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University Wire: U. Pittsburgh panelists denounce organ harvesting in China


University Wire: U. Pittsburgh panelists denounce organ harvesting in China

The Pitt News via U-Wire

By Emily Catalano

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Four expert panelists of doctors and lawyers spoke out against what they call "China's new genocide" at a press conference and forum on Monday afternoon in the University of Pittsburgh's William Pitt Union.

Over the past eight years, the Chinese government has murdered over 3,000 Falun Gong practitioners and harvested their organs in order to profit from the deaths, earning millions of dollars. The panelists gathered to condemn these human rights violations and describe their potential impact on the Pittsburgh community.

Already an American citizen, Charles Li was arrested and sentenced to three years in a Chinese labor camp for supporting Falun Gong, a religious practice centered around meditation and study. The practice promotes spiritual and physical health, with an emphasis on truth, compassion and tolerance.

The Chinese government, however, would not tolerate the growing number of Falun Gong supporters. The government saw them as threats, resulting in the prosecution of thousands of followers.

In addition to slave labor under horrendous working conditions, Li described physical and psychological torture he endured on a daily basis, including beatings and brainwashing.

"I hope everyone can stand up and say no to the communist regime in China," Li said.

He considers himself lucky though. Many Falun Gong members were cremated, only after the extraction of their organs -- healthy livers, kidneys or corneas -- while they were still alive.

"This group has become almost an enemy of the state," Dr. Jingduan Yang said about the Falun Gong.

While a law was passed recently stopping people outside China from quickly receiving an organ from inside the country, David Kilgour believes that it will not stop human rights violations.

"Many laws in China are not enforced," he explained. Basic freedoms such as the right to speech and press are suppressed by the government as well. Kilgour and David Matas, both human-rights lawyers, compiled overwhelming evidence of China's organ harvesting in their report, "Bloody Harvest."

Dr. Torsten Trey, founder and spokesperson for Doctors Against Organ Harvesting, spoke of the damage an issue like this can have on the medical community's ethics and reputation.

"Patients will lose faith and trust in medicine -- specifically transplant medicine," Trey said.

At the World Transplant Congress in Boston, Trey was able to speak with Chinese doctors, including one who told him that his hospital performed 1,200 liver transplants in one year. In the entire country of Germany, only 700 liver transplants are performed every year.

"I was really shocked that they could perform so many transplants," Trey said, noting that the doctor was unable to tell him where all of the livers came from.

Doctors informed him that China has problems with Hepatitis B, causing the need to replace a large number of livers. This did not account for the fact that an increased rate of the disease would also lead to fewer potential liver donors, Trey added.

The panelists fear that doctors trained in the United States may be performing surgeries like the ones being enacted on unwilling Falun Gong members.

They recommend that Americans do not accept research papers and data or products from China. Alerting medical doctors and their patients of these immoral acts is the first step in taking action, Trey said.

"Students are the leaders of the future," Yang said, urging students to take advantage of today's globalized world and talk to others about the current violations in China, instead of merely sitting back at watching.

(C) 2007 The Pitt News via U-WIRE

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