AUSTRALIA has been urged to apply pressure on China to cease the practice of what human rights activists say is organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.
Canadian human rights advocates David Kilgour, a former prosecutor and Canadian secretary of state for Asia-Pacific, and David Matas, a human rights lawyer, went to Australia’s Parliament House to persuade lawmakers to approve a motion urging China to immediately end the alleged practice.
The two have published evidence they say shows China performs an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 transplants a year, with organs primarily taken from Falun Gong practitioners, Muslim Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists and Christians.
Kilgour said the Australian government was reluctant to accept evidence of large-scale, forced organ harvesting in China. Kilgour blamed Australia’s close economic ties with China, its largest trading partner.
“The greatest amount of skepticism seems to be in Australia,” Kilgour said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Kilgour and Matas first published a report on organ harvesting in China in 2006, which became the basis of their 2009 book “Bloody Harvest. The Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs.”
China says it performed 10,057 organ transplants last year and stopped harvesting organs of executed prisoners since January 2015.
The Australian Health Department said at least 53 Australians traveled to China for organ transplants between 2001 and 2014.
About 200 Falun Gong practitioners demonstrated outside Parliament House against forced organ harvesting on Monday as Matas and Kilgour addressed a meeting of lawmakers from several political parties.
In June, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling on the country to end the alleged practice, requiring the State Department to report to it annually on the implementation of an existing law barring visas to Chinese and other nationals engaged in coercive organ transplantation.
China says the move by the U.S. is based on a “groundless accusation”.
In 2014, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed a resolution calling on China to immediately end the state-sanctioned harvesting of human organs from prisoners.
Human rights groups have long criticized China for taking organs for transplant from executed prisoners and contend that the practice continues.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press