The last several months have witnessed an unusually large number of lawmakers taking bold and decisive action against China’s human rights violations, particularly its crime of forced organ harvesting. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, widely recognized as being a direct result of China’s failure to act as a responsible nation, legislators from numerous countries have not only identified the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as an illegitimate government, but have also sought to distance themselves from any actions that serve to embolden this murderous regime.
The U.S. State Department, the Virginia State legislature, the Austrian and Belgian Parliaments, Canadian parliamentarians, and the newly created Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) have all called for an end to China’s persecution and forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. The official statements, resolutions, letters and proclamations coincided with the July 20th commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) unprecedented persecution and eradication campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
On June 5th, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio announced the formation of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a coalition designed to coordinate governmental policies related to China’s adherence to international rules, human rights and national integrity. The group is comprised of senior politicians from around the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Parliament.
In July, IPAC released a statement, signed by 643 current and former ministers, senators, members of parliament, members of congress, and state-level legislators from 32 countries in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, expressing grave concerns over the CCP’s decades-long violent suppression of Falun Gong adherents’ constitutional right to peacefully practice their beliefs. The statement calls the persecution of Falun Gong “one of the harshest campaigns against a faith group in modern times” with “millions” of Falun Gong practitioners “arbitrarily arrested and jailed without due process and many [having] been tortured and even killed.”
IPAC’s statement highlights the Chinese regime’s egregious human rights violations against all spiritual groups, notingthat the coalition is specifically concerned by reports of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, the primary victim group of China’s transplantation crimes over the last two decades. “Evidence of forced organ harvesting in China emerged 15 years ago and an independent and rigorous legal project—the China Tribunal—last year found beyond reasonable doubt that this practice had been perpetrated on a widespread, state-sponsored, and systematic level.” The statement adds, “Today we highlight the plight of the Falun Gong together with all religious minorities who have suffered from repression under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. We remind the world of the depravities they continue to suffer, and urge the world to stand up and speak out for an end to such repression, an end to impunity, and for justice, accountability, human rights, and human dignity for all the peoples of China.”
Many signatories to the inter-parliamentary statement added their own declarations. Austrian MP Petra Wimmer said, “My thoughts are with the relatives of Falun Dafa practitioners who have died as a result of torture, prison camps, or the illegal trade in organs. International attention can raise awareness of these problems and thus increase the pressure on the Chinese government to stop these practices.”
Swedish MP Ann-Sofie Alm said, “There have been reports of torture and even forced organ harvesting. That is why this joint statement was initiated. In fact, the persecution of minorities in China is among the worst crime against human rights the world has ever seen. It has been described as a genocide.”
Indonesian House of Representative Drs. H. Guspardi Gaus, M.Si was decisive in his comments, “These are humans who are being slaughtered, something inhumane, something very barbaric. In my opinion therefore, a legal process must be undertaken to end it.”
Senator Marco Rubio, IPAC’s Co-Chair, said, “China, under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, represents a global challenge” that the coalition is prepared to address.
In IPAC’s introductory video Elisabet Lann, one of the group’s members and the deputy mayor for the Christian democrats in Gothenburg, Sweden, said, “We thought China would open up over time. This hasn’t happened.”
Among the signatories to the inter-parliamentary letter were 63 current and former Canadian parliamentarians who also expressed their support of Falun Gong practitioners on the 21st anniversary of persecution with a written statement and at an online event. “Falun Gong is a peaceful spiritual movement that promotes values that are widely shared, and yet they have faced unbelievable brutal persecution,” said MP Garnett Genuis, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Canada-China Relations. He exclaimed Canada should pass “new legislation addressing the issue of organ harvesting.”
Bill S-204: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs) is presently being considered by the Canadian Senate. Introduced by Senator Salma Ataullahjan, the bill makes it an offense to engage in organ harvesting anywhere in the world, and renders foreign nationals and permanent residents who’ve engaged in the practice inadmissible to Canada.
Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association, said July 20th marks a “dark day in human history. Twenty-one years later that campaign of terror continues. The crimes of the Chinese communist regime against peaceful Falun Dafa practitioners are well documented, and they should shock the conscience of the world.”
Rabbi Reuben Bulka, a former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the CCP is murdering its own people with the persecution of Falun Gong, and the world needs to stand up to stop it. “These people [Falun Gong] are being murdered day in and day out for their organs, and we can’t just be simply sitting by and doing nothing.”
David Matas, an international human rights lawyer from Canada, who, with former Canadian MP David Kilgour, released the first investigative report on forced organ harvesting in 2006, said at the online event that in addition to the bill proposed by Genuis, the Canadian government should join the Council of Europe convention against trafficking in human organs, call on the UN Human Rights Council to act, and ensure that Canadian heath centers and doctors have the necessary ethical standards in place to address transplant tourism.
Matas made another recommendation, echoed by former Canadian justice minister Irwin Colter, to use the Magnitsky Act to sanction individual perpetrators of forced organ harvesting. Coulter, now one of the Canadian co-chairs of IPAC, defined the campaign to eradicate Falun Gong and forced organ harvesting as 21 years of crimes against humanity and repeated comments made by Sir Geoffrey Nice, lead panelist of the China Tribunal, who stated that China’s transplantation crimes and the executions involved could itself constitute acts of genocide.
Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center, said that Beijing’s drawn-out persecution campaign of Falun Gong has allowed the regime to develop a systematic mechanism to suppress other religious groups and dissidents, such as Uyghurs, house Christians, and Hongkongers, “not just to break a person, but to force that person to profess their allegiance to the Communist Party….They really honed that process on Falun Gong.”
On July 22, U.S. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo, issued a statement calling on the Chinese Communist Party to “immediately end its depraved abuse and mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners,” including releasing detained adherents and addressing the whereabouts of those who have disappeared, such as Ma Zhenyu, the husband of Zhang Yuhua, a Falun Gong practitioner who met with President Donald Trump last year. Pompeodeclared, “Twenty-one years of persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is far too long, and it must end.”
Forty-eight members of the Virginia General Assembly sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo urging the State Department to take action to stop forced organ harvesting in China stating, “Organ transplants should never be conducted under force or duress. We are concerned that patients from the United States who go to China for organ transplants do not know that the organs they receive are from political prisoners.”
Another event that coincided with the anniversary of the Falun Gong persecution took place on July 20, when five Falun Gong practitioners were invited to meet virtually with U.S. State Department officials. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro and Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom both expressed concerns over the ongoing practice of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.
Both the Austria and Belgium parliaments recently passed resolutions calling for investigation into China’s transplant industry and forced organ harvesting.
On June 23, Austria’s human rights committee unanimously passed a resolution to combat human and organ trafficking. “We are deeply concerned about this. It is simply unbearable,” said Austrian MP Gudrun Kugler after the human rights committee unanimously passed her resolution. “Time and again reports of illegal trafficking of human organs have surfaced in the People’s Republic of China that contradict all human rights and ethical standards.” The resolution asks that the Austrian government protect organ trafficking victims by working with and supporting international bodies, such as the World Health Assembly, the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Council of Europe. It was drafted after the Parliament received a petition signed by constituents last October. The statement reads, “We Austrians do not want organs from China for which innocent people have been killed.”
On June 12, Belgium’s Senate adopted a resolution, after already passing legislation banning international travel for organ transplants, calling for an end to forced organ harvesting in China. Several senators spoke on behalf of their respective political parties and condemned the CCP’s transplantation crimes. “I often see Falun Gong practitioners holding activities on Luxembourg Square [in front of the European Parliament],” Senator Mark Demesmaeker said. “They specifically call for an end to the terrifying and appalling criminal acts of organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners.” Demesmaeker also said forced organ harvesting is a crime that must be punished by the criminal law passed on May 22, 2019, which officially bans the citizens of Belgium from traveling abroad for organ transplants. Violators under this act could face up to 20 years in prison and a 1.2 million euro ($1.35 million) fine.