April 20, 2006

Sujiatun Follow-Up

A couple of weeks ago, this blog linked to Jay Nordlinger's account of the Chinese hospital facility at Sujiatun, which Chinese human rights activists insisted was being used to harvest the organs of living prisoners, principally the undocumented Falun Gong practitioners who are confined to Chinese prisons by the tens of thousands.

Horrific accounts of surgeons removing eyes, skin, livers, and kidneys from thousands of prisoners, many guilty only of practicing the Falun Gong meditation and exercise regimen, have prompted outrage and calls for investigations. A series of reports in The Epoch Times, an Asian news website, contained interviews with a Chinese journalist and the wife of a surgeon who worked in the organ harvesting facility at Sujiatun (see here and here, and an article archive.) These people describe a vast system of underground facilities beneath the main hospital at Sujiatun for surgical procedures, which includes a crematory to burn the human remains.

Some kind of investigation by U.S. Embassy officials has taken place by, as reported last Friday in a statement to reporters by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack:

"Officers and staff from our embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shenyang have visited the area and the specific site mentioned in these reports on two separate occasions," McCormack said.

"In these visits the officers were allowed to tour the entire facility and grounds and found no evidence that the site is being used for any function other than as a normal public hospital."

"We have raised these reports with the Chinese government and urged it to investigate these allegations," the spokesman said, noting that the Chinese government has denied the Falun Gong's allegations.

McCormack added: "We remain concerned over China's repression of Falun Gong practitioners."

(Official State Dept. site report)

An article in The Australian concedes that the charges are difficult to substantiate, in part because the two interviewees from the Epoch Times stories have insisted on remaining anonymous, and are in hiding in the United States. It goes on to say that:

It appears the claims by Falun Gong have been at least substantially exaggerated. Initial investigations by researchers for a US congressional committee have identified the site at Sujiatun as a hospital, where it is suspected organ harvesting occurs but on nowhere near the scale claimed by Falun Gong. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has dismissed the allegations as "absurd lies".

That is the quote cited by a commenter to my original post as proof that the whole thing was a hoax. But the Australian piece goes on to say the following:

But given past Chinese behaviour, the Falun Gong claims cannot be completely discounted. It is well established that China conducts so-called organ harvesting, including among the 5000 to 12,000 people sentenced to death each year, and not necessarily with their permission or that of their families. It is a lucrative trade, with overseas patients flying to China for transplants.

What is also clear is that China has a terrible human rights record, including in its repression of Falun Gong. According to the recently released US State Department report on human rights for 2005, the trend in China is towards increased harassment and imprisonment of those perceived as threatening government authority.

It estimates there are tens of thousands of political prisoners and about 300,000 people in "re-education through labour" camps, including thousands of Falun Gong adherents. The report quotes overseas estimates that up to 2000 of its members have died in custody and cites accounts of torture, rape and treatment in psychiatric hospitals.

The response of The Epoch Times to the State Department statement is to tell the U.S. government to "dig deeper."

The Epoch Times first reported on March 9 that organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners was taking place at Sujiatun, and our coverage of the atrocities taking place there has helped drive calls for an investigation.

We are glad to see that the U.S. has now taken the first steps to try in its own name to uncover the truth of what has been happening in China's hospitals and labor camps these past five years. Much more needs to be done.

The Chinese regime remained silent for three weeks as we reported more and more details about the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners.

We have learned since that during those three weeks practitioners were transferred out of Sujiatun, and a cover-up was devised. The area was flooded with security agents pretending to be vendors, passerby, and tricycle drivers in order to deceive the journalists and investigators expected to appear in Sujiatun. In order to provide "legal" cover, a new directive on organ transplants was issued—although it will not go into effect until July 1...

... A U.S. investigation should involve direct interviews, unsupervised by Chinese regime officials, of health personnel throughout China...

...This investigation should demand answers to such questions as why a nation that in the seven years from 1991-1998 only performed 78 liver transplants performed 3,000 such liver transplants in 2003?

