The 2007 Kilgour–Matas report titled, Bloody Harvest, Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China is an investigative report into allegations of live organ harvesting in China conducted by former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas. The report can be downloaded free in 22 languages at organharvestinvestigation.net.
The report was requested by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong after allegations emerged from three individuals that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners had been killed at Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital to supply China's organ transplant industry.
The initial 6 July 2006 report found that, "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and concluded that "there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners".
U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak said in March 2007 that the chain of evidence Kilgour and Matas were documenting showed a "coherent picture that causes concern", which the United Nations Committee Against Torture followed up in November 2008 with a request for "a full explanation of the source of organ transplants", to investigate the claims of organ harvesting, and to take measures to prosecute those committing abuses.
In 2009, the authors published an updated version of the report as a book, titled Bloody Harvest, The killing of Falun Gong for their organs, and in the same year received an award from the International Society for Human Rights. They were nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that combines meditation and exercises with a moral philosophy, emerged in China in the 1990s; by 1999 the number of practitioners was estimated in the tens of millions.
In July 1999, following a large-scale demonstration to request official recognition, Chinese authorities banned the practice and initiated a campaign to suppress the group, creating the 610 Office to oversee and coordinate the elimination of Falun Gong. The suppression that followed was accompanied by what Amnesty International called a "massive propaganda campaign," and the detention and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Falun Gong adherents; coercive “reeducation” of Falun Gong adherents sometimes resulted in deaths. Former detainees reported that in some labour camps, Falun Gong practitioners comprised the majority population, and were singled out for abuse. Due to limited access to victims and labour camp facilities, however, many specific reports of abuses are difficult to independently corroborate.
Organ transplantation in China
China has had an organ transplantation programme since the 1960s. It is one of the largest organ transplant programmes in the world, peaking at over 13,000 transplants a year in 2004. Involuntary organ harvesting is illegal under Chinese law, although under a 1984 regulation it became legal to remove organs from executed criminals with the prior consent of the criminal or permission of relatives. By the 1990s, growing concerns about possible ethical abuses arising from coerced consent and corruption led medical groups and human rights organizations to start condemning the practice. These concerns resurfaced in 2001, when a former Chinese Army doctor testified to a United States Congressional committee that he had taken part in organ harvesting operations.
In December 2005, China's Deputy Health Minister acknowledged that the practice of removing organs from executed prisoners for transplant was widespread – as many as 95% of all organ transplants in China derived from executions, and he promised steps to prevent abuse.
In March 2006, allegations emerged from three individuals that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners had been killed at Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital, to supply China's organ transplant industry. The third person, a doctor, said the so-called hospitals in Sujiatun are but one of 36 similar concentration camps all over China.
Within a month, U.S. representatives said they found no evidence that a site in northeast China had been used as a concentration camp, but "the United States remained concerned over China's repression of Falun Gong practitioners and by reports of organ harvesting".
In May 2006, The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong asked David Kilgour and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas to investigate the broader allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. Kilgour and Matas agreed to investigate.
On 6 July 2006, Kilgour and Matas released the findings of their two-month investigation. They found that "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and concluded that, "the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres and 'people's courts', since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries."
The report called attention to the extremely short wait times for organs in China—one to two weeks for a liver compared with 32.5 months in Canada—noting that this was indicative of organs being procured on demand. It also tracked a significant increase in the number of annual organ transplants in China beginning in 1999, corresponding with the onset of the persecution of Falun Gong. Despite very low levels of voluntary organ donation, China performs the second-highest number of transplants per year.
The report includes incriminating material from Chinese transplant center web sites advertising the immediate availability of organs from living donors, and transcripts of telephone interviews in which hospitals told prospective transplant recipients that they could obtain Falun Gong organs.
A January 2007 revision, Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, includes substantial additional information and has 33 pieces of evidence.
Kilgour and Matas felt that the Government of China had reinforced the basis of the first report by responding to it in an unpersuasive way, mostly as attacks on Falun Gong. For Kilgour and Matas, such attacks made possible the violation of the basic human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. China identified two factual errors in the first version of the report—one in an appendix, in a caption heading, where Kilgour and Matas placed two Chinese cities in the wrong provinces; the authors dismissed those errors as have nothing to do with the analysis or conclusions of their report. In the absence of evidence that would invalidate the organ harvesting allegations — such as a Chinese government registry showing the identity of every organ donor and donation — Kilgour and Matas concluded that the allegations of China's harvesting organs from live Falun Gong practitioners were true and the practice was ongoing. They called for a ban on Canadian citizens traveling to China for transplant operations.
In 2009, Kilgour and Matas published an updated version of the report as a book, titled Bloody Harvest,The killing of Falun Gong for their organs. It contained new material, reactions the final report received and the advocacy they undertook to end the abuse.
