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Thursday, February 14, 2008

The New York Times Parrots Communist Party Line

Criticism of cultural show eerily echoes Beijing propaganda, but fails to deter audience

By John Nania and Jason Loftus
Feb 14, 2008

Members of the audience attending the Chinese New Year Splendor initiate a standing ovation at Radio City's final show on Feb. 9, 2008. (Dai Bing/The Epoch Times)
Members of the audience attending the Chinese New Year Splendor initiate a standing ovation at Radio City's final show on Feb. 9, 2008. (Dai Bing/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—The theater was packed, the crowd gave a standing ovation, and audience members raved in interviews after the show. But according to a story in The New York Times last week, as many as "hundreds" were flocking to the exit doors by intermission.

Chinese New Year Splendor played 15 shows at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall, ending with a sold-out final performance on the evening of Feb. 9. The response to the show, confirmed by The Epoch Times reporters in over 700 interviews with audience members, was overwhelmingly positive.

One of those interviews was with John Wright, formerly with the Times own book review department. When asked what he thought of the show, Wright said, "It was very beautiful, very different."

But the Times published on Feb. 6 a peculiar review of Splendor (under the byline of Eric Konigsberg) that did anything but suggest the consensus response. Backed with quotes from all of three audience members who were critical, only one of whom gave his or her full name, the Times proclaimed in its headline, "A Glimpse of Chinese Culture That Some Find Hard to Watch."

What made the Times article even more unusual was that its criticisms mimic the line of China's communist regime, which has engaged in a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Splendor shut down.

Traditional Culture

Chinese New Year Splendor , as the hosts of the show explained, presents traditional Chinese culture as it cannot be seen elsewhere—especially inside China, where the Chinese communist regime has actively suppressed traditional culture during its rule.

Put on by Divine Performing Arts, Splendor presents traditional Chinese culture through dance and music. The show conveys cultural and moral stories of China's past, as well of recent times, such as those of Falun Gong practitioners' peaceful response to persecution in China today.

Amerigo Fabbri at the Chinese New Year Splendor's final performance at Radio City Music Hall. (Jan Jekielek/The Epoch Times)

"Culture is meant to promote peace and harmony with our neighbors. This harmony includes truth, compassion, and tolerance," said Daniel Lee, a real estate investor with Speed Investment Group in New York City, in summing up his response to the show. He refers to the three principles of Falun Gong, which appear in the show.

But, no doubt, the resurgence of traditional Chinese culture, particularly in the context of human rights issues today, has angered Chinese communist officials, who've long held a monopoly on Chinese cultural representation. Beijing's brass have attempted to discredit the show, calling it "political propaganda."

The audience members quoted by the Times largely repeated Beijing's view.

The Times story also quoted University of Nevada political science professor Maria Hsia Chang. When contacted by The Epoch Times , Chang indicated that she hadn't seen the show.

"I was interviewed on phone by the Times reporter. I haven't even read his article, so I don't know if he misquoted me or quoted me out of context," she said in an emailed response, adding that she was sympathetic to the Falun Gong's plight.

"It certainly did not dissuade us from coming, and I don't think it should dissuade anyone, because it really is highly unfair. And it might even be construed as unethical." —Ronald A. Sablosky, VP of Business Outsourcing Solutions

Immediately following the publication of Konigsberg's story, the engines of the Party's propaganda machinery kicked into high gear.

Though Western news outlets like the Times are normally censored in China, this story was immediately republished by Xinhua, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and propagated widely.

Chinese-language press outside China close to the Chinese regime, such as China Press and, similarly gave prominent coverage to the Times story.

But while the criticisms of Splendor gained airtime in the pro-CCP press, they were not echoed by a growing number who came to see the show.

Audience Paints a Different Picture

In fact, many were aware of, and critical of, the Times piece.

"It certainly did not dissuade us from coming," said Ron Sablosky, a banker and executive vice president of Outsourcing Solutions. "I don't think it should dissuade anyone, because it really is highly unfair. And it might even be construed as unethical."

