing, her official name and Yang Rei Yu, a name she used in her real estate business. The second name was her birth name. She used the name Yang Qing. She worked for Fuzhoi city, Taishan city, TaiJian District, real estate
Monday May 14th
On May 14 2001 at around 9 a.m., Chen received a call from Xiao Xie, the daughter of Yang Qing. Chen got the call from the daughter on the cell phone of the mother. The call was made from a public pay phone. At the time, Chen was at home in his rented apartment.
Daughter (frantic and crying): My mother was arrested.
Chen: Don’t try to look for other practitioners to help. Do not call anybody else. If there are any new developments, please call me.
Daughter: Now I do not know what to do.
Chen: Do not worry
Chen knew that only the 610 office arrested Falun Gong practitioners. The 610 office in Fuzhou City was located in Yong An street. It was called the First Unit, Public Security Bureau. Its sole responsibility was repression of the Falun Gong. Chen asked someone he knew within the system and verified that the mother had been taken to the 610 office.
Tuesday May 15th
The daughter called back at around 4 p.m. She sounded scared.
Daughter: The 610 police called me and asked me to bring clothes for my mother to the Yong An police station. I did that. I saw my mother. My mother said she was cold. The police told me that my mother’s blood pressure was high.
Chen: Do not worry. I know what I will do.
Chen checked with his contact to find out how the 610 office was treating the mother. The contact told Chen: Do not involve me. Do not even ask. I do not want to be involved.
Wednesday May 16th
In the morning, the daughter called a third time.
The daughter, crying: My mother is gone.
Chen Jin, not comprehending: Where did she go?
Daughter: They put her the hospital the next day. I mean she died.
Chen Jin: What is the matter, what happened?
Daughter: I do not know. I only know that there was a hole at her waist.
Chen Jin: Are you home?
Daughter: I am at the hospital.
Chen Jin: This call is not safe.
Daughter: I am calling from outside the hospital, not inside the hospital.
Chen Jin drove a motorcycle to a pay phone to call Chen Wei Hua to find out from her husband what is going on with Yang Qing. Chen Wei Hua was a fellow practitioner. Her husband was a co-worker of the mother. They both worked at the real estate company. The husband in turn asked another, female, co-worker to find out what happened to the mother.
The police station wanted the company to appoint someone to guard Yang Qing, to watch. This co-worker was assigned. The co-worker husband talked to the assigned co-worker.
Chen Jin wrote the incident up and sent to Ming Hui, a website dedicated to reporting on the Falun Gong community worldwide. His version remains posted on the Ming Hui website. In that posting, he used the formal name for Yang Qing of Yang Ruiyu. The posting does not have the detail provided here; nor does it identify Chen Jin as the source of the information.
Thursday May 17th
Chen Wei Hua and Chen Jin met face to face at a pre-arranged time, at a park, in the afternoon.
She: Female co-worker told the husband that Yang Qing had a hole in her waist.
Chen: Continue to try to learn more about the situation.
Friday May 18th
Around 10.00 a.m. Chen Wei Hua called back at a pre-arranged time at a public pay phone.
Chen Wei Hua: The hospital is full of police. Do not go near the hospital. The story from the co-worker changed. She said that Yang Qing had jumped out of a window on the top floor of the building, the eleventh floor and died from the fall.
Saturday May 19th
Chen Jin went back to the hospital again after the police had left, on the 19th, and asked two people there if anyone had jumped out of a window in the hospital on the 16th. He spoke to a patient and a cleaning lady and looked around to see signs of blood on the street. The people he spoke to said that they had no knowledge of this and that they would have known if it had happened.
These eight cases can not establish the extent of the abuse. Yet, they provide graphic information about how the abuse is happening. They are representative snap shots, providing glimpses.
It is all too easy when talking about massive human rights violations, to get lost in generalizations. These few cases bring home to us the tragedies of the individuals caught up in the Chinese organ harvesting maw.
David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.