November 19, 2008

Chinese Organ Harvesting

Ethan Gutmann's article China's Gruesome Organ Harvest is the cover story in the new Weekly Standard. Gutmann has traveled the world to conduct extended personal interviews with survivors of the Chinese forced labor camps and prisons, where Falun Gong practitioners are disappearing by the thousands, and business in the sale of healthy vital organs for transplant is booming.

The allegation that the Chinese government is murdering young, healthy, innocent Chinese citizens and selling their livers, kidneys and corneas for transplant to wealthy foreigners and connected Party officials is not one that the author takes lightly, and he admits the eye-witness evidence he has gathered is far from conclusive or complete. But as you can see below, his contribution to the story builds on three years of previous reporting on the practice.

The Chinese admit that they harvest organs from executed criminals, and there is a system in place for the practice. There have also been tens of thousands of documented detentions (without formal charges) of practitioners since the all-out persecution of Falun Gong intensified a decade ago. Many thousands more have simply disappeared, or have protected their families by refusing to identify themselves...

Falun Gong became wildly popular in China during the late 1990s. For various reasons--perhaps because the membership of this movement was larger than that of the Chinese Communist party (and intersected with it), or because the legacy of Tiananmen was unresolved, or because 70 million people suddenly seemed to be looking for a way into heaven (other than money)--the party decided to eliminate it. In 1998, the party quietly canceled the business licenses of people who practiced Falun Gong. In 1999 came mass arrests, seizure of assets, and torture. Then, starting in 2000, as the movement responded by becoming more openly activist, demonstrating at Tiananmen and hijacking television signals on the mainland, the death toll started to climb, reaching approximately 3,000 confirmed deaths by torture, execution, and neglect by 2005.

At any given time, 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners were said to be somewhere in the Chinese penal system. Like most numbers coming out of China, these were crude estimates, further rendered unreliable by the chatter of claim and counterclaim. But one point is beyond dispute: The repression of Falun Gong spun out of control. Arrests, sentencing, and whatever took place in the detention centers, psychiatric institutions, and labor camps were not following any established legal procedure or restraint. As an act of passive resistance, or simply to avoid trouble for their families, many Falun Gong began withholding their names from the police, identifying themselves simply as "practitioner" or "Dafa disciple." When asked for their home province, they would say "the universe." For these, the nameless ones, whose families had no way of tracing them or agitating on their behalf, there may be no records at all

Gutmann is building on the considerable work of other investigators before him on this issue, in particular, two Canadian attorneys, David Matas and David Kilgour, who investigated the matter and published their report on the web here. It's a good place to start of you want some degree of detail. I have been following the story for over two years, prompted originally by a piece by Jay Nordlinger, and the posts below can thoroughly immerse you in the story, complete with some interesting comments and links from one bobby fletcher (aka Charles Liu), ubiquitous blogosphere apologist for the Chinese regime.

David Gregory, editor of Epoch Times, the source of much of the original reporting on the practice of organ harvesting from imprisoned Falun Gong by the Chinese, gave a speech in which he addressed head-on our natural tendency to disbelieve that which we find too horrible to know for certain, starting with a quote from the Matas-Kilgour Report.

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.

But how impossible is it to believe when one considers the publicly stated policy of the Chinese regime as regards the practice of Falun Gong, and its practitioners. They are official enemies of the state. Criminals to be eradicated. It was just a happy coincidence for the regime's transplant enterprise that many of them are young, strong and healthy. From the Gregory speech:

On July 20, 1999, Jiang Zemin began persecuting Falun Gong. Based on the Party's past experience in suppressing the Chinese people, he boasted Falun Gong would be eliminated in three months time.

I would like to make three points about this persecution: first, how this persecution has been systematic and comprehensive; second, how it has dehumanized the practitioners of Falun Gong; and, third, how the Chinese regime encourages the worst possible abuses of the Falun Gong.

An article from The Washington Post in 2001 explains how the Chinese regime had "sanctioned the systematic use of violence against the group, established a network of brainwashing classes and embarked on a painstaking effort to weed out followers neighborhood by neighborhood and workplace by workplace."

Before the persecution began, Jiang Zemin had established an extra-constitutional office called the 6-10 Office whose job is to "eradicate" Falun Gong. The 6-10 Office seeks to identify every single Falun Gong adherent in China and force each one to renounce the practice.

The Washington Post identifies a three-pronged approach adopted by the regime: violence, propaganda, and brainwashing. The violence occurs in jails, labor camps, and brainwashing centers. Falun Dafa Information Center estimates that hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been arrested.

The speech is a good introduction to the issue as well, worth reading in full...or see it excerpted in this post.

The U.N. has asked the Chinese regime to explain the sharp rise in organ transplant rates without a demonstrable increase in available donors. No suprise the Chinese say no statistics are available for the years in question (2000-2005).

As Gregory says, "This horror inspires a certain skepticism" Yes it does. I read the Matas-Kilgour report, and found it persuasive. Your mileage may vary. But Gutmann and the Standard are asking the same question Matas and Kilgour and Epoch Times have been asking for three years or more...

"Why isn't the whole world watching?"

Second Matas-Kilgore Report

Previous Wizblog posts on Chinese Organ Harvesting

Murder For Organs in China 3/31/06

Sujiatun Follow-Up 4/20/06

Report on Chinese Organ Harvesting 7/9/06

Revisiting Sujiatun 9/8/06

Suspending Disbelief 9/10/06

Other Related Links:

Epoch Times article archive

Between Heaven and Earth

Posted by dan at November 19, 2008 11:30 PM