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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unauthorised organ trade an ongoing evil

Brisbane Times: NOBEL peace prize nominee and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas will visit Brisbane next weekend to highlight the "continuing abuse" of unauthorised organ transplants in China.

Mr Matas said tens of thousands of Chinese have had their organs "harvested" without consent each year. The problem was increasing despite a drop in "transplant tourism", where foreigners flocked to China for organs, before laws changed in 2007.

Demand for organs from Chinese has replaced foreign demand and Mr Matas believes organs from the followers of Falun Gong, a popular exercise regimen, have been used extensively.
He said the Falun Gong movement started in 1992 and became hugely popular in China but the government branded it a cult in 1999 and persecuted, jailed and executed followers.

He was nominated for the Nobel prize - won this year by China's Liu Xiaobo - with the co-author of Bloody Harvest, David Kilgour. The book documents the abuse of prisoners and dissidents and urges countries to discourage or prevent their citizens from going to China for transplants.

The full extent of the allegations was impossible to prove because the bodies were cremated after the organs were removed and there was no documentation, he said.

The Chinese government reluctantly acknowledged last year that the bodies of executed prisoners had been used to harvest organs and promised to crack down on the practice.

"The abuse in China has to be of concern to the global community because it is a grave human rights violation and because the developed world has been complicit in the abuse," Mr Matas said from Canada last week.

The Swiss section of Amnesty International in August requested China end the use of organs from executed prisoners.

When Mr Matas last spoke at forums at the Gold Coast in 2008 he said he and his volunteers were threatened by a Chinese government police official and booked venues were suddenly cancelled.

Internet participants could ask questions at the forum and Mr Matas said the official asked in a Chinese language: "Are you afraid of death? You are brutally interfering in our party's internal policies. Are you afraid of our revenge? Our revenge against you, we'll take revenge against you, are you not afraid of that?"

Dr Stephen Lynch, chairman of Abdominal Transplantation at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, said Australian and New Zealand hospitals now refused to train foreign doctors who could be involved in transplants from prisoners.

Mr Matas will speak at three free forums next weekend at Sunnybank and Inala, south of Brisbane.

For details, email or call 0410 567 618.
David Matas will speak at a Sydney conference next month. For details, see www.humanrightseducation

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