Charles Liu, who works at the New York Freedom Times , called the story "terribly one-sided."

The full house attending the Chinese New Year Splendor at Radio City, at the final New York show on Feb. 9, 2008. (Dai Bing/The Epoch Times)
The full house attending the Chinese New Year Splendor at Radio City, at the final New York show on Feb. 9, 2008. (Dai Bing/The Epoch Times)

But attendance at the shows after the article ran was not diminished by the critical article. If anything, it was boosted, according to NTDTV, the show's producers.

Penny Cohn, an account executive and building manager, had read The New York Times article and noted, "In fact, it piqued my curiosity."

"And not only that, it had a lot of space, too. I was quite intrigued with the amount of space it was given, I have to confess that."

The two pieces that depict the persecution of Falun Gong in Splendor , "The Risen Lotus Flower" and "The Power of Awareness," were also mentioned by many audience members as their favorites.

Amerigo Fabbri, dean of Pierson College and professor of modernist literature at Yale University, talked about "The Risen Lotus Flower."

"You have the three women in prison and how one of them gives her life for the other two, these are great, great elements of the culture that are certainly conveyed by the show," he said.

On his overall impression, Fabbri said, "The show is spectacular, I mean amazing. They're doing a great job bringing together the history of Chinese culture. The sound effects, the visual effects, the special effects, the singing, and the dancing is just amazing."

Photos and interviews with hundreds more audience members, in English and Chinese, can be found on The Epoch Times Web site: .

According to surveys done of the audience, 95 percent gave a positive response, and the shows of Splendor at Radio City Music Hall frequently earned standing ovations.

'In fact, it [the Times article] piqued my curiosity.' —Penny Cohn, Account Executive and Building Manager

Apparently, the New York public did not believe the article's portrayal that the show was rejected by its audience. The final performance of Splendor on Feb. 9 was sold out, and Splendor closed New York to another standing ovation.

But efforts by the show's producers to have these facts relayed to The New York Times readers seem to have gone unanswered.

NTDTV president Mr. Zhong Lee wrote a letter, which reads in part: "Human rights abuses are indeed a part of the culture modern Chinese have inherited, regardless of whether or not one agrees with the medium through which it was expressed. Whether we like it or not, these abuses are part of today's reality in China.

"One of the basic freedoms central to the United States is freedom of expression. Mr. Konigsberg should not find it so shocking that a Chinese culture show produced in the U.S. includes some reference to China's human rights issues."

At press time, the Times had not published or responded to Mr. Lee's letter.

The Epoch Times also attempted to reach the paper for comment on this story, but representatives from the Times did not return the call by press time.

Repeat Performance?

Splendor is performed by Divine Performing Arts, and is part of a worldwide tour. But at each stop, the show faces pressure from Chinese embassy and consulate staff who work to persuade advertisers and theaters not to accept the show, and audience members to stay away.

CCP's highly classified document obtained by The Epoch Times

Last year, The Epoch Times obtained a document originating from China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Marked "highly confidential," the document outlined the regime's efforts to derail the NTDTV shows.

"The leadership of the central government has ordered that they [the NTDTV shows] be destroyed by any and all means," said the document, which was dated Dec. 16, 2003, when NTDTV was preparing its first Chinese New Year show.

If that was not possible, orders were to "minimize their impact," the document said.

In the United States politicians have received letters from the Chinese consulate pressuring them not to attend shows performed by Divine Performing Arts.

New York State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle and San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye are among politicians that say they received letters asking them not to attend the shows.

'Mr. Konigsberg should not find it so shocking that a Chinese culture show produced in the U.S. includes some reference to China's human rights issues.' —Zhong Lee, President of NTDTV

"The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] insists to the world that there is only one China. They seek to drown out alternative voices. They fear that the world will learn the truth of their 'Animal Farm' regime," said Assemblyman Benjamin in an e-mail to The Epoch Times in December.

