The fifth session addressed the impact and broad implications that forced organ harvesting has for civil society. Human rights atrocities, as part of a planned cold genocide, affect not only the victims and the perpetrators, but all of human society.
Larisa Vilsker, Human Rights Advocate, Retired Civil Engineer, Israel
Ms. Vilsker’s father escaped the Nazi created Warsaw Ghetto where most of his large family died. When she heard of “similar concentration camps in China, where people are illegally arrested, imprisoned, tortured [and] vital organs are forcibly removed,” she decided it was “my direct duty to call on the entire world community to stop this threat to all mankind.”
In 2006, she took part in a forum held in Auschwitz, Poland entitled “Never Again: Appeal to the World,” where the illegal organ harvesting in China’s concentration camps was discussed.
Ms. Vilsker admitted that, “For many countries China is a profitable economic partner; many countries have fallen under its economic dependence. For the sake of business and political gain they turn a blind eye to the monstrous things happening in China.”
But, rather than ignoring these things, she felt that we must care about China’s human rights abuses as “All people have one common home – our planet, Earth. And today we are given the opportunity to make a feasible contribution by restoring justice on our planet.”
Thierry Valle, President CAP Freedom of Conscience, France
Thierry Valle, President of the Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience (CAP Freedom of Conscience), one of the initiators of the World Summit and Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting, has been an active advocate for human rights, particularly concerning freedom of belief, for more than two decades.
Mr. Valle explained how the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was born after one of the darkest periods in our history. It was the grave violations committed against human dignity during the wars of the twentieth century, and particularly the atrocities committed during the Second World War, that brought the international community together to make a declaration that would be a safeguard against the recurrence of such crimes against human dignity.”
Yet today, “Forced organ harvesting is a great danger, as it violates universal ethical values and moral principles of human life and dignity,” he told viewers, with the main victims being Falun Gong practitioners and Uighurs.
Mr. Valle described the experience of his NGO, CAP Freedom of Conscience, with Chinese representatives to the United Nations Human Rights Council over the past four years during several attempts to denounce China’s human rights abuses against the Falun Gong and Uighurs as well as new laws that worsened China’s restrictions of religious freedom.
In its response, or lack thereof, to requests from NGOs and UN experts on human rights, China has exerted influence over the Human Rights Council by downplaying the nature of re-education camps and refusing to allow interference in its internal affairs. Additionally, the Chinese regime has its own propaganda promulgated by NGOs that it had created itself to spread false information “to justify their policy of repression.”
Despite citing interference in its internal affairs as the reason to avoid addressing concerns over their human rights abuses, Mr. Valle said that the “Chinese government does not hesitate to impose its propaganda in French and European universities. China establishes Confucius Institutes in French universities, which, under the guise of academic exchange, take advantage of the opportunity to spread their propaganda and attack academics or students who question the official doctrine of [the] Chinese government.”
In addition, the CCP’s influence over the French media was demonstrated last June after “UN experts issued a statement saying that they had received “credible information” that prisoners from ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities were being subjected to forced organ harvesting in China.” The French news agency AFP, while reporting on the UN statement, parroted the CCP propaganda that “China is regularly accused by members of the Falun Gong cult.”
Mr. Valle detailed some of the “reports to the UN and international bodies regarding human rights violations and persecution of Falun Gong members.” Both UN experts and European delegates reiterated concerns about human rights in China during the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council last year. In June of this year, UN experts again expressed concern about forced organ harvesting in China stating, “Forced organ harvesting in China appears to target specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities: Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs, Tibetans, Muslims, and Christians, detained often without explanation of the reasons of their arrest or the issuance of an arrest warrant, in different locations. We are deeply concerned about reports of discriminatory treatment of prisoners and detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.”
Mr. Valle lamented that “For years, civil society has been alerting national and international bodies to the catastrophic human rights situation in China” but “China does not change its rhetoric and demands to states or authorities to not interfere in its internal politics and its diplomacy, violently attacks all those questioning its propaganda.”
He recommended that the international community hold China accountable to “meet the standard of treaties that were signed or partially signed” such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and that China should be made to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the treaties it signed.
