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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chinese persecution of Falun Gong: US Dept. Report

Oct. 26, 2009: The US State Dept’s Report on International Religious Freedom concerning China comments on the brutal treatment of the Falun Gong:

2009 report on religious freedom in China --

According to Falun Gong practitioners abroad, since 1999 several hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been detained for engaging in Falun Gong practices, admitting that they adhere to the teachings of Falun Gong, or refusing to criticize the organization or its founder. The organization reported its members have been subject to excessive force, abuse, rape, detention, forcible psychiatric commitment and treatment (including involuntary medication and electric shock treatment), and torture, and that some members, including children, have died in custody. Practitioners who refused to recant their beliefs were sometimes subjected to extrajudicial “legal education” centers after the expiration of their criminal sentences. According to former RTL camp detainees, Falun Gong practitioners make up a significant percentage of the RTL camps’ population.

Overseas Falun Gong organizations alleged a surge in arrests and deaths of Falun Gong practitioners carried out to prevent disturbances during the Olympic Games. They claimed that authorities arrested thousands of adherents and imprisoned hundreds, and that 100 practitioners died in 2008 as a result of persecution. Reports of abuse were difficult to confirm because the Government prevented Falun Gong members from meeting with foreign reporters and government officials. These organizations also reported that the Government harassed their members in other countries, including the United States, through threatening phone calls and physical harassment. The Government frequently used harsh rhetoric against Falun Gong. In May 2009, several attorneys who had represented Falun Gong practitioners did not have their licenses renewed by the Lawyers Associations in their localities.

In April 2009, Zhang Xingwu, a retired physics professor from Shandong Province, was sentenced to seven years in prison after police found Falun Gong literature in his apartment.

In November 2009, a Shanghai court sentenced Liu Jin to three and a half years in prison for downloading from the Internet and distributing to others information about Falun Gong.

In December 2009, Bu Dongwei left the country after serving two and a half years at a re-education through labor facility; he maintained that he was tortured because of his Falun Gong activities. Before his arrest, he worked for The Asia Foundation, a U.S.-based organization.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Falun Gong Founder Awarded for 'Outstanding Spiritual Leadership'

NTDTV: 2009-10-6 10:15

The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation gives annual awards to individuals who are making a difference. On September 26, they gave a special award to the founder of Falun Gong. Albert Roman in Los Angeles has the story.

A packed ballroom of over 200 human rights defenders and supporters joined the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation awards ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of nine individuals Saturday evening. Among them was Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

Eight of the awards were given for outstanding work in the field of human rights. Among the recipients was Christian Pastor Eddie Romero, who was arrested in China in 2008 during the Olympics for protesting the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses. Dr. Yang Jianli, a Harvard Fellow and 2005 award recipient, also attended the event. Dr. Yang had been jailed for 5 years for helping Chinese labor unions employ non-violent strategies to advocate for their rights.

The award for “Outstanding Spiritual Leadership” was given to Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong. Last year’s recipient was the Dalai Lama.

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a practice that includes exercises, meditation, and a moral discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

In 1999, China’s communist ruler Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners, sending tens of thousands to labor camps. Amnesty International notes that Falun Gong is among the most severely persecuted groups in China.

The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation found it noteworthy that throughout these past 10 years, Falun Gong practitioners have maintained a strictly peaceful approach to ending the persecution.

Youfu Li, chairman of the U.S. Southwestern Falun Dafa Association, accepted the award on Mr. Li Hongzhi’s behalf.

[Youfu Li, US Southwestern Falun Dafa Association]:
Youfu Li said, “Mr. Li Hongzhi taught the principles of truthfulness, compassion, tolerance around the world. He helped improved people’s morality. Over the past 10 years the Communist Party has persecuted many people. Falun Gong practitioners have used compassion to expose the Chinese Communist Party.”

Christian Pastor Eddie Romero had this to say about Mr. Li Hongzhi’s award:

[Pastor Eddie Romero]:
“I’m excited to be able to stand there and also to receive along with the Falun Gong leader the awards, because again, we’re standing on the same side of this issue, and to me, it’s important that we stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue and not become fractured over it because I’m not a Falun Gong member and I know he’s not a Christian, but we share this together because we’re sisters and brothers whether they’re Falun Gong or House Christians.”

Labor union advocate Dr. Yang Jianli also commented on the award.

[Dr. Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China]:
“I’m glad to learn that Mr. Li Hongzhi won this award, and I think he deserves this award. In the past 10 years, Falun Gong represents the most persecuted group in China. In this sense, I think Mr. Li deserves this award.”

The ceremony Saturday evening was a chance for individuals, human rights organizations, and Christian groups to unite, share ideas, and encourage each other to continue their pursuit of freedom for the Chinese people.

Albert Roman, NTD News, Los Angeles.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Court backs students in TAU row over Falun Gong exhibit the university removed

Court backs students in TAU row over Falun Gong exhibit the university removed

Jerusalem Post: A Tel Aviv District Court judge on Wednesday ruled that Tel Aviv University had "violated freedom of expression and succumbed to pressure from the Chinese Embassy" when it took down a student exhibition last year that focused on the oppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement at the hands of the Communist Chinese government.

The exhibition, which featured 25 paintings by 17 artists from around the world, depicted Falun Gong spiritual practices and the torture and executions its members have reportedly been subjected to in recent years.

The movement, which is based on an ancient Chinese meditation method that aims to bring its practitioners to higher spiritual enlightenment, was outlawed in China in 1999. Some of the artists, who are survivors of China's hard labor camps, had endured the very tortures portrayed in the paintings.

The exhibition was originally approved by the head of the Asian Studies department at TAU, Prof. Yoav Ariel, along with the university's administration, which allotted nearly two weeks in March 2008, for the presenters to show the paintings inside the central on-campus library.

But after just two days, organizers were told that the exhibition had to be removed. After initially protesting the move, they were given an additional three days to hold the exhibition, but were then told it had to come down.

The two students who had organized the exhibition, Yaniv Nitzan and Itay Tamuz, were incensed, and claimed that the decision to shut down the exhibition had been made after TAU was pressured by the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv, the two took the matter to court.

Nitzan and Tamuz filed the petition against both TAU and the university's student union, both of whom appear as defendants on the court documents. According to a student union member close to the case, the pair had been under the impression that because the student union had refused to take sides in the matter until a legal ruling was issued, it, too, opposed the exhibition.

Nonetheless, after more than a year of legal battles, Judge Amiram Benyamini ruled on Wednesday that TAU had

"succumbed to pressure from the Chinese Embassy, which funds various activities at the university, and took down the exhibit, violating [the students'] freedom of expression."

Benyamini also stipulated as part of his ruling that the exhibition be given another week to be shown, and ordered TAU to pay some NIS 45,000 for the students' court costs.

TAU declined to comment on the matter Wednesday afternoon, and a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy refused to comment, telling The Jerusalem Post that it was "a holiday" before hanging up the phone.

The TAU student union, however, which was not affected by the ruling, issued a response expressing its solidarity with the students, and called on the university to "encourage pluralism and freedom of expression amongst the student body."

"As part of this, the student union will assist the organizers in their efforts to present the exhibition on campus. From the moment that the university decided to do away will the exhibition, the union waited for the legal ruling of the court. After receiving the judge's ruling, we are now standing with the students who initiated the exhibition, and will assist them in any way they might need to present the exhibition anew."

(video) China Review: 60 Years of Killing

Compliments of Status of Chinese People Blog. Many Thanks!

This is the seventh of Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, Video by NTDTV via Youtube -

Video part 2


The 55-year history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is written with blood and lies. The stories behind this bloody history are both extremely tragic and rarely known. Under the rule of the CCP, 60 to 80 million innocent Chinese people have been killed, leaving their broken families behind. Many people wonder why the CCP kills. While the CCP continues its brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and recently suppressed protesting crowds in Hanyuan with gunshots, people wonder whether they will ever see the day when the CCP will learn to speak with words rather than guns.

