US Congressman Steve Chabot and former US Congressman Matt Salmon were two of the speakers at DAFOH’s November 19th virtual conference 20 Years of Forced Organ Harvesting in China: A Briefing for US Legislators. Rep. Chabot opened his remarks with an explanation of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 21-year persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by saying, “what makes this persecution particularly heinous and barbaric is that the CCP slaughters imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners so that they can harvest their organs for transplant. This despicable practice allows China to maintain a pretty much on demand organ transplant program which is unheard of even in the most developed countries. This is what makes today’s briefing so important.” He went on to say that DAFOH’s virtual conference was timely given the China Tribunal’s final judgement in March “documenting widespread and systematic human rights abuses against Falun Gong practitioners in China” and which, he noted, “adds another layer of independent corroboration to these allegations.”
Congressman Chabot shared that he is working with other legislators to complete a bipartisan bill that will “hold the CCP officials accountable for the persecution of the Falun Gong and hopefully get at the barbaric practice of forced organ harvesting.”
Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the China Tribunal, was among the panelists at the virtual conference. He explained that the Tribunal, tasked to investigate forced organ harvesting in China, was a “people’s tribunal” meaning that it was initiated by people to consider and decide on a matter that international bodies, such as the United Nations, had not investigated, though they should have. Mr. Sabi reported that the Tribunal heard testimony from 55 witnesses and experts and reviewed 4,000 pages of documents. Two of those witnesses were also present at DAFOH’s November 19th video conference. One told of the extensive medical tests he underwent while incarcerated in China for his faith. The other recounted her father’s suspicious death while in detention.
DAFOH Deputy Director G. Weldon Gilcrease, III, MD, provided context to the testimony of the witnesses with an overview of the evidence DAFOH has compiled on China’s organ transplant industry and how the persecution of Falun Gong has fueled that industry. He noted that forced organ harvesting has a very narrow and precise definition which he described as “state sanctioned, or government organized, or government run, systematic harvesting of organs by non-consenting prisoners of conscience.” Dr. Gilcrease differentiated forced organ harvesting from black market organ trafficking noting that forced organ harvesting requires the large-scale orchestrated movement and machinery of a central government. He also made clear that the victims were not convicted criminals or death sentenced individuals, but were wrongfully imprisoned and persecuted Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Salmon closed out the virtual conference encouraging US lawmakers to take legislative action and lamented that resolutions condemning the persecution of Falun Gong and forced organ harvesting are not enough. “When you condemn [China] for the constant practice of organ harvesting, then they just lie about it and sweep it under the rug and nothing is really ever done to change anything.” Mr. Salmon also described how his own views on China policy shifted during his five terms in the US Congress. In the 1990s, he believed that establishing normal trade relations with China would help improve human rights conditions in the country while 20 years later it is clear to him that “nothing has gotten better and in fact everything has gotten worse.”