Remarks presented during the Conference of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) on Sept. 30, 2010 at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Complex in Geneva.
Falun Gong (or Falun Dafa) is a spiritual discipline which seeks to improve body, character and ethics. It contains features of traditional systems, like Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism), combined with a set of gentle exercises. Its core principles are “truth, compassion and forbearance”, which echo those of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other faiths. It today has practitioners in numerous countries.
In China, where it first became public in 1992, Falun Gong grew within seven years to 70-100 million practitioners by the government’s own estimate. Some Communist party leaders in early 1999 reacted negatively at seeing citizens from all walks of life, including party members, engaging publicly in a form of exercise, which had a belief system behind it different from Marxism-Leninism. The exercises, moreover, could be done anywhere at any time, singly or in groups, indoors or outdoors. The amorphous nature meant it was impossible for the party-state to control it.
The first vilification of Falun Gong by Party elements seeking to ban it in 1999 led to protests by practitioners, mobilized through cell phones and Internet coordination. A large protest at party headquarters in Beijing enraged then party-state leader Jiang Zemin. For him and others, banning and persecuting Falun Gong became official violence easier to get away with than doing the same to other spiritual communities because Falun Gong in China often lack Western connections. The incitement to hatred against them across China in Party media since mid-1999 has had many tragic consequences, most notably the widespread commercial trafficking in their vital organs.
The party-state has repressed Falun Gong savagely since July 1999. Torture, rapes, beatings to death, detentions in forced labour camps, brainwashing—all became the daily lot of many Falun Gong across China. Practitioners responded with a non-violent, but energetic defence of human dignity both within China and in other countries.
After 1980, the party-state had begun withdrawing funds from the health system as a whole across China, obliging it to make up the difference through service charges to mostly uninsured patients. Selling the organs of executed convicts soon became a major source of funds because of world demand created by chronic organ shortages. Falun Gong later became a major additional source of organs for patients from China and elsewhere who did not question whether the "donors" were convicted prisoners sentenced to death. Many Falun Gong were sent to labour camps after mid-1999 without any form of hearing on only a police signature. The system was created in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Third Reich and copied in China in the 1950s by Mao. Organ price lists were posted on Chinese websites. Hospitals boasted openly on their websites about the money being made from the sale of organs.
The Party, published this year by Richard McGregor, former China bureau chief of the Financial Times, probably unintentionally places organ trafficking in context. The book addresses how the Party functions today, with a vice-like grip on every aspect of daily life across China, including its huge cities and tiny villages, media, culture, courts, religion, and the health system. On the economy, for example, despite hundreds of millions of desperately poor citizens, it notes: “In 2007, personal consumption was just 35 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, China was investing 11 per cent of GDP in low-yielding foreign assets…consider that the net transfer of resources abroad was equal to a third of personal consumption.”
McGregor explains that the Party alone disposes of corruption accusations against its members. Despite numerous anti-graft campaigns since 1982, about 80 per cent of the 130,000 to 190,000 officials disciplined annually for malfeasance by the Party received only warnings. Only three percent of the six percent criminally prosecuted went to jail. Party leaders know, the book explains, that the main threat to their authority is corruption, yet their practices everywhere make it inevitable. McGregor adds that corruption has become a sort of “transaction tax that distributes ill-gotten gains among the ruling class…It becomes the glue that keeps the system together.”
Falun Gong practitioners today comprise about two-thirds of the torture victims and half of those in forced labour camps across China. The documented yearly arbitrary killings and disappearances of Falun Gong exceed by far the totals for any other victim group. According to research David Matas and I have done, set out in our book Bloody Harvest, practitioners have been killed in the thousands since 2001 so that their organs could be trafficked to Chinese and foreign patients. For the period 2000-2005 alone, Matas and I concluded that for 41,500 transplants done the only explanation for sourcing was Falun Gong.
The main conclusion of our book is that there “continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners. We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres and ‘people’s courts,’ since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.” Our revised report is accessible in 18 languages from www.david-kilgour.com.
This post has been edited by klbr10: Oct 6 2010, 07:35 AM