An organization called the Falun Dafa Information Center has called for a new international investigation into the allegations, and has also responded to the U.S. State Department's statement with one of its own. Excerpts from that response:

[The Falun Dafa Information Center] believes the conditions seen at the site are the product of a two-week “housecleaning” by Chinese communist authorities. “When China’s communist rulers start inviting the outside world to come investigate rights abuses—whereas normally they threaten and arrest any who try to do so—one has to pause and consider the motives,” said Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang Sunday...

...While the Center applauds U.S. pressure on China’s communist regime over the organ harvesting of Falun Gong followers, it wishes to point out the trickery of Chinese communist authorities. What appeared to U.S. staff to be absence of evidence of abuse should not be confused with evidence of absence. Notably:


* The first visit, by one staff member, took place two weeks after the camp was first exposed

* The staff member was given a tour, as would be a prospective patient there, by Chinese authorities

* China’s regime had more than ample time, and warning, to sanitize and disguise the camp

* China’s regime quickly removed a number of Websites related to the Sujiatun area, including sites detailing the vast underground tunnel system of Shenyang, of which Sujiatun is a suburb

* China’s regime took fully three weeks to formulate a public reply concerning the camp

* Sources say the PRC has deployed in Sujiatun plainclothes police, posing as vendors, and hired local residents to give false information to investigators and media

* The state-run, Xinhua New Agency admitted on 4/12 that, “There were Falun Gong followers in Sujiatun, but all of them are now receiving rehabilitation [sic] programs in places outside the district.”

* The Center warned against PRC-facilitated visits, sensing a propaganda maneuver

* China’s regime has lied to foreign investigative bodies before, even when many lives were at risk

* As recently as 2003 it lied to WHO investigators, journalists, and foreign governments about the presence of SARS patients in hospitals; it evacuated hospitals before inspections and hid patients

* Six out of the last seven years China’s regime has refused to meet terms set by UN Torture Inspectors

So, could a group of U.S. officials be given a tour of a hospital, and not be aware of all that had been going on there? This excerpt from the interview with the wife of one of the surgeons gives us some idea of the answer to that question:

From 2001, our hospital started to detain Falun Gong practitioners. At the beginning, these people were detained in the single-storey houses in the back yard of the hospital. Later, the hospital authorities demolished the single-storey houses, and it was unknown where in the hospital the Falun Gong practitioners were transferred. Many staff of the hospital discussed in private that these Falun Gong practitioners had been secretly transferred to the underground chambers of the hospital. According to some people working inside the hospital, the hospital has a huge system of secret underground chambers.

At the time when we went to work there, the person in charge of logistics and purchasing in the hospital said that the quantity of disposable sterile gloves used for operations and daily supplies that the hospital authorities asked to be purchased had increased dramatically. The logistics people estimated based on the scale of purchases at that time that there were at least 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners detained in this hospital.

These Falun Gong practitioners were not detained in the 4-story building under the in-patient department and administration at the front of the hospital, in order to keep the hospital staff from seeing them at all. We only occasionally saw Falun Gong practitioners being sent on a mobile intensive care bed to the first floor for physical examinations. These people were very weak. For the majority of the Falun Gong practitioners, nobody knew where they were being secretly kept. While they still did not know where these people were kept, some staff inquired to the hospital authorities about why so much food and so many sterile gloves and daily supplies were purchased. The hospital authorities said, "You only need to do your job well. There is no need for you to ask any other questions."

Oh yes, back to the commenter on my original post on Sujiatun. A guy calling himself Bobby Fletcher posted multiple comments linking to articles casting doubt on the story of large-scale organ harvesting at Sujiatun. Seems he runs a recently-started Blogspot blog called "Sujiatun Concentration Camp - Fact or Fiction?", devoted obviously to the latter conclusion.

Whether he is operating on his own or at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party authorities, it's clear he has an ambitious agenda. A look at his Blogspot profile reveals that he has several other Blogspot sites as well, including one called "A Church in China", which argues that religious freedom exists in China. And if you think that one is fighting an uphill battle, take a look at "The Myth of Tiananmen Square Massacre". Talk about your full-time job!

