July 9, 2006

Report On Chinese Organ Harvesting

Three months ago we linked a Jay Nordlinger column referencing reports in the Epoch Times and other media which claimed that the Chinese regime was harvesting organs from live, imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners at a hospital complex in Sujiatun. A follow-up post is here. The comments at the original Wizblog posts are interesting, to say the least. They include categorical denials from a blogger whose purpose seems to be denial of any and all Chinese atrocities (to include Tiananmen Square, if you can get to that.)

At that time two independent Canadian journalists decided to conduct an investigation into the matter, and their report is now out, and available here. A portion of their concluding statement:

Based on what we now know, we have come to the regrettable conclusion that the allegations are true. We believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.

We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres and 'people's courts', since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas, were virtually simultaneously 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.

A CBC news story on the report's release is excerpted below:

OTTAWA (CP) - Calling it a crime against humanity, a new report says China is harvesting vital organs from devotees of the outlawed Falun Gong movement...

...Winnipeg human rights lawyer David Matas and former Liberal cabinet minister David Kilgour, who undertook a two-month investigation, acknowledged Thursday their findings were almost too astonishing to comprehend.

"The very horror makes us reel back in disbelief," the report says. "But that disbelief does not mean that the allegations are untrue."

...The pair conducted the probe as unpaid volunteers at the request of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a Washington-based organization with a branch in Ottawa.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa dismissed the report as a "groundless and biased" Falun Gong smear effort based on "rumours and false allegations."

Kilgour and Matas insist their research was conducted independently of the coalition and any other organization or government.

They were unsuccessful in obtaining visas to visit China to investigate.

Instead, they gathered testimony from witnesses in Canada, the United States, France and Australia, consulted the websites of Chinese transplantation centres, and studied transcripts of Mandarin conversations with doctors and other officials at hospitals and detention centres in China.

"We believe that there has been and continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners," the report says.

It calls on the United Nations to determine whether China is in violation of the UN protocol to prevent trafficking in persons, which bans organ removal.

A Canadian blogger named MaKina has kept me updated on this story, which she has followed closely. She is now advocating a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I am making no representation as to the truth of the original allegations, or of the conclusions of the Matas-Kilgour report, other than to say that I have read the report, and I find it persuasive. Make of it what you will. The investigators take pains to remind the reader that they lack the hard evidence to make their findings conclusive. They also emphasize that they did their work strictly as volunteers, and they have nothing to do with the Falun Gong movement.

Matas and Kilgour found credible and persuasive an interview with the former wife of one of the surgeons at an organ harvesting center, (p. 50 of the pdf document) who had admitted to having removed the corneas of 2000 prisoners who he knew to be Falun Gong, and who were murdered for the corneas as well as their kidneys, livers and skin.

Not only do Matas and Kilgour include transcripts of recorded phone conversations from as recently as June, 2006 with doctors and other Chinese hospital officials admitting that they are using live Falun Gong prisoners for the organ harvesting, there is a great deal of other circumstantial evidence pointing to the likelihood that Falun Gong practitioners are the source of the organs supplying the surge of growth in the Chinese organ transplant industry, which in large part serves a wealthy, foreign clientele. For starters, that boom began in 1999, coinciding with the onset of large scale persecution of the Falun Gong. And then there's the money. According to Kilgour, the organ black market will fetch "$62,000 for a kidney, $98,000 to $130,000 for a liver."

Matas and Kilgour trace the history of the Chinese regime's concerted program to dehumanize and persecute the practitioners of the Falun Gong health and exercise regimen, and note that, while it doesn't in itself constitute evidence, the imprisonment, torture and murder of people it considers to be enemies of the state would in no way be inconsistent with the human rights record of the Chinese government.

Among the other findings, excerpted from the Matas-Kilgour report:

There are many more transplants than identifiable sources. We know that some organs come from executed prisoners. Very few come from willing donor family members. But these sources leave huge gaps in the totals. The number of executed prisoners and willing sources come nowhere close to the number of transplants...

We know that Falun Gong practitioners in detention are systematically blood tested...It is unlikely that the testing serves a health purpose. For one, it is unnecessary to blood test people systematically simply as a health precaution. For another, the health of the Falun Gong in detention is disregarded in so many other ways. It is implausible that the authorities would blood test Falun Gong as a precautionary health measure. Blood testing is a pre-requisite for organ transplants. Donors need to be matched with recipients so that the antibodies of the recipients do not reject the organs of the donors...

...A number of 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. Again the evidence about these mutilated corpses is attached as an appendix to this

We have only a few instances of such mutilated corpses. We have no official explanation why they were mutilated. Their mutilation is consistent with organ harvesting. We cannot even guess otherwise why these corpses would have been mutilated and body parts removed.

...Hospital web sites in China advertise short waiting times for organ transplants. Transplants of long dead donors are not viable because of organ deterioration after death. If we take these hospital's self-promotions at face value, they tell us that there are a number of people now alive who are available almost on demand as sources of organs. The wait times for organ transplants for organ recipients in China appear to be much lower than anywhere else...

...Besides Falun Gong, other prime targets of human rights violations are Tibetans, Christians, Uighurs, democracy activists and human rights defenders. Rule of Law mechanisms in place to prevent human rights violations, such as an independent judiciary, access to counsel on detention, habeas corpus, the right to public trial, are glaringly absent in China. China, according to its constitution, is ruled by the Communist Party. It is not ruled by law.

This overall pattern of human rights violations, like many other factors, does not in itself prove the allegations. But it removes an element of disproof. It is impossible to say of these allegations that it is out of step with an overall pattern of respect for human rights in China. While the allegations, in themselves, are surprising, they are less surprising with a country that has the human rights record China than they would be for many other countries...

...The allegations here are so shocking that they are almost impossible to believe. The allegations, if true, would represent a grotesque form of evil which, despite all the depravations humanity has seen, would be new to this planet. The very horror makes us reel back in disbelief. But that disbelief does not mean that the allegations are untrue.

The Chinese government has predictably dismissed the Matas-Kilgour report out of hand, and the investigators' response to the Chinese can be found here.

Posted by dan at July 9, 2006 9:30 PM