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Monday, October 06, 2008

Kilgour: JOIN INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END CHINA’S HUMAN ORGAN COMMERCE


HEALTH PROFESSIONS EVERYWHERE SHOULD JOIN INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO END CHINA’S HUMAN ORGAN COMMERCE

Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
The 3rd Annual Health and Human Rights Conference
Biosciences Building, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
October 5, 2008

David Matas and I have assembled more than fifty pieces of evidence over the past two years, which indicate that our conclusions about ongoing organ-pillaging across China are valid.

We found to our deep and continuing concern that since 2001 the party-state of China and its agencies have killed thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, without any form of prior trial, and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money, often to "organ tourists" from wealthy nations. We amassed a substantial body of evidence and became convinced beyond any doubt that this crime against humanity has occurred and is still happening (Our report, media reports and updates can be accessed in 19 languages at www.organharvestinvestigation.net).

These macabre deaths would not be occurring if the Chinese people enjoyed the rule-of-law and if their government believed in the intrinsic importance of each one of them. In my judgement, it is the lethal combination of totalitarian governance and "anything is permitted" economics that allows this and other inhuman practices to persist in China.

The Chinese Medical Association agreed with the World Medical Association quite recently that "organ tourists" will not be able to obtain further organ transplants in China. Whether this promise was anything more than public relations cant intended to benefit the Beijing Olympiad remains to be seen. It does seem clear that this new position by the CMA is an admission that our general conclusion—and that of other studies-- is irrefutable.

Toxic Consumer Practices

The independent media across the world have revealed over the years that numerous seriously contaminated products from China’s ‘anything goes’ economy have been sold at home and abroad. Here is the essence of a Reuters’ news story dated Sept. 18, 2008 and datelined Beijing:

  • a fake milk formula tragedy four years ago in which at least 13 babies died from a powder that contained no nutrients;

  • Thousands of dogs and cats became ill and more than 200 died in the U.S. alone after Chinese suppliers were discovered to have added melamine in wheat gluten and rice protein to exported pet food in 2007;

  • Two brands of Chinese toothpaste were banned in the Dominican Republic in May 2007 because of fears that they contained the deadly chemical diethylene glycol, which was held responsible for mass poisoning deaths in Panama in 2006. At least one hundred people in Panama are thought to have died after consuming toxic, mislabeled drugs in cough syrups imported from China;

  • In November 2006, Hong Kong and several other Chinese centres faced a crisis over duck eggs tainted with Sudan IV, a cancer-causing dye.

  • In 2007, a factory manager in Chongqing region was arrested for producing chili powder tainted with the same toxic dye, and two cosmetics firms were closed for selling lipsticks containing the dye.

  • Chinese-made heparin, a blood thinner, has been blamed for fatalities and adverse reactions in U.S. and German patients. In the United States, tainted heparin from China was used by at least 81 patients who died, prompting a recall.

  • Several fish farms in eastern Shandong province breeding turbot, a popular type of flatfish, were fined and ordered to suspend sales in December 2006 after traces of cancer-causing chemicals, including malachite green, were detected in samples.

  • The world's largest toymaker, Mattel, recalled more than 18 million made-in-China toys a year ago because of hazards from small, powerful magnets that can cause injury if swallowed only two weeks after it recalled 1.5 million toys due to fears about lead paint.

  • the mounting toxic milk scandal of recent weeks, in which three infants have died and thousands have fallen ill with kidney stones or other illnesses after consuming several brands of infant milk formula found to have been contaminated with melamine (I noticed in another dispatch that news of the tainted milk was known before the Olympics began on August 8th, but was suppressed by the Party because of the Games. The warning to the world came from a New Zealand diplomat only after the Games were over, who learned of the health hazard from an investor in China’s milk export business. How many children suffered needlessly from a heartless attempt to conceal vital information from consumers in and outside China by its media, all of which is tightly controlled by the Party? Unnecessary kidney ailments have now affected more than 54,000 children),
The falsifications, cover ups and delays in releasing important information critical to consumer health are improbable in countries with democratic governance, transparency and rule-of-law. Firing people or worse forms of scapegoating, as normally happens in China when the truth finally gets out, does not address the root causes of the problems, but it’s the long-preferred way for the Party to handle crises.

Since the Olympic Games and their extensive media coverage, more of the world now knows that the milk problem is only the tip of one of many icebergs. The impact was felt in China, Canada and globally. If more people worldwide would pay closer attention to the organ pillaging commerce, the party-state in China would soon be shamed into stopping it completely.

Don’t trust; verify

Who in Canada or anywhere will knowingly put in their mouths products ‘made in China’ until quality control there is dealt with effectively by effective regulation of manufacturers? Canada and all other food/drug importers from China will have to do much more rigorous inspections of its products in future. Zero tolerance of toxic or other unacceptable ingredients in products coming from any country should be the new import practice of governments everywhere.

When you have no rules in an exporting country, slippery slopes can appear anywhere as in the case of China. In my view, pillaging organs from deemed “enemies of the Party” for cash from foreign patients is a whole new order of slope. The use of poisons in export products illustrates well the values of China’s party-state. If they could do that, it is not hard to believe that they use human bodies as bio mass for organ harvesting.

Faking the voice of the little girl who sang at the Games opening, and probably the passport of the gymnasts, also indicates how easily the party-state could falsify the identities of people used for organ harvesting. So-called 'consent' documents that organs are freely donated count for nothing. Some say organ pillaging in China is now in decline. Many insiders say it will resume now that the Olympics are over.

