By Leigh Goessl
Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are said to die each year in China. Evidence reportedly indicates these prisoners are also victims of having their organs harvested by force. Calls for action are being voiced from various corners of the world.
People across the world are voicing their horror about the abuse said to be going on in China against the Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa). Falun Gong is a movement, founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992, that holds principles that lie with “a self-refinement practice of mind, body and spirit that is deeply rooted in the traditional Chinese culture,” according to www.stoporganharvesting.com/.
China outlaws group in 1999
Falun Gong’s practices were outlawed by the Communist Chinese government as the 20th Century came to a close. Members of the group, along with Christians and persons of other faiths, are alleged to be placed in Reeducation through Labor camps run by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Chinese government, according to Live Science, sees this group as an “evil cult” and has also denied allegations of Falun Dafa persecution.
This July 20 marked 14 years since the Chinese government began its campaign against the Falun Gong, as reported by the Star Tribune.
After the 1999 ban of Falun Gong and other practices, allegations of torture for the thousands of prisoners of conscience have been steadily increasing. In 2007, a Digital Journal report described the events of July 20, 1999.
Live Organ Harvesting
In addition to torture, there have been ongoing assertions of the country’s officials harvesting organs from prisoners while they are still alive. Organs reported to be taken from the living include corneas, hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys and pancreas.
An investigation in 2006 led by human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian secretary of state (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour concluded the organs were being taken from living Falun Gong practitioners and sold to patients needing organs.
Every year activists speak out against these atrocities, but to date the practices are said to have continued in China. This past week candlelight vigils, protests, discussions and other efforts have taken place in several different regions, including Winnipeg and Washington, D.C. to name two, to mark the July 20 date.
During the week in Washington, D.C., a few activists had set up signs on the National Mall and were handing out information and speaking to passerby about this suffering.
Transplant numbers said to not add up
After speaking briefly with an activist, another woman had handed me some information. The information, in a mini-newspaper format, included several articles. It described how organ transplants can be gotten on demand in China.
The paper said, according to government statistics, there are 60,000 transplants officially recorded in China from 2000 to 2005, but there are 41,500 unexplained organ transplants. It also illustrated with charts showing how some of the country’s transplant markets “skyrocketed” after 2003. The average waiting time, unlike the lengthy times in other countries, averages two weeks to a month.
“It is not patient waiting for organ, but organ waiting for patient,” the paper said.
Media reports indicate the evidence against the organ harvesting of the Falun Gong is mounting. The Epoch Times reported earlier this week it is estimated hundreds of thousands of practitioners are detained in Chinese prisons, many of who will die.
And it is believed these numbers are only for the known cases. “The exact number of torture and death cases cannot be known,” said Falun Dafa Information Center, Erping Zhang, in an email to Epoch Times.
Concerns growing over China’s ‘organ tourism industry’
According to media reports, the number of transplants conducted in China each year are not public information, which makes it difficult to assess.
“The cases documented by the Minghui website are only confirmed cases from sources in China. We often learn about some arrest or death cases months or even years later because of the censorship in China,” Zhang also said.
Calls for action against these unethical organ harvesting has been ongoing, but now 14 years since the practice allegedly began, talks continue to step up around the globe. Just this week media reports came from several countries, including Ireland, the United States and Canada, and Australia to name a few. Some U.S. Congress members spoke out last weekend in front of the Capitol.
“There is chilling evidence to suggest that a horrific and prolific business in transplant organs has been sustained by those harvested without consent from Falun Gong and other prisoners, benefiting China’s organ tourism industry,” writes Katrina Lantos Swett chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Mary Ann Glendon, vice chairwoman of USCIRF, in a special to CNN.
Currently, the Falun Gong is reported to have hundreds of millions of people across the globe practicing in accordance with its principles.