Thanks to Peking Duck for the link. In the original post, I inadvertently omitted the credit for the photo. It's by Richard Hartog of the LA Times.
The Cult, the Christmas Parade, and the Organ Harvesting Allegations
Falun Dafa, that is.
In the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
Opening my local paper of record today, I was surprised to see that the Hollywood Christmas Parade, a cheerful schlockfest of marching bands and B-list celebrities presided over by “The Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant” was represented by a photograph of the Falun Dafa contingent doing a waist-drum dance.
This apparently was the second year in the parade for the Falun troupe. Hailing last year’s appearance, the FLG’s Clear Harmony site reported:
The Falun Gong contingent's lively and majestic waist drummers group, elegantly dancing "celestial maidens," huge pink lotus float, plus the brilliant and colourful costumes, gave the audience a pleasant surprise. People constantly exclaimed, "Wonderful!"
Practitioners in the dance group were like a group of celestial maidens coming to the human world. They held flower baskets, elegantly danced to the spectators lining the street and greeted them, "Merry Christmas!" People in the audience shouted back loudly, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" Applause and singing echoed each other. When the parade was over, many people had photos taken with practitioners.
Apparently all it takes to participate in the Hollywood Christmas Parade is to fill out an application, pay a fee, work with a floatmaker, and convince the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that your organization has the wherewithal and commitment to make a decent account of itself during the parade.
Although the parade takes place in front of the Chinese Theater, Beijing has not attempted to contest this hallowed ground with Falun Dafa. It’s been a different matter in San Francisco’s Chinatown. At the beginning of 2006, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce banned Falun Gong from the Chinese New Year’s Parade, incurring the wrath both of FLG and SF Supervisor Chris Daly, in turn inspiring angry harumphing from by the Chinese consulate.
Rick Ross’s Cult News website reported on the controversy and publicized some of the goofier and less attractive elements of FLG, including the belief of FLG followers that Li Hongzhi can implant a special law wheel in their tummies, and got his comments page filled up with indignant posts from FLG defenders as a result.
A certain discomfort and unwillingness by outsiders to take this esoteric cult seriously has complicated responses to Falun Dafa’s most explosive allegation: that the Chinese government is slaughtering Falun Gung detainees and harvesting their organs while they are still alive.
Friends of FLG prevailed upon two distinguished Canadian jurists, David Matas and David Kilgour, to investigate the allegations.
Their report, issued this summer and available at http://organharvestinvestigation.net/ concludes:
Based on what we now know, we have come to the regrettable conclusion that the allegations are true. We believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.
However, Matas and Kilgour admit that, without access to a broad range of data, evidence, or witnesses to create an ironclad case, they relied on circumstantial evidence and intuition:
We also used inductive reasoning, working backwards as well as forwards. If the
allegations were not true, how would we know it was not true? If the allegations were true, what facts would be consistent with those allegations? What would explain the reality of the allegations, if the allegations were real? Answers to those sorts of questions which helped us to form our conclusions.
I found the document relatively thin. From Matas and Kilgour’s big-picture perspective, one of the more damning inferences was that, given an execution rate of about 1680 per year over the last five years according to Amnesty International’s count, there was no way to account for the appearance of 41,500 “extra” organs available for transplant.
Executions cannot explain the increase of organ transplants in China since the persecution of Falun Gong began.
That means that the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period
2000 to 2005 is unexplained.
Where do the organs come from for the 41,500 transplants? The allegation of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners provides an answer.
I was, quite frankly, surprised that Matas and Kilgour assumed that the AI number represented actual—as opposed to the fraction of independently documented—executions in China. As was widely reported, a representative of the National People’s Congress stated that China’s execution rate was “around 10,000 per year”, which undercuts the assertion that only an extermination campaign against Falun Gong practitioners could explain the number of organs available for transplantation.
Matas and Kilgour have marshalled some important information on China’s persecution of Falun Dafa and disturbing anecdotal evidence concerning China’s organ trade, but the case for an organ-harvesting conspiracy targeting Falun Gong practitioners hasn’t been made yet.
