By Hon. David Kilgour, J.D., Subcommittee on Human Rights, European Parliament- Brussels, Via MWC News, Dec. 2, 2009 –
Thank you for the opportunity to speak about organ pillaging from Falun Gong practitioners in China as a new crime against humanity.
The earlier witness, Gao Wenqian from Human Rights In China (HRIC) in New York, told us in part that the overall human rights situation in China today is worsening. The experiences of another Gao (no relative), Gao Zhisheng, illustrates this phenomenon well.
In 2004, Gao Zhisheng, then one of China’s top lawyers and since nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, defended a Falun Gong practitioner who had been sent to a labour camp without any form of hearing. Gao learned that the court refused to hear the case because of “orders from above”, so he courageously wrote to the National People’s Congress and later sent three letters to the top leadership in Beijing. One of them referred to the “indescribable violence done to kind (Falun Gong) practitioners”.
Gao’s permit to practise law was subsequently removed and his office was closed by the government. His wife and daughter were harassed by police. He was imprisoned and tortured during a horrific five-week period and is now being “held incommunicado at an unknown location”, according to Amnesty International.
Forced Labour Camps
In doing our final report on organ pillaging from Falun Gong, David Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview practitioners sent to forced labour camps since 1999, who managed later to leave the camps and the country itself. They told us of working in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay, little food, being cramped together on the floor for sleeping, and being tortured. They made export products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations at times as subcontractors to multinational companies.
The camps, which were created in the Mao era and modeled closely on those in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Third Reich, allow the party to send anyone to them for up to four years with neither any form of hearing nor appeal. One estimate of the number of the camps across China as of 2005 was 340, having a capacity of about 300,000 inmates. In 2007, a US government report estimated that at least half of the inmates in the camps were Falun Gong. It is the combination of totalitarian governance and ‘anything is permitted’ economics that allows such inhuman practices to persist.
Take Falun Gong practitioner Crystal Chen, a former assistant to the president of a leading import export corporation in Guangzhou and an amateur actor, for example, who spent three years in a camp. She experienced beatings, being shackled and stretched, and prolonged sleep deprivation. In a detention centre, she was thrown on the floor of her cell and four large men held her down. A water bottle was cut in half to be used as a funnel. A one-pound bag of salt was poured inside the bottle, a small amount of water added. Guards shoved the opening of the bottle against Chen’s teeth and tried to pry her mouth open with a dirty toothbrush.
She resisted, knowing the salt could kill her. Chen: “The salt went everywhere into my mouth and up my nose… I vomited salt and blood for days and could not eat. My gums were full of blood, I could hardly talk. They still handcuffed me.” A male practitioner, university teacher Gao Xian in, died after being subjected to the same salt torture in the same detention centre.
Chen, now a refugee living outside China, stresses that Falun Gong practitioners, while understandably unsympathetic towards the Party, seek no role in Chinese politics: “only to stop the persecution which has continued for more than ten years… I love China. I’m proud of thousands of years of Chinese civilization and proud of being Chinese… I look forward to the renaissance of genuine Chinese values and dignity, including truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.”
Killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs
David Matas and I came to the dismaying conclusion that Falun Gong practitioners in China have been and are being killed for their organs on a large scale. We wrote a report that came to this conclusion, which came out in July 2006. There was a second version in 2007. A third in book form was published last month as Bloody Harvest.
Falun Gong is essentially a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline, consisting of principles for living, meditation and exercises which began in China in 1992. Initially the government encouraged the practice as beneficial for health. By 1999, it had grown so popular that the Party became afraid that its own ideological and numerical supremacy were being threatened. The numbers of persons practising Falun Gong across China had grown from virtually none in 1992, according to a government estimate, to 70-100 million. The practice was accordingly banned.
Practitioners were asked to recant. Those who refused and continued the practice and those who protested the banning were arrested. If they recanted after arrest, they were released. If they did not, they were tortured. If they recanted after torture, they were then released. If they did not recant after torture, they disappeared into the Chinese detention and forced labor system. (To be cont’d……)