07 May 14
By Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament’s vice president for democracy and human rights.
On Dec. 12, 2013, the European Parliament passed a resolution (that I sponsored) unequivocally condemning the Chinese regime’s forced organ harvesting, especially from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, and calling for an EU investigation into the practice.
The same week, a U.S. congressional sub-committee on Asia & Pacific adopted a parallel resolution, and a 1.5-million signature petition was presented to the United Nations.
This global response came on top of a series of similar resolutions by parliaments and professional associations in recent times.
These actions are ending the credibility gap about the genocidal crime of selecting and killing prisoners, especially Falun Gong practitioners, for body parts. Falun Gong are a benign, Buddha-school of qigong spiritual exercises, once practiced by 70–100 million in China. Today they are the only prisoners in China to be blood- and urine-tested as part of the selection process, and thousands have been tissue-matched and then literally killed to order at 1 of the 169 transplant centers across China. Some 10,000 operations are carried out each year and the organs mostly come from prisoners, because organ donation hardly exists in China, for cultural reasons.
As European Parliament Vice President for Democracy & Human Rights, I met former Falun Gong prisoners of conscience secretly in Beijing in 2006. One of them told me that his friends had disappeared from their prison cell and the next time he saw his body was in the prison hospital with holes where, evidently, body parts had been removed, for sale.
Since the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, researchers David Kilgour and David Matas estimate that tens of thousands have lost their lives through organ harvesting.
I have campaigned against this appalling crime against humanity since my visit to Beijing.
There I also first made contact with Gao Zhisheng, the Christian human rights lawyer, whose 2005 report into the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners led to the closure of his Beijing law office.
After my visit, Gao and I kept in touch about reform in China but he was arrested on August 15, 2006, and was later convicted of “subversion.” He suffered a series of imprisonments and house arrests, and then—for a long period—disappearance.
This did not stop him from his activities in the early days, including writing open letters through me to the European Parliament and to the U.S. Congress. Eventually he was silenced through imprisonment in an unknown jail.