In South Korea and other countries, the consulates have attempted or succeeded in having venues back out of agreements to host the performance.

Last year in Seoul the Chinese Embassy pressured two venues to terminate their contracts to have the Chinese cultural show presented in theaters. The same thing happened this year and the matter is now before a South Korean court. A similar incident has taken place in Denmark this year as well.

Ronald A. Sablosky and Mary Ann Oklesson. (Ma Youzhi/The Epoch Times)

The Chinese Embassy in Sweden made a similar effort but Swedish officials staunchly refused to cater to the communist regime. A municipal chairman described the embassy's request that the show be stopped as "astonishing."

Last year, when Divine Performing Arts held a Chinese New Year show in Ottawa, Glenn McGregor, a reporter with the local Ottawa Citizen newspaper, wrote following a very similar formula as The New York Times piece. Although he hadn't attended the show, he quoted three people who said they attended and were upset with the Falun Gong content. McGregor also gave prominence in the story to the Chinese embassy's criticisms of the show.

Clearly earning the trust of the Chinese Embassy, McGregor was invited by the Embassy on an expenses-paid trip to China to probe allegations of serious human rights abuses against Falun Gong adherents and ended up writing in defense of the regime.

The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of the Divine Performing Arts tour. For our complete coverage please visit:

Friday, February 08, 2008

Falun Gong barred fromNZ New Year's Parade

Three political parties have condemned the decision to ban the Falun Gong from Wellington's Chinese New Year parade on Sunday.

Scoop: The spiritual movement is banned in China and Chinese foreign embassies use aggressive diplomacy against it in other countries.

Radio New Zealand reported yesterday it would not be allowed to take part in the festivities for the Year of the Rat, which began on Thursday in New Zealand and other countries and will last for two weeks.

Wellington City Council sponsors the parade and Mayor Kerry Prendergast told TV One News "there shouldn't be a political component to the events that we sponsor".

Falun Gong, which was allowed to take part in the Christmas parade, was banned from last year's Chinese New Year festivities but gatecrashed the event.

The Green Party said the decision was deplorable.

"We shouldn't be bending to pressure from the Chinese Embassy, which represents a government that severely persecutes this spiritual movement," said MP Keith Locke.

"When political expediency is put ahead of freedom of expression, a vital aspect of our society is being eroded."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she was very concerned.

"Is it a directive on high from the Chinese Government, or is it our own government which is restricting the rights of this community?" she asked.

"New Zealanders have the right to know why discrimination is being practised in this country when it is not part of the ethos of Aotearoa."

United Future leader Peter Dunne said Falun Gong had been banned from events in other cities and he believed councils were scared of upsetting the Chinese Government while free trade talks with New Zealand entered their final stage.

Mr Dunne said it was "shocking" that councils and other bodies were too timid to allow people to freely express their views

Related articles:

Falun Gong decision eroding democratic values

Falun Gong should be able to Celebrate

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Chinese Protester Should Be Honored

NewsMax: By: Lev Navrozov - Thursday, February 7, 2008 12:06 PM

The Soviet dictatorship fell in 1991 like a house of cards. A breath of fresh air was needed in China, and there “physical and mental exercises,” named Falun Gong were created, winning the author several awards from the Chinese government.

An inhabitant of a country of Marxism-Leninism must be in the best of health physically and spiritually. “Physculture” (“physical culture”) was introduced in Stalin’s Russia in the 1930s. In 1994, Falun Gong was being taught at the Chinese consulate in New York as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “cultural propaganda” in the West “along with Chinese silk and cooking,” as was reported by “Late Night Live National Australia.”

A 1999 figure “from the Chinese government” suggested that there were 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in China. Hip-hip hooray! Glory to the Chinese Communist Party! But on July 20, 1999, as the epoch of Yeltsin in Russia was over and the epoch of Putin began, the China dictatorship did what neither Stalin nor his successors did: It banned the Chinese “physculture.” What followed, neither Stalin, nor Hitler, nor any other dictator of the 20th century ever imagined: the persecution of “physculture”—or call it private gymnastics, personal sport exercises, all calisthenics (which comes from the word “beautiful”), practiced privately.

