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Monday, April 16, 2007

New Heights for Human Rights by Donna Jacobs

The Ottawa Citizen; Published: Monday, April 16, 2007

From the Matas-Kilgour report: "The Organ Transplant Center of the Armed Police General Hospital in Beijing boldly states: 'Our Organ Transplant Center is our main department for making money. This year (2004) there is a chance to break through 30,000,000 yuan (about $3.8 million U.S.).' "

Mr. Kilgour explains that far from being donors or criminals whose organs are taken after execution, these lucrative organs come from peaceful people who rarely see a court.

He says a Falun Gong practitioner, when asked, will admit to being part of the movement because truth is one of Falun Gong's principles. Once identified, practioners are sent to work camps, where for 16 hours a day they make items for export, including Christmas decorations and promotional materials for multinationals.

"Their blood is tested and they're carefully tested medically. We're convinced that they're tested so that when a westerner goes to Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital for a new kidney, for example, the hospital has a computer bank of all the kidneys available from the practitioners. The turnaround time, thus, from arriving in China, undergoing tissue type tests and getting the organ is two weeks."

One military doctor tested compatibility of seven kidneys before a successful match for one patient from another Asian country. "Eight human beings died," says Mr. Kilgour, "so he could get a kidney."

The two lawyers are by no means alone in their campaign. Manfred Nowak, the UN rapporteur on torture, said two-thirds of people tortured in China are Falun Gong practitioners. In March, an article in the respected Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found the Matas-Kilgour report "credible" given China's "remarkable" organ transplant rate.

Doctors in three Canadian hospitals -- in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary --have reported about 100 Canadians have gone to China for transplants.

Of China's recently announced ban on the export of transplanted human organs, Mr. Kilgour says, "Laws in China are often observed mostly in the breach, especially when there are hundreds of millions of dollars involved -- as in the case of selling organs from Falun Gong practitioners and executed 'criminals.'

"We hope it's not just pre-Olympics spin."

Mr. Kilgour has campaigned for this cause in Australia with Edward McMillan-Scott, Conservative MP and vice-president of the European Parliament. He believes the campaign has collapsed the Chinese organ transplant market there.

"We're trying to get citizens, parliamentarians and doctors in all 70 countries where there are Olympic committees to raise these issues," says Mr. Kilgour. "We're not calling for an Olympic boycott. If we can just create enough pressure, we think the government of China will stop this terrible practice."

Yesterday, Mr. Matas and Mr. Kilgour left for Pittsburgh and Cleveland (two major transplant centres in the U.S.), then for Asia and Europe.

Retired indeed.

Donna Jacobs is an Ottawa writer. Her e-mail address donnabjacobs@hotmail

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