(from NationalReview online) Humanlife is often regarded too cheaply in this world. But now in thePeople’s Republic of China, it may be getting quite expensive.According to a new and very chilling report issued last month by twoeminent Canadian lawyers, the Chinese government may be murderingmembers of the Falun Gong religious sect and then selling their organson the open market.

There is no question that Chinese organ-transplant centers sell their wares. Kidney transplants have been advertised by the China International Network Assistance Centerwebsite for U.S $62,000; liver transplants cost between$98,000-$130,000; and liver-kidney transplants cost as much as$180,000. (The prices were removed from the website in April. Anarchived copy of the page can be found here.)

But do many of these organs really come from executed Falun Gong? China isa repressive society, indeed, a tyranny. And it is incontrovertiblethat Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to mass imprisonment merelybecause they hold heterodox religious beliefs that the Chinesegovernment finds threatening. But the depth of evil described byprominent human-rights attorney David Matas and former Canadian memberof parliament David Kilgour in their sobering “Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China“simply boggles the mind. Indeed, the authors recoil from their ownconclusions, stating that “the very horror [of the findings] makes usreel back in disbelief.”

“But that disbelief,” the authorsadd, “does not mean that the allegations are untrue.” Indeed, in 46grueling pages, plus appendixes, Matas and Kilgour meticulously build astrong case “that there has been and continues today to be large scaleorgan seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners” in China.

Muchof the evidence, if considered on its own, is less than convincing. Forexample, the report states that “there are many more [organ]transplants” in China — about 10,000 per year — than there are “identifiable sources” for the organs that were procured. But China isa non-transparent society, and even though the organ-procurementnumbers do indeed seem insufficient to support the number of reported transplants, this fact alone would not support their charge.

But it is the cumulative effect of the evidence that persuades. Forexample, the authors compare the numbers of total organ transplants in China in the six years before the crackdown on Falun Gong began withthe numbers reported in the six years since the sect was outlawed. The figures startle. Between 1994 and 1999, there were about 18,500 organtransplants in China. Since the government initiated its Falun Gongpogrom — between 2000-2005 — there have been about 60,000 transplants,which represents an increase of 41,500 from the previous six yearperiod. “Where do the organs come from for the [additional] 41,500 transplants?” the authors ask pointedly. “The allegation of organharvesting from Falun Gong practitioners provides an answer.”

Matasand Kilgour acknowledge that this dramatic increase “does not establishthat the Falun Gong allegations are true. “But,” they argue, “theconverse, a full explanation of the source of all organ transplants,would disprove the allegation.” Indeed, it would be easy for theChinese government to put this matter to rest simply by identifying theorgan sources for these extra 41,500 transplants. It has not done so.(The government’s response to the report can be found here, and Matas and Kilgour’s rebuttal here.)

Thereis more. Several surviving family members of Falun Gong who died indetention reported seeing their loved ones’ bodies with “surgicalincisions and body parts missing.” One witness — not a Falun Gongmember — told the investigators that her surgeon husband “told her thathe personally removed the corneas from approximately 2,000anaesthetized Falun Gong prisoners.” According to this hearsayevidence, none of prisoners survived and all of the bodies werecremated.

There were also taped telephone conversationspresented to Matas and Kilgour that support the allegations. (Thetranscripts were verified by an independent Mandarin translator.) OnJune 8, 2006, for example, “Mr. Li,” an official at the Mishan citydetention center, was recorded having the following conversation with aFalun Gong member, given the pseudonym “M,” who posed as a potentialorgan customer:

M: Do you have Falun Gong [organ] suppliers?…
Li: We used to have, yes.
M: …what about now?
Li: …Yes.

M: …How many [Falun Gong suppliers] under age 40 do you have?
Li: Quite a few.

M: Now, for…the male Falun Gong, how many of them do you have?
Li: Seven, eight, we have [at least] five, six now.”
M: Are they from the countryside or from the city?
Li: Countryside.

