Organ Theft Deemed 'Most Serious' Human Rights Issue

24,000 Canadians urge Canadian PM to raise Falun Gong issue with China at APEC

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Sep 04, 2007

Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners re-enact a scene of organ harvesting in China. Canadian investigators David Kilgour and David Matas report that the vital organs of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, mostly to foreigners. (Xiaoyan Sun/The Epoch Times)

Ottawa—In the approach to the APEC summit this weekend in Sydney, Australia, the issue of China's human rights record is again in the spotlight.

Falun Gong practitioners living in Canada who have relatives incarcerated in China for their belief are heartened to learn that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has confirmed he will raise human rights with Chinese leader Hu Jintao. There are 16 imprisoned practitioners with family ties in Canada

A total of 24,000 Canadians, including NGOs and MPs from different parties, have petitioned Harper over the last three weeks requesting that he speak out against the persecution of Falun Gong and the illicit harvesting of practitioners' organs.

At a background briefing with reporters last Wednesday, Harper's communications director Sandra Buckler said Harper is "fair" and wouldn't be afraid to raise the issue.

Meanwhile, a Winnipeg lawyer says Harper must be sure to specifically raise the issue of organ harvesting.

"When you're talking human rights, you should raise the more serious issues, and [organ harvesting] is the most serious," said human rights lawyer David Matas.

"It's an awful, practice. It's got no justification whatsoever. Innocents in large numbers are being killed. It shows the end game where the persecution of the Falun Gong leads."

A report Matas co-authored last July with former Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour has generated considerable worldwide attention, not least because it focuses on allegations of organ theft from practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline in China.

In January this year Kilgour and Matas published a revised report, Bloody Harvest, presenting increased evidence that the regime is removing and selling vital organs from thousands of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, killing them in the process.

The Epoch Times first broke the story in March 2006 when Chinese inside sources revealed that organ theft from living practitioners was being carried out in connection with Chinese authorities, including the military and police.

Kilgour and Matas found that 41,500 transplants that occurred between 2000 and 2005 had no other explained source. The persecution of Falun Gong was launched by the regime in 1999.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have verified widespread ill-treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

According to a report last year by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak report, two-thirds of the reported instances of torture and ill treatment in China were Falun Gong cases. The U.S. State Department has reported that Falun Gong adherents may constitute at least half of the officially recorded inmates in Chinese re-education-through-labour camps.

Voice of Canadians Can Make a Difference

Last Wednesday Falun Gong practitioners and supporters gathered on Parliament Hill calling on Harper to urge Hu to stop the persecution, especially the organ harvesting, and release all prisoners including those with family ties in Canada.

"Throughout China, grave, horrifying human rights violations continue to be the daily reality," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, noting that "practitioners of Falun Gong are brutally tortured."

NDP Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston said his party "has called upon the Prime Minister and this government repeatedly to raise the issue of the persecution of Falun Gong with Chinese leaders."

While motion M-162, which Marston introduced in the House of Commons, asks the government to work through the U.N. and other multilateral bodies to eliminate human rights abuses worldwide, it specifically says Canada should use its "good relationship with China to pressure that government to end its human rights violations against its citizens and, in particular, practitioners of Falun Gong."

To raise awareness, practitioners maintained a week-long anti-torture exhibit on the Hill, including a re-enactment of the illicit organ harvesting.

Concerns from Canadians and MPs from different parties, consistent over the years, have compelled former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin to raise the issue of the persecution with Chinese leaders in the past.

Notably, in October 2002, prior to the APEC meeting in Mexico, a Falun Gong motion introduced by Conservative MP Scott Reid received all-party support and passed unanimously in the House of Commons—a rare achievement for a Private Member's Motion.

M-236 called on then-Prime Minister Chrétien to address with then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin the issue of 13 Falun Gong practitioners with Canadian family ties unlawfully detained in China. It resulted in the release of eight practitioners within a year.

In fact, Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) President Li Xun said a Canadian Press article in January 2006 reported that Falun Gong was the third most frequent subject of correspondence to the Prime Minister's Office in 2005.

U.N. Corroborates Organ Harvesting Findings

Matas said an international movement is developing to probe the organ harvesting issue, especially citing the European Parliament, Australia, and Taiwan as being "very supportive" and "very helpful."

In particular, in March this year Nowak issued a U.N. report that corroborates Matas' and Kilgour's findings. Nowak and two other U.N. Special Rapporteurs have sent urgent appeals to China and questioned the regime on organ harvesting.

Nowak has insisted that Beijing respond with facts on each point of the allegations, including exact data on executions and the origin of transplanted organs.

"To reject the massive accusations raised by various sides categorically is surely not sufficient," he told Austria's Profil magazine in an interview in Germany in March.

University of Minnesota Prof. Kirk Allison had earlier conducted a separate investigation and came to the same conclusion as Kilgour and Matas—that organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners was taking place.

Another independent investigation, carried out by European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott, also corroborates Matas and Kilgour's findings.

Last November Harper told reporters his government will not forsake "important Canadian values" by toning down criticism of China's human rights record to advance trade relations with Beijing.

Matas urges Harper to "carry on and carry forward his tradition of speaking clearly and forcefully" and to do so "in relation to organ harvesting." The Canadian government, Matas adds, has told him through correspondence that it takes his report's findings very seriously.

"The best way to take it seriously is to raise it with the government of China," he said.

FDAC's letter to Harper encouraged his "continuing legacy" to uphold and strengthen his commitment to human rights.

"The large number of petitions is the voice of Canadians saying no to the horrific crimes against Falun Gong by the Chinese regime," says Li. "It is also their wish and expectation for the Prime Minister to voice their objection."

Sep 04,2007
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