The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence of the Irish Parliament discussed the issue of forced organ harvesting in China on July 6, 2017.
The committee recommended that the legislature do what it can to stop this brutality and urged the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to bring this up at the Council of Foreign Ministers with the European Union.
Renowned human rights lawyer David Matas and investigative writer Ethan Gutmann attended the meeting and were joined by Irish transplant surgeon Conall O’Seaghdha and James McDaid.
Actions Against Heinous Crimes
Committee Chair Brendan Smith reiterated in the European Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, adopted in 2015, “The Irish Department of Health must introduce legislation to transpose those provisions into domestic law. All member states can transpose the provisions of that convention into domestic legislation. That is the value of the European convention.”
More specifically, he said that the committee will “communicate directly with the Minister for Health following this meeting, stating that we had a formal meeting with the witnesses in regard to the need to bring forward this legislation.” He is sure this would meet with the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas.
In addition, the committee will ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to raise the issue as a specific item at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in the European Union, “Obviously, each Minister can table an item for discussion.”
Smith also sincerely thanked the speakers for their presentations and contributions. “They have exposed extremely frightening and troubling activities which are heinous crimes being committed against vulnerable people. Let me assure them that they have our support and we will be glad to pursue other ways that we can be of assistance.”
Transplant Surgeons: Chinese Surgeons Openly Admitted Unethical Executions of Prisoners for Organs
Kidney transplant surgeon James McDaid said that China has been a major hub for transplant tourism for several years. Although a few other nations may also have criminal practices, “China is unique among all these countries in executing prisoners for the sale of organs.
Members of several ethnic and faith groups have been imprisoned for their beliefs and callously executed for the use of organs in transplant operations.” He said this arguably constitutes a crime against humanity and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
He said that China sent two surgeons to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism in February 2017 that he attended. “They openly admitted to the unethical execution of prisoners for organs.”
“Ireland must take a very critical stance during diplomacy with China in light of its horrific human rights abuses. Transplant tourism must be considered a crime, with prosecution of all involved parties. Global attention needs to be drawn to this issue.”
Another speaker, O’Seaghdha, the medical director for the National Kidney Transplant Service in Ireland, said, “While we have no official data on transplant tourism from Ireland, I can confirm there have been cases where patients resident in Ireland underwent kidney transplantations in foreign countries and returned to Ireland for their post-transplant care. He was aware of at least one case of an Irish citizen having engaged in transplant tourism.
“I wish to add my voice to those condemning the practice of transplant tourism globally and, in particular, I call for an end to the obscene practice of live organ harvesting in China,” he added.
Parliament Member: “I Am Sickened to My Stomach by the Idea of Organ Harvesting”
Ms. Dai, a representative from the Falun Dafa Association in Ireland, expressed thanks for help from the Irish Government during the past 18 years, including the rescue efforts after Trinity College Student Zhao Ming was arrested in China.
Zhao was only one out of millions of practitioners mistreated in China. Since Falun Gong was banned in China in July 1999, she said, “Many practitioners have been locked up in labor camps, prisons, and brainwashing classes.” She said tens of thousands of petitions had been collected by practitioners from throughout Ireland urging a stop to the brutality in China.
Several parliament members also spoke at the hearing. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan said that although there had been some progress, “This will not be enough, and action is needed.” Deputy Sean Crowe said,
“When I first heard of it [forced organ harvesting], I was shocked and did not believe that any human being would do this to another.” “I am sickened to my stomach by the idea of organ harvesting. I presume that is why some of our members are missing.”
He said the idea that anyone would do this to another individual is immoral, and “in light of today’s intervention by the witnesses, I hope that we can push this legislation forward.”
Several newspapers covered the event, including The Irish Times, The Times, and Newstalk. The Irish Times reported, “The Government must place a ban on Irish citizens traveling to China for organ transplants if it is serious about combating the growing trend of forced organ harvesting.”