New York—In a legally binding decision issued on Nov. 21, the United Nations Committee against Torture called for an investigation into illicit organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. The statement was the latest in a long line of actions taken by writers, lawyers, doctors, and government representatives to research and condemn such abuses. The Falun Dafa Information Center urges the international community to take immediate action to further investigate, prevent, and end such crimes against humanity.
“The decision of the U.N. Committee against Torture to raise this issue is incredibly important and commendable, lending additional weight to the proposition that Falun Gong prisoners of conscience have been killed so their organs could be sold for profit,” says Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang.
“It is clear that there is a very real danger that this practice continues and may even escalate with the Olympics having ended. It is vital for the international community to take concrete and immediate steps to make sure this does not happen.”
The FDIC urges the international community—particularly state parties to the U.N. Convention against Torture—to establish an independent, international commission to investigate, monitor and recommend punishment for those involved in organ harvesting in China, including both Communist Party/state institutions as well as individual perpetrators. Such a commission might also track the various measures that have already been put in place by some national governments to ensure their citizens are not complicit.
United Nations Conclusions
In concluding observations on China’s degree of adherence to the United Nations Convention against Torture, on Nov. 21 a U.N. committee of independent experts expressed concern over “information received that Falun Gong practitioners have been extensively subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and that some of them have been used for organ transplants.”
The committee then made the following recommendation, the most legally binding demand to date for the Chinese authorities to investigate and punish those responsible for forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong:
“The State party should immediately conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished.”
The committee’s conclusions follow on consistent inquiries transmitted to the Chinese government since August 2006 by Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture, and Ms. Asma Jahangir, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on religious freedom, which have received unsatisfactory replies.
While commending the U.N. Committee’s strong stance on the issue, it is important to recognize the near impossibility of a Chinese government-appointed body making a fair assessment. This is due to the lack of an independent judiciary and the entwined complicity of state entities in these abuses—particularly prisons, labor camps, and military hospitals. Indeed, the current body of evidence indicates it is precisely Communist Party/state entities coordinating organ harvesting atrocities in China.
The FDIC therefore urges the international community to establish its own commission to conduct both an investigation into past abuses and ongoing monitoring of organ transplants in China.
International Steps Taken Thus Far
The allegations of systematic organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in Chinese custody first emerged in 2006, soon followed by an independent investigation by Canadians David Kilour and David Matas, which concluded the allegations were true (report) . Since then, a number of governments, international bodies, and members of the medical community have also found the allegations credible and in some instances, taken action to ensure their own citizens are not complicit in such abuses.
The following are a sample of the steps taken, initiatives which should further be expanded:
Conducting additional independent investigations and analysis
- Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament and rapporteur for the EU's European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, traveled to China in May 2006 on a fact finding mission to personally investigate the allegations of organ harvesting, and he has several times condemned the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. (news)
- In March 2007, Dr. Tom Treasure, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found the allegations credible, particularly in the context of the role doctors played in the Holocaust. (See: “The Falun Gong, organ transplantation, the holocaust, and ourselves”)
- In July 2008, a special Israeli rabbinical council ruled that the Chinese regime has been responsible for the killing of Falun Gong practitioners, perhaps because of material benefits derived from organ harvesting. (news)
- In November 2008, The Weekly Standard magazine featured a cover story on organ harvesting, authored by Ethan Gutmann, adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (full story). The article described systematic and suspicious medical testing of Falun Gong practitioners.
Taking measures to stem the flow of foreign recipients traveling to China for organs:
- In August 2006, the New York-based National Kidney Foundation issued a statement expressing deep concerns over allegations that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners were being executed for the purposes of organ donation, as well as opposition to such aa scheme and to organ transplant tourism generally. (statement)
- In early 2007, Israeli health insurance carriers stopped sending patients to China for transplants. (news) This was in part related to an investigation in which Israeli authorities arrested several men for tax evasion in connection with a company that mediated transplants of Chinese prisoners’ organs for Israelis. One of the men had stated in an undercover interview that the organs came from “people who oppose the regime, those sentenced to death and from prisoners of the Falun Gong.” (news)
- In August 2007, Hou Sheng-mao, the Director of Taiwan’s Department of Health, reported requesting Taiwanese doctors not recommend to their patients to travel to mainland China for transplants. (news)
- In December 2007, a petition signed by 140 Canadian physicians was presented to the House of Commons urging the government to issue travel advisories warning people that organ transplants in China include the use of organs harvested from non-consenting donors such as Falun Gong practitioners. (news)
- In February 2008, Canadian Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced a bill to stop Canadians from participating in obtaining human organs and body parts from unwilling donors, including traveling to other countries to get such organs. He stated that the urgency of the matter was highlighted by the findings of the Kilgour-Matas report. (news)
Ceasing academic training and cooperation with Chinese doctors on organ transplantation:
- In July 2006, Associate Director of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine in the University of Minnesota, Kirk C. Allison, PhD, MS released a statement reinforcing the findings of the Kilgour-Matas report and calling for academia and medical circles stop cooperation with China on organ transplantation. (statement)
- In December 2006, the Australian Health Ministry announced the abolition of training programs for Chinese doctors in organ transplant techniques at the Prince Charles and the Princess Alexandra Hospitals, as well as banning joint research programs with China on organ transplantation. (news)
Conducting government hearings and raising the issue with the Chinese government
- In September 2006, the United States Congress held a hearing on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. (transcript)
- In September 2006, The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the detention and torture of Falun Gong practitioners, and expressing concern over reports of organ harvesting (news); the issue was also raised by direction of the EU troika leadership through the Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja meeting bilaterally with China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the EU-China summit in Helsinki. (news)
- In November 2006, following a hearing on the topic, the Irish Parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to request that he raise the issue with his Chinese counterparts and that it be included in the EU-China dialogue on human rights.