Kilgour–Matas report

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David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), investigated the Falun Gong allegations

The Kilgour–Matas report is a 2006/2007 investigative report into allegations of live organ harvesting in China. The investigation, by Canadian MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas, was requested by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) based on the Falun Gong spiritual movement's allegations that its practitioners were secretly having their organs removed against their will at Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital.[1] The report, based on circumstantial evidence, concluded that "there has been, and continues today to be, large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners."[2] China has consistently denied the allegations.[3][4]

The initial report received a mixed reception. In the US, a Congressional Research Service report by Dr. Thomas Lum stated that the Kilgour–Matas report relied largely on logical inference, without bringing forth new or independently obtained testimony; the credibility of much of the key evidence was said to be questionable.[5] 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",[6] 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.[7] Other investigations, such as Ethan Gutmann and European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott, followed the Kilgour–Matas report; Gutmann estimating that between 450,000 to 1 million Falun Gong members were detained at any given time, and estimated that tens of thousands may have been targeted for organ harvesting.[8][9]

Upon release of the initial report on 6 July 2006, Chinese officials declared that China abided by World Health Organization principles that prohibit the sale of human organs without written consent from donors. They denounced the report as smears "based on rumours and false allegations", and said the Chinese government had already investigated the claims and found them without any merit.[10][11] A Congressional Research Service report said that some of the report’s key allegations appeared to be inconsistent with the findings of other investigations.[12] After the accusation about Sujiatun, 13 days later, the U.S. consulate in Shenyang have visited the area. The US state department, on 2006 April 14, maintained that "U.S. representatives have found no evidence to support allegations that a site in northeast China has been used as a concentration camp to jail Falun Gong practitioners and harvest their organs", "independent of these specific allegations, the United States remains concerned over China’s repression of Falun Gong practitioners and by reports of organ harvesting."[13] The US National Kidney Foundation expressed that it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations.[14] Taiwan urged its citizens not to travel to China to receive transplants.[15] The reports led to the Australian Health Ministry's abolition of training programs for Chinese doctors and the banning of joint research programs with China on organ transplantation,[16] and to Kilgour and Matas receiving the 2009 award bestowed by the International Society for Human Rights.[17] In 2009, the authors published the report as a book, titled "Bloody Harvest."[18] The report is banned in Russia and China.[19]


Falun Gong[edit]

Falun Gong is a form of qigong practice popularized in China in the 1990s, and by 1999, some estimates placed the number of practitioners into the tens of millions.[20][21] Following a large-scale demonstration complaining of the repression of a previous manifestation, in July 1999 the Communist Party leadership banned the practice and initiated a campaign to suppress the group, and created the 6-10 Office to oversee and coordinate the elimination of Falun Gong.[22][23][24]

The suppression that followed was characterised by what Amnesty International called a "massive propaganda campaign,"[25] and the detention and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Falun Gong adherents. Falun Gong have alleged the use of torture and other high-pressure tactics and coercive “reeducation” of Falun Gong adherents that have sometimes resulted in deaths.[26][27][28] Former detainees reported that in some labour camps, Falun Gong practitioners comprised the majority population, and were singled out for abuse.[29] Due to limited access to victims and labour camp facilities, however, many specific reports of abuses are difficult to independently corroborate.[24]

Organ transplantation in China[edit]

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.[30] 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.[31] These concerns resurfaced in 2001, when The Washington Post reported claims by a Chinese asylum-seeking doctor that he had taken part in organ extraction operations.

By 2005 the World Medical Association had specifically demanded that China cease using prisoners as organ donors.[32] In December of that year, 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,[33] and he promised steps to prevent abuse.[5][34]


The first allegations of systematic organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners were made in March 2006 by two individuals claiming to possess knowledge of the involuntary organ extractions at the Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province. The allegations were publicized by the Epoch Times, a newspaper group founded by Falun Gong practitioners.[35] Within one month of the press coverage, third party investigators, including representatives of the US Department of State, said that there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations.[5] Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who exposed organ harvesting from prison inmates at laogai (hard labour camps), immediately sent investigators to the site. Wu was unable to find any concrete evidence to back up the allegations.[36][37]

Soon thereafter, in May 2006, The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong requested asked David Kilgour, and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, to investigate the broader allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents in China. Kilgour and Matas agreed to investigate.[1][38]

The report[edit]

First report
The report's comparison of average wait-times, in days, for an adult kidney transplant, in different countries (source Kilgour & Matas)[1][39]

