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Flak For Hu Jintao On Organ Harvesting in China

Posted by Author on September 7, 2007

Hamish McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, September 6, 2007-

ALONG with the leaders of the Asia-Pacific region, all the issues they want to sweep under the carpet are coming to Sydney.

Activists are raising all the human rights abuses said to be occurring in their countries – even those of animals in the case of the Japanese and whales.

China’s leader, Hu Jintao, faces the most disgusting allegation if it is true – that his hospitals, military, judges and police are culprits in harvesting organs from jailed members of the banned Falun Gong movement, who are killed to order for an export transplant trade.

The unlikely activists putting this as a credible charge are two earnest Canadians, who are in town to cause maximum embarrassment for the Chinese delegation. David Kilgour took up the issue last year as he finished 26 years in the Canadian House of Commons, where he started as a Conservative, then joined the Liberals and finished as an independent using his swing vote to get a Canadian peacekeeping commitment to the Darfur crisis in Sudan.

David Matas is a lawyer based in Winnipeg noted for his work in immigration, refugee and international human rights cases.

Although their travel is financed by Falun Gong members and concerned individuals, they say they get no payment and don’t belong to the group – Kilgour is a Presbyterian and Matas is Jewish.

One of many new religions and spiritual groups that swept China after the collapse of Marxism, Falun Gong’s doctrine is a synthesis of Buddhism and wacky science fiction but most of its members get comfort from daily meditative breathing exercises.

The Communist Party leadership got alarmed when 15,000 adherents staged a sitdown protest outside their Beijing compound in April 1999 over criticism of the Falun Gong founder in the state media. A sweeping ban since mid-1999 has seen tens of thousands of members sent to labour camps and brainwashing centres.

Early last year Falun Gong began reporting that jailed members were being killed, their organs harvested, and sold to foreign recipients.

The American State Department and an activist group on China’s labour camps sent visitors to a military hospital in Shenyang where this was said to be practised, but found nothing – “As you expect,” says Kilgour.

The two Canadians took up a request to investigate and have produced a report they admit doesn’t have “ironclad proof” of the allegation, but which paints a disturbing picture making it believable. Since then, a Chinese vice-minister of health, Huang Jiefu, has acknowledged prisoners sentenced to death provide most of the organs for transplants.

The Canadians say this doesn’t add up. China admits to about 1600 executions a year, but does some 10,000 transplants a year, for fees from US$30,000 ($36,500) for corneas to $US180,000 for a liver-kidney donation, according to one centre in Shenyang.

The “donated” organ arrives within a couple of weeks of the patient checking in, compared with years of waiting in home countries. The transplant is usually done in a military or police hospital, with minimal disclosure about donors.

The Canadians supervised calls to several hospitals by Mandarin speakers purporting to be acting for patients seeking urgent transplants, getting some doctors and officials to admit taking organs from young and healthy Falun Gong prisoners.

The publicity has led to a decline in foreigners seeking transplants in China, including Australians, they claim. “Once they are aware that donors are being killed on demand, like lobsters in some horrible restaurant, they don’t want to be involved,” Kilgour said.

– Original report from The Sydney Morning Herald: Flak for Hu on organ harvesting

One Response to “Flak For Hu Jintao On Organ Harvesting in China”

