China harvesting Falun Gong organs, report alleges

China is harvesting organs from live Falun Gong prisoners without their consent, according to a report released Thursday by a former Liberal MP and a Canadian human rights lawyer.

China is harvesting organs from live Falun Gong prisoners without consent and destroying their remains, says a report from a former Liberal MP and a Canadian human rights lawyer.

The 68-page document, produced by former MP David Kilgour and Winnipeg lawyer David Matas, is based partly on a series of telephone recordings made by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China (CIPFG). The non-governmental group has offices in Washington and Ottawa.

It also includes interviews with Falun Gong practitioners living in Canada and information taken from Chinese hospital and transplant centre websites.

Followers of Falun Gong say it is a spiritual movement to improve physical and mental health, while the Chinese government considers it a cult, banning it in 1999.

For years, Falun Gong followers have alleged that the Chinese government harvests and sells the organs of imprisoned Falun Gong members in an increasingly profitable organ trade.

That's acharge China denies.

Of the 60,000 organ transplants the China Medical Organ Transplant Association recorded between 2000 and 2005, 18,500 of those organs came from identifiable sources, said the report.

"That leaves 41,500 transplants from no other explained sources," Matas said during a news conference Thursday in Ottawa.

Phone recordings, organ price lists

Matas and Kilgour said they, along with an independent translator, listened to telephone recordings made by the CIPFG to Chinese hospitals, prisons and transplant centres. In the phone calls, transcripts of which are provided in the report, organs from alleged Falun Gong prisoners are promised to prospective buyers within as little as a week.

The report quotes an organ price list on a website for a transplant centre in Shenyang City, which offers corneas for $30,000 US, kidneys for $62,000 US, livers for $130,000 US and lungs for up to $170,000 US.

According to figures from Chinese government departments, the number of liver transplant centres in China jumped from 22 in 1999 to 500 in 2006, while the number of liver transplant operations increased from 135 to 4,000 during that same period.

Kilgour pointed to an interview with the ex-wife of a Chinese surgeon who allegedly removed the corneas from 2,000 euthanized Falun Gong prisoners over a two-year period. All died and their bodies were burned, said the woman, who was not identified.

"There's enough evidence here to take these allegations seriously," said Matas. "It's a crime against humanity. It's very simple."

The report calls on China, which it says has no organized system of organ donation, to record the sources of all organs used in transplants and says Canada should not permit Chinese doctors to do organ transplant training in Canada.

China admitted in 2005 thatit harvests and sells the organs of executed prisoners, but says the practice happens with the consent of prisoners or family members.

Kilgour said Thursday that China tortures prisoners to get their consent.

The issue made headlines in April when a Falun Gong activist disrupted a White House ceremony for visiting Chinese President Hu Jinta.

Following her arrest, Wang Wenyi said she was protesting China's alleged organ harvesting from Falun Gong members. Charges against her were later dropped.

Earlier this year, the British Transplantation Society issued a news release alleging China used organs from executed prisoners without their consent.

The society wrote:"An accumulating body of evidence suggests that the organs of executed prisoners are being removed for transplantation without the prior consent of either the prisoner or their family."