U. S. Congress Hears Testimony on Thousands of Falun Gong Killings for Organs

WASHINGTON D.C.—Four experts testified on Wednesday before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs about the forced harvesting of organs from religious and politician prisoners in China, including tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners.

Every year, at least 10,000 organ transplants are conducted in China, but while the Chinese government claims they originate from death row prisoners, medical experts and human rights workers say the numbers still don’t match up.

“Most experts put the number of executions each year anywhere from 2-8,000 per year, which falls short of the numbers given by different sources in China including [Vice Minister of Health] Dr. [Huang] Jiefu,” said Dr. Damon Noto, spokesperson for the group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) in his testimony.

“Even if they executed 10,000 [people] a year and transplanted 10,000 a year, there would still be a very large discrepancy. Why is that? It’s simply impossible that those 10,000 people executed would match perfectly the 10,000 people that needed the organs.”

Dr. Noto says several investigations suggest the gap is filled by prisoners of conscience, especially detained practitioners of Falun Gong. Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are held, pre-screened (for blood type and other qualities required to match an organ to a patient) and killed on-demand in order to extract organs to fuel the transplantation industry in China, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (fact sheet).

“To rip open the body of someone who is simply involved in a religious or personal or political idea that is a contrary to the wishes of the ruling elite, and not a physical threat to the regime, this is about the most monstrous crime that I can conceive of,” Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), who chaired the session, was quoted as saying in the Epoch Times. Rohrbacher also addressed the journalists present in the room, urging those who hadn’t to report on the topic.

“This possibility—and this probability—pushes us into the horrific beyond that challenges our language, making ‘barbaric’ too calm of a word,” said Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), according to AFP.

Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) called the information presented at the hearing “deeply troubling.” 

Call for U.S. government action 

Ethan Gutmann, an author and freelance journalist who has done extensive investigations into the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience, focused his testimony on 12 witnesses he had interviewed who had either seen live organ harvesting from prisoners take place or had been blood tested as prisoners of conscience themselves, making them candidates. He urged Congress to call those witnesses themselves to testify, as part of a thorough investigation.

Gutmann also emphasized the Communist Party’s responsibility in connection with such crimes.

“The demand for the harvesting of political prisoners came not from the triads, but aging party cadres,” said Gutmann. “China is a surveillance state, aimed at observing party members and the military…. ‘Party Central’ knew about this.”  

Dr. Noto highlighted the importance of the U.S. government investigating and publicizing the reports and evidence of organ harvesting, for the sake of the victims but also for the medical community.

“Currently our physicians are seeing patients travel to China for organs, our hospitals are training China’s medical doctors on how to perform transplantations, our universities are participating and funding research, taking place in China regarding transplantations and our medical journals are accepting them,” said Noto.

“Without this information we run the risk of making our medical community accomplices to one of the greatest tragedies of our time.”

He too called for a serious investigation by the U.S. government as well as for a congressional resolution condemning the practice and a travel advisory to warn prospective patients traveling to China. 

Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, from the University of California in Los Angeles, suggested that U.S. companies be prohibited from undertaking organ transplant-related research or pharmeceutical testing where organs come from executed prisoners and that U.S. citizens returning to the country with an organ obtained abroad be required to declare it. He stated it was difficult to control events in China, but Congress can certainly affect the behavior of U.S. citizens and companies.

“The US needs to provide an example … and demonstrate lack of acceptance of anyone within US jurisdiction profiteering from the desperation of patients in need of transplantation, … or from prisoners whose body parts are worth large sums of money when they are executed,” he testified.

Additional information 

Also speaking at the hearing was Dr. Charles Lee, Spokesman and Public Relations Director of the Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (testimony). 

* See here for the written testimonies of from the hearing.
* See here for a Falun Dafa Information Center fact sheet summarizing the history and evidence of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
* The Epoch Times, “US Congress Hones in on Vast Organ Harvest,” Sept. 12, 2012.
* Agence France Presse, “US lawmakers question China organ transplants,” Sept. 13, 2012.