David Matas and I of Canada concluded to our horror following an independent investigation that since the latter part of 2000 the government of China and its agencies have murdered thousands of Falun Gong practitioners across China without any form of prior trial and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money often to ‘organ tourists’ from wealthy countries, including APEC member countries. There is no indication that organ pillaging is on any agenda at the APEC heads of government and business meetings here this week.
If any of you doubt the weight of the cumulative evidence in our report, you can access the revised version in seventeen languages from the first item on the header page of david-kilgour.com. Virtually no independent person I know who has read it is not convinced of the dismaying validity of our conclusion. Some in national governments of varying political stripes, who are no doubt privately persuaded, unfortunately choose to say otherwise in public because to concur that such crimes against humanity are continuing in China would presumably require some different bilateral policies with the party-state in Beijing, quite possibly in respect of its Olympic Games in the summer of 2008.
None of these deaths would be occurring if the Chinese peoples as a whole enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic worth and dignity of each one of them. Most human lives in China have no more value to those in power there than does the natural environment, pensions (only a fifth of workers have them), work safety, health care for farmers, or the lives of African residents in Darfur. In my judgement, it is the toxic and lethal combination of totalitarian governance and virtually ‘anything goes’ capitalism that allows this new form of evil to continue across the Middle Kingdom today.
One of the members of the Chinese delegation to the APEC conference now in this city is Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. Bo was governor of Lianong province when egregiously brutal tortures and murders of numerous Falun Gong practitioners took place. The Matas-Kilgour report quotes in appendix 18 a woman whose then surgeon husband removed the corneas from the eyes of approximately 2000 practitioners in a hospital in Bo’s province while he was governor. There are lawsuits proceeding against him in ten countries, including Canada, and I’m told that he is being served this week in Sydney for another begun in Australia.
The propaganda phase of the government of China’s war begun in mid-1999 against a then estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners demonized, vilified and dehumanized them in the state-controlled media. Many Chinese nationals and others outside China were thereby persuaded to think of the community as disruptive and tragically even somehow less than human.
As Ross Terrill of Harvard University’s Fairbank Centre for East Asian Research puts it in his thoughtful 2003 book, The New Chinese Empire: “The Fearful State in Beijing had transformed Falungong from a harmless, health-promoting lifestyle choice of millions of mostly older Chinese into a menace to the “stability and unity” of the Red Middle Kingdom. That loyal and quite senior members of the CCP, some in the army, police and air force, were among the Falungong membership did not undermine the imperative to stamp out a potential, if unwitting, philosophic challenge to the state.”
The phenomenon recalls the similarly inhuman media campaign unleashed by the government of Rwanda against the minority Tutsi community in that country prior to the genocide there between April and June, 1994
My own experience with Falun Gong practitioners in the almost forty countries David Matas and I have now visited, seeking to raise awareness about what is continues to be done to them in China in order to bring it to a full halt, has been overwhelmingly positive. They really do attempt to live their core principles of “truth, compassion and forbearance”, which are by the way shared by most of the world’s religions. I recall, for example, sitting in an Athens park a month ago with some of them when someone spotted a Euro coin on the ground. No-one would pick it up because the practitioners felt it was unearned and thus should be left where it was.
One wonders why is it that in only one of the seventy or so countries where practitioners live are they persecuted mercilessly by an unelected regime? Their huge and growing popularity among the Chinese people during the 1990s was clearly one reason, but another was no doubt that the values of those in power in Beijing are clearly at the opposite end of the ethical spectrum from their own.
There has been no independently-reported instance of a Falun Gong practitioner using violence to respond to police and other attacks by officials upon them since July, 1999. The UN Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, concluded following his visit to China a year or so ago that fully two thirds of the persons being tortured across that country were Falun Gong practitioners. How can such a government be hosting next year’s Olympic Games?
Matas and I have spoken in various places to a small number of the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been sent to labour camps since 1999, who managed to leave both the camps and China itself. They worked in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and little food, making export products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations for multinational companies. As this constitutes gross corporate social irresponsibility; the CEOs of multinational companies using forced labour subcontractors within China should be held fully accountable.
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, wrote in Wealth of Nations that all business must rest on an ethical base and that all transactions must be fully voluntary. Where then is the basis for multinational companies in APEC member countries investing shareholders’ money in China today? What is the World Trade Organization (WTO) doing about such obvious violations of its rules by the government of China, contrary to solemn undertakings it made upon joining the WTO six years ago? How can multinationals subcontract for forced labour when only a little effort on their part would indicate that the prisoners of conscience manufacturing their consumer products have rarely been convicted of, or even charged with, any offence? Did we not recently celebrate the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in countries like Britain?
Finally, for those who assert naively that they are not Falun Gong practitioners and thus have nothing to worry about in China, consider what Pastor Martin Niemoller said after his years in Hitler’s concentration camps ( I thank our courageous host here in this legislative building, Rev the Hon.Dr Gordon Moyes, MLC, for reminding me of this famous quote):
“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
“Naming and Shaming”
What can we all do to stop organ pillaging? E-mails to MPs, friends and blogs will help. Probably ‘naming and shaming’ the party-state in Beijing with placards in front of embassies, consulates and events attended by Chinese officials offer the best leverage in the months leading up to the Olympic Games next August. As the world saw in the case of Mia Farrow’s ‘Genocide Olympics’ comment about Darfur, the regime does listen when the success of its Games might be in jeopardy. Let’s use some ‘Bloody Harvest’ placards.
People of conscience should come out to support the Global Human Rights Torch relay when it comes to more than 100 cities in 35 countries on five continents. You can get more information on the web at www.humanrightstorch.org. Thank you.