White House Responds to Organ Harvesting Petition, Skirting Around Substance


The White House responded recently to a petition about a grave topic—harvesting of organs of prisoners of conscience in China. But the response that came two years after the petition was lodged, failed entirely to address the key issue of concern, and, say doctors and researchers who supported the petition, took too glib a tone for the seriousness of the abuse.

Dr. Alejandro Centurion from San Francisco, who was one of three doctors who initiated the petition, scratched around for something nice to say.

“I feel thankful that the administration gives us the opportunity of this forum to ask questions through the We the People website,” Centurion said in a call from his practice on Sunday. “Although, it’s unclear why they took so long.”

Ethan Gutmann, a voluble author whose book, “The Slaughter,” about organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China was published last August, had a less forgiving reaction.

“Given that the State Department explicitly raised allegations of Falun Gong being harvested in their previous China country report, the White House response—which attempts to erect a verbal firewall between the Falun Gong issue and the forced harvesting issue—can only be read as a craven retreat.”

Indeed, in 2011 the State Department’s human rights report on China referred to allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong—hardly a ringing condemnation, but something of a breakthrough for the human rights activists and researchers who have quietly labored away at the issue.

Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice based on meditation and living by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999. Researchers believe that about a year after the beginning of the campaign, Chinese military hospitals came to see Falun Gong as an excellent new source of organs for sale and transplant. The influx of Falun Gong prisoners into labor camps and prisons over these years corresponded with a rapid jump in transplant figures, and Falun Gong refugees began reporting strange blood tests and threats that their organs would be extracted.

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