In 2012, State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, edited by David Matas and Dr. Torsten Trey was published with contributions from a dozen specialists. Several of the essays in the book conclude, that a primary source of organs has been prisoners of conscience, specifically practitioners of Falun Gong.
A subsequent investigation by journalist Ethan Gutmann was published in 2014. Gutmann interviewed dozens of former prisoners of conscience, as well as members of China's medical and security agencies who were involved in the organ trade. He concluded that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as large numbers of ethnic Uyghurs, have been victims of the illicit organ trade.
The report's allegations of involuntary organ removal from Falun Gong practitioners received considerable media coverage, particularly in Canada, Europe, and Australia. Several governments tightened transplant tourism practices and requested more information from the Chinese government.
In July 2006 and April 2007, Chinese officials denied organ harvesting allegations, insisting that China abides by World Health Organization principles that prohibit the sale of human organs without written consent from donors. The report is banned in Russia and China.
Due to the nature of the claims, some observers expressed reservations with endorsing the Kilgour and Matas’s conclusions. Amnesty International in 2006 said it was “continuing to analyze sources of information” about the allegations. David Ownby, a professor of history at of the University of Montreal and expert on Falun Gong, wrote in Falun Gong and the Future of China that Falun Gong practitioners were probable candidates for organ harvesting in Chinese prisons. However, he felt that Falun Gong spokespersons "overplayed their hand" with the concentration camp allegations, potentially losing credibility in the eyes of neutral observers, despite the real persecution they were suffering.
Many observers found the report and its figures plausible. The US National Kidney Foundation said they were "deeply concerned about recent allegations regarding the procurement of organs and tissues through coercive or exploitative practices" and that "any act which calls the ethical practice of donation and transplantation into question should be condemned by the worldwide transplantation community."
Kirk C. Allison, Associate Director of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine in the University of Minnesota, wrote that the "short time frame of an on-demand system [as in China] requires a large pool of donors pre-typed for blood group and HLA matching," and would be consistent with the Falun Gong allegations about the systematic tissue typing of practitioners held prisoner. He wrote that the time constraints involved "cannot be assured on a random-death basis", and that physicians he queried about the matter indicated that they were selecting live prisoners to ensure quality and compatibility.
Taiwan condemned, "in the strongest possible terms", China's harvesting of human organs from executed Falun Gong practitioners. Taiwan's Department of Health, urged Taiwanese doctors to not encourage patients to get commercial organ transplants in mainland China.
In December 2006, after not getting assurances from the Chinese government, about allegations relating to Chinese prisoners, the two major organ transplant hospitals in Queensland, Australia stopped transplant training for Chinese surgeons and joint research programs into organ transplantation with China.
Tom Treasure of Guy's Hospital, London said, what makes the allegations credible is the numerical gap between the reported number of transplants compared with what is possible in other countries, the short waiting times and the confidence with which operations are offered in the global health market, and the routine blood testing (critical to organ donation) of the Falun Gong.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv prohibited Jews from deriving any benefit from Chinese organ harvesting, "even in life-threatening situations"; other rabbis opposed the use of Chinese organs for transplants.
A 2008 petition signed by 140 Canadian physicians urged the Canadian Government to "issue travel advisories warning Canadians that organ transplants in China are sourced almost entirely from non-consenting people, whether prisoners sentenced to death or Falun Gong practitioners". Canadian Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj, based on the findings of the Kilgour–Matas report, introduced a 2008 bill that would make it illegal for Canadians to get an organ transplant abroad if the organ was taken from an unwilling victim.
In 2006 and 2008, United Nations Special Rapporteurs raised questions about the sources of organs, the short waiting times for finding perfectly matched organs, and the correlation between the sudden increase in organ transplants in China and the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. These requests were not satisfactorily addressed by the Chinese authorities. In November 2008 the United Nations Committee Against Torture noted its concern at the allegations and called for China to "immediately conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims", and take measures "to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished".
In 2010, though the Chinese Medical Society had stated that organ transplants from executed prisoners must cease, and changes in Chinese regulations prohibited transplant tourism, a meeting of the Transplantation Society received over 30 papers containing data from several hundred transplants, where the donor source was likely executed prisoners.
In 2013, Doctors Against forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) presented a petition of nearly 1.5 million signatures including over 300,000 from Europe to the Office of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva.
During the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting held on March 12, 2014, Anne-Tamara Lorre, the Canadian representative on human rights to the United Nations, raised the issue of organ harvesting in China. "We remain concerned that Falun Gong practitioners and other religious worshippers in China face persecution, and reports that organ transplants take place without free and informed consent of the donor are troubling."
Using different research methods to Kilgour and Matas, Ethan Gutmann, journalist and adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, found that his estimate of the number of Falun Gong practitioners killed for organs of approximately 65,000 was close to the estimate of 62,250 by Kilgour and Matas. In September 2014 he published his findings in The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem.
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