U of Toronto Medical Faculty Forum

At a forum at the U of Toronto Medical faculty in May, 2007 important points were made about organ pillaging in China. Gerry Koffman, the Canadian co-ordinator for Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), a group of medical doctors warning medical communities internationally about the serious implications of receiving organ transplants in China, spoke about the practice as a “holocaust”.

Dr. Koffman stressed that DAFOH is a supporter of organ transplants and that it is important for people to understand the difference between organ transplants from consenting donors and those seized from unwilling prisoners of conscience, who are systematically killed by medical personnel across China for their organs.

Based on accounts from former prisoners, Falun Gong practitioners are being singled out for systematic blood-testing and medical examination in detention centres, said Dr. Torsten Trey, the founder and head of DAFOH. “It makes no sense that a group who is persecuted and tortured would be tested for their health…The killings in Nazi Germany shows that nothing is impossible when a totalitarian system loses all ethics," said the German-born and trained Trey.

Ying Dai, a Falun Gong practitioner who survived Chinese labour camps and now lives in Norway after being granted refugee status by the UN, confirmed to the forum the periodic blood testing of Falun Gong practitioners in the camps. She also told of other inhuman treatment. "For five years after being arrested, I was incarcerated. We were severely beaten. But we were not animals and we committed no crime…The degree of persecution is beyond what people in the West can imagine".

Erping Zhang, frequently a spokesperson for Falun Gong in New York, offered an overview of Falun Gong as a physical exercise and spiritual practice and of its persecution by the party-state in China. First made public in China in 1992, Falun Gong was originally endorsed by the party-state for its ability to improve health, but it fell out of favour once the Party discovered that by 1999 it had attracted more adherents—between 70-100 million-- than there were Party members.

Zhang emphasized that Falun Gong practitioners have been demonized continuously since 1999 by the entirety of the Chinese media. The media treat Falun Gong worse than criminals, Zhang said, and this has unfortunately helped to justify the persecution. As a friend who is an expert on Soviet Russia pointed out, even during Stalin’s bloodiest Terror period in the 1930s, many Russians approved him as a kindly “Uncle Joe” figure because of party control of all media across the Soviet Union.

Recent Declaration of Society of Nephrology opposing transplant commercialism, transplant tourism and organ trafficking

“All countries should take steps to govern organ donation and transplantation, thereby ensuring patient safety and prohibiting unethical practices, according to an article appearing in the September 2008 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The document is a consensus of more than 150 representatives of scientific and medical bodies from around the world, government officials, social scientists, and ethicists, who met in Istanbul, Turkey, this spring.

“Unethical practices related to transplantation include organ trafficking (the illicit sale of human organs), transplant commercialism (when an organ is treated as a commodity), and transplant tourism (when organs given to patients from outside a country undermine the country's ability to provide organs for its own population). The Declaration of Istanbul states that because unethical practices are an undesirable consequence of the global shortage of organs for transplantation, each country should implement programs to prevent organ failure and should provide organs to meet the transplant needs of its residents from donors within its own population. The therapeutic potential of deceased organ donation should also be maximized.

“In an introduction to the Declaration, Dr. Francis Delmonico, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, emeritus professor of renal transplantation at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and the Director of Medical Affairs at The Transplantation Society (TTS), noted that with the increasing use of the Internet and the willingness of patients in rich countries to travel and purchase organs, organ trafficking and transplant tourism have become global problems. Through these practices, which target vulnerable populations in resource-poor countries, "the poor who sell their organs are being exploited, whether by richer people within their own countries or by transplant tourists from abroad," he wrote. Dr. Delmonico added that transplant tourists also risk physical harm by unregulated and illegal transplantation.

“Participants in the Istanbul Summit urge transplant professionals to put an end to these activities and to foster safe and ethical practices for both transplant recipients and donors. The Declaration outlines a number of steps that can help increase deceased organ donation and ensure the protection and safety of living donors. It will be submitted to professional organizations and to the health authorities of all countries for consideration. "The legacy of transplantation must not be the impoverished victims of organ trafficking and transplant tourism but rather a celebration of the gift of health by one individual to another," the Declaration states.”

Useful Pressure from Australia

A news article by Annabel Stafford in the Melbourne Age (Aug, 28, 2008) noted that at a meeting of transplant doctors in Sydney, Jeremy Chapman, the Australian president of the International Transplantation Society, promised that his members would alert Chinese authorities when a non-Chinese person travelled to China to buy an organ and would ask the authorities to explain. Last year, the piece notes, China banned the trade in human organs and ruled that consent must be obtained from an organ donor after facing widespread condemnation over the use of executed prisoners' organs for transplant. Before those changes, there was "no doubt" Australian patients had been buying organs taken from executed prisoners, Chapman said.

China's "determination to improve its connections with the world" had coincided with its moves to improve human rights, particularly when it came to the use of prisoners' organs, Chapman said. "We need”. he added, “ to continue to assist the Chinese transplantation program to enter the mainstream of transplantation globally through the use of brain dead and living donors.”

"Certainly (China) has taken significant steps to make changes and we're optimistic the change process will be strong and will reduce the use of executed prisoners for transplants, which we are against under any circumstances. Chapman: "The open question remains: what will China be like post-Olympics?"

Conclusion

My conclusion, of course, is that all health professions across Canada and the world should join the push to end China’s human organ commerce from unwilling donors permanently.

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