Antonella Marty, Author, Associate Director, Atlas Network’s Center for Latin America, Argentina
Antonella Marty, Associate Director at the Atlas Network’s Center for Latin America, is also the Director at the Center for Latin American Studies at Fundación Libertad (Argentina) and Senior Fellow at Fundación Internacional para la Libertad (Spain) led by the Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. Ms. Marty also acted as a public policy advisor for the Argentinian Parliament from 2015 to 2017 and is the author of three books: The Intellectual Populist Dictatorship(2015), What Every Revolutionary of the 21st Century Should Know (2018) and Capitalism: Antidote to Poverty (2019).
In 1848, Marx and Engels “wrote the Communist Manifesto and from that moment on planted the seed for the great problems, bloodthirsty genocides and totalitarianisms that were to follow.” Ms. Marty pointed out that all forms of Communism tried throughout history “have been harmful… and that have never given a good result, because they go against the nature of the human being.”
In 1949, Mao took power in China and oversaw the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. A brief review of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution allowed Ms. Marty to set the backdrop for “the complex human rights situation throughout China.”
Today, “Police control and persecution of all dissidence abound on the streets of China. Human rights are violated daily, and there is censorship in the media. Political opposition is strictly prohibited, there are political prisoners, practically all individual freedoms are absent and human rights are constantly violated.”
Ms. Marty described the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners as one “of the many atrocities committed by the CCP.” She explained that “Falun Dafa is neither a political doctrine, nor an economic theory, nor is it a militant protest movement.”
Rather, she said that “Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an ancient Chinese discipline of the Buddha School to cultivate and refine body, mind, and spirit. It is based upon the three principles of truth, benevolence and tolerance – things that Communism has rejected and persecuted throughout its history – and this allows practitioners to improve and better themselves as people. This is something that any human being, any kind of life, without harming others, must be totally allowed to do, to be accepted and respected.”
She described how “In its persecution, the Chinese Communist Party uses the most perverse methods known to mankind: brainwashing, slave labor in forced labor camps, extreme torture such as beatings, shocks with electric batons, rape, and food deprivation. And of course, what brings us together today at this summit – the forced removal of organs from living practitioners.”
In order to stop the “terrible slaughter [that] has been going on in China for decades,” Ms. Marty said, “the role of civil society is fundamental in defending the freedom of a country that is tormented by a bloodthirsty regime that lies to the whole world… From civil society organizations, think tanks, foundations, the media, meeting clubs – even in family gatherings, with friends, in every space where we can, we must carry the message of the suffering that is being endured in China and in dozens of countries around the world that are still clinging to life in the clutches of Communism.”
Maria Cheung, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean at the Faculty of Social Work, and Research Affiliate at the Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba, Canada
Over the last twenty years, Dr. Cheung has received grants to conduct research in Canada, Hong Kong, and China. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles related to the human rights of Falun Gong and co-authored Cold Genocide: Falun Gong in China in the International Journal of Genocide Studies and Prevention which has been downloaded over 8,000 times since its publication in June 2018.
Dr. Cheung argued that the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong is not only a crime against humanity but also “a genocide which involved both physical and non-physical destruction of the Falun Gong group.” It is “a cold genocide which is hidden and lingers for over two decades without much notice. It is a genocide by attrition which is a slow process of annihilation that reflects the unfolding phenomenon of mass killing of a protected group under disguise – [as] the public [doesn’t] see an immediate unleashing of violent death.”
“In cultural genocide, the destruction of a common conscience is the true essence and definition of a group. In the case of the Falun Gong, the target is the mind or spiritual being of the group that the Chinese Communist regime wants to destroy,” she added.
She explained that “Falun Gong, aka Falun Dafa, is a peaceful spiritual practice that espouses the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, with five sets of gentle qigong exercises. The spiritual discipline fits into the Western paradigm of religion, so the Western legal framework considers Falun Gong a protected religious group.”
When the persecution began in July 1999, directives were handed down from the highest level of the government “ordering a comprehensive clean-up of the Falun Gong” with instructions to “defame their reputations, bankrupt them financially and destroy them physically.” Ongoing “’zero-out’ campaigns in China are all directed at the annihilation of the group.”