Mao Zedong summarized the purpose of the Cultural Revolution, “…after the chaos the world reaches peace, but in 7 or 8 years, the chaos needs to happen again.” [1] In other words, there should be a political revolution every 7 or 8 years and a crowd of people needs to be killed every 7 or 8 years.

A supporting ideology and practical requirements lie behind the CCP’s slaughters.

Ideologically, the CCP believes in the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and “continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Therefore, after the CCP took over China, it killed the landowners to resolve problems with production relationships in rural areas. It killed the capitalists to reach the goal of commercial and industrial reform and solve the production relationships in the cities. After these two classes were eliminated, the problems related to the economic base were basically solved. Similarly, solving the problems related to the superstructure [2] also called for slaughter. The suppressions of the Hu Feng Anti-Party Group [3] and the Anti-Rightists Movement eliminated the intellectuals. Killing the Christians, Taoists, Buddhists and popular folk groups solved the problem of religions. Mass murders during the Cultural Revolution established, culturally and politically, the CCP’s absolute leadership. The Tiananmen Square massacre was used to prevent political crisis and squelch democratic demands. The persecution of Falun Gong is meant to resolve the issues of belief and traditional healing. These actions were all necessary for the CCP to strengthen its power and maintain its rule in the face of continual financial crisis (prices for consumer goods skyrocketed after the CCP took power and China’s economy almost collapsed after the Cultural Revolution), political crisis (some people not following the Party’s orders or some others wanting to share political rights with the Party) and crisis of belief (the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, political changes in Eastern Europe, and the Falun Gong issue). Except for the Falun Gong issue, almost all the foregoing political movements were utilized to revive the evil specter of the CCP and incite its desire for revolution. The CCP also used these political movements to test CCP members, eliminating those who did not meet the Party’s requirements……. (more details)

Video part 2

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FORUM ON CHINA: Vancouver, Sept. 27, 2009

60 Years of Communist Dictatorship

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China, the Simon Fraser University China Research Society invites everyone to participate in a Forum on China. With China well on the way to becoming a major world power, experts and scholars will come together to analyze China’s current situation and review the Party’s 60-year reign.

Will China’s version of Communism survive unbridled capitalism? Will the Party itself survive? If the regime continues to allow rampant pollution of China’s air, land, and water, what does the future hold for the Chinese people? And what about China's egregious human rights record, including religious repression and persecution?

Find out more by joining in the discussion on Sunday, September 27 at 1: 30 pm at SFU Downtown Campus. Admission is free.


China Expert Clive Ansley

Clive Ansley has practiced law in Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. He now heads up Ansley and Company, based in Courtney, British Columbia.

Author Sheng Xue

Sheng Xue grew up in Beijing. Since coming to Canada in 1989 she has worked for a number of Chinese media, winning many awards for her investigative journalism.

Lawyer Guo Guoting

Guo Guoting is a human rights lawyer from China who defended prisoners of conscience. He came to Canada in 2005.

Venue: Room 1700, Labatt Hall, SFU Downtown Campus
515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

Look here for a news report from Epoch Times:

Experts Review 60 Years of Red China

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

End religious persecution, families of jailed Falun Gong believers beg government

Vancouver woman pleads for release of daughter, who has spent nearly two and a half years in jail

A Vancouver woman who says her daughter has been persecuted and detained in China for practising Falun Gong called Sunday for the Chinese government to release her daughter.

Du Huiqing said her daughter, Yang Jinyan, 56, has been arrested seven times and has spent two years and five months in prison in three separate incidents. She hasn't heard from her daughter, a Chinese citizen who is from Zhongshan City, in a month.

"For 10 years, she has been arrested and released, arrested and released," Huiqing said through a translator. "She's been persecuted for so long by the government."

Meanwhile, two other practitioners of the religion -- sisters who fled China and came to Canada as refugees in May -- also appealed Sunday for an end to the persecution. They called for the release of their brother, who began serving a 10-year sentence in 2002 for practising the religion.

Sue Zhang, spokeswoman for the Falun Dafa Association of Vancouver, said the mother and two sisters decided to go public Sunday so politicians and the public would pressure the Chinese government.

Zhang said the Chinese government estimates that 70 million to 100 million Chinese residents practise Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. She said that's more than the 60 million members of the Communist Party. She said the Communist Party sees Falun Gong as a threat and banned its practice in 1999.

Zhang released the arrest papers of Jinyan, which according to the translation, say she was arrested July 15 for "suspicion of organizing and using an evil cult to destroy the execution of the law."

Huiqing said she and her husband Yang Huanwen, both 86 years old and 30-year residents of Vancouver, want to see their daughter before they die. She said the two are having trouble eating and sleeping.

"I really hope my daughter can be out of jail," Huiqing said. "I am too old to go back to visit her, so I really hope she can be here and we can have a family reunion."

In the other case, the two sisters said they never knew the religion would lead to such persecution in China.

Jing Cai, who was an administrative assistant in a bookstore, came across a book on the religion in 1995, began practising it and introduced the religion to her sister Jing Tian. Both were attracted by the religion's promise of truth, compassion and benevolence, Cai said.

In July 1999, they heard that 45 practitioners were arrested in Beijing, and the two sisters travelled to the city on a nine-hour train trip from their town of Shengyang, appealing for the release of those arrested in a peaceful demonstration with 10,000 others.

In October 1999, the sisters appealed in Beijing again, unfurling a banner in Tiananmen Square.

Ever since they began protesting, the police infiltrated their practice of the religion, showing up at gatherings undercover, and the government has persecuted them, both sisters said through a translator. They have been arrested, imprisoned, brainwashed and sent to labour camps, the two said.

Tian said the police have asked her to sign documents avowing she would not practise the religion.

The police came to Tian's workplace, "so my boss was very afraid," Tian said.

They said their brother, Jing Yu, is being held in a labour camp, and appealed for his release.

"We're trying to stop the persecution," Zhang said. "Their goal is to appeal, have their voice heard."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Korea’s Repatriation of Chinese Refugees Raises Concerns

By Wang Jiahui
Epoch Times Staff
Aug 13, 2009 and BBC

SEOUL— Following the repatriation of three Falun Gong refugees in July, South Korean government is said to be planning to deport two other Falun Gong practitioners to China. Critiques say the repatriation violates the Refugee Agreement and the United Nations Convention against Torture, both of which Korea ratified.

The two Falun Gong practitioners, now detained in the Cheong-Ju City Detention Center, were earlier denied their refugee applications. Due to the on-going persecution of Falun Gong in China, they were not able to go back to China to obtain documents for the application. But one of the practitioners was told that the real reason for the rejection of their applications was “pressure from above.”

Another source confirmed that the recent sudden repatriations were not ordered by the Minister of Justice, but by higher authorities. The deported Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters suspect the Chinese communist regime is behind the repatriations.

The Korean government’s apparent submission to China has raised concerns among the Korean people; a businessman who identified himself as Mr. Kim said the repatriation was a wrong decision. “As a democratic country, we should protect the Falun Gong practitioners,” Kim said. “The government’s decision [of repatriation] is a step backward for our democracy. All Korean people should unite to correct this mistake.”

A Korean finance professional named Park said it is inhumane to send people back to persecution. “Though Korea is doing business with China, it is absolutely wrong for the Korean government to yield to political pressure and force the refugees back to China,” he said, after learning about the case.

Read the original Chinese article.

Monday, July 20, 2009

China's Deadly Harvest

July 20th - China's Deadly Harvest by NTDTV

2009-7-15 0:31280

Numbers are symbols; they represent anything and everything. But they also hide what they represent, like a mask. In ten years, the names of over 3,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been collected; they are the names of people who have been killed through torture by Chinese authorities. But, how many more people simply disappeared after the persecution began? And what is the connection to China's booming organ transplant industry. Though the truth is still unknown, the evidence points to a disturbing conclusion about the new China, and of what the rest of the world is willing to ignore. In this original investigation, NTD attempts to discover: 'what happened to the people who disappeared?'

