[Photo Caption: Charlene Fernandez, AZ State Representative (D)]
Around 30 Arizona congress members gathered on January 23, 2018 at a Phoenix restaurant to learn about forced organ harvesting in China and how to take steps to end it. The dinner, titled “Forced Organ Harvesting in China and its Effects on Arizona,” was hosted by the Arizona Local and International Affairs Committee and Arizona Falun Dafa Association.
Attended by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, the dinner took place ahead of a resolution to be introduced by Rep. Tony Rivero. This resolution is expected to be similar to others passed last year by Pennsylvania and Missouri condemning forced organ harvesting. If passed, the Arizona resolution would join Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Delaware, and Illinois in calling for open investigation by the United States into these crimes.
Cases of the Chinese regime harvesting organs from the bodies of prisoners of conscience are well documented by Canadian investigators David Matas and David Kilgour in their 2006 report. While it is known that the Chinese regime began harvesting organs from executed prisoners in China in 1984, after 1999 (the year the Chinese regime began kidnapping and imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners) it became apparent that prisoners were being killed “on demand” for their organs.
At the dinner, Dr. Weldon Gilcrease, Deputy Director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, presented some of the evidence about organ harvesting, and urged legislators to officially call attention to the issue.
Yisha Wang, now a student at Arizona State University, spoke about her family’s harrowing experiences, and her mother’s close brush with becoming a victim of organ harvesting herself.
The dinner organizers extended invitations to all members of congress, many of whom attended despite dissuasive threats and warnings from the Chinese government. One congress member said that such threatening calls are routine surrounding issues that the Chinese regime deems sensitive, and that Chinese agents bolster efforts to target newly elected congressional officials.
Former U.S. Representative and Chairman for the Asia Pacific Subcommittee Matt Salmon spoke about his experiences dealing with the Chinese regime’s bullying tactics:
I served on foreign affairs the whole ten years I was in Washington […] Every time that I tried to do something, my chief of staff would get a call from the Ambassador from China telling him, ‘If your boss does this he is going to be on our horrible list.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve been on it. They basically ordered me not to go the the inauguration of the Taiwanese president.
He acknowledged that there will be interference from the Chinese regime surrounding the upcoming resolution, and encouraged those in the room to vote with conviction.
You have an opportunity to stand up and be counted and I hope everyone here not only votes for it but cosponsors what Tony [Rep. Rivero] is trying to do […] And why does it matter that Arizona makes that voice? When we passed that measure [House Resolution 343] that went through my subcommittee first then the full committee bypassed and it went directly to the floor, there wasn’t a single member—Republican or Democrat—on the floor of the house that voted against it. It set a clear message that ‘we’re watching you.’ And they say sunlight’s the best disinfectant so this is an opportunity to stand up and be counted and not only vote for something but cosponsor it and I congratulate Tony for doing that.