As a result of the CCP’s initial campaign failing to succeed in fully eliminating Falun Gong, the regime then began an extended phase of unlawful incarceration, coerced recantation and physical destruction. Coerced recantation attempts to break practitioners’ will with forced labor along with physical and psychological torture until they recant their faith in a written pledge. State-sanctioned forced organ harvesting, “with the profit motive attached to it,” has been one means of eradicating practitioners physically.
Dr. Cheung explained, “For those subjected to forced organ harvesting or being tortured to death, it’s a bodily destruction, period. For those who signed the pledge, it is spiritual and social death. Claudia Card described social death as a loss of social vitality which is loss of identity, and thereby of the meaning for one’s existence,” and added, “Social death and spiritual death, unlike physical massacre, are silent and bloodless, but they achieve a similar, profound effect in the pursuit of eradication. They are central to the understanding of the evil of genocide.”
She then described how the relentless propaganda strategies of the CCP “ensure mainstream society both ignores and rejects the existence of this group [Falun Gong] like a tumor or virus that they should get rid of. The result of such normalization is inattention from the public in China and the international community. It creates an environment in which a cold genocide, a genocide by attrition, can thrive and be sustained for over twenty years.”
Dr. Cheung concluded, “A crime of this extent, in the scope of a genocide, puts humankind at a critical position. We can’t just discuss it as an academic interest without taking meaningful actions.” She said the Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting will be “an important step of action” though “more needs to follow.”
Oskar Freysinger, Author and Former Member of Parliament, Switzerland
Mr. Freysinger, with degrees in French and German literature and German philology, has been a member of the Swiss Parliament and a State Councilor of the National Council. He has also authored over 20 books.
He first quoted a phrase from Albert Camus’ The First Man, “A man, he refrains,” meaning that “men do not have the right to do whatever they want just because they can. There is a line that separates human beings from the monster that lies within them. This line is formed by the courage to say NO.”
“By knowing how to say NO, the individual makes himself independent of any external pressure, whether collective, authoritarian or ideological. By saying NO, he accepts the existence of a limit determined by an invisible, immutable law that no one can transgress with impunity without losing his soul… Beyond this limit, barbarity begins.”
He explained that “Contrary to the man who refrains, there is Prince Machiavelli for whom the end justifies the means, even if they are degrading. According to him, he who wants the end, must want the means” as exemplified by every materialist-atheist system that places its own ideology above all else.
“In order to keep up appearances and to hide its barbarity, [every materialist-atheist system] is forced to deny the soul, the uniqueness of the being, it will dehumanize society on purpose by claiming that the individual is nothing and that the collective is everything… [shaping] human society into an anthill where everything is subject to the interests of the collective.”
“The Chinese Communist Party… cannot accept the mystical approach of Falun Gong. Since it has no control over anything beyond matter, it mercilessly hunts down anything that might transcend matter and thus escape its control.”
Mr. Freysinger said generally, “the artistic world has always been the last line of defense of human rights and human dignity against barbarity. Artists, and intellectuals in a broader sense, are like the conscience of a people or a nation. They must have the courage, through their actions and words, to denounce any attack on the physical and moral integrity of their fellow human beings. They must know how to say NO.”
However, he said, “concerning the criminal harvesting of organs from Falun Gong members by the Chinese Communist Party, the silence of the cultural world is deafening.” He blamed this on the leftist leanings of those of the “current cultural world” who overlook what is happening in China today as “Their tolerance and their ‘humanism’ stop where the imperatives of their ideology begin.”
According to Mr. Freysinger, artists should “denounce, reveal, create islands of awareness through artistic expression… to give a soul to the victim by the representation of his suffering.”
Although he said the first step in stopping China’s crimes is for each individual “to refuse to lie to oneself and to keep silent out of cowardice or self-interest,” it is the artists “who should set an example by saying NO… because they have powerful means of expression to make the torturers understand that they themselves are victims.”
“[P]ositive acts added together will eventually overcome the disempowerment of the masses who, never before in history, have been able to refrain from committing what their herd power allowed them to perpetrate with impunity, well hidden in the madding crowd,” he said, adding, “when all the inhabitants of the earth know how to refrain, there will be no need to refrain them from committing what they would not even do to their dog.”
“Now, an ant is defined by its number. An ant, it cannot refrain.”