CCP Crimes Exposed

Miramichi Leader: Published Monday July 20th, 2009

July 20, marks ten years since the brutal persecution of Falun Gong began in China. For ten years, Falun Gong practitioners have been branded as criminals by the regime, tortured and killed for no just cause.

It's no secret that the communist authorities use hundreds of different Stalinist torture methods on them in an effort to force practitioners to renounce their belief in truth, compassion and tolerance. So far, there are an estimated 50,000 deaths by torture with tens of thousands still missing after being detained by authorities. Many of them have become unwilling organ donors which is a booming industry in China.

The funny thing about all this is that — no matter how sinister a plight this persecution is — governments of the free world have made friends with the Chinese dictators and perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, rather than supporting the innocent victims who are at the mercy of a bloodthirsty regime. One only has to look at the present massacre of the Uighurs in Northern China to get a taste of the extent of their blood lust. For all these reasons we must persevere in exposing these crimes by the Chinese communist party officials so that our world leaders will come to see the true picture sooner than later and will do the right thing by protecting human rights universally like they should and stopping the bloodshed.

Marie Beaulieu,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Falun Gong As Decade Long Victims of Rule by Terror

Falun Gong As Decade Long Victims of Rule by Terror
By Hon. David Kilgour

Media Conference , 130s Centre Block, House of Commons

MWC: Ottawa ,16 July 2009: Almost exactly ten years ago, the party-state in Beijing launched its campaign against a government-estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners. The then determinedly-non-political Falun Gong, which is an exercise community with a spiritual component, soon became the latest in a long list of 'enemies of the party'. Atrocities against Falun Gong supporters continue today across China.

Reigns of terror against Party-selected groups and persons have occurred periodically since Mao Zedong seized power in 1949. In the name of revolution, millions were starved to death, for example, in the Great Leap Forward of 1958; countless others were tortured, abused, executed and deprived of basic human dignity. Probably very few Chinese citizens have been treated more brutally than the Falun Gong.

Organ pillaging from Falun Gong practitioners has been studied in an independent report by legal scholar David Matas and myself ( ). The two of us found 52 kinds of evidentiary proof indicating that this crime against humanity is occurring. The Government of China has to date made no substantive response to our report.

Just this month, three lawyers were arrested in China for daring to defend Falun Gong practitioners. The persecution of another prominent attorney, Gao Zhisheng, who defended Falun Gong, continues. He was twice arrested and suffered seventy days of torture. Despite repeated appeals from a range of Chinese and international groups for accounts of his whereabouts and release, Beijing ignores them.


David Matas to the International Association of Genocide Scholars at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, concluded on June 9th of this year:

''Every Chinese embassy around the world participates in this incitement (against Falun Gong). Despite their denials, they have to know about the mass killings of Falun Gong practitioners. The evidence fills human rights reports. There are constant media stories. The information is a click of a mouse away on the internet. Any claim of ignorance would mean that they have wilfully been turning blind eyes to the obvious, not a defense in law. So, in sum, the crime of genocide has been committed against the Falun Gong community, through torture, through organ harvesting and through the incitement that leads to both. The elements of the crime, the mass killings based on identity and the intent to destroy the group, can be established. ''

Mr. Matas provided detailed reasons for coming to this legal conclusion, which are available in the Update section of our report website.

China's Gulag

Forced labour is tragically all too common today, but only the party-state of China uses it to punish and suppress fellow citizens. Any Chinese national can be sent to a camp without any form of trial for up to four years upon committal by a police signature. No appeal is possible. Mao in the 1950s closely duplicated the work camp model set up in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany, which in China alone continues today.

In China, only Falun Gong camp inmates are used as a live organ bank to be pillaged for sales to foreigners or Chinese nationals. Medical testing is required before organs can be matched with recipients, but only Falun Gong prisoners in the camp populations are tested medically on a regular basis. In the estimated 340 camps across China as of 2005, up to 300,000 "workers" toil in inhuman conditions for up to sixteen hours daily without any pay, producing a wide range of consumer products, mostly for export in blatant violation of World Trade Organization rules.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Such practices are fully consistent with Beijing`s rejection of the recommendations advanced by a number of governments, including Canada's, in a Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year.

The recommendations rejected by the government of China included: ending all forms of arbitrary detention, including labour camps; guaranteeing freedom of belief and the right to worship in private; implementing the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture, which included references to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and organ pillaging from them; and ensuring that lawyers can defend their clients without fear or harassment.

Trade with China has been in reality a costly proposition for many around the world. A host of its violations of international trading practices contributed to Canada's bilateral trade deficit rising in China's favour from $3.9 billion in 1997 to $26.8 billion in 2006, while ending many manufacturing livelihoods across Canada.


As the world suffers the economic crisis and seeks China's cooperation in dealing with its challenges, it is tempting to overlook Beijing's appalling human rights record. We must remind our leaders that to equivocate on China's record is a departure from Canada's own values of human dignity and the rule of law. We must caution them that trade with China at any price is costly both for the people of China and the world. We must remember the sacrifices of victims of the Tiananmen massacre and other abuses. We must demand that, instead of mocking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, China should honour its provisions.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

China and the World Medical Association

by David Matas

(Revised remarks to the International Association of Law and Mental Health Congress, New York City, New York, USA, 1 July 2009)

In China, organs for transplants are sourced almost exclusively from prisoners, a basic violation of ethical standards. The Government of China has openly admitted this sourcing. According to Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu speaking in July 2005, 95% of all organs for transplants come from prisoners1.

The World Medical Association Statement on Human Organ Donation and Transplantation provides:

    "Free and informed decision making is a process requiring the exchange and understanding of information and the absence of coercion. Because prisoners and other individuals in custody are not in a position to give consent freely and can be subject to coercion, their organs must not be used for transplantation except for members of their immediate family."2

Former Canadian Minister of State David Kilgour and I wrote a report on organ sourcing in China released first June 2006 and, in a second version, January 2007 under the title "Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China". In that report we concluded that between 2001 and 2006 China killed Falun Gong practitioners in the tens of thousands so that their organs could be sold to foreign transplant tourists.

The Government of China denies this sourcing of organs from Falun Gong practitioners. The debate David Kilgour and I have with the Government of China is not whether organs are coming from prisoners. It is only a debate about what sorts of prisoners are the sources of organs3. However, ethical standards for organ sourcing do not distinguish amongst types of prisoners.

The Chinese Medical Association is a member of the World Medical Association. Its membership continues despite this uncontested, unethical sourcing. Why?

Two years ago, at the International Association of Law and Mental Health Congress, Padua, I expressed concern that the Chinese Medical Association remained a member of the World Medical Association. I asked why the World Medical Association now could not behave as the World Psychiatric Association had behaved in the 1980's in the face of Soviet psychiatric abuse. The Soviets withdrew from the World Psychiatric Association in 1983 when it faced almost certain expulsion.

I expressed my concern not only to the previous session of this Congress, but also directly to the World Medical Association. I sent my Padua text both to the headquarters of the World Medical Association and to all the individual country members of the Association.

David Kilgour and I are human rights activists as well as human rights researchers and writers. Once we came to the conclusion that Falun Gong practitioners were being killed for their organs, we travelled around the globe to try to put an end to that abuse. In the course of our travels, we met with parliamentarians, government and intergovernmental officials, patients who had gone to China for transplants, victims of Chinese oppression who had managed to get out of Chinese jails and out of China, academics, researchers and transplant professionals.

Wherever, whenever we met members of the medical profession, we raised the question I had raised in Padua. Why is the Chinese Medical Association still a member of the World Medical Association?

Three months after the Padua Congress, the World Medical Association moved. In a news release dated 5 October 2007 the World Medical Association announced at the annual General Assembly in Copenhagen an agreement with the Chinese Medical Association. The Chinese Medical Association agreed that organs of prisoners and other individuals in custody must not be used for transplantation except for members of their immediate family.

In a letter to the World Medical Association, the Vice President and Secretary General of the Chinese Medical Association, Dr. Wu Mingjiang, said:

    "We would like to inform you that after discussions in the Chinese Medical Association, a consensus has been reached, that is, the Chinese Medical Association agrees to the World Medical Association Statement on Human Organ Donation and Transplantation, in which it states that organs of prisoners and other individuals in custody must not be used for transplantation, except for members of their immediate family.