Indeed, the Amnesty International factsheet on persecution of Falun Gong (available at the same site) refrains from endorsing their conclusions:
· Report on alleged live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners
· A report published by independent researchers David Matas and David Kilgour on 6th July 2006, concludes that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners are victims of 'systematic' organ harvesting, whilst still alive, throughout China.
· Amnesty International is continuing to analyse sources of information about the Falun Gong organ harvesting allegations, including the report published by Canadians David Matas and David Kilgour.
· Amnesty International is carrying out its own investigation on this issue. These investigations are being hampered by the particular difficulty of collecting reliable evidence in China, including official restrictions on access for international human rights organizations
Having said that, it’s clear that China’s transplant business is booming, the main source of organs is executed prisoners, and the Ministry of Public Security has jumped into the lucrative organ business in a big way.
And I suspect the government has a queasy awareness that the MPS is faced with a dire conflict of interest when the organs of a dead prisoner—of any felony class or religious denomination—can fetch tens of thousands of dollars not just from a prestigious hospital that might be scrupulous about the paperwork and procedures, but also from some half-assed clinic that will pay extra squeeze to get a rotten kidney that some unqualified surgeon will stuff into a desperate and soon to be dead patient for a quick, dirty, and substantial payday.
It makes one cringe to realize that China has 500 locations performing liver transplants, when the United States has only 100—and has discovered that quality and accountability cannot be guaranteed even for this limited number of facilities.
So I look at China’s transplant regulations announced July 1—which tightened regulation of transplant facilities and required for the first time written permission from organ donors—as a tacit acknowledgement that the transplant system was out of control and creating secret horrors.
The new regulation stipulates that medical institutions must get written agreement from the donors or their relatives before the transplant, regardless of whether the donors are ordinary citizens or executed criminals.
Requiring that the MPS obtain a written release from a potential executee/donor might literally be a lifeline for a prisoner who might otherwise be victimized by a greedy warden...if China’s hospitals decide to take the Hippocratic oath—and their new responsibilities under the law to organize medical science and ethics committees to manage the collection and allocation of organs--seriously:
A key task of the committee is to ensure that the organs used for transplants are voluntarily donated instead of being sold or randomly taken from people
And “randomly taken from people” has a nice sound, better anyway than “ripped from their still-living bodies during extrajudicial executions-to-order”.
In one of those moves that might make one nostalgic for the command economy (or at least government oversight and regulation) the chances of compliance may be improved by squeezing the fly-by-night operations out of the business.
...there are too many hospitals performing organ transplants, and many of them are not qualified to do so.
Managers of many small hospitals invite doctors from other hospitals to carry out one or two organ transplants and then claim they are able to provide the service in order to attract more patients.
The July 1 regulation also brings a set of medical standards for organ transplants in an effort to guarantee medical safety and prevent the waste of limited organs.
Only Class-3A hospitals, China's top-ranking comprehensive hospitals, can apply for registration if they have doctors with clinical organ transplant qualifications, the related transplant equipment, a good management system and a medical ethics committee.
The measure is aimed at preventing unqualified hospitals from performing organ transplants. Medical institutions wanting to carry out transplants will need to register with provincial-level health departments...
Shanghai Changzheng Hospital did 181 kidney and 172 liver transplants in 2005. Of these, nearly 30 had bad outcomes and were done by unqualified doctors, according to Shanghai-based Life Week magazine.
I would not be surprised if prisoners were being executed in greater numbers—and that Falun Gong practitioners were suffering disproportionately—in response to the perverse incentives created by the Chinese transplant market.
I would also not be surprised if the Chinese government was appalled at the MPS, not out of considerations of humanity, but because those brutal and greedy troglodytes were squandering two unique resources that China wants to exploit scientifically and efficiently—its growing stature in the field of transplant medicine and the biological assets of the thousands of prisoners it executes annually.