| Co-authors David Matas (seated), an international human rights lawyer; and David Kilgour (R), a former cabinet minister and crown prosecutor; signing their new book at the Nov. 16, 2009, book launch of 'Bloody Harvest: The killing of Falun Gong for their organs.' (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) |
OTTAWA—The authors of a new book on forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to raise the issue with Chinese authorities on his upcoming China trip.
David Matas and David Kilgour, who co-wrote Bloody Harvest: The killing of Falun Gong for their organs, were joined by MPs Borys Wrzesnewskyj and James Lunney at a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday morning to release the new book.
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj and Mr. Lunney were representing the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong (PFOFG), an all-party group of MPs and senators lending support to the practitioners of the spiritual discipline who have suffered a decade of persecution in communist China.
“I would encourage the prime minister to bring up the issue,” said Mr. Matas, an international human rights lawyer and 2008 Order of Canada recipient.
“This is not just our concern. It’s also a concern of the United Nations.”
The investigation he conducted with Mr. Kilgour, a former crown prosecutor and former Secretary of State (Asia Pacific), concluded that after the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, the Chinese regime started an illicit organ trade that has killed tens of thousands of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners in the process of extracting their organs for sale.
Mr. Kilgour and Mr. Matas had released two earlier reports on their findings, the first in July 2006 and the second in January 2007.
Since then, the U.N. rapporteurs on torture and on religious intolerance, as well as the U.N. Committee against Torture, have pressed China to explain the discrepancy between its large volumes of transplants and its sources of organs.
With negligible donations and no national organ donation system in place until as recently as August 2009, the regime says it sources its organs almost entirely from prisoners sentenced to death and executed.
“The trouble with that assertion is that the death penalty has been pretty constant before and after the persecution began, but the transplantation volume shot way up after the persecution began,” said Mr. Matas.
“There is an estimated 41,500 unexplained organ transplants between about 2001 and 2006. Falun Gong practitioners are providing a lot of these organs … involuntarily,” said Mr. Kilgour.
He noted that according to a U.S. government report, at least half of the inmates in China’s notorious forced labour camps are Falun Gong practitioners.
“Canada and other countries should ban forced labour exports by legislation which puts the onus on all importers to prove that goods are not made, in effect, by slaves,” he added.
| David Kilgour (L), co-author of 'Bloody Harvest,' speaking at the book launch on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 16, 2009. Other speakers (L to R) are MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Vice-President of Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong (PFOFG); MP Bill Siksay, PFOFG Chair; and co-author David Matas. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) |
As these prisoners are the source of the organs, Mr. Matas suggested that Mr. Harper ask China to enter into an agreement disallowing imports of forced labour products into Canada. In addition, there needs to be assurance that the agreement is enforceable by allowing inspection of the labour camps.
Mr. Matas said the U.S. already has such an agreement with China but it has not been enforced because the Americans have not been allowed to inspect the labour camps.
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj put the issue in context as a consumer. “Knowing what I know, when I pick up a product and I see that ‘Made in China’ label, there’s an unease,” he said.
“You can’t keep these things hidden... Decent people everywhere, when they pick up those consumer products and they see that label, they’ll have that same sort of unease that will affect China in millions of ways that perhaps aren’t quantifiable.”
As for Canadian officials negotiating trade with China, he asked, “How can you trust a country that would engage in this sort of horrific crime against their own people? How could you trust them in your relationships when they acquire major resource companies?”
As much as Canada would like to do more trade and have a healthy relationship with China, “when these issues are outstanding, it calls all of those potential relationships into question,” Mr. Wrzesnewskyj said.
The Kilgour-Matas book includes recommendations for China as well as foreign states, medical professionals, and pharmaceutical companies on legislative and other defences to prevent forced organ harvesting.
One recommendation is to enact extra-territorial law making it illegal to travel to another country to purchase transplant organs obtained without consent.
This so-called “transplant tourism” is not currently a crime anywhere in the world, but Mr. Wrzesnewskyj has proposed a bill to the Canadian Parliament that would make it an extraterritorial crime.
Mr. Kilgour plans to propose this bill to the European Parliament as a model for the European Union.
The PFOFG held a book launch for the new Kilgour-Matas book on Monday afternoon on Parliament Hill, the group’s first event since it was founded last month.
Mr. Lunney likened the persecution and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners to the Holocaust when despite indications, warnings, and alarms raised, “somehow that evil went on for some time before it was eventually revealed and understood.”
“We’re hopeful that this book launch will make a big impact and will help to spread the word that we can’t afford to be silent,” he said.
The book launch received a standing-room-only crowd. The event was hosted by MP Bill Siksay, chair of the PFOFG. In attendance were Mr. Wrzesnewskyj, vice-president of the group; directors MP Scott Reid and MP Rob Anders; and members Mr. Lunney and MP Irwin Cotler.
The book is in two parts. The first part presents current statistics and factual analyses that bring the previous report up to date. The second part tells of the responses the authors have received and their efforts to advocate an end to the abuse. As well, it contains a philosophical, analytical explanation of why and how the persecution of Falun Gong came about and what the authors envision for the future.