    The Chinese Medical Association will, through its influence, further promote the strengthening of management of human organ transplantation and prevent possible violations of the regulations made by the Chinese Government. We also hope to work more closely with the WMA and exchange information and views on the management of human organ transplantation."

Dr Edward Hill, chair of the World Medical Association, said the announcement by the Chinese Medical Association was a very positive step forward and added:

    "We shall now continue our dialogue with the Chinese Medical Association and include other national medical associations in a project to find best practice models for ethically acceptable organ procurement programmes. This would help not only China and its high demand for organs, but also other regions in the world that have the same problems of coping with a severe shortage of organs."

The agreement between the World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association to end organ sourcing from prisoners in China except for prisoners donating organs to their immediate family members is welcome. I was pleased to see that the agreement covered all prisoners and not just prisoners sentenced to death. This broader terminology means that in principle the agreement encompasses also Falun Gong practitioners who are held in detention but sentenced to nothing. Yet it does not remove all my concerns.

1. The Chinese Medical Association is not a governmental entity. Its promise to avoid to avoid organ sourcing from prisoners indicates the good will of some Chinese medical doctors. However, it is not binding on the government, and is not binding on doctors in China who are not members of the Chinese Medical Association. The Chinese Medical Association cannot make decisions for the government. The Government sets the rules for associations and not vice versa. The practice of sourcing organs from prisoners, whether prisoners sentenced to death or Falun Gong practitioners, was and is tolerated by the Chinese government. Only the Chinese government that can stop this practice.

2. Even if it had been the Government of China which had entered into the agreement instead of the Chinese Medical Association, it is questionable whether the agreement would be effective. The Chinese government has issued over time issued several laws and regulations prohibiting the selling of organs without the consent of the source, the most recent dating May 2007. The very repetition of such laws is evidence that these laws are not effective.

The Chinese government has had a history of duplicity in this field. One example is the case of Dr. Wang Guoqi. On June 27, 2001, Dr. Wang Guoqi testified before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the US Congress, that organs for transplants are sourced from prisoners. The Chinese government called him a liar. This position was held until 2005, when for the first time Chinese officials admitted publicly that they indeed harvested organs from prisoners.

3. The Chinese Medical Association is not doing what it can to respect the agreement. Liu Zhi of the Chinese Medical Association's international department said that the agreement with the World Medical Association has no legal effect. He expressed the hope that the agreement would influence China's 500,000 doctors and government decisions. This statement, in my view, minimizes the effect the agreement might have.

At the very least, the Chinese Medical Association can insist that its own members comply with the terms of the agreement as a precondition for continued membership in their association. The fact that the Chinese Medical Association has not done this indicates a less than wholehearted support for the agreement.

4. The Chinese Medical Association agreement does not bind military doctors who are not members of the Chinese Medical Association and military hospitals. Yet, organ recipients indicate that military doctors and hospitals are heavily involved in organ transplant surgery.

5. The agreement does not address the issues of onus of proof. In many cases in China, doctors are supplied an organ and told a source, but make no independent determination whether what they are told about the source is accurate or not.

Tom Treasure, a transplant surgeon wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine4 considered it plausible that organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners could happen and that doctors could be "sufficiently distant to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear." The transplant professional is not acting ethically as long as he or she makes no inquiries or only cursory ones.

The agreement with the Chinese Medical Association would not mean very much if Chinese Medical Association doctors could claim respect for the agreement simply by turning a blind eye to practices around them. The agreement needs to ensure that Chinese transplant professionals are respecting the substance of the agreement as well as its form.

The Professional Code of Conduct of the Medical Council of Hong Kong provides a salutary example. The onus is on the Hong Kong professionals to ascertain the status of a donor for a transplant outside Hong Kong.

Specifically the Professional Code of Conduct of the Medical Council of Hong Kong states:

    "27.4 In the case of a referral for an organ transplant outside the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) from any donor, a doctor would be acting unethically if he made the referral without ascertaining the status of the donor...."

This principle should apply to transplant professionals operating within China. The onus should fall on Chinese transplant professionals to ascertain the status of the donor.

6. The agreement does not address the standard of proof. Applying the right onus of proof does not exhaust the duties which fall on transplant professionals. They must also apply the right standard of proof.

If there is any reasonable doubt as to whether the consent is given freely or voluntarily by the donor, the professional within China should have nothing to do with the donation. In light of the fact that no donation from a prisoner can be considered voluntary, then, if there is any reasonable possibility that the organ source is a prisoner, then the transplant professional should not participate in either the sourcing or the transplant.

Again the Professional Code of Conduct of the Medical Council of Hong Kong is instructive. The onus is on the Hong Kong professionals to ascertain the status of a donor for a transplant outside Hong Kong. The Code provides:

    "27.3 Consent must be given freely and voluntarily by any donor. If there is doubt as to whether the consent is given freely or voluntarily by the donor, the doctor should reject the proposed donation."

This principle too should be incorporated into the agreement between the Chinese Medical Association and the World Medical Association.

7. In China, transplant surgery has become essential for financing the medical profession and hospitals. A dramatic decrease of transplant surgeries would impose financial burden on the health care system.

Without an increase in the Government funds to the health care system, it is unlikely that hospitals will cease relying on transplant for money. While sourcing of organs and payment for organs are conceptually distinct, they are linked in reality. The need for funds pushes doctors and hospitals to increasing transplant numbers and using historically available sources, prisoners.

8. The agreement with the Chinese Medical Association does not change the Chinese infrastructure for organ transplants. China still does not have a public organ donation program. There is still no law allowing for organ sourcing from the brain dead but cardiac alive.

The implementation of the agreement with the Chinese Medical Association, in the absence of an organ donation system and a brain dead law, would mean that the organs transplantation in China would be almost non-existent, a most unlikely result. Unless China develops an organ donation system and allows for the sourcing of organs from the brain dead cardiac alive, the promises of the Chinese Medical Association are just empty words.

9. The mere fact that the recipient is an immediate family member of the prisoner does not automatically mean that the prisoner has freely consented to the donation. Our concern about this exception is heightened by the fact that people in China can be sentenced to death for a wide variety of economic and political crimes (for example tax fraud).

I am aware that this exception is found in the World Medical Association's Policy on Human Organ Donation and Transplantation. However, it is not to be found in the ethical principles of the Transplantation Society. In my view, the prohibition without exception which the Transplantation Society has adopted is preferable to the prohibition with the immediate family member exception which the World Medical Association has adopted. The case of China highlights why this exception is problematic.

We have to be wary in this context of the excuse of tacit consent. The first Chinese law on transplants, enacted in 1984, presumed tacit consent from "uncollected dead bodies or the ones that the family members refuse to collect" of prisoners sentenced to death and then executed5.

This sort of excuse was raised by defendant Karl Gebhardt in the Doctors Trial at the Nuremberg Military Trials. The Doctors Trial was conducted by a US military court in the US occupied zone of Germany in Nuremberg after the International Military Tribunals were completed.

Gebhardt was the personal physician for Himmler charged with crimes against humanity for his participation in Nazi medical experiments. In his defense his lawyers argued that subjects on whom he was experimenting faced execution. Though the experimental subjects did not give explicit consent, they gave tacit consent, his lawyers argued, "being certain that they could not escape execution in any other way".

There was also, so his lawyers pleaded, presumed consent because the consent of the victim "could be expected normally". Rationally and objectively, the victims would have agreed to the experiments to avoid the certainty of their eventual execution.

Gebhardt did not himself select the experimental subjects. Even if there was no actual or presumed consent, his lawyers asserted that Gebhardt should not be held criminally responsible if he erroneously assumed the consent of the experimental subjects. An action can not be considered intentional if it was done on an erroneous assumption of justificatory facts.

