FOREIGN AFFAIRS: News Weekly
Chinese organ-harvesting under scrutiny
, December 9, 2006
A group of Australians are seeking to visit China to investigate the murder of Falun Gong practitioners and the harvesting of their body parts for organ transplants.The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) has asked the Chinese Government to permit the entry of a delegation to investigate the murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China, to harvest their livers, kidneys and other organs, for sale.
The establishment of the delegation was announced at a media conference at the Thomas More Centre, Melbourne, hosted by Peter Westmore, president of the National Civic Council, and leader of the delegation.
In July this year, two respected Canadian lawyers, David Kilgour (a former Canadian government minister) and David Matas (a human rights lawyer), released a report which revealed alarming evidence that Chinese citizens were being killed because they were Falun Gong practitioners, and their organs were then being sold by transplant clinics in China.
John Xiao, spokesperson for the Coalition, said: "The Australian team is one of four from the international communities committed to see that the recommendations made in the Canadian report of July 2006 are effectively implemented. We can help prevent, if not stop, forced organ-harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China."
"Three other teams are taking shape in Asia, Europe and North America as we speak.""Unacceptable"
Peter Westmore, president of the NCC, said: "It is utterly unacceptable that these practices should take place in a country which will shortly host the Olympic Games, and with which Australia is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. The only way to resolve this matter is through an open and independent inquiry. In the absence of action by the Chinese Government, we are willing to set the ball rolling.
"Amnesty International has appealed to the Chinese authorities to stop the campaign of persecution of Falun Gong, and to release all those detained solely on account of their peaceful religious or spiritual beliefs and practices."
Another speaker at the launch, Cr. Janet Rice, mayor of the city of Maribyrnong, Victoria, said that it was important that people in Australia should unite to protect those who were vulnerable to persecution.
She called on the Chinese Government to assist the delegation to answer the questions which have been raised, and permit the delegation to operate independently.
Other messages of support were received from state politicians and from one of Australia's most prominent human rights lawyers, Julian Burnside QC.
In their letter to the Chinese Government, Mr Westmore and Mr Xiao said: "For the Chinese Government to be exonerated from these serious allegations, the only way is to allow unfettered inspections and investigations by independent investigators from the international community to detention facilities and hospitals of their own choosing, including those within the military system due to their alleged involvement ...
"The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) is a global alliance of independent, concerned parties which are committed to conduct serious investigations and to ensure that the alleged killings do not happen.
"The Australian CIPFG delegation has been formed and, together with three other delegations from Europe, Asia and North America, we are ready to begin the investigations."
The Coalition has teams from the four continents to cover different regions of China. The targets of the Australian delegation include Hebei, Jilin and Hubei provinces.
The CIPFG letter continued: "We have lists of detention facilities and hospitals in these provinces that may be the starting points of our investigation, but we may go outside these three provinces if the need arises in order to follow cases under investigation.
"We would also like to ask for your Government's assistance to locate Gao Zhi Sheng (a Beijing-based lawyer and CIPFG member) and Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner who was detained after the Vice-President of the European Parliament visited him earlier this year, who we would like to visit.
"According to Amnesty International, Mr Gao has been detained since August this year, but his whereabouts is unknown. The international community strongly urges for his immediate release."Public admission
While the Chinese Government has denied allegations of organ harvesting, its Deputy Health Minister recently acknowledged publicly that China harvests organs from executed prisoners.
Further, the International Transplantation Society, a global body dedicated to the development of ethical transplant science, issued a statement on November 6 condemning organ-harvesting from executed prisoners.
Amnesty International has documented that up to 15,000 people are executed in China every year - far higher than any other country in the world. It said, "There is potential for the violation of human rights at every stage of the criminal justice process leading to execution."
According to official national statistics, the conviction rate for all crimes for the five years from 1998 to 2002 was 99.1 per cent.