On July 26, three representatives from DAFOH, Executive Director Dr. Torsten Trey, Mental Health Adviser Dr. Jessica Russo and Dr. Glynn Gilcrease III, a medical oncologist at the University of Utah School of Medicine, spoke at a “side event” in support of the State Department’s first annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
Dr. Trey argued that the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese government has been part of a “cold” genocide to eliminate Falun Gong. He described cold genocide as an insidious, slow, and subtle method of mass murder. In contrast to a “hot” genocide, which is quick, intense, and often chaotic, a slow genocide may not be as readily detected by the public. Dr. Trey detailed the history of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, including the dramatic rise in transplant numbers and transplant hospitals shortly after the persecution began.
Dr. Russo, a clinical psychologist from Philadelphia, further elaborated on the impact of a cold genocide on shaping public opinion. She explained how the government’s propaganda against Falun Gong was the first step in mass annihilation and has served to ostracize practitioners both from their Chinese neighbors and the international community. The Chinese Communist Party’s eradication campaign of these peaceful people, including the harvesting of their organs, has been more easily carried out under cover of widespread condemnation. Dr. Russo compared the tactics of the Chinese government with those of the German Nazis, whose propaganda campaign successfully swayed public perception of the Jewish people, facilitating their elimination from society.
Dr. Gilcrease offered suggestions for how the international medical community and world governments can end the persecution of Falun Gong and China’s illicit transplantation practices. He recommended that articles on ethics be included in the charters of professional medical associations to discourage unethical conduct. He also urged medical schools in the United States to stop training doctors from China in organ transplantation.
Dr. Gilcrease said that the State Department should consider providing more information on unethical organ procurement practices when issuing visas and warnings for passengers at departure. Warnings should be given to American patients who travel to China to receive organ transplants and those who have been involved in unethical transplant surgeries should be banned from entering the United States.
After the presentations, a clip was shown from a recent documentary about unethical transplant practices filmed in Tianjin, China. The documentary was produced and aired by TV Chosun, one of the largest television stations in South Korea. The Korean investigative reporters traveled to China in the fall of 2017 claiming to be relatives of a patient in need of a kidney. Medical staff assured these “relatives” that for approximately US$130,000, their family member could receive a kidney in just a few weeks but, if they paid more, the transplant could be scheduled even sooner. The hospital’s transplant liaison staff also told the reporters that over 3,000 patients from South Korea had received organ transplants at Tianjin First Central Hospital over the past three years. Additionally, the documentary mentioned that some of the Chinese doctors had received their transplant surgical training in the United States.
The Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was launched in Washington DC on July 24 with the purpose of offering practical solutions for the promotion of religious freedom around the globe. Foreign ministers, international organization representatives, religious leaders and civil society representatives were all invited to “discuss challenges, identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.”
The event hosted 40 foreign ministers and representatives from 80 countries. Charitable organizations were encouraged to hold their own events in further emphasize the goals put forth by the Ministerial. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said, “We must commit to using all the might, the machinery, and the moral authority we have to stop those nations and actors who trample on free souls.”