Article from Stornoway Today: Campaign to Halt Organ Harvesting Comes to Western Isles

The following article was printed on June 28th on the Stornoway Today Web site.

MULTIPLE witnesses have this year brought forward evidence of camps in China where prisoners have had their organs removed while they are still ALIVE.

And in a desperate bid to stop organ harvesting, campaigner, Yu Yu Williamson will be visiting the Western Isles next week — to ask local people to support the condemnation of this severe human rights violation in China.

Ms Williamson will be bringing a petition to Lewis and Harris, which asks the British government to support investigation of this matter.

The petition states: "Beginning in March 2006, multiple witnesses and journalists have brought forth evidence of camps in China where detained prisoners of Falun Gong (a peaceful meditation practice of the Buddhist school) and other prisoners of conscience have their organs removed while they are still alive. The organs are then sold for profit to medical facilities inside and outside China, for use in transplant operations and research.

"We, the undersigned, urge the Prime Minister and UK government to strongly condemn this organ harvesting, take steps to stop such slaughter, ensure such organs do not enter the UK and call for an investigation by the UN and other international bodies into the grave human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party against Falun Gong practitioners."

Amnesty International reported organ harvesting from prisoners on a widespread scale as far back as 1993. In 1994, Human Rights Watch also provided compelling evidence which included text of a government decree on the subject.

Then, in 1998, Fresenius Medical Care AG, a German kidney dialysis company, pulled out of China, claiming that the Chinese military officials had probably made it an unintentional accomplice in the selling of organs from executed prisoners to wealthy foreigners. In the same year, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the sale of organs of executed Chinese prisoners.

The escalation in the inhumane practice took place in 1999, when the then leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Jiang Zemin, banned Falun Gong giving the direct order to 'destroy their reputation, bankrupt them financially and annihilate them physically'.

Ms Williamson revealed: "Since the ban, these tens of millions of people have been placed outside the protection of the law in China. They are refused education and social support, fired from their jobs, imprisoned without trial, and are tortured in forced labour camps, where deaths of Falun Gong practitioners 'count as suicide'. Many practitioners who were arrested often refuse to disclose their names and personal details for fear of implicating their families, friends and colleagues.

"These situations make Falun Gong practitioners particularly vulnerable, since the regime can remove their organs without being held accountable for their actions. Victims' family members have no way of knowing what is happening to them and when it is too late, no legal recourse afterwards."

Faced with the accumulating evidence, on 19 April 2006 the British Transplantation Society (BTS) publicly condemned the practice of extracting organs from executed prisoners without consent as an 'unacceptable' human rights violation.

Ms Williamson added: "According to the Communist regime's official statistics, there were only 78 liver transplants in China during the eight years between 1991 and 1998. Since the regime started to suppress Falun Gong in 1999, the number of liver transplants rocketed from 118 in 1999 to over 3000 in 2003. This sharp rise during the time of a major suppression campaign may not be a pure coincidence."

Following a meeting last month with two Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing (one of them was subsequently held under house arrest, the other hasn't been heard from since), Edward McMillan-Scott, a European Parliament Vice- President, revealed: "The practitioners I met in Beijing told me of their imprisonment and that of their wives, of the specially harsh treatment they suffered, including sleep deprivation, degrading and humiliating punishments and beatings. One said he knew 30 fellow practitioners who had been beaten to death. They were aware of organ harvesting — one had seen the cadaver of his friend and fellow practitioner after body parts had been removed."

Though names can be added to an online petition at Ms Williamson hopes that her visit to the Western Isles will help local people understand the situation in China, and support her cause.

"To help stop this inhumane practice, I would like to petition in Lewis and Harris to ask the British Government to support investigation of this matter. I will stay in Harris from July 3 to 8. On July 5, my friends and I will petition in Tarbert, and on July 6, we will petition in Lewis."

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