HUMAN RIGHTS: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Sensational evidence of Chinese body-harvesting
, August 19, 2006
A Canadian former government minister is seeking Australia's help to end China's harvesting of body parts from healthy individuals imprisoned without trial, writes Peter Westmore.Michael Kilgour, a Canadian lawyer, and former member of parliament and government minister, has travelled to Australia to seek Australian support for an end to China's practice of harvesting organs from executed political prisoners.
With a human rights lawyer, Michael Matas, Mr Kilgour made a careful examination of evidence of systematic persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong, a Chinese self-improvement association, which is based on the principles of justice, tolerance and compassion.
Many thousands of practitioners have been imprisoned since former Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, authorised a crackdown on them in 1999, after they had staged peaceful protests in Beijing against a Communist Party campaign to outlaw them. They claim some 40 million adherents in China, and millions of other practitioners in other countries around the world. The report quotes a classified Chinese report that over 800,000 Falun Gong adherents had been arrested between 1999 and 2001. Most of these were released, but some thousands are believed to have been detained without trial. Many more have been detained since then.Sensational evidence
The report by Mr Kilgour and Mr Matas includes information from various sources: victim interviews, official Chinese records on the number of transplants, official Chinese figures on the number of executed prisoners, official Chinese figures on the number of organ-transplant centres in recent years in China, and, most sensationally, evidence from prison-wardens and people who had direct knowledge of organ-harvesting in China.
The report also contains evidence of several telephone conversations of Chinese people with military hospitals, university hospitals and transplant centres, in which hospital doctors admitted that organ transplants in China have been taken from healthy imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. Incriminating information has also been gathered from websites of various transplant-centres in China.
In 2005, the Chinese Government admitted that organs had been taken involuntarily from executed political prisoners, and promised to clamp down on the practice. However, the number of organs transplanted is far higher than the number of official executions, so the main sources of organs are people other than convicted criminals. The Chinese Government has completely rejected the Canadian report, and denied the allegations of organ-harvesting.
The report says that, despite the recent law which requires that organ donors have to give permission for organ donations, there is no evidence that this law is being enforced, and military hospitals are specifically exempt from its provisions. The report continues:
"Organ-harvesting of unwilling donors, where it is either systematic or widespread, is a crime against humanity. We are not in a position, with the resources and information at our disposal, to conduct a criminal investigation. Criminal authorities in China should investigate the allegation for possible prosecution.
"Governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental human rights organisations, with far better investigative capacity than ours, should take these allegations seriously and make their own determinations whether or not they are true."
The report urges all states to strengthen their laws against the crime of trafficking in organs:
"All should prevent and, at the very least, discourage their nationals from obtaining organ transplants in China until the Chinese law on organ transplants is rigorously implemented. States should, if necessary, deny passports or revoke passports of those who are travelling to China for organ transplants."
It also says that, until the international community is satisfied that the new Chinese law on organ transplants is being effectively implemented, medical organisations and health professionals should not participate in any Chinese Government-sponsored organ transplant research or meetings.
It also recommends that the dialogue between Canada and China over human rights should cease, as it is "a charade".
In relation to the broader question of human rights, the report says that the repression, imprisonment and severe mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners, documented by both the Chinese Government and human rights organisations, must stop immediately.
"All detention facilities, including forced labour camps, must be opened for international community inspection through the International Committee for the Red Cross or other human rights or humanitarian organisations."
It says Chinese hospitals should be required to keep records of the source of every transplant, and these records should be available for inspection by international human rights officials.
Further, every organ transplant, both donation and receipt, should have official approval from a government supervisory agency before the transplant takes place.Peter Westmore