Aneven more explicit conversation was taped on May 22, 2006, between Mand a Mr. Lu, who works at Nanning City Minzu Hospital in GuangziAutonomous Region:

M: …Could you find organs from Falun Gong practitioners?
Lu: Let me tell you, we have no way to get them. It’s rather difficult toget it now in Guangzi. If you cannot wait, I suggest you go to Guangzhou because it is very easy for them to get the organs. They areable to look for them nation wide…
M: Why is it easy for them to get?
Lu: Because they are an important institution. They contact the judicial system in the name of the whole university.
M: Then they use Falun Gong practitioners?
Lu: Correct.

M then asks Lu how Falun Gong were selected when Lu’s hospital did have access to prisoners:

M: …what you used before (from Falun Gong practitioners), was it from detention centers or prisons?
Lu: From prisons.
M: …and it was from healthy Falun Gong practitioners…?
Lu: Correct. We would choose the good ones because we assure the quality in our operation
M: That means you choose the organs yourself?
Lu: Correct…
M: Usually, how old is the organ supplier?
Lu: Usually in their thirties…
M: Does the person know his organs will be removed?
Lu: No, he doesn’t.

As shocking as these conversations are, the most compelling evidence of systemic wrongdoing in Chinese organ-procurement practices is thebreathtakingly brief time purchasers wait to receive a properly matchedorgan — a wait so short the authors worry that it means “there are a number of people now alive who are available almost on demand assources of organs.”

For context, we need to review the waiting periods for American and Canadian organ recipients. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the median wait for akidney in the United States ranged from 1,275 to 2,469 days between theyears 1997 and 2002. In Canada, the average wait was 32.5 months (about975 days) in 2003. Yet the China International Transplantation Assistance Center website claims, “It may take only one week to find asuitable (kidney) donor, the maximum time being one month.”

Adding weight to the evidence that Falun Gong “donors,” like so many lobstersin a restaurant aquarium, are kept alive until their tissue matches that of an organ customer, the English version of the Shenyang CityChina International Transplantation Assistance Center website assuredprospective buyers (as of May 17, 2006): “Viscera providers can befound immediately!” On one of the links, it reads:

If you send your personal data to this center by e-mail or fax and acc
ept the necessary body examination in Shenyang, China in order to assure asuitable donor, it may take only one month to receive a liver transplantation, the maximum waiting time being two months. As for the kidney transplantation, it may take one week to find a suitable donor, themaximum time being one month. Although the procedure to select a donoris very strict, the transplant operation will be terminated if the doctor discovers that there is something wrong with the donor’s organ. If this happens, the patient will have the option to be offered another organ donor and have the operation again in one week.

Thesite also assures potential buyers that “Our organs do not come from brain death victims because the state of the organ may not be good.”That means the organs come either from donors who have died from irreversible cardiac arrest — unlikely since these cadaver organsquickly deteriorate — or from people who are living when their organsare procured.

Of course, one never knows in situations such asthis, where direct access to the source is not possible, whether aparticular website is authentic. But if this one is the real deal, asMatas and Kilgour believe, “it is truly disturbing.”

China has bitterly denounced the Matas/Kilgour report, denying all charges. Andit must be said that the report relies far too much on deductivereasoning and connecting the dots to prove its conclusions conclusively. Moreover, while Matas and Kilgour have impeccable credentials and sterling reputations (I have met Kilgour and found himimpressive), they conducted their investigation at the request of, andreceived much of their evidence from, the Coalition to Investigate thePersecution of the Falun Gong in China, which is hardly an impartial source.

But this doesn’t mean their investigation isn’timportant. Matas and Kilgour have shined a tiny light into what may bea vast darkness of evil. Indeed, while their evidence would not supporta guilty verdict against China in a court of law, it is more thansufficient to justify a search warrant.

And that is preciselywhat should come next: The international community, backed by a mediajolted into action, should pressure China to permit a full andimpartial investigation into Matas and Kilgour’s charges. With Chinawell on its way to becoming a hyper-power, the world needs to knowwhether the Middle Kingdom has such little regard for the intrinsicvalue of human life that it treats some of its own citizens as mereharvestable crops.