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David Kilgour
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Hon. David Kilgour
2013-02-05 13:03
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With your permission, colleagues, I am going to make my presentation in English. However, I will be pleased to reply to your questions in French.
I will skip one sentence per paragraph. If anyone has the statement, it may be hard to keep up, but I know that time is very precious because you want to ask questions.
Thank you for holding this hearing. I am very pleased that you're doing this.
China's 5,000-year-old civilization has given much to the world and is deserving of much respect. When Falun Gong exercises and principles initially were introduced to the Chinese public in 1992, as I'm sure you all know, the party-state not only acquiesced in its expansion but assisted, inviting its founder to teach in government facilities and praising Falun Gong for the benefits it introduced to public health and ethics generally.
However, the more the movement grew, the more resistance it encountered, no doubt because some party members found that a large, independent group was unacceptable. Party leader Jiang Zemin made an overnight decision to eradicate it, even though many members of the politburo were familiar with the practice and many party members were doing the exercises.
On July 22, 1999, the Communist Party leadership launched a protracted and violent campaign whose stated purpose was to—quote—“eradicate” Falun Gong. Beatings, detentions in forced labour camps, brainwashing, and torture became the daily lot of many Falun Gong. The methods included shocking with high-voltage electric batons, sleep deprivation, starvation, sexual assault, forced abortions, drug injections, and forced feedings.
I should stress from the start that Falun Gong practitioners had no desire to become involved in politics and never intended to challenge the Communist Party. Even after nearly 14 years of persecution, their only political objective is to seek peacefully the end to their persecution across China.
As you probably all know, after 1980 the party-state began withdrawing funds from the health system, obliging it to make up the difference through service charges to mostly uninsured patients. Selling the organs of executed convicts became a major source of funds because of world demand. Falun Gong later became the major additional source of organs. Organ prices were posted on many websites in China.
David Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview Falun Gong practitioners who were sent to China's forced labour camps and who managed later to leave the camps and China itself. Most were sent to camps after mid-1999 without any form of hearing and on only a police signature. This model, by the way, was created in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Third Reich and copied in the 1950s by Mao.
Practitioners told us of working in appalling conditions for up to 16 hours daily, with no pay, little food, crowded sleeping conditions, and torture. As subcontractors to multinational companies, they made export products ranging from garments to Christmas decorations. This, of course, is gross corporate irresponsibility and a violation of the WTO rules, and calls for an effective response by all governments that trade with China.
I might mention that there's a link between the labour done in these forced labour camps and the loss of manufacturing jobs in places such as Canada. One estimate of the number of people in these camps was 350,000 in 340 forced labour camps. That's a lot of jobs that are being lost in places such as our own country. I believe strongly that Canada and other countries should ban forced labour products, by legislation, which puts an onus on importers to prove that their goods are not made in effect by slaves.
According to the research that David Matas and I have done, as is set out in our book Bloody Harvest, which you referred to, Mr. Chairman, practitioners have been killed in the thousands since 2001 so that their organs could be trafficked to Chinese and foreign patients. For the period 2000-2005 alone, Matas and I concluded that for 41,500 transplants done, the only plausible explanation for sourcing was Falun Gong.
As a result, what has happened internationally? What kinds of international initiatives have been taken?
Since 2006, several UN special rapporteurs have asked the Chinese government for an explanation of the allegation of organ pillaging from live Falun Gong practitioners. They pointed out to the government that a full explanation would disprove the allegations, but the party-state has provided no meaningful answer, simply denying the charges.
The independent experts of the UN Committee Against Torture have also addressed the issue of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. In November 2008, it was stated that:
information [was] 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.
What about the European Parliament? In September of 2006, the European Parliament conducted a hearing, at which David Matas and I both testified, and adopted a resolution condemning the detention and torture of Falun Gong practitioners and expressing concern over reports of organ harvesting.
In Taiwan in 2007, the director of the Department of Health reported requesting that Taiwanese doctors not recommend to patients to travel to China for transplants.
In Australia—as you can see in the brief, they are on the list of countries—two hospitals have banned joint research programs with China.
What about Canada? In 2008, former MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced into our House of Commons extraterritorial legislation banning transplant tourism. His bill, and one in Belgium, would have penalized any transplant patient who received an organ without the consent of the donor when the patient knew or ought to have known of the absence of consent.
In France, in 2010, parliamentarian Valérie Boyer, along with several other members, introduced a bill at a sitting of the National Assembly.
In the United States, in September of 2006 the U.S. Congress held a hearing on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Perhaps more importantly, in October 2012, in the middle of an election campaign, 106 members of Congress urged the U.S. State Department to release information on organ pillaging in China from Falun Gong practitioners.