Before this persecution in China of “physculture,” I was sure that nothing worse happened in “Communist China” than did in Stalin’s Russia. But when I heard that those practicing a forbidden kind of “physculture” in China are punished by being tortured to death, I have realized that the dictatorship of China in the 2000s is more inhuman than Stalin ever was.

In Stalin’s Russia, torture was used by investigators in political cases, to make suspects confess that, for example, they had said that Stalin was too credulous when he did not expect Hitler’s invasion of Russia contrary to the Soviet-German peace treaty.

All Soviet propaganda references to Hitler’s attack called it “perfidious” (literally, in Russian, “faith-breaking”). Yet it was a crime to accuse Stalin of credulity. So the suspect was tortured until he confessed that yes, he did say that Stalin was too credulous with respect to Hitler.

That is, the use of torture was inquisitional, not punitive. Now, in China, the torture is punitive — it is a punishment for a forbidden kind of private “physculture”!

Medicine has been engaged in organ transplantations, and the holocaust of Falun Gong practitioners was a lucrative “government business” with prices ranging from $30,000 to $180,000 for a human organ.

When Hu Jintao, the chief dictator of China, came to the United States and met with President Bush (April 20, 2006), it was reported that a certain mischievous girl (a citizen of the United States) shouted at Hu, demanding to stop the torture to death for physical exercises and stop the “harvesting” of the victims’ organs.

In Hitler’s Germany, Jews were gassed. The dictatorship of China has moved to a new degree of cruelty — torturing to death as a means of extermination. What if Hitler had followed suit? Imagine that Hitler came to the White House to shake hands with Roosevelt, but a certain mischievous girl shouted to Hitler to stop torturing Jews to death.

The mischievous girl would have become a heroine in the United States. But in the United States on April 20, 2006, Wenyi Wang was arrested and charged as a criminal. Of course! Hu, the chief dictator of China, and President Bush talked peace and friendship between the United States and China, and here some mischievous girl demands that the torture to death in China for no crime be stopped!

Incidentally, Dr. Wenyi Wang is not quite a mischievous girl; she is a 47-year-old mother of two. In China she was a physician, and in the United States she holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Chicago, and recently completed her residency as a pathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

She also worked in 2006 as a medical reporter for the Chinese dissident newspaper “The Epoch Times,” (published in the United States, and it is as a reporter that she managed to gain access to the White House lawn press confabulation of Hu Jintao and George W. Bush, to preserve Sino-American peace, friendship, and trade [for example, in the “harvested” organs of those tortured to death for physical exercises?]).

Of course, there are Americans who believe that they should be concerned with Americans only.

As for the Chinese, let them torture one another to death! Yet there are wars, and before 1939 some Westerners outside Germany believed that they should not be concerned with the destiny of those who resided in Hitler’s Germany. But Hitler’s Germany came to these Westerners — in France, for example.

On June 21, 2006, the U.S. court in Washington, D.C., dropped all charges against Dr. Wang. I hope that her one-person public protest in the White House on April 20, 2006, will be recalled in marble and bronze. But at any rate, let us recall it in 2008 in this column, for neither President Bush, nor any presidential candidate as of today, has said a word about the torturing to death in China as punishment for no crime.

* * *

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Happy Chinese New Year of the Rat!


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Some facts about Chinese New Year

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Beijing Fails to Stop World Tour of Chinese Performers

February 18, 2008

New American: For the fourth year in a row, embassy and consulate officials from the People’s Republic of China have sent intimidating letters to local and state elected officials and business leaders in the United States and other countries in an attempt to stop their support for, or public recognition of, a world tour of Chinese artists presenting a spectacular concert/performance of traditional Chinese music and dance. The tour by the Divine Performing Arts is sponsored by New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), an independent, Chinese-language cable and satellite television company that broadcasts to much of North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Because of its global reach and its dedication to reporting news blocked by China’s communist censors, the New York-based NTDTV has been targeted for destruction by the Beijing regime. A high-level document leaked from China this year calls for NTDTV to “be destroyed by any and all means.”

