Eighteen years ago, on June 28, 2001, Dr Wang Guoqi testified to the US Congress for the first time regarding allegations he had made against the Chinese government. According to his testimony, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had been conducting forced organ harvesting on religious and political dissidents and executed prisoners—at times even before the so-called “donors” were pronounced clinically dead.

Having worked at execution grounds, Dr Guoqi claims he was forced to help surgeons operate in the backs of ambulances, where they would harvest the organs of the executed prisoners at the prodding of government officials even when prior patient or family consent had not been given. Those organs would then be given to wealthy patients from across the world who were capable of paying a hefty sum.

Dr Guoqi testified before Congress again on the same issue in 2012, where he described having to “remove the skin and corneas from the corpses of over one hundred prisoners, and on a couple of occasions, victims of intentionally botched executions.” A critical aspect of both US congressional hearings focused on the CCP’s alleged forced organ harvesting of religious minorities, with the Falun Gong community a particular target.

Beijing denied the claims in full all those years ago.

But the accusations have not gone away.

Those accusations remain largely unchanged, save for a few alterations: now, even more parties are implicated, and a greater number of victims from a growing number of countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific have suffered.

At the end of May and beginning of June this year, ChinaAid, the Heritage Foundation, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and the Taiwan Association for Human Rights in China hosted the three-day Taiwan International Religious Freedom Forum in Hsinchu, just southwest of the capital city Taipei. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Chen Chien-jen gave remarks, addressing broad religious persecution in the Indo-Pacific and the history of Taiwan’s lengthy fight to secure protections for religious freedom. President Tsai spoke of recent reports on religious freedom concerns within China, discussing the oppression of Christian churches, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uyghur Muslims. Vice President Chen further referenced “the substantial, credible, and growing body of unrefuted evidence that the Communist Party of China has authorised and sanctioned—and continues to carry out—a systematic program of ‘organ harvesting’ with a horrific and cruel loss of human lives,” particularly against Falun Gong practitioners. Vice President Chen also addressed what has been referred to as the CCP’s calculated kidnapping and alleged extermination of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Attendees also discussed broad religious persecution in other countries, including Pakistan and Myanmar.

Founded in 1992 and subsequently dubbed a “heretical cult” by the Chinese government, Falun Gong—also referred to as Falun Dafa—is a contentious Chinese spiritual movement built around a mixture of traditional Chinese medicine and self-advancement practices. Originally taking shape during the early 1950s, the spiritual group began to receive promotion from medical professionals who espoused the healing properties of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Members of the CCP were known to take issue with the practices even then, labelling them as “superstitious” and denouncing them due to their connections to religion and spirituality.

Since the late 90s, Falun Gong practitioners—alongside a number of other religious minorities in China—have faced continued persecution at the hands of the Chinese government. In fact, the entire Falun Gong spiritual organisation has received a special classification from the Chinese government: xie jiao, which translates to either “evil cults” or “heterodox teachings.” According to the 2019 Annual Report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Chinese Criminal Code stipulates that membership in any of these xie jiao groups is punishable with anywhere from three to seven years of imprisonment, or more. That report also states that practitioners of Falun Gong have repeatedly suffered harassment, unnecessary detainment, and harsh intimidation for practicing their beliefs. While detained, many suffer “physical violence, psychological abuse, sexual assault, forced drug administration, and sleep deprivation.” It is estimated that the government imprisoned at least 931 Falun Gong practitioners in 2018 alone.

During imprisonment, the chances of forced organ harvesting dramatically increase. In early 2015, the Chinese government released a statement claiming that it had ended its practice of harvesting organs from all prisoners—many of whom are Falun Gong practitioners. But in the face of continued reports detailing painful and brutal harm—often ending in the death of the “donor” prisoner or other individual—the public has been left to believe otherwise.

Taiwan has been one of the countries at the forefront of taking actual steps to protect its people and their potential “donors” against the lucrative business that is the worldwide organ trade. And necessarily so: because of its proximity to mainland China, there have been a number of reported instances in which Taiwanese citizens have travelled to China to receive an organ transplant in order to preserve their own lives. Months later, healthy and strong, they learned that the life they now enjoyed had been secured at the hands of a business built on deception and murder.

Recognising this, the Taiwanese Congress passed new amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act and operationalised an updated, further-reaching Organ Trafficking Law (OTL) on June 12, 2015. Under the legislation, the use of organs from executed prisoners is prohibited, along with the sale, purchase, and brokering of organs. The popularly-termed “transplant tourism” is also outlawed, and any doctor proven to have been involved in illegal organ transplants may have her medical license stripped.

Having taken the initiative to set up simple legal barriers that protect not only Taiwanese citizens but also religious minorities in China from the Chinese government’s blatant disregard for human life, Taiwan has set itself apart from the crowd. It has taken the necessary steps to shield itself against the reported continued brutality of a business built on killing innocent people to make a few—or a few billion—extra bucks. The rest of the world must follow suit.

Source : https://eptoday.com/executed-to-order-taiwan-international-religious-freedom-forum-denounces-chinese-governments-horrific-organ-harvesting-programme/