This is interesting. The U.S. State Department, in its 2011 human rights report released in May 2012, acknowledged the following:
Overseas and domestic media and advocacy groups continued to report instances of organ harvesting, particularly from Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs.
That's the first time they actually acknowledged it. David Matas and I went to the State Department as early as 2006, but they finally acknowledged these concerns in 2012.
With respect to NGOs, there are a whole lot of comments in the brief about various NGOs that have done work in this area. I might mention Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, which is a non-government organization founded by medical doctors. Torsten Trey, the co-editor of the book, was the founder, and they've been very active in this issue.
How much time do I have, Mr. Chair?
David Kilgour
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Hon. David Kilgour
2013-02-05 13:12
Thank you, Mr. Chair. You're a much better chair than they used to have in this committee—
Voices: Oh, oh!
Hon. David Kilgour: —a long time ago.
Edward McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament, is mentioned in the brief. You can look at that. Two minutes is going to go pretty quickly.
Now, as for China, the Government of China now accepts that the sourcing of organs from prisoners is improper. Deputy Health Minister Huang stated in 2009 that executed prisoners are “definitely not a proper source for organ transplants”.
There is quite a lot more in the brief about China, but please give me one minute.
I'll go to corporate social responsibility. I hope there are some helpful comments there.
With respect to recommendations, for organs trafficked in China, Matas and I would encourage you as MPs to consider our recommendations that urge the party-state in China to cease the persecution and repression of Falun Gong, to cease organ pillaging from all prisoners, and to remove its military from the organ transplant business. There are a couple of other recommendations.
In conclusion, we would hope that the Senate and the House would also enact measures to combat international organ transplant abuses.
Many of us in and beyond China might now have a greater impact on the future of this grave matter, not only because it's necessary for tens of millions of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners and their families who have been torn apart by this terrible process but also because it's good for China and the international community as a whole. All of us want a China that enjoys the rule of law, dignity for all, and democratic governance.
Thank you very much.
David Matas
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David Matas
2013-02-05 13:14
In further answer to that question, there's also private member's legislation in France by Valérie Boyer, as there is now in New South Wales, Australia, by David Shoebridge. Also, Patrik Vankrunkelsven was one of the senators in Belgium, so we have a number of precedents to look at.
In terms of my remarks, I just want to go as briefly as I can through some of the evidence that led us to our conclusion. I have a number of evidentiary strands I want to point out to you, 12 strands in all.
The first is that the Communist Party conducted and conducts a prolonged, persistent, and vitriolic campaign of incitement to hatred again Falun Gong, prompting their marginalization, depersonalization, and dehumanization in the eyes of many Chinese nationals.
The second is the forced labour camp phenomenon, which my colleague David Kilgour talked about. Not only are these forced labour camps arbitrary detention and slave labour camps, but they're also vast live organ donor banks.
Third, many Falun Gong practitioners are the subject of disappearance complaints by family members. The authorities often refuse to notify the families of their detention. As well, practitioners are not allowed to contact their families. Many more practitioners, in an attempt to protect their families and communities, have not identified themselves once arrested. Those unidentified are a particularly vulnerable population.
Let me quote Ms. Na Gan, who lives in Toronto now:
From 2001 to 2002, I was held in a detention center.... During that time, the authorities detained lots of Falun Gong practitioners who went to Beijing to appeal. ... In order to escape further persecution, of both themselves and their family members, many practitioners did not tell their real names and where they were from. Each practitioner was identified with a 4-digit number. ... One night, I was awoken by some noises. All the Falun Gong practitioners who were numbered were being dragged out of the prison cells, and none of them came back.
Fourth, huge money can be made in China from transplants. Charges to foreigners, which were once available on a Chinese website and which now we have archived, range from $30,000 U.S. for corneas to $180,000 U.S. for a liver-kidney combination.
Fifth, investigators made calls to hospitals throughout China claiming to be relatives of patients needing transplants and asking if the hospitals had organs of Falun Gong for sale, on the basis that since Falun Gong, through their exercises, are healthy, the organs would be healthy. We obtained on tape and then transcribed and translated admissions throughout China.
Sixth, Falun Gong practitioners who were detained and later got out of detention and out of China testified that they were systematically blood-tested and organ-examined while in detention. The blood testing and organ examination could not have been for the health of the Falun Gong, since they had been tortured, but it would have been necessary for organ transplants and for building a bank of donors.