Chinese officials have resorted to sending letters and making calls to the venues that NTDTV had rented for the performances, in an effort to get the shows canceled. They have also written many public officials of the communities where the performances are scheduled, urging them not to attend and not to recognize the performances with congratulatory letters or commendations. It seems that the heavy-handed tactics have backfired, offending many officials. Chris Norby, the chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in California, who received a letter from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, said it amounted to “an attempt by a foreign government to dictate to American elected officials what organizations we should support, recognize or associate with.”

Despite the harassing tactics, the Divine Performing Arts shows enjoyed sold-out performances in cities around the world. THE NEW AMERICAN’S senior editor William F. Jasper, who attended the January 25 performance at San Francisco’s historic Orpheum Theater, provides an online review of the spectacular event at

Celebrating China's Cultural History

Now playing at NY's Radio City until Feb. 9. Look here for more.

January 30, 2008

New American: The Divine Performing Arts company is appropriately named; their glorious productions are heavenly creations of movement, music, color, and pageantry that captivate, excite, and inspire. For the past four years the Chinese performers have been taking their “Chinese New Year Spectacular” show on a world tour of dozens of major cities, playing to critical acclaim and sold-out performances. I have been fortunate to attend each of the annual productions in San Francisco since 2004, and it is easily my top pick each year as the cultural event of the year.

This year’s venue in San Francisco was the historic and ornate Orpheum Theater on Market Street. On the evening of January 25, the rain was pouring down, but it couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the nearly 3,500 fans that packed the theater for what was certain to be another extraordinary delight for the senses. We were not disappointed; if possible, the evening’s spectacle exceeded even the stellar performances of previous years.

Instead of the excellent recorded music used in earlier productions, the 2008 performance featured superb live music provided by the Divine Performing Arts Orchestra conducted by Rutang Chen, a celebrated cellist and former conductor of China’s Central Philharmonic Orchestra. The program also featured, interspersed between the dance numbers, impressive solo vocal performances by soprano Pi-Ju Hunag, tenor Hong Ming, and Baritone Qu Yue.

But it is the dancing which takes center stage and that has brought out the expectant patrons. Chinese classical dance, similar in many ways to western ballet, is an integral part of China’s five-millennia-old culture. The printed program for the event informs us that: “Performers aspire to achieve a melding of ‘form, spirit, strength, movement’ and attain a realm of ‘having both form and spirit, using body and mind, unifying internal and external.’”

The Divine Performing Arts dancers certainly succeed in that lofty endeavor with an exquisite display of fifteen dances representative of various periods of Chinese culture and various regions of that vast country. The numbers, ranging from the gentle fan dance entitled “Lightness and Grace” to the frolicking “Forsythia in Spring,” and the thunderous and exciting “Drummers of the Tang Court,” combine beautiful balletic technique with challenging acrobatic leaps and tumbling.

As always, the stunning gracefulness and strength of the individual dancers is immeasurably enhanced with precise and imaginative group choreography, sumptuous costuming and magnificent set designs and backdrops using traditional painting together with multi-media technology. The entire production is a beautiful blend of antiquity and modernity.

Interestingly, once again, the government of the People’s Republic of China tried to sabotage the performances in many cities. Why? After all, this lush, expensive production features many of China’s top dancers and musicians and is one of the premiere exhibitions exposing Westerners to classical Chinese culture. But as far as Communist Party officials in Beijing are concerned, the production is “subversive.” Not only would it be impossible to present it in China, but each and every performer would almost certainly be arrested and jailed — and possibly tortured and killed. Unfortunately, this is no exaggeration.

