In the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and among all kinds of human rights violations in the modern world, forced organ harvesting is the gravest known atrocity. First reported in 2006, it has been referred to as “an unprecedented evil on this planet” by human rights attorneys.
In the past 14 years, over 2,000 voice recordings and witness accounts have been collected, and they depict a vicious organ supply chain with participation by the communist government, military police, and hospitals in China.
In late December 2020, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) published a document from a witness who detailed information on the contacts, facility, process, and description of organ harvesting.
The witness provided the information, including a voice recording, to WOIPFG in late 2016. The witness remained anonymous out of safety concerns until December 2020, when he felt compelled to reveal his real name and what he knew about the organ harvesting crime.
The witness, Lu Shuheng, was born in China in 1950. He held a U.S. green card in 2016 and ran a home remodeling business.
When Lu returned to Shanghai to visit relatives in 2002, his sister-in-law Zhou Qing and her husband asked Lu to help refer U.S. patients to Shanghai for organ transplant surgeries.
Zhou was the Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pudong Hospital and later became President of Wanping Hospital. Zhou’s husband, Mao Shuping, was former Deputy Director of the Shanghai Reform-Through-Labor (laogai) Bureau and later Deputy Director of the Shanghai Justice Bureau. He has a close connection with Wu Zhiming, then Party Secretary of the Shanghai Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). Wu is a nephew of Jiang Zemin, former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who launched the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999.
The commission fee for referring an organ transplant patient could be much higher than the profit from remodeling several houses, Mao told Lu in one conversation. When Lu asked what kind of transplant surgeries were involved, Mao replied, “organs such as kidneys, livers, or corneas.”
According to earlier investigations by WOIPFG, the First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University charged $60,000 for kidney transplants, $100,000 for liver transplants, and $150,000 for lung and heart transplants.
Live Organ Extraction
Zhou was an experienced surgeon, testified Lu. But after participating in organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners several times, she stopped–the horrifying scenes often brought her nightmares.
During the procedures in which Zhou extracted organs, the victims screamed from the pain. Lu once asked why Zhou didn't give them anesthesia. “There are places that you do not want to apply anesthetics,” she explained, “especially those vulnerable organs.”
This form of live organ harvesting is totally different from transplantation involving brain-dead organ donors, as generally accepted by the medical community.
Lu's testimonies also confirmed that the victims, who were tied up when being pushed to operating rooms, were Falun Gong practitioners as they called out, “Falun Dafa is good!” This indicated at least two things: first, they were detained Falun Gong practitioners, not death-row prisoners as the CCP had claimed to be sources of organs until 2015. Second, they were healthy people with clear minds, not brain-dead donors.
An Industrial Supply Chain
When Zhou performed organ extractions in 2002, she did not do it in Pudong Hospital, where she worked. Rather, she went to the Armed Police Corps Hospital of Shanghai, which was not on the list of medical facilities approved for organ transplantation. Furthermore, it was awarded as one of the “Model Hospitals People Can Trust” in 2004.
This confirmed the deep involvement of military hospitals in forced organ harvesting, including those with no transplant credentials.
Besides military hospitals, a critical piece in the supply chain are places that detain Falun Gong practitioners, especially labor camps and prisons where practitioners are kept for lengthy terms. Both labor camps (which were later abolished in 2013) and prison facilities operate under the justice bureau, which Mao, Zhou’s husband, supervises.
Jiang Zemin became the top CCP leader because of the tough position he took during the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Similarly, many officials who closely followed his persecution policy against Falun Gong were promoted. Mao was one such example. After gaining trust from Wu, Jiang’s nephew and police chief in Shanghai who led the persecution in the area, Mao learned a lot of inside information and became an accomplice of Jiang and his followers in organ harvesting crimes.
To further abuse the supply chain for his own benefit, Mao also arranged for his wife to extract organs at Armed Police Corps Hospital of Shanghai. Moreover, he asked friends and relatives such as Lu to recruit more patients from various places, including the U.S.