The Nuremberg Military Tribunal rejected these arguments. The Tribunal noted that many of the experiment subjects who otherwise faced execution had not gone through any semblance of a trial. The Tribunal wrote:

    "That fact could have been known to Gebhardt had he made the slightest inquiry of them concerning their status."

Moreover, so the Tribunal reasoned, even if the experiment subjects had been sentenced to death, the law

    "does not under any circumstances countenance the infliction of death or other punishment by maiming or torture."

Gebhardt was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death in August 1947. He was executed in June 1948.

10. The World Psychiatric Association eventually agreed in 1989 to readmit the Soviet Union provided four conditions were met. One these conditions was that the Soviet Psychiatric Association acknowledge that systematic abuse of psychiatry for political purposes had taken place.

It would seem that a precondition for resolving any problem is acknowledging that the problem exists. Yet, those who enacted the new law are not prepared to do this. The official announcement of the May 2007 law states

    "Most organs are donated by ordinary Chinese at death after the voluntary signing of a donation agreement".

This statement is patently untrue and is contradicted by information from other official Chinese sources.

If the Chinese officials are prepared to lie about the present when they talk about this new law, what hope is there that they are telling the truth about the future? How can a law resolve the problem of sourcing organs from prisoners when those who enact the law are not prepared to acknowledge that this sourcing even exists?

In a state where the political arm controls the police, the army, the prosecution and the courts, there is no need for legislation to give the state power to do anything. Legislation serves a propaganda, or, if you will, educational purpose. Especially in a country of over one billion people, it is this propaganda or educational purpose which is paramount. Legislation is a vehicle for communicating a state message.

What is the message of a law which pretends the problem which generated it does not exist? What does this pretence say to those responsible for creating the problem? The message, we suggest, is "go ahead, carry on". "We have not noticed and we will not notice". We are enacting this law for outsiders so that they can think something is being done, not for you.

It is hard to take seriously any suggestion that the authorities are cracking down on misbehaviour when they refuse to acknowledge that this misbehaviour is even taking place. While anti-corruption campaigns in China do not amount to much, at least there is an acknowledgement that there is corruption. Would any one in China take seriously an anti-corruption campaign which refused to acknowledge that there was corruption? Can anyone even in China take seriously legislation to ban the use of improperly sourced organs when the Government of China refuses to acknowledge that organs are improperly sourced?

Another of the conditions the World Psychiatric Association imposed on the Soviet Union as the price of readmission was that the Soviet Union rehabilitate the victims. Rehabilitation of the dead has no significance in this context. But redress does. Redress can take a variety of forms. But at the very least it involves acknowledgement of the reality of what happened.

Whether it be the price of continued membership or the price of readmission after eviction, the Chinese Medical Association, to continue membership in the World Medical Association should do no less. For membership of the Chinese Medical Association in the World Medical Association to continue, the Chinese Medical Association must acknowledge that systematic abuse of transplant surgery for has taken place.

11. There is no verification system in place to determine whether or not the agreement with the Chinese Medical Association is being kept. Such a verification system needs to be independent from the Government of China and the Chinese Medical Association itself.

There has be transparent documentation of the sources of organs used by Chinese Medical Association doctors in transplant operations. The Chinese Medical Association should make accessible to the World Medical Association and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as human rights lawyers' organizations, transplantation numbers which involve its members, donor names and the names of the immediate family members who may receive transplants from prisoners.

12. Statistics about sources of transplants should be publicly available. Both the World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association should call for the publication of these statistics.

The United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, and the UN Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Asma Jahangir, in their 200 report wrote:

    "Allegation transmitted: Organ harvesting has been inflicted on a large number of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations, for the purpose making available organs for transplant operations.... It is reported that there are many more organ transplants than identifiable sources of organs, even taking into account figures for identifiable sources, namely: estimates of executed prisoners annually, of which a high percentage of organs are donated, according to the statement in 2005 of the Vice Minister of Health Mr Huang Jiefu; willing donor family members, who for cultural reasons, are often reluctant to donate their organs after death; and brain-dead donors. Moreover, the reportedly short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly-matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors. It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons....6"

The Government of China responded but without addressing the concerns raised. As a result, the Rapporteurs reiterated their concerns in 2008 with these words:

    "A critical issue was not addressed in the Government's previous responses, in particular: It is reported that there are many more organ transplants than identifiable sources of organs, even taking into account figures for identifiable sources, namely: annual estimates of executed prisoners by whom a high percentage of organs are donated, according to the statement in 2005 of the Vice Minister of HLTH, Mr. Huang Jiefu; willing donor family members, who for cultural reasons, are often reluctant to donate their organs after death; and brain-dead donors. Moreover, the short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly-matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors. It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons. The Special Rapporteurs note reports that on 15 November 2006, Vice-Minister Huang reiterated at a conference of surgeons in Guangzhou that most organs harvested come from executed prisoners. And notwithstanding the reported stringent criteria in place for donors, including for those sentenced to death, the Government informed in its response of 28 November, that voluntary donations, and donations between relatives are the two other legitimate sources of transplant organs. According to the allegations, based on data from the China Medical Organ Transplant Association, between the years 2000 and 2005 there were 60,000 transplantations performed, or approximately 10,000 per year for six years. This period coincides with the alleged rise in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. In 2005, it is reported that only 0.5% of total transplants were accounted for by donations by relatives; non-relative brain dead donors were around nine in 2006; and estimates-given that the Government does not make public statistics on executions-for 2005 indicate 1770 executions were carried out, and 3900 persons sentenced to death. It is alleged that the discrepancy between the number of transplants carried out and the number of available sources is made up from the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners. However, it is also reported that the true number of executions is estimated to be around 8,000 to 10,000 per year, rather than the figure of 1770 executions referred above. As the Special Rapporteur on torture recommended in his report on his visit to China, he reiterates that the Government (E/CN.4/2006/6/para. 82, recommendation q) should use the opportunity of the restoration of the power of review of all death sentences by the Supreme People's Court to publish national statistics on the death penalty. A full explanation of the source of organ transplants would disprove the allegation of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, particularly if they could be traced to willing donors or executed prisoners. The request for an explanation for the discrepancy in the number of transplants between the years 2000 to 2005 and the numbers from identifiable sources of organs is reiterated.7"

The Chinese government, in a response sent to the Rapporteurs by letter dated March 19, 2007 and published in the report of Professor Nowak to the UN Human Rights Council dated February 19, 2008, stated that

    "Professor Shi Bingyi expressly clarified that on no occasion had he made such a statement or given figures of this kind, and these allegations and the related figures are pure fabrication."

Moreover, the Government of China, lest there be any doubt, asserted that

    "China's annual health statistics are compiled on the basis of categories of health disorder and not in accordance with the various types of treatment provided."8

Shi Bingyi was interviewed in a video documentary produced by Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong media outlet. That video shows Shi Bingyi on screen saying what the Government of China, in its response to Nowak, indicates he said, that the figures we quote from him he simply never gave. He says on the video:

    "I did not make such a statement because I have no knowledge of these figures I have not made detailed investigation on this subject how many were carried out and in which year. Therefore I have no figures to show. So I could not have said that."

Yet, the actual source of the quotation is footnoted in our report. It is a Chinese source, the Health News Network. The article from the Network was posted on the website for transplantation professionals in China9. The text, dated 2006-03-02, stated, in part, in translation:

    "Professor Shi said that in the past 10 years, organ transplantation in China had grown rapidly; the types of transplant operations that can be performed were very wide, ranging from kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, lung, bone marrow, cornea; so far, there had been over 90,000 transplants completed country-wide; last year alone, there was close to 10,000 kidney transplants and nearly 4,000 liver transplants completed."

Moreover, the information in this article continues to be recycled in Chinese publications. The official web site of the Minister of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China posts a newsletter of June 20, 2008 which states:

    "Up to date, China has performed some 85,000 organ transplants, only next to the United States in number. In recent years, China performed organ transplants on more than 10,000 patients a year...Liver transplants have exceeded 10,000 in number... Heart transplants went over 100 in number..."10

This article flies in the face of the official Chinese statement to the Rapporteurs that China's health statistics are compiled on the basis of categories of health disorder and not in accordance with the various types of treatment provided.

