Spanish Attorney Speaks at Falun Gong Rally, Advocates Stricter Laws on Organ Tourism

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On July 20th, Falun Gong practitioners and human right activists from 27 European countries held a rally in front of City Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, condemning the 14-year long persecution of Falun Gong in China. Mr. Carlos Iglesias, a lawyer from Spain, spoke at the rally about a Spanish law that prevents Spanish citizens from getting organ transplants in China.

After the rally, Mr. Iglesias told the reporters what prompted the law. A few days before the rally, a Spanish man was censured by Spain’s national transplantation organization. The man, Oscar Garay, who got a transplanted liver in China, was encouraging others to travel to China if they were in need of an organ.

Garay, a former heavy drinker, travelled to China in 2008 for a new liver because medical complications made him ineligible for a transplant in Spain. He paid 130,000 euros (US$170,000). Garay’s story was reported in El Pais, the largest newspaper in Spain, in 2010. It provided a detailed description of his 2008 trip to Tianjin, China, where he got the organ that had been arranged for in advance.

What Garay did was not illegal in Spain until June 2010, when the law was passed making it a criminal offense to “promote, facilitate, or publicize” obtaining an organ from an illicit source. Those engaged in such activities and the recipients of illicit organs could be jailed for 6 to 12 years.

According to Mr. Iglesias, encouraging other people to travel to China for organ transplants is a criminal offense. The law was changed, in fact, only after legislators and organ transplant specialists in Spain were made aware of a report by two Canadian researchers, David Kilgour, a former parliamentarian and crown prosecutor, and David Matas, a human rights lawyer, about the mass harvesting of organs from practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline, in China. “Kilgour and Matas gave their report to the National Transplantation Organization and recommended that the Ministry of Health issue instructions and recommendations not to travel to China for organs,” Iglesias says. That was in November 2006.

Iglesias described the mass extraction of organs from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience as “truly a genocidal act.”

He said: “The National Transplant Organization of Spain is supporting human rights in general and in China in particular … and is helping Spanish society understand the reality of what is happening under the Chinese communist dictatorship.”

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