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Organ harvesting: an unbelievable reality


Organ harvesting: an unbelievable reality

By Suman Srinivasan

Columbia Daily Spectator

April 20, 2007

David Matas and David Kilgour wrote a recent report on organ harvesting fromliving Falun Gong members in China, knowing full well the challenges --moral and visceral -- the report might pose for its readers and legislaturesin the free world. Matas, an international human rights attorney, andKilgour, a former secretary of state from Canada, are not ones to make suchstatements lightly.

What comprises this story, then? The Falun Gong is a meditation practicethat originated in China in the early 1990s. Owing to its positive effectson health and the fact that it was free, throngs of people in mainland Chinatook up the practice. Within seven short years, an estimated 70 million-pluswere practicing.

China's ruling Communist Party, operates above the law, and the growingpopularity of Falun Gong unsettled certain members of the Party. In 1999,the Party-state banned Falun Gong and commenced a campaign of unlawfularrests and often-brutal persecution, which continues today. An estimatedhundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners languish in Chinese laborcamps today without the most basic of human rights. Amnesty Internationalhas labeled these detainees "prisoners of conscience," given that they are"imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs."

While the maltreatment of Falun Gong prisoners has long been known, theMatas-Kilgour report has given credence to the worst fears: that the regime,having so dehumanized the Falun Gong, might go one step further. The reportfinds that the CCP regime is carving up -- literally -- the bodies of livingFalun Gong adherents for their organs, which are then transplanted or soldfor immense sums of money.

The report includes transcripts of conversations by investigators withChinese doctors who flippantly reveal that they have Falun Gong members onhand, ready for mutilation. (Matas and Kilgour have made public the audiorecordings.)

"Is the organ from a healthy Falun Gong practitioner?" asks the undercoverinvestigator.

"Correct," replies the physician. "We will choose only a good one, becausewe guarantee the quality of our transplants."

So carefully researched and argued is the report, and so terrible itsfindings, that it has prompted Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special rapporteur ontorture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, to begin probingthe matter. The initial response of the Chinese regime has only served todeepen concerns, however: a curt, two-page dismissal of the whole affair.Perhaps it's no coincidence then that the state hastily banned thecommercial trade of organs on May 1, 2006 -- less than a month after thereport was published. Whether or not the law will be enforced is anothermatter, of course. Even before the Matas-Kilgour report, the investigationsof human rights bodies had determined that China's regime was unlawfullyharvesting organs from prisoners.

Then is our own "disbelief" an acceptable response, however natural? Thehistory of the past century suggests that we must instead muster the courageto consider the reality of it all, gruesome as it may be. In the 20thcentury, there has been a haunting legacy for this sort of thing. Buttoday's China is very much economically interwoven with our country --consider the number of items that bear the label "Made in China." A vastarray of powerful institutions want, or believe they "need," China to be anormal, prosperous, uneventful place.

And indeed, U.S. corporations have gone so far as to sell Internetsurveillance technology to China's communist leaders, who use it to arrestdemocracy advocates and members of various religious faiths. Meanwhile,those same leaders spend tens of millions each year on sophisticatedinternational PR firms to foster the image of normality abroad. It's easierto dream about striking gold in China rather than think about kidneys beingcarved out of living prisoners of conscience.

When the Olympics were awarded to Nazi Germany, the regime turned the eventinto a tremendous publicity stunt, reassuring the world all was well. Manysuggest that the 2008 Beijing Olympics is history repeating itself.

Matas and Kilgour have traveled the world to raise awareness of theirfindings, yet remain barred from perhaps the country that matters most:China. CCP officials have refused them, as with others, entry toinvestigate.

One is left to wonder: If the organ harvesting were indeed unreal, and theregime so confident of this, why would it fear independent investigationrather than welcome it? Or, even if the harvesting were taking place, whatgovernment wouldn't want dearly to rein in such abominable acts if occurringin its own land and to its own people? The answer to the latter, of course,is a government that is complicit in those acts. The CCP's response is aportrait of guilt.

Matas, who speaks at Uris Hall (Room 301) today at noon, gets my applause.One day, when the camps of China are liberated, we can only imagine it willbe the people of China -- oppressed on account of simply who they are -- whowill offer their applause.

(C) 2007 Columbia Daily Spectator via U-WIRE

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