EDITORIAL: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
China: let the truth be told
, July 22, 2006
Chinese authorities kill political prisoners and harvest their healthy body parts for use in organ transplants, two Canadian jurists have confirmed. When will Australia protest?There can be few more appalling things than that a government would intentionally set out to murder its own citizens. In the 20th century, it was in states such as Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Mao's China and Ho Chi Minh's Vietnam that the apex of horror was reached.
In these countries - every one of which was a one-party dictatorship masquerading as a democracy - a class of people were demonised and imprisoned, then executed.
Many believed that, with the downfall of the Soviet Union, the era of genocide which had made the 20th century the most bloody in history, had come to an end.
It is therefore a matter of alarm that a recent study, commissioned by two respected jurists from Canada, has concluded that the practice is being continued, on a more fiendish level than ever before, in present-day China.Independent inquiry
The two men, David Kilgour, a former Canadian government minister, and David Matas, an international human-rights lawyer, were commissioned by an American non-government organisation to conduct an independent investigation into allegations that organs were harvested from political prisoners in China.
They concluded that not only does the Chinese Government persecute and imprison dissenters, but it actually kills many of them, particularly Falun Gong members, in order to extract healthy organs such as corneas, hearts, livers and kidneys.
These are then sold, at very high prices, to people needing organ donations.
(Falun Gong is a form of meditation which emphasises self-improvement through a commitment to truth, compassion and tolerance).
Over the past 10 years, China has become a world leader in organ transplantation. There are currently over 10,000 organ transplants conducted there every year, and the report concluded that it could find no identifiable source for over 40,000 transplants conducted since the year 2000, when Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in large numbers.
After carefully examining the evidence, and interviewing Chinese people who had emigrated and Chinese government officials, the two Canadian lawyers concluded that most of the organs available for transplantation had come from political prisoners, many of them Falun Gong practitioners.
Equally distressing as the report into these abuses is the fact that Western governments, including those of the United States and Australia, have been largely silent in the face of persistent reports of human rights abuses in China.
The reason for this is not hard to find. China is a large trading partner of both countries, and has made clear that criticisms of China's repression will impact on diplomatic and economic relations.
The same moral dilemma was the subject of the address given by the great Russian novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970.
Solzhenitsyn - who had been a political prisoner in the USSR, then endured many years of persecution after his release from Soviet prison camps - warned the West against a policy of appeasement.
He said: "The spirit of Munich ... prevails in the twentieth century. The timid civilised world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.
"The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence ... so that their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer. And tomorrow, you'll see, it will all be all right.
"But it will never be all right. The price of cowardice will only be evil," he concluded. "We shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices."
To its credit, the Canadian Government has promised to take up the issue raised by the two Canadian lawyers, which had earlier been the subject of independent reports by Amnesty International and the British-based TV news channel, Sky News.
However, unless Western governments committed to upholding human dignity, including Australia's, express their disgust to China on the subject, the present appalling practices will continue.
The Chinese Government's role in relation to this matter raises serious questions about its role in relation to North Korea, which has resumed production of plutonium (which is used for nuclear weapons) and recently fired missiles into the Sea of Japan.
China has used its UN Security Council veto to thwart Western attempts to tighten sanctions against the North Korean regime. While China claims to be a restraining influence on the secretive communist regime, the evidence suggests that China is protecting it, as its interests are served by the continuation of an apparently erratic anti-American regime on the Korean peninsula, located between China and Japan.
The West can and should stand up to China with one voice on human rights. Then the West will find it can both change China and trade with China.
- Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.