Tuesday July 11 2006 9:00WST
For Immediate Release
"The Australian government should publicly attack China over "organ harvesting" of its Falun Gong political prisoners, while at the same time through the Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone, publicly declare and provide an undertaking to Falun Gong practitioners in Australia, and to the Falun Gong asylum seekers in Baxter and other detention centres, that they will be protected from being forced to return to China where they are at risk of being imprisoned and then executed to provide China with their organs, in a horrendous practice as reported by Australian media," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The Canadian Report referred to by the ABC Radio program "PM" (transcript below) is not the first rumour or story coming from these horrific practices in China, and while the government should have been aware of these issues a long time ago, this time the issue can no longer be avoided," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The track record of the Immigration Department and its Minister to the Falun Gong asylum seekers is already rather shocking: DIMA has allowed Chinese government officials into the Baxter and Villawood detention centres - entirely contrary to Australia's undertakings under the UN Refugee Convention - and more and more refugee advocates fear that the Chinese asylum seekers may be quietly whisked away to Nauru, especially if the Bill currently scheduled to go before Parliament, should be successfully implemented and become law."
"Currently the Howard government seems to act as if the latest Immigration Amendment Bill 2006 has already passed both Houses and has become law: the Nauru detention centre has come out of its near-moth-balling stage, yesterday Nauru government officials reportedly visited the Baxter detention centre, and following its intent to "take political considerations into account" in its refugee policies, now Australia's trading relationship with China may result in irresponsible treatment of Falun Gong asylum seekers."
"Once again the government is at the cross-roads between pandering to a foreign nation, and sacrificing the safety of refugees, and on the other hand protection the integrity of Australia's human rights for asylum seekers while at the same time using diplomatic channels to express its dismay with what really are gross forms of torture and human rights violation."
"The government needs to stand up to this shocking reality - which has brought the hundreds Falun Gong practitioners into Australia in the first place. It needs to show openness, frankness and courage, rather than silence and collusion to these shocking realities, in the name of its trade relations," Mr Smit concluded.
For more information:
Refugee Action Collective
[phone number posted]
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Report alleges Chinese Govt harvesting body organs of political prisoners
PM - Monday 10 July 2006 18:26:00
Reporter: Michael Edwards
MARK COLVIN: Australia has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the developed world. The people who had kidney transplants in New South Wales last year, for example, had waited an average of eight years for a suitable organ.
That's the kind of pressure that's created the new phenomenon of "transplant tourism", with patients going to countries like India and China for their operations.
Last year an Australian report highlighted the rate of HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis in patients who'd had such operations overseas.
Now a report from Canada says most of the organs in China are not donated at all. They're taken from political prisoners who die after the organs are literally harvested from them.
Transplant doctors in Australia are alarmed and are calling for more Government controls on patients travelling to China.
Michael Edwards has this report.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Much is made about China's booming economy. It's now known as a manufacturer of electronics, cars and other high tech products.
But observers says there's one burgeoning market that's making them feel queasy. This is the harvesting of human organs for transplant.
Chinese hearts, lungs, livers and corneas are in demand with western patients frustrated with long waiting queues in their home countries. In the years 1994 to 1999 the nation performed 19,000 transplants. Since 2000 this has skyrocketed to more than 60,000.
The new human rights report alleges the increase in organ availability can be attributed to one fact: the execution of Falun Gong practitioners detained by the Chinese Government, who are then quite literally harvested for parts.
DAVID KILGOUR: We can explain about 18,000 of the total number of transplants since 2000, in terms of things like prisoner executions and brain dead people and volunteered donations, although those are very, very small in the Chinese culture.
But there are about 41,500 that we think are in all likelihood coming from live human beings who are basically killed on the spot, on demand if you like, so that somebody from Australia or Canada or China can have a new kidney.
And this has got to be a new crime against humanity, for a new century.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: David Kilgour is a former Canadian government minister. He co-authored the report.
China began its crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999. Since then it's a known fact thousands have been detained at detention camps across China known as Lao Gai.
The report alleges some victims are given drugs to induce heart failure. It also contains accounts of victims having their organs removed while still alive.
The going rate for a Chinese heart is $US 150,000 and a lung will set you back up to $170,000. Advertising is done via word of mouth and on the internet.
DAVID KILGOUR: They literally say that, you come down here we've got, one case says, we've got five or six young people, in their 40s, men, hanging around. You can come down and kind of choose your victim.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Australian transplant doctors estimate dozens, mostly from the expatriate Chinese community, travel to China for operations each year.
DAVID KILGOUR: The benefit of going to China is a speedy kidney transplant, whereas in Australia it may be necessary to wait three or four years to have a kidney transplant because we only have 200 organ donors a year in Australia, for a population of 20 million. China has a very much higher donation rate.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Dr Daryl Wall is one of Australia's top transplant surgeons. He works at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. He says the practice of using political detainees for organ harvesting is well known in the medical community.
DARYL WALL: We understand in international transplant associations, that the expansion of capital punishment has contributed significantly to the rate of organ donation in mainland China.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: So what would you be telling Australian patients?
DARYL WALL: We advise them to be patient and stay with the Australian system for two reasons.
One is that we're not absolutely confident that the guidelines that we'd apply would apply there, so that they may end up with less well matched tissue which requires more immunosuppression, which is more harmful to the recipient.
And there's also a concern about screening for diseases which may come from the donor.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Not to mention the human rights implications.
DARYL WALL: Absolutely. That's right. The strong view of the International Transplantation Society is that organs can be donated by strangers, they can be donated by friends, but it must be done in the most ethical and defendable fashion.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Dr Wall says the Australian Government should be doing more to educate Australians about the real costs of Chinese transplants.
The Chinese Government has completely rejected the report, telling PM, it's flawed, fabricated and completely unreliable.
MARK COLVIN: Michael Edwards with that report.