  1. A. D. Hermijlin said

    While China is in “full-speed-ahead” mode with preparations for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, behind the frenzied building of new facilities, in keeping with the International Olympic Association requirements, and the expected economic boon for the Chinese, there lurks a dark underbelly that is yet to see the light of condemnation by their government and the international community.
    About late January to early February this year, a coterie of New York politicians met and had dinner with the Chinese Consul General Liu Biewie. The dinner, attended by NY State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, representing the 79th Assembly District in the Bronx, said that the Consul General spoke about China’s contribution to the New York State economy and the need for greater bilateral economic relations.
    “He [Biewie] bristled at my questioning about the lack of democratic freedoms among the Chinese rural and lower classes. He stated that they have to evolve into the growing economy and basically, that internal Chinese affairs are none of my business,” said Benjamin, referring to the numerous human rights abuses in China.
    Benjamin said that he is personally appalled that the Chinese or any civilized government would place such little value on human life.
    “Organ harvesting is reprehensible. That government has criminalized spirituality and the universal desire for freedom and democracy. And, too many foreigners are complicit in accepting these organs, no questions asked. The Chinese doctors and journalists who have spoken out are credible. The Chinese fascist dictatorship has made human life a commodity as they have gone to great guns to embrace capital accumulation,” he said.
    As an African-American, Benjamin said he recalled the oppression in China, where the Catholic Church is controlled by the CCP, about the one child rule.
    “As an elected official, I am sounding the alarm to my colleagues and business leaders. New York State should not be accomplices in the oppression of the Chinese people or the suppression of their rightful yearnings for freedom and democracy,” Benjamin said.
    Dr. Wenyi Wang, a surgical pathologist who was trained at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and is an activist against the persecution of Falun Gong members in China, said, “In March 2006, we all heard of organ harvesting. We knew it was going on before because many Falun Gong practitioners have gone missing and we don’t know where they went.”
    Dr. Wang said that she had written a report detailing the human rights abuses, including the psychological abuses in clinics. As a member of the group Mental Health Watch, together they found out that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) learned the techniques of brainwashing their citizens and anyone with views different from the Party line, from Russia. Those who thought differently, Dr. Wang said, were considered mentally unstable and placed in mental institutions or in labor camps. In these camps or institutions they were forced to change their minds and opinions and if they refused they were injected with high doses of anti-psychotic drugs. Dr. Wang stated that this form of treatment was used as torture in Russia and in the early 1980s the World Psychiatric Association passed a resolution condemning the use of drugs of this nature.
    With the persecution of Falun Gong members in China, beginning in July 1999, Dr. Wang said, reports began to emerge of people being given anti-psychotic drugs. She referred to a Wall Street Journal article that mentioned a Falon Gong member dying from an overdose. But what really sparked comments was the release of a report in July 2006 by David Matas and David Kilgour, two Canadians who interviewed several people, including relatives of victims and the wife of a doctor who had performed over 2,000 corneal transplants. The document, The Report Into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China details extensively and graphically, the methods used to obtain organs from people and boasts of how many transplants are being done.
    In an April 2007 letter to Dr. Kgosi Letlape, president of the World Medical Association (WPA), based in Pilaneberg, South Africa, Dr. Abraham Halpern, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the New York Medical College recalled a previously sent letter in September 2006 in which he called for the world body to demand from the Chinese government that they allow an investigative team to examine the allegations of physicians in China being involved in the wanton killing of Falun Gong members by removing their body’s organs for sale, and to expel the Chinese Medical Association from their membership.
    “Reports are rampant throughout the world that the organ harvesting program in China continues without interruption,” Dr. Halpern wrote, “notwithstanding the denials of the Chinese government and the enactment of a law that went into effect last July to regulate organ transplants in hospitals.”
    “It has come to my attention,” Dr. Halpern continued, “that Dr. Chen Zhonghua, the Deputy Committee Director of the Chinese Medical Association, Organ Transplant Division, may actually be involved in these blatantly pernicious violations of the codes of medical ethics of all the countries of the world.”
    In his letter, Dr. Halpern cautioned that by the time of the Olympics, diplomats and others waiting to protest against the atrocities would be unable to prevent, halt or save the lives of many innocent people who are killed for their organs just simply because they have beliefs different from the state. Dr. Halpern called for an emergency meeting of the Council of the WPA “to address this problem and act to save many lives.”