On 20 July 2006, Kilgour and Matas presented the findings of their two-month investigation.[38] It was the first version of their report, titled "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China". The report 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.”[40] The report presented 33 strands of circumstantial evidence that, taken together and in the absence of any disproof, the authors believe led to their stated conclusion.[40] The authors qualified their findings by noting the inherent difficulties in verifying the alleged crimes. For example, no independent bodies are allowed to investigate conditions in China, eyewitness evidence is difficult to obtain, and official information about organ transplantation is often withheld. Kilgour and Matas themselves were denied visas to go to China to investigate.[40]

Second report

In a January 2007 revision, (Bloody Harvest: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China) Kilgour and Matas stated that the Government of China had responded to the first version of their report in an unpersuasive way, mostly as attacks on Falun Gong, thus reinforcing the analysis of the report. They further stated that such attacks make possible the violation of the basic human rights of Falun Gong practitioners.[41] They said that the responses have identified only two factual errors in the first version of their report—one in an appendix, in a caption heading, where they placed two Chinese cities in the wrong provinces. "These errors have nothing to do with the analysis or conclusions of our report", they said.[41]

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 are true and that the practice was ongoing. They called for a ban on Canadian citizens traveling to China for transplant operations.[42][43][44]

In 2009, Kilgour and Matas published the report as a book, titled "Bloody Harvest."[18] That year, Kilgour and Matas also received the 2009 Human Rights Award by the German-based International Society for Human Rights;[17] and were nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, once by Canadian federal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, and once by Balfour Hakak, chairman of the Hebrew Writers Association in Israel, according to media reports.[45]


The Kilgour–Matas allegations of involuntary organ removal from Falun Gong adherents have received considerable media coverage, particularly in Canada, Europe, and Australia. Several governments have tightened transplant tourism practices and requested more information from the Chinese government.

Questions as to the final answer to the allegations remain. Due to the nature of the claims and the availability of only circumstantial, rather than direct, evidence, several observers have expressed reservations with endorsing the Kilgour and Matas’s conclusions. Amnesty International at the time said it was “continuing to analyze sources of information” about the allegations;[46] David Ownby, a professor of history at of the University of Montreal and expert on Falun Gong, wrote that while "it seems likely that Falun Gong practitioners who are part of the prison population would be candidates for harvesting," he had not seen evidence that the organ harvesting program is aimed particularly at Falun Gong.";[47] a Congressional Research Service report by Thomas Lum said that the report relies on logical inferences and telephone call transcripts which, he suggests, may not be credible.[5]

Chinese response[edit]

Chinese officials have repeatedly and angrily denied the organ harvesting allegations in the report.[3][4] Upon release of the initial report on 6 July 2006, a spokesperson immediately declared that China abided by World Health Organization principles that prohibit the sale of human organs without written consent from donors. They denounced the report as smears "based on rumours and false allegations", and said the claims had been investigated and found to be without any merit.[10][48]

In August 2006 three 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 met with categorical denials by the Chinese authorities. In May 2008 two Special Rapporteurs reiterated the previous request for the Chinese authorities to adequately respond to the allegations and to explain the source of organs which would account for the sudden increase in organ transplants in China since 2000.[49] 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".[7]

The report is banned in Russia and China.[19]

International response[edit]

On 14 August 2006, a statement from the US National Kidney Foundation, referring to the Kilgour Matas Reports, stated that the foundation "is 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." The statement from NKF also condemned organ transplant tourism in general.[14][50]

In December 2006, the Queensland Ministry of Health in Australia announced the abolition of training programs for Chinese doctors in organ transplant procedures in the Prince Charles and the Princess Alexandra Hospitals and the banning of joint research programs with China on organ transplantation.[51]

The Medical Post, on 11 March 2008, reported that a petition signed by 140 Canadian physicians "urging 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", was submitted to the Canadian House of Commons.[52][53] In February 2008, Canadian Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduced a bill that would make it illegal for Canadians to get an organ transplant abroad if the organ was taken from an unwilling victim. Wrzesnewskyj states that the final impetus to introduce the bill was the findings of the Kilgour–Matas report.[54]

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv prohibited Jews from deriving any benefit from Chinese organ harvesting, "even in life-threatening situations"; other rabbis oppose the use of Chinese organs for transplants.[55] In October 2006, the Chairman of the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council, Joseph Wu, stated that Taiwan condemned, "in the strongest possible terms", China's harvesting of human organs from executed Falun Gong practitioners.[56] In August 2007, Hou Sheng-mao, Director of Taiwan's Department of Health, urged Taiwanese doctors to not encourage patients to get commercial organ transplants in mainland China.[57]