Seventh, waiting times for transplant of organs in China are days and weeks. Everywhere else in the world, waiting times are years or months. Transplants of long-dead donors are not viable because of organ deterioration after death. A short waiting time for deceased donor transplant means the presence of a large bank of living organ sources ready to be killed in order to assure such short waiting times. We have quotes from the websites of Chinese hospitals advertising these short times.
Eighth, in a few cases, family members of Falun Gong practitioners were able to see mutilated corpses of their loved ones between death and cremation. Organs had been removed. We even have some photos of that.
Ninth, we engaged in extensive interviews of organ recipients and their family members. Organ transplant surgery, we found out, is conducted in almost total secrecy. Recipients and their support network are not told the identity of the donors, nor are they shown written consent of donors. The identities of the operating doctor and support staff are often not disclosed, despite requests for information.
One interviewee told us that a military doctor tested the compatibility of seven prior kidneys before a successful match for one was found at a hospital. The doctor carried sheets of paper containing lists of prospective sources based on tissue and blood characteristics, from which he would select the source. The doctor was observed at various times to leave the hospital in army uniform and return two or three hours later with containers holding kidneys.
Tenth, we interviewed the ex-wife of a surgeon from Sujiatun district in Shenyang City in Liaoning. She told us that her surgeon husband told her that he removed corneas from 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners, at which time he refused to continue. The surgeon made it clear to his wife that none of these sources survived the experience because other surgeons removed other vital organs and all of the bodies were then burned.
A transcript of the interview can be found in an appendix to our report.
The details of the story the wife told were similar to what Dr. Wang Guoqi told the U.S. Congress about his own work in harvesting organs from prisoners, which was initially vehemently denied and then years later admitted by the Government of China. The only substantial difference in the two stories was the type of prisoners from whom organs were extracted.
Eleventh, 200 kilometres away from Sujiatun, in Xinju, an individual named Wang Lijun conducted research on a lingering injection execution method that would allow organ removal for transplants before the person died from injection. He conducted further research to prevent patients who received organs of injected prisoners from suffering adverse effects from the injection drugs.
In September 2006 this individual, Wang Lijun, received an award for his research and testing. In his acceptance speech, which was posted on the Internet, he talked about “thousands” of on-site organ transplant cases from injected prisoners in which he and his staff participated, and he said, and I quote, “To see somebody being killed and to see this person's organs being translated to several other persons' bodies is profoundly stirring”, a remark that would have been worthy of Josef Mengele.
I point out that Wang Lijun was the prime assistant of Bo Xilai.
One of the calls the investigators made, which we used for our report, was a call that was placed to Jinzhou, the place where this fellow Wang Lijun was working. Here's a quote from that exchange:
Investigator: Starting from 2001, we always got kidneys from young and healthy people who practised Falun Gong from detention centres and courts. ... I wonder if you still have such organs in your court right now?
Official: That depends on your qualifications. ... If you have good qualifications, we may still provide some. ...
Investigator: Are we supposed to get them, or will you prepare for them?
Official: According to past experience, it is you who will come here to get them.
In February 2012 Wang Lijun, who was at the time deputy mayor and police chief in Chongqing, visited the American consulate in Chengdu for a full day. My colleague David Kilgour has mentioned this letter of U.S. congressmen and congresswomen asking for the State Department to release information, and that letter asked for details that Wang Lijun is believed to have transmitted during his attempted sanctuary at the U.S. consulate in February.
Number 12, the final point, is that there's no other explanation for the transplant numbers than sourcing from Falun Gong. China's the second-largest country in the world after the U.S., yet until 2010 China did not have a deceased donation system, and even today that system produces donations that are statistically insignificant. The living donor sources are limited in law to relatives of donors and are officially discouraged because live donors suffer health complications from giving up an organ.
The number of prisoners sentenced to death and then executed that would be necessary to supply the volume of transplants in China is far greater than even the most exaggerated death penalty statistics and estimates, in the tens of thousands. Moreover, in recent years death penalty volumes have gone down, but transplant volumes, except for a short blip in 2007, have remained constant.
Our report has a myriad of recommendations, and David Kilgour has mentioned some in the text that is part of the record. I would ask the committee to pass a resolution on this subject. I'd like to emphasize the fact that China's coming up before the universal periodic review at the United Nations Human Rights Council working group this October, and Canada should take advantage of that.
I would like to commend the subcommittee for convening this hearing. The issue is serious enough to justify action.
In principle, the worst victims need to be given the most attention and the highest priority. This subcommittee should follow that principle when addressing human rights violations in China by a continuing focus on organ transplant abuse in China, the victimization of prisoners of conscience, and Falun Gong in particular.
Thank you very much.
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