Many of the performers are practitioners of Falun Gong, the meditation and exercise system that is banned and brutally suppressed in China. New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), the primary corporate sponsor of Divine Performing Arts’ programs, also includes many Falun Gong practitioners among its management and reportorial staff. This Falun Gong connection is sufficient to stir the persecution fervor of the Beijing commissars. In China, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been imprisoned, many disappearing forever. There are many confirmed cases of Falun Gong practitioners being tortured to death in prison.

Additionally, in the eyes of Party officials the Divine Performing Arts members have committed the unpardonable sin: they have exposed the brutality of the Communist regime to the outside world. A couple of the numbers in the show depict Communists viciously attacking unarmed Falun Gong practitioners who are peacefully meditating. It’s no secret who the bad guys are, since each of the black-clad thugs has a large, red hammer and sickle emblazoned on his back. That seals it! Mao’s Chinese Reds, who perfected the “art” of heavy-handed propaganda theater, go absolutely apoplectic when their own weapons are turned on them.

Even if Divine Performing Arts had chosen to leave overt criticism of Communism out of the program, Beijing couldn’t allow them to perform unmolested. They cannot allow some of their most talented artists to leave and perform independently produced works that are outside of the dictatorial control of the government’s cultural police. Hence, they have attempted to intimidate venues into canceling their contracts with Divine Performing Arts and have contacted elected officials, warning that Falun Gong is “outlawed” in China and that attending the “Chinese New Year Spectacular” or “Holiday Wonders” shows, or even sending a greeting to the show, would have “bad effects” on their political and personal reputations. Officials in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan were subjected to similar intimidation tactics.

David Kilgour, Canada's former secretary of state for Asia and one of Canada's longest-serving recent members of parliament, strongly condemned the efforts to interfere with the performances. “No elected official or other person should pay any attention to such pressure from Chinese party-state officials,” he said. “During 27 years in Canada's parliament, I never encountered similar interference from any government except that of the one in Beijing,” noted Kilgour. “We have about 125 foreign missions in Ottawa. The rest all know the limits of acceptable diplomatic behavior.”

Fortunately, Beijing’s interference appears to have had little effect on attendance. This year’s program schedule included packed performances in Atlanta, Atlantic City, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and St. Petersburg.

The “Chinese New Year Spectacular,” says NTDTV president Zhong Lee, “is a show case that centers on classical themes, divinely-inspired cultural traditions, and positive values such as freedom, peace and justice, in the styles of Chinese classical dance and music. We are committed to present the audience with programs of consummate beauty and goodness with the values and spirit of traditional culture. We hope our audience will gain deeper understandings about life while enjoying this thrilling artistic performance.”

New Tang Dynasty TV and Divine Performing Arts surely achieved that worthy goal. If you’re bone-weary of the offensive, obscene, absurd, and insipid offerings that are passed off as entertainment and culture these days, you owe it to yourself and posterity to indulge your inner aesthete in the refreshingly innocent beauty and artistic splendor which these outstanding artists bring to the stage. It is too late to catch any of this year’s live performances, but you can sample them online and mark your calendar to be sure you do not miss these marvelous events next year.

Canadian Bill Moves to Curtail Organ Trade Abroad

By Matthew Little and Sharda Vaidyanath
Feb 07, 2008

File photo of Canadian MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj. (The Epoch Times)

OTTAWA/WINNIPEG—A liberal MP has introduced a private members bill that would criminalize organ transplants inside or outside of Canada that involved organs purchased or taken from unwilling donors.

Bill C-500, introduced by MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, proposes amending the criminal code to punish any Canadian citizen who participates in an organ transplant that would be considered illegal in Canada, no matter where in the world thetransplant takes place.

That includes transplants where the organ "donor" was paid for the sale of their organ, as in the recent case of "Doctor Horror," Amit Kumar, who lived in Brampton, Ontario with his wife and children.

