Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of the Falun Gong Persecution in China

By Kirk C. Allison, PhD, MS[1]
Program Director, Program in Human Rights and Health
University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Minneapolis City Hall, North Plaza
July 08, 2009

On July 20, 2009, the government of the People’s Republic of China initiated a crackdown against an indigenous spiritual movement which over the past 10 years has resulted in hundreds of thousands arrests, thousands of confirmed deaths, and coincided with a tripling of organ harvesting and transplant tourism to China from 2000-2005, in a system in which the Vice Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, himself a liver transplant surgeon, has admitted over 95 percent of all organs originate from executees.

An investigative report published in 2007 by David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia Pacific, and human rights attorney and now holder of the Order of Canada, David Matas, presented over 30 lines of evidence supporting indications of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, among others. This included calls to transplant hospitals indicating availability or former availability of organs from healthy sources, such as from Falun Gong. The report was decried by the government of China, but, as Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment noted, not answered nor the tripling of transplants during the height of the persecution accounted for. (See:

Additional independent sources have confirmed that Falun Gong practitioners in reeducation , work camps and prisons - many of whom refused to identify themselves on arrest to protect family and friends - were uniquely given physical exams, had blood draws taken, received thoracic and abdominal x-rays and other diagnostic examinations, consistent with screening for organ sourcing and tissue matching. However the same prisoners were not given follow-up medical care for peripheral injuries while simultaneously being vilified among the prison population as the most unworthy and dangerous of all prisoners. Such screenings were not for the well-being of the prisoners.

During the persecution, one courageous, in this case Christian human rights attorney and former Chinese Army veteran, Gao Zhisheng, published an open letter opposing the persecution, for which he lost his law license. Several other open letters highlighting human rights abuses against unpopular groups such as underground church members, Falun Gong, Tibetans, pro-democracy individuals and publishing A China More Just, have resulted in several detentions, torture in detention, and an ongoing disappearance which has lasted over 154 days. (See

Regrettably, we must note that our current US administration has publicly announced that the US will subordinate human rights concerns in China to other interests. Secretary of State Clinton stated in February: "Our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis."[2] Clearly, on the 10th anniversary of the most lethal, systematic, and ongoing persecution since the Cultural Revolution, we should not allow China or the US Government to hold human rights ‘a smokestack hostage,’ enabling emboldened human rights abuses.

In recalling the 10th anniversary of the Falun Gong persecution and the plight of Gao Zhisheng and others on the heels of our own independence day, may we clearly articulate that we call for fundamental human rights and freedoms, including, religious freedom, freedom of expression and of conscience as of first importance – first freedoms without which other important goods become ironic.

[1]Speaking for myself.

[2]Richard Spenser, Hillary Clinton: Chinese human rights second to economic survival. Feb. 20, 2009. .