In June 2011 the US added a question to its DS-160 application for non-immigrant visas. The application asks if the person has ever taken part in forced human organ transplantation.[58]

A petition of nearly 25,000 signatures calls on the United States to put pressure on China through the U.N. to stop the practice of forced organ harvesting. The petition, delivered on Sept. 26, 2012, to the office of Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the U.N., also calls on the U.S. government to release any information it has about the involvement of Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, China, who was just sentenced to 15 years in prison, in organ harvesting activities.[59]

The Global Bio Ethics Initiative wrote in an article, "In December 2013, the European Parliament voted on a resolution against forced organ harvesting in China." On December 9, 2013,[60] "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." [61]

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." [62][63][64]

Other responses[edit]

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.[65] 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. He said the current level of evidence calls for an independent investigation from the U.S. Congress’s Committee on International Relations.[65]

European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott went to China on a fact finding mission during May 2006. His tour guide said he knew something of organ harvesting as when he had been in a prison he had seen a body in the morgue with holes where body parts had been removed.[66]

Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen was sceptical about the logistical plausibility of the allegations after visiting Sujiatun the invitation of the Chinese Medical Association. He said that, depending on who you believe, "the Kilgour–Matas report is either compelling evidence that proves the claims about Falun Gong ... or a collection of conjecture and inductive reasoning that fails to support its own conclusions". McGregor reported his scepticism of Kilgour's report had elicited a response from the author that the former was no different from David Irving[67]

Tom Treasure of Guy's Hospital, London, said the Kilgour–Matas report was "plausible from a medical standpoint" based on the numerical gap in the number of transplants and the short waiting times in China compared with other countries.[68] He noted the existence of blood tests of imprisoned Falun Gong followers, which is not useful for the victims but is critical to organ donation, and said the allegations were “credible.”

The non-fiction writer Scott Carney included the allegations in his book The Red Market, writing "No one is saying the Chinese government went after the Falun Gong specifically for their organs… but it seems to have been a remarkably convenient and profitable way to dispose of them. Dangerous political dissidents were executed while their organs created a comfortable revenue stream for hospitals and surgeons, and presumably many important Chinese officials received organs."[69]

Other reports[edit]

