SMH: Flak for Hu on organ harvesting

Hamish McDonald
September 6, 2007

ALONG with the leaders of the Asia-Pacific region, all the issues they want
to sweep under the carpet are coming to Sydney.

Activists are raising all the human rights abuses said to be occurring in their
countries – even those of animals in the case of the Japanese and whales.

China’s leader, Hu Jintao, faces the most disgusting allegation if it is true
– that his hospitals, military, judges and police are culprits in harvesting
organs from jailed members of the banned Falun Gong movement, who are killed
to order for an export transplant trade.

The unlikely activists putting this as a credible charge are two earnest Canadians,
who are in town to cause maximum embarrassment for the Chinese delegation. David
Kilgour took up the issue last year as he finished 26 years in the Canadian
House of Commons, where he started as a Conservative, then joined the Liberals
and finished as an independent using his swing vote to get a Canadian peacekeeping
commitment to the Darfur crisis in Sudan.

David Matas is a lawyer based in Winnipeg noted for his work in immigration,
refugee and international human rights cases.

Although their travel is financed by Falun Gong members and concerned individuals,
they say they get no payment and don’t belong to the group – Kilgour is a Presbyterian
and Matas is Jewish.

One of many new religions and spiritual groups that swept China after the collapse
of Marxism, Falun Gong’s doctrine is a synthesis of Buddhism and wacky science
fiction but most of its members get comfort from daily meditative breathing

The Communist Party leadership got alarmed when 15,000 adherents staged a sitdown
protest outside their Beijing compound in April 1999 over criticism of the Falun
Gong founder in the state media. A sweeping ban since mid-1999 has seen tens
of thousands of members sent to labour camps and brainwashing centres.

Early last year Falun Gong began reporting that jailed members were being killed,
their organs harvested, and sold to foreign recipients.

The American State Department and an activist group on China’s labour camps
sent visitors to a military hospital in Shenyang where this was said to be practised,
but found nothing – "As you expect," says Kilgour.

The two Canadians took up a request to investigate and have produced a report
they admit doesn’t have "ironclad proof" of the allegation, but which
paints a disturbing picture making it believable. Since then, a Chinese vice-minister
of health, Huang Jiefu, has acknowledged prisoners sentenced to death provide
most of the organs for transplants.

The Canadians say this doesn’t add up. China admits to about 1600 executions
a year, but does some 10,000 transplants a year, for fees from US$30,000 ($36,500)
for corneas to $US180,000 for a liver-kidney donation, according to one centre
in Shenyang.

The "donated" organ arrives within a couple of weeks of the patient
checking in, compared with years of waiting in home countries. The transplant
is usually done in a military or police hospital, with minimal disclosure about

The Canadians supervised calls to several hospitals by Mandarin speakers purporting
to be acting for patients seeking urgent transplants, getting some doctors and
officials to admit taking organs from young and healthy Falun Gong prisoners.

The publicity has led to a decline in foreigners seeking transplants in China,
including Australians, they claim. "Once they are aware that donors are
being killed on demand, like lobsters in some horrible restaurant, they don’t
want to be involved," Kilgour said.

Posting date: 6/Sep/2007
Original article date: 6/Sep/2007
Category: Media Report


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