Cure begins with proper diagnosis. When the Transplantation Society evaluated the malady of organ harvesting in China, it failed to understand the true nature of the disease, and its diagnosis will never lead to a cure.
The Transplantation Society provides global leadership in the field of organ transplantation. On November 6 the Society issued a statement on organ harvesting in China.
|Falun Gong adherents display posters about CCP organ harvesting outside the World Transplant Congress. (Li Jia/The Epoch Times)|
The statement sets forth long-standing principles--for instance, that organs and tissues should be given freely and without coercion. It expresses concern that China's organ harvesting has given rise to "rampant commercialism and transplant tourism." It announces that it is working with China's Ministry of Health to bring change to China. It also gives guidelines concerning the eligibility of doctors from China--or from other countries where the Society's standards of practice are violated--for membership in the Society, to attend meetings, present research, etc.
David Kilgour has gotten to know quite a bit about organ harvesting in China. The former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) co-authored with the international human rights lawyer David Matas an investigative report on the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners that is going on China. According to Mr. Kilgour, the Transplantation Society's statement is a "baby step in a better direction."
Kilgour's limited praise for the Society owes to one glaring omission in its work: the Society's failure even to mention the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
According to the Society, "almost all organs [for transplantation in China] are likely to have been obtained from executed prisoners." This short statement obscures the reality of organ harvesting in China in several ways.
The phrase "executed prisoners" suggests individuals who have been found guilty of one of the 68 capital crimes in China and then executed. But almost all the Falun Gong practitioners who are detained in China have never had the benefit of a trial. If there is any paperwork at all regarding their arrest and detention, it takes that form of the extra-judicial administrative detention that is the quickest route to China's labor camps.
Referring to the Falun Gong practitioners as "executed prisoners," then, mixes together those who have done nothing wrong with those found guilty of crimes. Of course, given the arbitrary character of most criminal proceedings in China, a guilty sentence is no guarantee someone has done anything wrong. But some of those executed in China have actually committed crimes. The Society's statement overlooks this important fact: that a very large number of organs harvested in China are taken from individuals who are entirely blameless.
The phrase "executed prisoners" also suggests that those whose organs are harvested have first had the benefit of an execution. But in the case of Falun Gong practitioners, this is not the case. The organ harvesting is itself a most terrifying and inhumane means of execution, not a procedure performed after the execution is done. The Society hides the sheer horror of what is happening in China.
It also fails to acknowledge the full extent of the doctors' crimes. Referring to the organ harvesting from "executed prisoners" does point to a terrible confusion of roles. Those surgeons who harvest organs on China's killing fields have violated fundamental ethical principles. While a doctor's sole duty should be to heal, these doctors have become de facto parts of the criminal justice system in China.
But the role played by doctors regarding Falun Gong practitioners is far worse: they use their medical skill to murder. The Society's statement obscures this fundamental ethical breach. However, even to call what these doctors do "murder" understates the seriousness of their crime.
The Chinese regime has targeted Falun Gong practitioners in a comprehensive seven-year long persecution aimed at "eradicating" this meditation practice. The mass murder of Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of China's surgeons is a form of genocide.
According to Richard Spencer writing in The Telegraph "the Chinese government has a much more sophisticated spin machine than it is given credit for."
The Society states that "The Vice Minister [of Health in China] has sent a statement of new ethical standards to TTS [the Transplantation Society] that the Society has endorsed in its reply to the Vice Minister. This recent interaction is an illustration of TTS leadership for our members and for the constituent organizations of the Global Alliance for Transplantation."
The Vice Minister in question is Mr. Huang Jiefu. On Nov. 18 at a medical conference in Guangzhou Mr. Huang announced, in language very similar to that of the Society, that "most of the organs from cadavers [used in transplantation] are from executed prisoners."
Mr. Huang promised better record keeping to stem the "illegal" selling of organs in China, and blamed that trade on "rogue doctors."
I am reminded of the response of the Chinese Health Ministry to the World Psychiatric Association. In 2002 the WPA membership voted to investigate allegations of extensive abuse of Falun Gong practitioners by psychiatrists in China's mental hospitals--abuse that recalled the Soviet use of psychiatry to silence dissidents, although the Chinese version was much more severe and widespread.
At first the Health Ministry stonewalled the investigation. Then, there was a dramatic breakthrough. The president of the WPA quickly traveled to Beijing. The minister of health opened his offices for a Sunday meeting.
The Chinese regime admitted to "misdiagnosis and mistreatment" but not systematic abuse. It welcomed the assistance of the WPA in future educational meetings, and the WPA called off the investigation. Since then, I have not read a single report to suggest anything has changed in China's wretched mental hospitals. But the abuse going on there has stayed out of the papers.
Now, Mr. Huang of the Health Ministry wants the world to believe that China is cleaning up the organ trade. He may be entirely sincere in his representations to the Society and to the conference in Guangzhou. But whether he is or not, he is clearly saying exactly what his bosses in the CCP want said.
'Admitting Something Bad'
A letter to The Epoch Times last week commented on Mr. Huang's speech in Guangzhou: "they are just admitting something bad in order to avoid having to admit something worse."
The "something worse" is the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. This is what the Chinese regime wants to move off today's front pages.
After publishing their investigation into this organ harvesting, David Kilgour and David Matas have worked tirelessly to educate governments around the world of their findings.
They have had an effect. The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the persecution of Falun Gong and expressing concern about the organ harvesting.
At the end of September the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations held a hearing on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
Both the Australian government and the main opposition party asked the Chinese regime to allow an investigation into organ harvesting.
The vice-president of Taiwan has condemned the Chinese regime for the practice of organ harvesting and proposed measures to prevent Taiwanese citizens from traveling to China for transplants.
In Ireland, China's ambassador is being asked to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about organ harvesting.
In these instances and others there is a gathering momentum around the world of criticism of China's human rights record. The question is now being asked, could a country that countenances such brutality as the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners possibly be a host to the Olympics?
In this situation, the Society's statement is a windfall for the CCP. The Society takes at face value Mr. Huang's assertions and in doing so gives credibility to a criminal regime.
Reform and Education
The Society believes it can effect change on the one hand by working with the Ministry of Health and on the other hand by helping educate China's medical practitioners in the proper ethical standards for transplantation.
The Society fails to understand the nature of the CCP's rule of China. Where reform is impossible, reformers risk becoming the unwitting dupes of those in power. The organ harvesting is not the crime of individual doctors, it is the crime of a system. The crimes of the CCP will end when it does.
The Society also fails to understand the limits of education. Education is for the educable. What academic lecture on the principles of transplantation could ever change the heart of someone capable of the vivisection of another human being?
The Society's statement, which is meant to bring clarity to the ethical dilemmas surrounding organ harvesting, in fact makes understanding those dilemmas more difficult.
Nonetheless, Mr. Kilgour is right to note that the Society has taken a step forward. It has put the subject of organ harvesting in China before its members in a formal way. In doing so it has unequivocally reaffirmed that taking organs without consent and the selling of organs are unacceptable.
Now, perhaps the Society's members will push for actions that will go further in realizing the Society's principles of right practice.
Those surgeons known to perform organ harvesting on living Falun Gong practitioners should find the Society's doors closed to them.
The Society should demand a full, independent investigation of organ harvesting in China, including that from Falun Gong practitioners. If Mr. Huang is serious about reform, he should welcome and cooperate with such a step.
Finally, the Society should speak clearly about the regime that has given birth to these crimes. Only by condemning this regime can the Society help make room for the rebirth of a principled medical system in China devoted to the healing that nation so sorely needs.
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