    In New York City, there are a growing number of African-Americans throughout the five boroughs who have become Falun Gong practitioners. One practitioner, Denise Benson, who is a public information specialist with a state agency, said that at the time she happened onto the practice she was in addictive and abusive situations.
    “I’ve been on my job for 27 years and was a functioning addict, and no one knew. But, I wanted to make changes in my life,” she said. Benson said that she was appalled when she found out that Falun Gong members were specifically targeted for their organs and corneas.
    As an African-American, she said, “I know that people wonder what I have in common with the practitioners in China. It is simple, it’s our belief in truth, compassion and tolerance.”
    While reports are scarce of African-Americans who have benefited from organ transplants originating in China, people need to be aware because as it affects one, it affects all, Benson said.
    Another African-American, Agnes Pleasant who lives in Staten Island and has been a Falun Gong practitioner for four years, said, “No one other than Falon Dafa, the other name Falun Gong practitioners are called, seem to have picked up on this. The world seems to be ignoring this fact. Everyone seems to have closed their ears.”
    Dr. Wang said that between 2001 and 2003, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were put in secret facilities in Shenyang City in Liaoning Province in Northeast China.
    “There are reports,” she said, “that the practitioners had their organs removed by teams of surgeons.”
    The report by Matas and Kilgour told of one of the doctors suffered a nervous breakdown after being forced to remove 2,000 corneas from Falun Gong practitioners.
    Dr. Wang said that the reason why Falun Gong members are chosen was because of their beliefs and the martial arts practice they perform, an offshoot of the ancient practice of Qi Gong; their lifestyle changes contribute to healthier organs. In the process of organ removal in China, Dr. Wang said, only a minimum amount of anesthesia is used. Usually, she added, in the United States, organ removal is based on donation and every effort is used to preserve the donor’s life. In China, however, she said, after a person’s organs have been removed, the person is cremated. Ancient Chinese custom, she said, insists that the body be buried intact and the practice of organ removal violates those traditions. Dr. Wang said that the normal rate of organ donations in China is usually about three percent, only in the case of brain-dead patients and if they pre-sign a donor card for their organs to be harvested, and is about 10 cases per year. With the high incidence of organ removals, she asks, where are the organs coming from?
    The economic laws of demand and supply are employed in this macabre practice. People from the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, some European countries and Asian Pacific countries have been to China for transplants. “These people have been told they only have to wait three days to get an organ,” Dr. Wang said.
    In a January 2007 article, The Desperate Arrangement printed in Forbes by Richard Morris, details the cost of organs, the places where specialized hospitals have been set up, the lengths people would go to obtain replacement body parts and the body-parts brokers who are reaping a fortune.
    Dr. Wang said that with the transplant market being very tight, taking the organs from defenseless and economically disadvantaged people for a profit supports the supply and demand paradigm.
    “The enormous profit from organ sales is an allure for the CCP brainwashed medical professionals leading to the systematic persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. There is a special office in China coordinating and controlling organ harvesting, called 610, for June 10, the date when the office was established,” she said.
    The 610 Office, she added, has broad sweeping powers and the head of it is Gan Lou, who was appointed byJiang Ze Min former CCP chief.
    In the United States, according to the Website for the United Network for Organ Sharing, currently there are 96,400 patients waiting for transplants. As of April 2007, 2,269 transplants were done and of that number, 1,191 were donors. According to data provided on the Website by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 82,150 liver transplants have been performed between 1988 and 2007. Of that number, 7,259 were African-American. For the same period, 236,496 kidney transplants have been performed and of that 52,924 were for African-Americans. And, of the 41,065 heart transplants that have been done for the same period, between 1988 and 2007, 5,264 African-Americans received hearts.
    According to the report by Matas and Kilgour, “there appeared to be only 22 liver transplants centres operating across China before 1999, compared to fully 500 in mid-April 2006. The number of liver transplant operations in all of China appeared to total 135 by 1998, contrasted with more than 4,000 in 2005 alone. For kidneys, the pattern is also significant (3,596 transplants in 1998 and nearly 10,000 in 2005).”
    The report continues to suggest that the increase in organ transplants parallel the persecution of Falun Gong and while it does not prove the allegation; they are, however, consistent with the allegations.
    Calls to the Chinese Consulate’s office in New York were redirected to the Chief Press Officer, Wenqi Gao, who would not comment, but referred all enquires about organ harvesting to the Chinese government’s Website.

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