Dark crimes in the Chinese justice system are not limited to organ harvesting. Mao said he and other officials in the justice system also accommodated requests for prisoner swapping and the use of prisoners for medical experiments. Prisoner swap requests came from higher officials in Beijing, who specifically asked for Falun Gong practitioners detained in facilities supervised by Mao to be brought to Beijing facilities. In return, some non-Falun Gong prisoners in Beijing would be sent to Shanghai.
After political movements such as the Cultural Revolution, the CCP executed some lower-level officials as scapegoats to ease public anger. To prepare for this eventuality, Mao said he had saved the paper slips recording requests for prisoner swaps and recorded relevant phone calls. “I have kept a copy of them,” he said.
Threats and Intimidation
In order to lure Lu to recruit transplant patients for them, Zhou and Mao revealed the above inside information when he visited Shanghai in 2002. After the CCP’s forced organ harvesting was first exposed in 2006, the couple felt the pressure and threatened Lu to keep quiet.
Other family members also joined in silencing Lu. Zhou’s son-in-law told Lu in 2010 that, were he to speak out about organ harvesting, he would find ways for the American government to repatriate him back to China.
“No way!” Lu replied.
“You are too naive. You will have checked baggage or other shipments going to the U.S., right? We will put something in it,” explained Zhou’s son-in-law. “America will send you back when they find you have drugs.”
Lu knew this threat was not groundless since he had heard stories of this kind.
In 2013, Lu’s sister-in-law, who is a sister of Zhou, also warned Lu not to tell others about the organ harvesting.
A Call for Conscience
Despite the risks, Lu decided to expose the crime in his real name. “I could not hold it any longer,” he explained. “Since I know how the CCP harvests organs, I need to speak out.”
This act of courage and conscience will help bring the persecution, torture, and organ harvesting that practitioners are still facing closer to an end.
In the 14 years since the organ harvesting atrocities were publicly reported, many people have chosen to avoid addressing the subject as it was too “outrageous.” But the evil does not cease to exist simply because we ignore it. During World War II, when Jan Karski told American officials including U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter his firsthand account of the Holocaust against Polish Jews, people dismissed it.
“I am unable to believe you,” said Frankfurter, who was also Jewish.
“Felix, you cannot tell this man to his face that he is lying,” said the Polish ambassador at the scene. “The authority of my government is behind him.”
“Mr. Ambassador, I did not say that this young man is lying. I said that I am unable to believe him,” replied the justice. “There is a difference.”
We could have learned from the many tragedies under totalitarian regimes. Although the CCP officials tried to hide their crimes and erase evidence, efforts by Falun Gong practitioners and independent investigators have found a massive amount of evidence to substantiate the claim of forced organ harvesting.
An independent people's tribunal in London was established to inquire into forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. The tribunal announced its findings on June 17, 2019, and concluded that the CCP had been harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners in China for many years and that this crime still continued.
The tribunal examined testimonies from 29 witnesses and 26 experts in two hearings. The body of evidence included both Falun Gong practitioners who had excessive blood samples collected against their will, as well as voice recordings of phone conversations with top CCP officials, high military officials, doctors, and organ transplant intermediaries.
“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason,” said tribunal chairman Sir Geoffrey Nice, a leading expert on human rights law.
In 2020, the world has gone through many challenges, from the coronavirus pandemic to the U.S. general election. As we enter 2021 with no fewer uncertainties, it is more important than ever for us to reflect on the basics–being good people and following our conscience.
Throughout their thousands of years of history, Chinese people always believed that “good is rewarded while evil is punished.” In the West, there is a saying that “God helps those who help themselves.”
We hope more people, regardless of where they are, be it in China, America, or elsewhere in the world, uphold moral principles and speak out against the totalitarian communist regime. Despite the pandemic and other chaos, we are still being watched over by the divine. Each person’s future, including their health and safety, largely depends upon their honesty and integrity, as well as their choice to do the right thing in this difficult period of time.
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