Opinion

It sounds surreal: Doctors surgically remove organs from people while they are still alive, so that transplant recipients can get the freshest organs possible. The donors—if you can call them that—are prisoners of conscience who never consented and are killed by the operation.

The recipients have to wait only days or a few weeks for a kidney, liver, or heart that would usually takes months or years to become available. And the doctors, police, and government officials all get a cut of the profits from the lucrative business.

A scene from George Orwell’s “1984” or a dystopian sci-fi film?

It’s fact, not fiction. It’s happening in China on a mass scale, to people of faith, and more voices are speaking up about it.

New report from U.S. government

On Friday the State Department’s 2018 International Religious Freedom report was released, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo led off the news conference introducing the report.

“In China, the government’s intense persecution of many faiths, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists among them, is the norm,” said Pompeo.

Sam Brownback, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom and also former governor of Kansas, elaborated at the news conference:

“We share reports again, that others make, that Chinese authorities have subjected prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong, Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and underground Christians, to forcible organ harvesting.

“This should shock everyone’s conscience.”

Congress passed a resolution unanimously in 2016 titled, “Expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from nonconsenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

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Independent voices

Reports of this horror emerged from China in early 2006, when it was first reported by The Epoch Times. Since then, investigations have been conducted, books have been written, and hearings in various governmental and independent bodies have been held.

The Chinese regime continually denies that it’s happening, and refuses to allow unannounced inspections to verify or disprove the claims, but the evidence is overwhelming that forced organ harvesting continues unabated in China.

Canadians David Kilgour and David Matas conducted an investigation, called “Bloody Harvest,” based partly on taped calls made to Chinese hospitals, in which they conclude that it’s real, that voluntary donations in China could not account for even a fraction of the transplants that are happening, and that most of the victims are Falun Gong practitioners.

American Ethan Gutmann wrote “The Slaughter,” in which he interviews numerous Falun Gong practitioners and others. He agreed with Kilgour and Matas on the fundamental conclusions.

The three collaborated on updates to their publications in 2016 and 2017. Among other findings, their conservative estimate is that at least 60,000 to 100,000 such transplants are occurring every year in China. Business is booming.

On Monday June 17, an independent tribunal in the United Kingdom, after hearing testimony in December and April, concluded that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main—source of organ supply.”

Numerous media, including the BBC, Newsweek, the Guardian, and Reuters, as well as The BL, reported the tribunal’s results.

The questions

In today’s world, we tend to reserve the word “evil” for rare and truly horrible phenomena. China’s forced organ harvesting, protected and aided by the ruling regime, is undeniably evil.

What does this tell us about the morality of a regime that, not only allows such evil in its country, but actively supports it and profits financially from it?

China is much in the news these days, and most of it unfavorable: Hong Kong rising up with 2 million protesters in the streets, a trade war with the United States, the somber anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the international turn against hi-tech company Huawei for probably enabling spying by the regime.

Will any or all of these visible disruptions edge the regime closer to demise? Or could it be a collective moral failing, taking place behind hospital doors and prison bars, that hastens a change of regime?

The persecution of Falun Gong by the regime will be 20 years old on July 20. It has taken an untold number of lives, but not the resilient spirits of the millions of survivors.

The USSR and other communist regimes in the 20th century collapsed very quickly and with no advance notice. China has survived and thrived across changes of dynasties throughout its long history. Change in China, eventually, is inevitable.

We have no specific prediction, but China bears watching, for both the highly visible items in the news, and the invisible yet emerging items that signal something is amiss.