China is a state party to the Convention against Torture. The Convention obligated China to report periodically to an expert committee established under the Convention on China's compliance with the Convention.

The United Nations Committee against Torture, when considering China's most recent compliance report, in November 2008, in its concluding observations, wrote:

    "While noting the State party's information about the 2006 Temporary Regulation on Human Organ Transplants and the 2007 Human Organ Transplant Ordinance, the Committee takes cognizance of the allegations presented to the Special Rapporteur on Torture who has noted that an increase in organ transplant operations coincides with "the beginning of the persecution of [Falun Gong practitioners]" and who asked for "a full explanation of the source of organ transplants" which could clarify the discrepancy and disprove the allegation of organ harvesting (A/HRC/7/3/Add.1)."

This issue then was further amplified by the United Nations Universal Periodic Review Working Group in February 2009. The Universal Periodic Review is a new element of the United Nations Human Rights Council which was created in 2006 to replace the failed UN Human Rights Commission. Under the Universal Periodic Review, every state gets reviewed once during a four year cycle. China's turn came up February 2009 in Geneva.

Only states can intervene in the Universal Periodic Review Working Group debate. But it can be any state; it does not have to be a state which is a member of the Human Rights Council. The debate is an interactive dialogue, meaning China has a right to respond.

Regrettably, today in China, there is no publicly available information on numbers of convicts sentenced to death and executed. This information should be publicly available. That would, one would think, be a simple task, now that the Supreme People's Court In Beijing must approve all death sentences. The World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association should ask the Government of China to make this information available.

At the Universal Periodic Review in January 2009, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, Austria, Italy recommended that China publish death penalty statistics. The Government of China said no to this recommendation.

13. Organ transplant statistics as well as information about execution of prisoners sentenced to death since the advent of the agreement indicate no improvement in the situation. The enforcement of the law of May 2007 has led to an decrease in transplant tourism into China. However, patients from abroad have been replaced by patients from within China.

Before January 1, 2007, the death penalty could be imposed by regional courts, the Higher People's Courts. As of January 1, 2007, any death penalty imposed by a regional court has to be approved by the central Supreme People's Court.

This shift in procedures reduced temporarily the pool of prisoners sentenced to death, according to the tabulation of Amnesty International by about half. Fewer people sentenced to death meant fewer people with these sentences available for organ transplants.

Statistics from the Government of China show that organ transplant volumes have not declined as much as this declining supply. The China Liver Transplant Registry reports these figures year by year:

1998-17, 1999-73, 2000-177, 2001-291, 2002-618, 2003-1128, 2004-2219, 2005-2970, 2006-2781, 2007-1822, 2008-2209.

A blogger toeing the Chinese Communist Party line and disagreeing with the report that David Kilgour and I wrote attempted to argue that these statistics showed that the increase in transplants coincident with the persecution of the Falun Gong was attributable to the acquisition in China of transplant technology and not to the persecution. This argument ignores the statistics of kidney transplants, a technology which had matured and spread a good deal earlier than liver transplant technology and which shows the same increase when the persecution of Falun Gong began.

Year by year figures for China for kidney transplants before the persecution of the practice of Falun Gong began were 1989 - 1,049, 1990 - 1,670, 1991 - 1,746, 1992 - 1,906, 1993 - 1,849, 1994 - 1,621, 1995 - 2,382, 1996 - 2,792, 1997 - 2,552, 1998 - 3,37911. In 1999, the year the persecution began, the figure was 4,265. For 2000, the figure was 5,501, for 2001 - 5,496. By 2004, the figure was 7,300 and for 2005, 10,000.

Amnesty International figures of prisoners sentenced to death and then executed or those years are 1998-1067, 1999-1077, 2000-1000, 2001-2468, 2002-1060, 2003-726, 2004-3400, 2005-1770, 2006-1010, 2007-470, 2008-1718.

If prisoners sentenced to death and then executed were the sole source of organs for transplants, one would expect transplant figures to track execution of prisoners sentenced to death figures. But that is not happening.

2007 shows a decrease in liver transplants, consistent with the fall off in the execution of prisoners sentenced to death and the change in organ transplant law. Yet, the fall off in liver transplants in 2007 was nowhere near the fall off in execution of prisoners sentenced to death.

From 2006 to 2007, the decrease in execution of prisoners sentenced to death was 53%. The decrease in liver transplants was 34%.

Moreover, in 2007 there were two downward pulls on liver transplants. There was not just the decrease in execution of prisoners sentenced to death but also the Health Ministry requirement imposed in 2007 that transplants take place only in registered hospitals. This requirement shut down completely transplants in non-military non-registered hospitals and shut down temporarily transplants in later registered hospitals until they were registered.

This dual downward pull in principle should have created a decrease in transplants substantially more acute than the decrease in the execution of prisoners sentenced to death. Yet, the opposite has occurred.

Persons executed after being sentence to death were, according to Amnesty International, near an all time high in 2004. The figures in 2008 for prisoners executed after being sentence to death were nowhere near as high, about half. Yet, liver transplant numbers in 2008 bounced back to 2004 levels.

How was China been able to hold in 2007 its reduction of liver transplant volumes to only 34% in the face of the imposition of a licensing requirement for non-military hospitals doing transplants and a 53% reduction in what Chinese officials claim to be their almost exclusive source or organs? How has China been able to return to historically high liver transplant volumes in 2008 in the absence of a commensurate increase in execution of prisoners sentenced to death?

The only plausible answer is an increase in sourcing of organs from the only other significant available source, Falun Gong practitioners. Since the report David Kilgour and I wrote came out, the problem of sourcing of organs from Falun Gong practitioners has become worse.

The temptation Chinese hospitals face is obvious when there is a clamorous demand for organs, a ready supply from one source - disappeared, unidentified, calumnied Falun Gong practitioners held in indefinite detention, a reduction in supply from the only other substantial source, and huge amounts of money at stake. Since the agreement between the World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association, transplants sourced from Falun Gong practitioners must have increased substantially.

14. There needs to be an independent investigation of the claims that Falun Gong practitioners have been used for organ transplants. The World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association should call for such an investigation.

The United Nations Committee against Torture wrote further in its November 2008 concluding observations:

    "The Committee is further concerned with information received that Falun Gong practitioners have been extensively subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and that some of them have been used for organ transplants (arts. 12 and 16). The State party should immediately conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants12."

David Kilgour and I are independent from the Government of China and the Falun Gong community. The Committee against Torture did not mean to suggest anything different. What they were proposing was an investigation independent from the Government of China with which the Government of China would nonetheless cooperate by giving access to Chinese territory, documents, places of detention and witnesses in China without fear of intimidation or reprisals.

At the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Canada recommended that China implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture. The Government of China explicitly, in writing, rejected this recommendation.

15. The Government of China needs to take measures to ensure that those responsible for organ transplant abuses are prosecuted and punished.

The United Nations Committee against Torture, in its November 2006 concluding observations, called on China to "take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses [torture and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners] are prosecuted and punished." The World Medical Association and the Chinese Medical Association should do likewise.

The former chair of the World Medical Association, Dr. Yoram Blachar, who led the World Medical Association delegation to China, said that differences between the two sides remained. The World Medical Association needs to continue to press the Chinese Medical Association on this issue until this appalling practice in China of killing prisoners for their organs ends entirely.

Yet, there is no visible activity from the World Medical Association on this issue since its October 2007 Assembly. The issue of abusive organ transplantation in China appears simply to have fallen off the radar screen. What has the World Medical Association been doing?


David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Communist myth of Falun Gong's original sin

An Occurrence on Fuyou Street By Ethan Gutmann,

National Review July 20, 2009, VOL. LXI, NO. 13

Ten years ago, on April 25, 1999, while attending a Beijing wedding, I heard a rumor that a large crowd of people had gathered at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese government's compound. I phoned an acquaintance at the South China Morning Post. "Who are they?" I asked. "We think they are called 'Falun Gong,'" he said. "Apparently it's a huge Chinese religious movement, but we don't really know anything about them." Nobody knew much about them, but the scale of the event was shocking: 10,000 Chinese standing silently in the first mass demonstration since Tiananmen. Equally shocking was the party's ferocious crackdown, which came on July 20.

