House Resolution 281 deserves support

It is a privilege for me to be a Yooper. I am so appreciative of the outpourings of compassion from members of our community since they began signing a petition encouraging U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, to co-sponsor House Resolution 281 in August last year.

This is a resolution “expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.” As of today, 215 congressmen and women have co-sponsored this life-saving resolution.

Due to traditional culture and social customs, Chinese people prefer to keep their bodies intact after death. There is no effective organ donation system in China. However, China carries out the second largest amount of organ transplants in the world each year. This leads one to ask, “What is the source of these human organs?”

The major source of these organs is from non-consenting prisoners of conscience. These victims include house Christians, Tibetans, Uighurs and Falun Dafa practitioners. Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, is a peaceful Buddha-school spiritual discipline with meditative exercises and moral principles based on the universal values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.

Falun Gong helps people achieve physical and spiritual well-being. The Chinese communist party has been persecuting Falun Gong since 1999 because it feared that Falun Gong was ideological competition on account of Falun Gong’s independence, popularity, and traditional spiritual content.

Mounting evidence of the state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China has been documented in books, media reports, and professional medical journals, including a 2014 publication in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Two facts speak volumes. First, the average waiting time for a matching organ advertised by China’s organ transplant centers is within 2-4 weeks (source: “Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting,” www.dafoh.org). Second, recorded phone calls with staff from 15 Chinese hospitals and detention facilities admitted that they used vital organs taken from Falun Gong practitioners for transplant (source: David Matas and David Kilgour, “Bloody Harvest: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, 2007”). According to witnesses, many victims were thrown into a crematory while they were still alive. This atrocity of FOH has descended to the moral bottom line.

The CCP claims that the organs came from criminals receiving capital punishment. However, the estimated number of executed prisoners (source: Dui Hua Foundation) is far below the number of organ transplants. In “State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China” (Seraphim Editions, 2012), David Matas, Esq., a respected human rights lawyer, concludes that if executed prisoners were the source of the majority of organ transplants in China, the number of executions would have to be several times the number of transplants conducted.

The European Parliament passed a resolution in December 2013 condemning FOH in China. Israel, Spain and Taiwan also responded with legislation to ban illegal transplant tourism.

In the U.S., the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Illinois House of Representatives both unanimously passed a resolution in 2014 urging the U.S. government to take steps to end FOH in China. The Medical Society of Virginia also passed Resolution 13-207 on May 31 to condemn FOH in China.

Killing tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience and selling their organs for huge profit is a crime against humanity. As Americans continue traveling to China for organ transplants, and as hospitals and medical schools in the U.S. continue training Chinese transplant doctors, raising awareness of this crime is the key to prevent Americans from becoming accomplices to it.

H.R. 281 is the first congressional resolution condemning Chinese communist party’s unethical practice of FOH. Just as the international exposure of the letter from the Masanjia Labor Camp in China contributed to the recent closure of the camp, a timely passage of H.R. 281 can curb FOH in China as well. The earlier it can be passed, the more innocent lives it can save.

I am grateful to Michigan U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, Bill Huigenza, Tim Walberg, John Conyers, and Kerry Bentivolio for having stepped forward to co-sponsor this life-saving resolution.

Many people, including myself, sincerely hope Congressman Benishek will co-sponsor H. R. 281 too.

Editor’s note: Hsin-Ling Hsieh is a professor of Economics at Northern Michigan University.