UPDATE: Listen to a great coverage by Australia ABC Michael Edwards who comments on the report MP3 (Report alleges Chinese Govt harvesting body organs of political prisoners).
The Government of China released a statement in response to our report titled 'Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China' dated July 6, 2006. The statement can be found here. We have these reactions to this statement:
1. The statement of the Government of China was released the same day as our Report. The statement of the Government of China dismisses our Report out of hand. We view this reaction is unconsidered. It means that the Government of China has engaged in no investigations to determine whether or not what the report contains is true.
2. The statement of the Government of China begins with the phrase--"In order to extricate itself from an awkward position after its lie about "Sujiatun Concentration Camp" has been laid bare, Falun Gong has shifted..."
This phrase is incorrect in a number of different ways. First, it suggests that our Report is a Falun Gong report. Yet, it is not. We are not Falun Gong practitioners. We did this report as volunteers and were not paid for this report by Falun Gong or anyone. Our report represents our own judgment. We have not acted on the instructions of Falun Gong or anyone else in coming to the conclusions we did.
3. The assertions about Sujiatun Concentration Camp to which the Chinese statement refers originated from the ex-wife of a surgeon at Sujiatun Hospital. This person is not a Falun Gong practitioner. This person has not changed or shifted her story at any time. David Kilgour interviewed her. An excerpt of the interview can be found at Appendix 13 of our report.
4. It is our own opinion, expressed in our report, that this woman was not lying. We concluded that she was credible.
5. In our report we did not rely on this witness alone to come to our conclusions. In our report, this is what we said about the testimony of this witness:
"The testimony of the wife of the surgeon allegedly complicit in Falun Gong organ harvesting seemed credible to us, partly because of its extreme detail. However, that detail also posed a problem for us, because it provided a good deal of information which it was impossible to corroborate independently. We were reluctant to base our findings on sole source information. So, in the end, we relied on the testimony of this witness only where it was corroborative and consistent with other evidence, rather than as sole source information."
Our report is not a shift from what this witness says, but rather an expansion, with a larger focus than just Sujiatun Hospital.
6. The Chinese statement then says:
"It is obvious that their purpose is to smear China's image." We reply that we have no wish to smear China's image. Our sole concerns are respect for the truth and human rights.
7. The Chinese statement then says:
"China has consistently abided by the relevant guiding principles of the World Health Organization endorsed in 1991, prohibiting the sale of human organs and stipulating that donors' written consent must be obtained beforehand and donors are entitled to refuse the donation at last minute."
This statement that China made is denied by the facts. The China International Transplantation Network Assistance Centre Website until April of this year set out a price list for transplants. The price list was removed from the website in April, but is still archived. To see the web site now, go here. To see the archived site, go here. As well, many individuals can attest to paying for organ transplants in China.
8. The statement that China has consistently abided by the principle stipulating that donors' written consent must be obtained beforehand is also belied by the facts. Human Rights Watch has reported that consent is obtained from executed prisoners in only a minority of cases. The organization writes that even in this minority of cases "the abusive circumstances of detention and incarceration in China, from the time a person is first accused of a capital offense until the moment of his or her execution, are such as to render absurd any notion of "free and voluntary consent."
*Organ Procurement and Judicial Execution in China*, August 1994
9. The China statement goes on to say:
"China has issued a regulation on human organ transplants, explicitly banning the sale of organs and introducing a set of medical standards for organ transplants in an effort to guarantee medical safety and the health of patients. The regulation requires medical institution which is qualified for practising human organ transplant to register at provincial level health department. Unregistered medical institutions are forbidden to practice human organ transplant. If the government finds any registered institution violating the regulation, it will cancel the registration and punish the people responsible."
We acknowledge that this is so, and wrote about it in our Report. We also noted that this legislation came into force only a few days ago on July 1st. It is not an answer to our findings about what happened before that date. Moreover, in China, there is a huge gap between enacting legislation and enforcing it.
10. The Government of China then writes:
"It is very clear that Falun Gong's rumour has ulterior political motives."
None of our findings are based on rumour. Every finding we make is sourced and independently verifiable.
11. The China statement then says:
"Therefore, the so called "independent investigation report" made by a few Canadians based on rumours and false allegations is groundless and biased. We do believe that lies are always lame, and will never become the truth even if being repeated 1000 times. We hope that the Canadian people will not be deceived by the disguise of the Falun Gong, and more people will be aware of the nature of "Falun Gong" as an evil cult."
This conclusion is an attack both on us and Falun Gong. The Report has to be judged on its merits. Attacking its authors is not an appropriate response.
Secondly calling the Falun Gong an evil cult exemplifies the vilification heaped on the Falun Gong. It is this sort of slander which, in China, depersonalizes and dehumanizes the Falun Gong and makes possible the violation of their basic human rights.
Calling a group of innocent civilians an "evil cult" is a form of incitement to hatred, unacceptable in Canada. It is an abuse of their diplomatic presence in China for China to engage in this form of incitement.
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