Falun Gong, at its peak a movement of 70 million people, is mostly invisible to China journalists and little more than a footnote in the West. One reason for this is that, of all the dissident groups, Falun Gong is stylistically the most impenetrable and the most Chinese: the torture displays with their strict Daoist delineations of good and evil, the traditional yellow silk costumes that suggest waving fields in an old five-year-plan newsreel, the banners that read like half-translated Chinese semaphores ("SOS URGENT RESCUE," "Bring to Justice Atrocious Police," "Falundafa open out a new era in mankind!"). Their slogans have a distinctly metallic sound to Western ears — a Communist timbre.

Many in Washington would prefer to exclude Falun Gong from the dissident pantheon. The Tiananmen commemorations of June 4 mobilized official Washington: conferences, hearings, Nancy Pelosi's endless references to her human-rights advocacy in Shanghai, and "Where is the Tank Man?" pieces in the major newspapers. Yet when it came time to rally at the Chinese embassy on Connecticut Avenue, only 300 people showed up. Expect three miles of Falun Gong practitioners on July 20, perhaps as many as 5,000. They will dry-clean their yellow silk, purchase plane tickets, and sleep on floors so that Washingtonians can complain that they are blocking traffic. A few congressmen might briefly speak at the rally, but most will keep a safe distance. And there will be no political price for nonattendance, because there will be little press. Covering a Falun Gong parade is the bake-sale beat.

This is curious, considering Falun Gong's achievements: They are the only dissident group that has broken through the Chinese Internet firewall on a mass scale (Iranian dissenters use Falun Gong-designed systems to communicate and surf the Web freely). Until quite recently, they operated the only independent television station on air in China, broadcast into the country 24 hours daily. They print the only dissident daily newspaper, maintain the only significant shortwave radio presence, and on and on.

Or consider Falun Gong from a bleeds-leads perspective. Each of the 300 who came to the Chinese Embassy on June 4 was metaphorically carrying perhaps three or four victims of Tiananmen Square on his shoulders; on the Falun Gong side, we have only begun to assess the damage. They have suffered more than 3,000 confirmed deaths by state torture, abuse, and neglect. According to my current research, a minimum of 10,000 Falun Gong have been killed for their organs. I suspect the final tally will go far beyond that, because the practice is ongoing. So let's speculate that every one of those 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners is carrying ten, perhaps even twenty, corpses on his back — murdered in labor camps, detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, or on operating tables, usually at the hands of a military surgeon. Quantitative analysis by my colleague Leeshai Lemish demonstrates that American media attention to Falun Gong fell in almost exact proportion to rising fatalities. So as we think about the anniversary of Falun Gong's suppression, we must acknowledge that the Western response has given the Chinese Communists a free hand. And the failure starts with the Western media's acceptance of the party's interpretation of April 25, 1999.

It is hard even to refer to the episode without endorsing Beijing's interpretation of events: Out of the clear blue sky, on April 25, 10,000 majestically disciplined Falun Gong practitioners "surrounded" (that's AP and Reuters) or "besieged" (that's AFP) Zhongnanhai, blindsiding the Chinese leadership. The idea that Falun Gong besieged Zhongnanhai in a threatening way is a direct transmission of the Communist-party line. It is repeated in scholarly works on Falun Gong history, and is regarded almost as the movement's original sin. Even practitioners writing in Falun Gong publications — perhaps feeling the history is too hard to explain — often refer to April 25 as a mass "gathering at Zhongnanhai." They treat the word "demonstration" as if it were dirty, which to the Chinese Communist party it is. Whatever you call the demonstration, it was not specifically targeted at Zhongnanhai, much less was it a siege of the compound. Regardless, for the Chinese audience that Falun Gong is trying to reach, the party still owns the language and the history.

But surely not in the West? Recall that Henry Kissinger's statement on Tiananmen — "No government in the world would have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied for eight weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators" — was echoed by Charles Freeman, the Obama administration's recent nominee to chair the U.S. intelligence council. If the foreign-policy elite talk this way about the students of Tiananmen Square, imagine how they view an obscure Eastern revival movement: Well, that's China, and those Falun Gong were asking for it. Scholars might phrase it a little differently. In their telling, the suppression of Falun Gong began as an action-reaction phenomenon and ended as a tragedy: Falun Gong are very good at making mistakes, aren't they?

But it is difficult to believe that they asked to be martyred or that they were given a signal from their spiritual leader to run like lemmings into the labor camps and operating rooms of China. If you do believe that, you should review the history and interview the people who participated on April 25 and the events leading up to it.

Chinese society is often compared to a pyramid, an image that suggests permanence and imperial grandeur. But under Communism it has been more like a rocket in the early days of space exploration: ambitious, jerry-rigged, and potentially explosive. At the bottom is a vast booster filled with masses of peasants and impoverished workers. Moving upward through the second and third stages, one finds the intellectuals, the military, the entrepreneurs and nouveaux riches, and, at the top, a tiny capsule containing the party. From the party's perspective, Falun Gong, with its emphasis on traditional Chinese morality, seemed to spread through the rocket like an electrical fire. By 1996, only four years after the movement began, it had made it to the capsule, and the smoke was attracting serious attention. The response: Founder Li Hongzhi's book, Zhuan Falun, was banned, and Li left for America.

The party continued to watch Falun Gong, but no immediate repression followed. In early 1998 Amy Lee, a well-connected practitioner from boomtown Guangzhou, returned to her parents' home in Shandong for a visit. Opening the door, she saw something that spooked her: Her parents, both active practitioners, had removed every Falun Gong poster and portrait of Li Hongzhi from their walls. All the books were gone. Employing a sixth sense developed over decades of Communist rule, her parents, like animals before a storm, had gone underground.

In 1999, the Public Security Bureau estimated that Falun Gong had attracted 70 million practitioners, 5 million more people than belonged to the Communist party itself. It was at that point that a physicist published an article in a Tianjin Normal University journal portraying Falun Gong as a dangerous cult. China isn't the West, and these things aren't random: The physicist, He Zuoxiu, is the brother-in-law of Luo Gan, at that time the head of public security, and the Tianjin Normal University journal answers to the state. The article was a flare in the night sky, a signal and trial of the party's designs.

In China, when you see such a signal and know you are targeted, there are two options. You can keep quiet — and probably get crushed. Or you can stand up — and still probably get crushed. But Falun Gong takes refuting lies to be a central part of its morality. And it had a method for doing this: show up en masse (it's easy to chop the head of a single religious leader, harder with thousands of believers), stay silent, and simply stand around until someone talks to you. It had employed this method already against earlier negative reports — newspaper articles in 1997, a Beijing television segment in 1998.

Prefiguring the events of April 25, about 5,000 practitioners staged a silent demonstration on April 22 at Tianjin Normal University, asking for a dialogue or a retraction of the physicist's article. The police were called in, and Officer Hao Fengjun was one of them. He says his "entire police force was suddenly maneuvered to the college, told to enforce martial law and close off the area." When he arrived at the scene, he says, "we all realized that it was nothing like what had been described to us — Falun Gong looking for a fight, disturbing public order, and so on. But we had no choice." Indeed, the video surveillance shows nothing more than people sitting around, but the police nonetheless beat and arrested 45 practitioners. Those who tried to reason with the officials and the police were told that the matter had been taken up by the Public Security Ministry, under the central government, and were instructed that they should go Beijing to appeal.

In the two days following the Tianjin arrests, the term "appeal" spread widely among Falun Gong practitioners — not by central command, but simply by word of mouth. It had an explicit meaning: the National Appeals Office, a safety valve against corruption, the only location in China where a citizen can legally complain about the government. Everyone knew that the arrests in Tianjin had set a frightening precedent, and some believed it was better to stay home — Master Li had said more than once that practitioners should avoid politics. Others argued that truth had to be defended, and that what they were considering wasn't a demonstration but a legal protocol. On April 24, thousands of practitioners set off for Beijing. Some made out their wills the night before.

