By Greg Price
A small delegation of Canadian Falun Gong practitioners stopped off in Taber on Monday afternoon to call for the stop of the crime of organ pillaging by the communist regime in China.
“For Falun Gong, it is estimated there is between 70 to 100 million Chinese people practising Falun Gong. In Canada, we have a big group. I don’t know how many exactly, but we are a respected creed in Canada. We have received many proclamations from the prime minister many times. We are the largest ethnic group with spiritual belief here in Canada,” said Jenny Yang, a volunteer with the Falun Gong Association touring group.
Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, by the mid- to late-1990s, the Communist Party and public security organizations increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state and spiritual teachings.
On July 20, 1999, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. It blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong, and in October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” that threatened social stability.
“In China there is no freedom of information. A lot of information is blocked. Even if you Google today (Falun Gong), you cannot get the information,” said Yang. “Anything Falun Gong, they will filter out. They call it the Great Wall of the Internet. There are no independent reports on Falun Gong, only the government’s report.”
Falun Gong practitioners in China are reportedly subject to a wide range of human rights abuses: hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labour, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities. As of 2009, human rights groups estimated that at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody. Some observers put the number much higher, and report that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China’s organ transplant industry.
Serious repercussions for a way of life that does not seem confrontational in the least.
“Falun Gong teaches five sets of gentle extending exercises with meditation practice. We believe truth, compassion and tolerance is an ancient spiritual discipline in the Buddhist school. Practitioners practise these principles every day in their life,” said Yang.
Falun Gong combines exercises with moral and spiritual teachings. Adherents aim to cultivate “truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance” and refine their “xining”, or moral character.
A person’s xining is affected by their ratio of virtue (positive energy) to karma (negative energy). Virtue is generated through doing good deeds and suffering, while karma accumulates by doing bad deeds (Los Angeles Daily News 2014).
In the U.S., the average wait time for a pancreas is 501 days, 796 days for a liver, 1,068 days for a lung and 1,121 days for a kidney (www.mgmc.org March 2013).
China’s organ transplant numbers increased dramatically when persecution of Falun Gong first began.
“In North America, the typical organ waiting time is between two and four years. But in China, across several hundred hospitals that are legal to do the organ transplants, they advertise on their web site that you can get a matching organ within weeks,” said Yang. “Sometimes days, the shortest waiting time in an emergency case was four hours? How do they find organs so quickly? China has a very poor organ donation system. Traditionally, Chinese people believe that after they pass away, the body should remain intact. Even when the regime tried to promote organ donation, the result was poor, very few people signed up.”
According to Yang, the Chinese government claims the organs come from executed prisoners. But, according to Amnesty International, executed prisoners are 2,000 per year with the number dropping due to international pressure. Some sources have claimed China discontinued harvesting organs from executed criminals in January 2015, although some international investigations into the claim have not been allowed.
“That number is dropping 10 per cent annually. However, the number of organ operations in China is between 60,000 to 100,000. That’s a huge number discrepancy between executed prisoners and the number of operations the hospital does,” said Yang. “The followers of Falun Gong are the largest number of detainees, prisoners of conscience in China right now. A lot of people do not even claim their name when they are arrested because the communist party persecutes by association, so many practitioners have to protect their families, and their colleagues. So that makes it a more convenient way for the communist party to arrest them and take their organs.”
A report released on June 22 by renowned Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, former Canadian secretary of state David Kilgour, and British investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann claims Falun Gong prisoners of conscience are being killed to supply China’s lucrative organ trade. The researchers estimate up to 1.5 million Falun Gong practitioners have been killed since 2001 in this illegal, state-sanctioned organ-trafficking practice.
“They spent over 10 years investigating into this issue,” said Yang.
The awareness tour the Canadian Falun Gong practitioners are doing is going across Canada from the coast to coast. Yang’s group is designated for southern Alberta, and they have visited over 25 cities/towns including Taber, Coaldale and Magrath on Monday.
“We have met mayors, town officials and different media. Canada plays a significant role on the international stage. We want the prime minister to bring this issue up right in front of the Chinese leader whenever he has a chance to meet with them to publicly condemn this persecution,” said Yang. “This is genocide. After the Jews being killed back in World War II, this is just as horrifying and is still happening as we speak. Our goal is to visit over 300 cities and towns. From some internal sources, we know there are some Albertans who go back to China to have their organ transplant done, and many of the time, they do not even know where their organ is coming from. This is a billion-dollar making business that is state operated. It’s institutionalized. This isn’t a guy in the back alley of the street doing this. This is systematic genocide against innocent prisoners of conscience. We hope Canada can pass resolutions to condemn the persecution. We have many countries passing laws and rules to stop organ tourism for their own citizens. Even if they come back, they will not be funded by the public health system for their post-care treatment, to stop people from going to China.”
According to fees advertised on China International Transplant Assistance Center website, prices for certain organs are listed including cornea ($30,000), heart ($130,000-$160,000), kidney ($62,000), liver ($98,000-$130,000), and lung ($150,000-$170,000). CITNAC was founded in the transplantation institute at the First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University. Its website was shutdown soon after organ harvesting was exposed, although a link is still provided to the archived page.
Israel, Taiwan, and Spain today ban transplant tourism by their nationals.
Among the protesters on Monday in Taber was 72-year-old Jinling Huang, who was arrested and sent to labour camps for over one year in 2007 for practising Falun Gong according to Yang.
“I did not want to give up my own belief. Immediately after getting into labour camps, I was heavily beaten up by drug addicts (in the labour camps),” said Huang through Yang as an interpreter. “Even now, my knees are injured. I still cannot walk properly.”
Huang achieved refugee status in 2008 and came to Canada. But, her daughter Yinghua Chen, also a Falun Gong practitioner is still in prison today.
“In 2014, she helped out a daughter of a Falun Gong practitioner to take a photo on the street. The father is being jailed for practising Falun Gong and being sentenced for 12 years of imprisonment,” said Huang. “The girl wanted to see the father, so my daughter helped to take a picture to post online and she was subsequently arrested. All the girl was doing was holding a banner saying ‘I want to see my father.’ My daughter was sentenced to four years imprisonment. She is still suffering in jail. She was tortured early. She was hung up and beaten in jail. We held a few press conferences in Calgary to get help from the MP, when the government made some voices, my daughter’s situation got a bit better. We hired a lawyer to help my daughter , but the lawyer was subsequently arrested. There is nothing like this in this world, but in China it is real.”
When Huang was young, she claimed she had a lot of chronic diseases involving her heart and liver. With local hospital care proving to be unsuccessful she turned to Falun Gong when her state improved.
“It is very good exercises and it helped me recover. It taught me to be a good person and follow the principles of compassion and tolerance,” said Huang, adding she found it peculiar that she and her daughter have gone through blood tests while other non-practising prisoners did not while in prison.
Yang is encouraging Taberites and Canadians to write to their MLA or MP about illegal organ harvesting in China. Federally, Prime Minister Trudeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion can be reached at email@example.com. A petition to the Canadian government can be signed at bit.do/stop-organ-harvest. Past investigative research was referenced at organharvestinvestigation.net and ethan-gutmann.com/the-slaughter/. Award-winning documentaries can be found at HumanHarvestMovie.com and HardToBeleiveMovie.com.
The touring group noted they were planning on visiting MLA Grant Hunter’s office, the Taber Library and the local medical clinic with their information.
“We should show them that this is our values. Respecting human rights and protecting human rights. Trade should not be above those basic human principles,” said Yang. “If you are strong, the chinese government actually respects you more. These values, principles are so important to Canadians and we should play a role in stopping the crime against innocent people.”