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China faces suspicions about organ harvesting

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The Falun Gong movement, whose guiding principles are truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, was founded in China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States. Its philosophies incorporate ideas from Buddhism and Taoism and include slow-motion meditative exercises. Falun Gong is generally seen as a peaceful and law-abiding movement outside China, but within its borders it is officially deemed a dangerous cult. For several years, Falun Gong followers around the world have been actively protesting the treatment of the movement's adherents inside China.

The Chinese Embassy in Canada issued a reply to the Kilgour-Matas report July 6, the same day the report was released. China abides by World Health Organization principles that prohibit the sale of human organs and require written voluntary consent from donors, the statement said. "It is obvious that their purpose is to smear China's image," the statement continues. "[T]he so-called 'independent investigation report' made by a few Canadians based on rumors and false allegations is groundless and biased."

In a phone call, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Li Jianhua, also called the allegations "totally fake" and said the Chinese government had already investigated the claims and found them meritless.

But by immediately dismissing their report "out of hand," Kilgour and Mr. Matas said in a reply, the Chinese government has admitted that it has conducted "no investigations to determine whether or not what the report contains is true."

Whether the organ harvesting – taking corneas, livers, hearts, and kidneys for transplantation – is being done as part of the official crackdown on Falun Gong or simply as the result of local corruption in prisons and hospitals around China is not clear, Matas says, and may be a result of both motives. China has a history of harvesting organs from executed prisoners, he says. The number of Falun Gong prisoners in China remains a mystery outside China. The Falun Gong "are completely defenseless in prison: unidentified, no protectors," Matas says. "They become an easy victim for this form of greed."

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