Whether or not the claims about Sujiatun are exaggerated, what seems to be beyond dispute is that practitioners of Falun Gong are viciously persecuted by the ruling regime, and imprisoned by the tens of thousands, often without formal charges or even notification to their families. And coincidentally or not, the Chinese business in human organ sales and transplantation appears to be booming.


Related:

Who's in China's Prisons?

Posted by dan at April 20, 2006 07:33 PM | TrackBack
Comments

According to my research, US government's investigation started 2nd week of March, which means "Auschwitz", thousands including doctors, nurses, gurads, equipments, supply, ration, facilities - only had 5 days to vanish into thin air.

What Epoch claims is science fiction.

We should be outraged by this outlandish claim - not only did Epoch Times NY discredited themselves, they also disrespected the Jewish people's suffering by taking the Holocaust in vain.

Posted by: charles liu at April 21, 2006 01:42 AM

It scares me how easily 'armchair' posters like the one above can dismiss all claims of wrongdoing by the Chinese Communist Party. Despite your excellent research into the clearly CCP sponsored bloggers who are ridiculing the story. The fact of criminals being used for transplants is not in dispute and if the CCP has labelled Falun Gong 'criminals' then logic would suggest that they will be used for organ harvesting.

A totalitarian government with access to 1.8 billion worth of cheap labor should not be considered incapable of anything. Making a 'hospital' disappear in 5 days is trivial. Especially if the underground train systems built by the Japanese in WWII are in operation and Sujiatun is one of many linked facilities.

History tells us that there were many holocaust deniers in the west before the americans walked into the camps and discovered the extent of the horror.

Posted by: daniel clark at May 9, 2006 09:50 AM

Dainle, I'm only objecting to Epoch Times' "Auschwitz" allegation that has since been discredited by multiple investigation conducted by US State Department and Africa, Global HR & IO Subcommittee.

May I suggest your "clearly CCP sponsored bloggers" accusation is without evidence? "People who disagree with me are spies" is the logic of 5 year olds.

Perhaps "armchair" posters like you should come up with some facts to back up what you say.

Here are more facts contradicting Epoch Times' "Never Again" claim:

- the hospital Epoch accused is a joint venture with a company affaliated with the Malaysian government. Malay officials have visited the clinic in previous years:

http://crc.gov.my/clinicalTrial/documents/Proposal/TCM_Stroke%20TrialProtocol%20synopsis.pdf

Would a death camp advertise for foreign investment and official tours?

- The question of short organ wait period in China raised by Falun Gong is doubtful. According to US clinical data, Falun Gong's "7 year average wait in US" claim is false:

http://www.ustransplant.org/annual_reports/current/105_dh.htm

* USA with 1/4 of China's population, performs over twice as many liver transplants yearly (10,000 in 2004.)
* 2004 data shows top 10% of wait list average 10 day wait
* 2004 data shows top 25% of wait list average 43 day wait
* Majority of median wait time, for all type of transplantation, do not exceed one year.

- I have also found a transplant center in US that advertises very short wait:

http://www.lifepoint-sc.org/articles/theheartofthematter.html

"At MUSC, heart transplant patients on average wait about 2 1/2 months for a heart, Van Bakel said. Nationally, he said, the average wait time is about eight months."

Posted by: bobby fletcher at May 12, 2006 03:28 PM

Yes, Mr Bobby Fletcher is right, the Sujiatun Concentration Camp is a hoax just like SARS, Bird Flu and AIDS. Then why are people dying? The answers are the following: lies, corruption and murder. To solve this let's just sweep it under the carpet like Charles Liu / Bobby Fletcher suggests.

Posted by: Watson at September 4, 2006 12:11 AM

Let's not forget that China is a democracy, that all Tibetans are happy about the Chinese invasion, that no students were killed in TAM, and the Falun Gong are ever so thankful to the CCP for cutting them open to steal their organs...

Try to make sense of this new form of evil on the planet...

http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/6-8-17/45032.html

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/060909/1/43bfs.html

Posted by: Makina at September 10, 2006 01:37 PM