Honoring Heroes of Human Rights, Davids Matas and Kilgour
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Over 5,000 yellow-clad Falun Gong practitioners gathered on Capitol Hill on June 20 to witness two of their strongest advocates be honored for their work. Friends of Falun Gong awarded David Kilgour and David Matas with its inaugural human rights award.
“For our inaugural award, we really wanted to recognize the enormous contributions that both David Kilgour and David Matas have made in raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong. Their years of unwavering support for Falun Gong practitioners’ freedom of belief has made a huge impact across the globe. We cannot thank them enough. They truly are friends of Falun Gong,” said Alan Adler, Executive Director of Friends of Falun Gong.
” It takes tremendous courage to put forth the effort to investigate and speak out about it. Davids did it. Not only did they investigate Organ harvesting, but they published a book, traveled around the world to raise the awareness of it, for 12 years. They have traveled to more than 30 countries, presenting their work to governments, organizations, and individuals.”
In 2006/2007 David Kilgour and David Matas released their initial investigative Kilgour–Matas report that uncovered one of the world’s most egregious crimes against humanity: the state sanctioned forced removal of organs for profit from Falun Gong adherents and other prisoners of conscience.
In 2009 they coauthored Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs, which detailed the organ harvesting practices in China. Since 2006, when the initial Kilgour-Matas report was first released, they’ve traveled to more than 30 countries presenting their work to governments, organizations, and individuals. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for their work related to the ongoing investigation of organ harvesting crimes in China.
The Friends of Falun Gong Human Rights Award recognizes and celebrates individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to supporting Falun Gong practitioners’ freedom of belief on a local, national, or international scale.
Acceptance Speech from David Kilgour:
Dear friends of Falun Gong,
There are more than 5000 of us here this morning from about 110 nations. Imagine any government in the 21st century committing an ongoing genocide against an exercise and meditation community, which practices “truth, compassion and forbearance”?
Freedom of religion is the first freedom in any rule of law nation. When it goes, other liberties soon disappear too. David Matas and I are honored to accept this award as we see it on behalf of millions of FG practitioners across China and much of the world. We grieve the tens of thousands of innocent victims, who were killed for their vital organs because of their beliefs.
The inhuman government-directed commerce has now been going on for 18 years. Our mid-2016 update with Ethan Gutmann of two books, Bloody Harvest and The Slaughter, concluded that at least 60,000 Chinese citizens-mostly Falun Gong prisoners of conscience-were then being killed for their vital organs yearly. That’s about 150 daily.
Uyghurs, Tibetans and Christians were also being victimized in much smaller numbers as of mid-2016. The American baseball icon once said, “It is hard to beat a person who never gives up”. None of us here today-and many not here-must ever give up until the Beijing party-state ceases to murder innocent people. Let’s all re-resolve today to continue our peaceful protests until this genocide ends.
Thanks to the Friends of Falun Gong and Alan Adler, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), the International Coalition to End Organ Transplant Abuse in China, and all other groups and persons involved in our common cause. A number of democracies have already banned ‘organ tourism’ to China by their nationals, including Spain, Israel, Norway, Chile and Taiwan. If your own country is not among this leadership group, please urge your transplant surgeons and legislators to do likewise this year.
Acceptance Speech from David Matas:
Thank you for this award. I, of course, appreciate it. But I wish I had not received it. I wish that the killing of practitioners of Falun Gong for their organs had never happened. I wish that our research conclusions had been proved wrong.
One of the reasons David Kilgour and I came to the conclusion we did that practitioners of Falun Gong were being killed en masse for their organs, though far from the only reason, was that the precautions which should have been put in place to prevent and remedy the abuse were not in place. Here was a demonized population in arbitrary detention in the hundreds of thousands, a health system which had been organized to get organs for transplantation from prisoners – those sentenced to death, a health system which was in desperate need of funds because of the switch from socialism to capitalism and the consequent massive withdrawal of state funds from the health system, and a legal structure which did nothing to prevent or punish the mass killing of practitioners of Falun Gong for their organs.
After David Kilgour and I in our first report in 2006 came to the conclusion we did, we began an effort to end the abuse, to advocate the adoption of precautions which were not in place but should be in place to prevent and remedy the abuse. Yet, David Kilgour and I, a retired Parliamentarian in Ottawa and a practising lawyer in Winnipeg, could do little on our own. To effect legislative and policy change, there needed to be feet on the ground everywhere advocating for change. The global Falun Gong practitioner community became that global force.
I thank you for the global effort that you have made, the work you have done with David Kilgour and me everywhere, to end this abuse. I recognize in front of me many people with whom I have worked over the years. From the ashes of the dead, we will continue to join together to build a legacy of transplant reform. I look forward to continuing to work with you all everywhere to build this legacy.