Ethan Gutmann, adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, interviewed a variety of former prisoners from Chinese labor camps and prisons, including Falun Gong practitioners and non-practitioners. He initially estimated that the number of practitioners killed for organs could be as high as 120,000, with a low estimate of 9,000, and 65,000 being the median. Estimates have been revised downwards from earlier numbers to reflect changing estimates of the overall Laogai System population by the Laogai Research Foundation.[8][70][71] He then attempted to establish the number of individuals who had been examined as serious organ harvesting candidates through interviews to ascertain the proportion of Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps, the rate at which they are subject to medical tests that would be used to ascertain the health of their organs, blood and tissue type.[71] Using research by the Laogai Foundation to determine the number of detention facilities in China, he estimated the number of practitioners detained at a given time, and how many were medically examined. His conclusion from this research was that those selected for organ harvesting, from the total percentage of Falun Gong practitioners examined in custody, were between 2.5% and 15%. Based on these estimates he obtained the high-end and low-end estimates. He notes that his median figure is similar to that of an adjusted estimate from Kilgour and Matas (to cover 2000–2008).[71][72]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c David Kilgour; David Matas. BLOODY HARVEST: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China. 
  2. ^ David Kilgour; David Matas. "The First Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China". Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b News Staff (6 July 2006) "Chinese embassy denies organ harvesting report", Retrieved 8 July 2006.
  4. ^ a b Canadian Press (7 July 2006) "Report claims China kills prisoners to harvest organs for transplant", Retrieved 8 July 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas Lum (11 August 2006). "Congressional Research Report #RL33437]" (pdf). 
  6. ^ "An Interview with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Organ Harvesting in China". 12 March 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  7. ^ a b United Nations Committee Against Torture,CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE CONVENTION: Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture, Forty-first session, Geneva, 3–21 November 2008
  8. ^ a b Ethan Gutmann. "China's Gruesome Organ Harvest. The whole world isn't watching. Why not?". Weekly Standard. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Julia Duin (27 April 2010). "Chinese accused of vast trade in organs". The Washington Times. 
  10. ^ a b Chinese Embassy in Canada (6 July 2006). "Response to the so called "China's organ harvesting report". Retrieved 12 July 2009. 
  11. ^ "Exposing the Lies of 'Falun Gong' Cult". Retrieved 14 Jun 2010. 
  12. ^ CRS Report for Congress (11 August 2006)"China and Falun Gong",Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 12 November 2007
  13. ^ "U.S. Finds No Evidence of Alleged Concentration Camp in China". 16 April 2006. 
  14. ^ a b National Kidney Foundation Statement about Alleged Human Rights Violations in Organ Donation National Kidney Foundation, 14 August 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2006
  15. ^ Elizabeth Hsu. "Taiwan people urged not to travel to China for organ transplants". Taiwanese Central News Agency. 
  16. ^ "Hospitals ban training Chinese surgeons". The Age (Australia). Australian Associated Press. 5 December 2006. 
  17. ^ a b Santin, Aldo (19 February 2010). "Winnipeg lawyer nominated for Nobel Peace Prize". Winnipeg Free Press. 
  18. ^ a b "Chinese accused of vast trade in organs". The Washington Times. 
  19. ^ a b Joseph Brean (24 December 2011). "‘Extremist’ writings of ex-Canadian MP, lawyer banned in Russia because of criticisms of China". National Post. 
  20. ^ Seth Faison (27 April 1999). "In Beijing: A Roar of Silent Protestors". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ Joseph Kahn (27 April 1999). "Notoriety Now for Movement's Leader". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ Sarah Cook and Leeshai Lemish, ‘The 610 Office:Policing the Chinese Spirit’, China Brief , Volume 11 Issue 17 (9 November 2011).
  23. ^ James Tong, “Revenge of the Forbidden City,” Oxford University Press (2009).
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  25. ^ Amnesty International 'China: The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organization"' March 23, 2000
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  27. ^ Philip Pan and John Pomfret (5 August 2000). "Torture is Breaking Falun Gong". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ "2005 Country Report on Human Rights, China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)". 8 March 2006. 
  29. ^ "We Could Disappear at Any Time" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. 7 Dec 2005. 
  30. ^ "Health-System-Reform-in-China" The Lancet, 20 October 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2010
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  32. ^ "The World Medical Association Council Resolution on Organ Donation in China". World Medical Association. Retrieved 9 Jun 2010. 
  33. ^ Congressional Executive Commission on China Annual Report 2006, p. 59; note 224, p.201
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  35. ^ Ji Da, New Witness Confirms Existence of Chinese Concentration Camp, Says Organs Removed from Live Victims, Epoch Times, 17 March 2006
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  37. ^ Harry Wu (8 June 2006). "Statement of Harry Wu about Sujiatun issue". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. 
  38. ^ a b "Independent Investigators to Present Findings From Investigation on China's Organ Harvesting From Prisoners of Conscience". US Newswire. 20 July 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  39. ^ "Beyond The Red Wall – Documentary on the Persecution of Falun Gong". Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  40. ^ a b c BLOODY HARVEST Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, by David Matas, Esq. and Hon. David Kilgour, Esq. 31 January 2007
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  42. ^ Kirstin Endemann, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen (6 July 2006)"Ottawa urged to stop Canadians travelling to China for transplants", Retrieved 6 July 2006
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  55. ^ Mathew Wagner (3 Jun 2007). "Chinese TV airs Elyashiv's opposition to organ harvesting". The Jerusalem Post. 
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  62. ^ Matthew Little (15 March 2014). "Canada Raises Organ Harvesting at UN". 
  63. ^ "The European Parliament’s resolution on unethical organ harvesting in China is succeeded by a chain of international reactions". 
  64. ^ Human Rights Council (12 March 2014). "Council reviews reports on the use of drones in the fight against terrorism, and on freedom of religion". 
  65. ^ a b Kirk C. Allison (29 September 2006). "Falun Gong, Organ Harvesting in China, and the Human Rights Case for an Independent Congressional Investigation – testimony submitted by Kirk C. Allison" (PDF). Open Hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 4 Feb 2010. 
  66. ^ "Edward McMillan-Scott: Olympic athletes compete under the shadow of genocide – Yorkshire Post". Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  67. ^ Glen McGregor, "Inside China's 'crematorium'", Ottawa Citizen, 24 November 2007
  68. ^ Tom Treasure (March 2007). "The Falun Gong, organ transplantation, the holocaust and ourselves". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting) 100: 119–121. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  69. ^ Scott Carney (2011). The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers. Harper Collins. 
  70. ^ Jaya Gibson. "UK MPs Briefed on Persecution in China". The Epoch Times. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  71. ^ a b c Ethan Gutmann. ""How many harvested?" revisited". Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  72. ^ Ethan Gutmann (2010). "The China Conundrum". Focus Quarterly. 
Further reading
  • Matas, David & Trey, Torsten, State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, 2012, Seraphim Edition

External links[edit]