They were followed. A group from Jilin Province was intercepted at a bus station by a special police division and told: Go home, the Tianjin problem is resolved. Others were intercepted in Shenyang by a policeman who had carefully memorized phrases from Zhuan Falun, the better to facilitate communication. One group of 20 took an overnight train from the northeastern city of Harbin. As they stepped onto a Beijing platform that swarmed with practitioners, a phalanx of policemen firmly directed them back on the train.

Not surprisingly, the location of the National Appeals Office wasn't well publicized. Not a single practitioner that I have interviewed could place it precisely on a map. The mysteriousness of its location, near the bull's-eye in the sensitive political center of Beijing, is central to the story. The western border of Zhongnanhai, which lies adjacent to the Forbidden City, is defined by a long, tree-lined avenue, Fuyou Street, which bulges slightly, as if accommodating the power of the walled leadership compound. To the north, Fuyou ends at Wenjin Street, the northern border of Zhongnanhai. To the south, Fuyou intersects Chang'an Avenue, Beijing's central east-west thoroughfare. Some practitioners thought the National Appeals Office office was near the Wenjin Street intersection. Others thought it was closer to Chang'an. But most believed that it was in the hutongs, the labyrinth of narrow alleys right off of Fuyou Street to the west. The entrance to those hutongs is located across from the guarded western entrance to Zhongnanhai.

As April 25 dawned, Zeng Zheng, a young consultant and Falun Gong practitioner, pulled her bike into Fuyou Street and noticed that something was a little off. Zeng had worked at Zhongnanhai briefly and knew the security intimately. Normally there were so many guards that it was difficult to enter the street without being questioned. Now, just before 7 a.m., practitioners were strolling down Fuyou Street, chatting and looking around for the appeals office as if they were in a shopping mall. But a line of police stood on the southern end. The police ordered the Falun Gong to go back up the block and stand at the entrance to the hutong, across from Zhongnanhai's western gate. The Appeals Office would open at 8, Zeng understood. "They were very well prepared," she says. "They were expecting us."

At 7:30, a young couple on their way to the Appeals Office passed by the moat on the eastern side of the Forbidden City. They saw a large detachment of Red Army soldiers sitting in jeeps, bayonets fixed, facing towards Fuyou. By 8, Luo Hongwei, a young newlywed, had just taken her place close to Zhongnanhai's western gate. Perhaps everything would be okay, she thought, exulting in the practitioner's discipline. "There were a lot of people, a lot of people," she says. "It's hard to avoid things' becoming chaotic. But the cars driving past were going swish-swish." By 8:30, an elderly practitioner who asked that I not use her name — let's call her Auntie Dee — made her way into the intersection of Chang'an and Fuyou. The street was now packed with practitioners, mainly country folk, plainly dressed and wearing cheap cloth shoes. As she watched them mill about, carrying their rations of dried food or crouching and eating, the anxiety she had been controlling suddenly swelled in a vivid moment of déjà vu. Ten years ago, she had felt the tanks thunder toward students as they squatted and ate and protested — peacefully, but they were shot anyway.

People were still pressed together in front of the western gate of Zhongnanhai. Yet it was becoming obvious from the enormous police presence moving in from the hutongsthat the Appeals Office, wherever it was, wouldn't be opening — not today. Auntie Dee pushed through the crowd as quickly as she could, not daring to stand in front of Zhongnanhai, straining to keep her eyes from even glancing at it. Eventually she reached Fuyou's northern intersection with Wenjin Street. People were flooding in from the northeast now, and she could see policemen carefully herding practitioners along Wenjin directly opposite the northern exposure of Zhongnanhai. A friend of Auntie Dee's — let's call her Aunt Sha — remembers it well: "They just told us, go this way, go this way, and we followed."

While buses and police cars cruised around the intersection, Auntie Dee suddenly realized that video cameras had been set up at regular intervals and were filming them. Sick with fear now, she tried to move back from the front row: "I thought if they caught me on film, they would come for me later." (She was right: Auntie Dee and Aunt Sha would ultimately be sentenced to labor camp for three years. Zeng Zheng would get two, and Luo Hongwei's husband was released from prison last year.)

It was now nearly 9 a.m. The stage was set for the kabuki performance that followed: Premier Zhu Rongji's conciliatory public appearance and Jiang Zemin's smoldering circle around Zhongnanhai in his smoked-glass limousine. No record, film, or plausible account suggests that the Falun Gong practitioners did anything even faintly provocative during the entire episode, which continued for 16 hours. No littering, smoking, chanting, or speaking to reporters. When one practitioner suggested that they take turns to go eat or drink, others said no, definitely not — if we drink, we'll have to go to the bathroom, and that could disturb those living or working in the area. Even by the Communist party's hair-trigger standards, there was no pretext to the use of the troops waiting by the Forbidden City. The evening announcement that the Tianjin practitioners would be released was greeted with quiet relief. The demonstrators left feeling optimistic. The next day Aunt Sha read the official media reports. "They said: 'Falun Gong gathered at Zhongnanhai.' They didn't say we surrounded Zhongnanhai. They also said that there is freedom to practice or not practice as one wishes," she says. The myth of a disorderly demonstration or riot would not be manufactured until later, in official media reports and in an hour-long film portraying the demonstration as a terrorist act. Because the Western media know so little of Falun Gong, this fiction survives in accounts of April 25.

The rest, I think you know, or can guess: constant reassurances from the party that everything was normal, that the existing policy toward Falun Gong — essentially, don't ask, don't tell — was still operational. Meanwhile, practitioners' phones were tapped, spies appeared at practice sites, warnings were selectively issued at workplaces, and the party created the 6-10 Office (named for its formation on June 10), one of the most terrifying secret police agencies ever created. The machine of the crackdown was ready to be switched on, and the "ringleaders" of April 25 were arrested on July 20.

In response to the July 20 crackdown, practitioners came back to Fuyou Street on July 21. Luo Hongwei was among them: "July 21 was like April 25. We lined up on the street waiting for an official to come so we could talk to them. But no officials came. Instead these huge trucks, one after another, came with police officers and took us away." The crackdown was justified with the myth of a day of infamy — April 25 — a fiction concocted as a pretext to stage an unprecedented persecution, one that continues to this day.

One final point. Officer Hao Fengjun went to work at the 6-10 Office in 2000. "Our monitor room already had a comprehensive record and data on the Falun Gong practitioners," he says. "These things are not something that can be done and collected in just one or two years." According to a former district-level official — call him Minister X — the party's decision to eliminate Falun Gong, and its preparation for that task, happened long before any ban was made public. It was discussed explicitly in party meetings. Jiang Zemin could not resolve the tension that followed the Tiananmen slaughter except by creating a new target, and Falun Gong was it. At least one source claims a communiqué to this effect was being circulated in Qinghua University as early as 1998. No real evidence has emerged that Zhu Rongji, or any other party leader, put up any serious opposition to that decision then, or indeed at any other time. Minister X, for his part, was told to stop granting business licenses to practitioners. April 25, then, was simply the unfolding of an elaborate bait-and-switch, with Falun Gong as the patsy.

Perhaps that term could just as well be applied to the West. It's been ten years. Did the party really mean to kill so many? Perhaps not. It is prone to believing its rhetoric.

So are Western reporters. The party will not fire itself, and it is time for the West to engage the reality of China. A post-Communist civil society in China will include a role for Falun Gong, and we should better understand the real history of the movement. For today, it's enough to dispel at least one myth that feeds the misplaced idea that the West has no business commenting on an obscure family quarrel. Falun Gong did not start this war. The Chinese Communist party did. And the party should be held fully accountable for the results.

Mr. Gutmann, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is the author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire, and Betrayal. He wishes to thank the Earhart Foundation and the Peder Wallenberg family for research support.