Kumar is wanted by Interpol for allegedly masterminding a kidney trafficking right that bought or stole kidneys from farmers and labourers in India. The organs were sold to wealthy Indians and foreigners. Reports say computers taken in a raid on one of Kumar's clinics in India revealed there were inquiries from Canada.

Bill C-500 would establish a list of people like Kumar who would be barred from Canada for participating in organ sales.

The bill also puts the onus on organ recipients to certify the organ they receive was legally obtained. All transplant recipients will have to obtain a certificate establishing the organ was donated and no money was paid.

While that may be a simple matter for in-country transplants, Canadians that travel overseas for transplant, "transplant tourists" as they are called, could face difficulty, especially visitors to countries like China known for dealing in organs taken from unwilling donors.

Transplant tourists rely on aftercare and drugs provided through their provincial medical systems after they return to Canada. Under the bill, medical practitioners in Canada would be required to report any organ recipient they treat to a certification program. That program would check to make sure the organ recipient has a certificate verifying their organ wasn't purchased or stolen. Transplant recipients who are found to not have a certificate could face investigation and prosecution.

The bill proscribes a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of life in prison for offenders.

Wrzesnewskyj said he was motivated to draft the bill by stories he heard in many parts of the world, including a series of articles in Ukraine a few years ago when children were disappearing from orphanages.

Wrzesnewskyj said that like most people he wasn't overly perturbed by the stories because he assumed westerners were coming and bribing officials so they could adopt the children. But a local police officer discovers something different.

File photo of Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour (R) and prominent human rights lawyer David Matas (L). (Matthew Hildebrand/The Epoch Times)

"As [the officer] dug, something quite horrific became apparent," said Wrzesnewskyj. " These children weren't being adopted. These children were actually being sacrificed for their organs; the organs were being sold."

Around that time he also read about kidney trafficking in India where some poor villagers were selling their organs for the price of a taxicab.

"Some times their consequences were horrific. In fact, they didn't get the money promised," recounted Wrzesnewskyj.

More recently Wrzesnewskyj read a report co-authored by two Canadians, former MP David Kilgour and prominent human rights lawyer David Matas. The report details evidence indicating the large-scale practice of killing imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners so their organs can be sold and transplanted.

Wrzesnewskyj describe the report as "horrifying."

"In all cases, these were the most vulnerable people in their particular societies," he said.

Wrzesnewskyj believes three trends have fueled illicit organ trafficking: medical technology that allows any organ to be cheaply transplanted, international travel that allows a person to cross the globe in less than a day, and increasing disparities between the richest and poorest people on the planet.

"So, it has come together [with] horrific consequences for those who are vulnerable," he said.

While the bill has just been given its first reading and may have to be reintroduced if the minority government falls, Wrzesnewskyj said it is important to start the process and set an example other countries may follow.

"I salute him for leading the way," said former MP David Kilgour. "I hope he'll get all party support . . . It's exactly the kind of measure Canada should pass."

Kilgour and Wrzesnewskyj both describe the bill as a non-partisan issue.

Kilgour said the bill is comprehensive but suspects it may encounter criticism that it goes to far. That said, he is confident it will pass.

"I just don't think any MP would want to be associated with speaking against it or voting against it, it's just too serious an issue."

"It's a huge problem involving our own country and our own citizens. I'm sure the timing of reports from India was an accident but it's very helpful."

Kilgour said each country should have its own legislation on this issue and proposed there could even be a U.N. convention on organ harvesting the way there is for land mines.

"A U.N. convention . . . would require 50 countries to ratify it and that might prove to be a difficult issue because China would certainly oppose it."

A release announcing the bill says "Bill C-500 addresses the exploitation of the vulnerable in developing countries or incarcerated by totalitarian regimes whose healthy organs are purchased or extracted through coercion and sold for use by the wealthy."

"By enacting this legislation Canada will become an international leader in combating the sinister underground trade in human organs and body parts," said Wrzesnewskyj.