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Comparing Slavery and Organ Harvesting

June 20, 2007
   After reading the shocking news of Shanxi Province's underground brick factory —which uncovered children and the handicapped sold into slavery to work 16 to 20 hours a day—I couldn't help but think of the organ harvesting program targeting living Falun Gong practitioners.
   How was the factory uncovered? Who thought of this scheme? And who would dare believe it? Consider the ideas put forth in the article "China No Longer Needs Novels," by Chinese writer Yang Hengjun. Yang said that, when compared to the tumultuous atmosphere of China's current social climate, many criticize his novels as being unimaginative or boring. The comment stopped Yang from writing novels all together. The reality of the underground brick factory appears to be more horrific than any story one could imagine. "I have written novels for so many years, so why do I lack such imagination?" asked Yang. "Why could I not imagine such shockingly ruthless plots that would make even ghosts cry?"

   One need only observe those who live in, or who have come out of, the "New China." These people have been raised on thoughts of a flowering nation, a prosperous time, a grand nation rising, or a society of harmony? How can such people imagine or believe news of child slavery or an organ harvesting program ? They can only become angry when this truth is revealed. As renowned human rights attorney, Gao Zhisheng, once said, "There is only what they [the Chinese communist regime] can't think of, there is nothing they can't do."
   Although the Chinese communist regime wishes to paint a different picture, the "New China" is very much defined by stories like the brick factory operation and the organ harvesting program. Aside being heinous crimes, what traits do these incidents share?
   Shocking and Audacious
   Both involve underground systems existing outside the realm of normal society. The slaves in the factory were jailed in brick caves; while Falun Gong practitioners are also jailed underground or in other places unknown to the public. The factory kept human beings for free labor, whereas the organ harvesting program keeps Falun Gong practitioners as a living organ reserve. In both cases the imprisoned were denied the dignity and personal freedom that is the right of every individual. Instead their bodies became the property of others.
   Victims
   Brick factory victims included farmer workers, children, and mentally retarded people—society's neglected, weak and forgotten. Organ harvesting victims on the other hand are made up of Falun Gong practitioners —the No. 1 enemies to be eliminated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Far from forgotten, the CCP instead focuses much of their attention on this group as they attempt to eliminate them from the society. In terms of their societal standing, Falun Gong adherents suffer an even harsher fate than weak social groups.
   Driven by Profit
   Both the brick factory and the organ harvesting program are driven by profit. Many argue that in a corrupt environment such as China, which has bred a society bent solely on pursuing wealth, inhumane moneymaking schemes are bound to surface. The underground brick factory combined a tireless labor force—slaves were made to work 16 -20 hours per day—and little overhead—workers, receiving only cold water and a bun for sustenance, were tossed aside when they later died from exhaustion—resulting in a business model of almost pure profit.
   What about the profit from organ harvesting? China's organ transplant website clearly labels the price for its wares: one liver costs between $98,000 to $130,000; while one kidney is sold at $62,000; $130,000 to $150,000 for a heart and $30,000 for a cornea. In comparison, when selling the organs from a single body, the profit is far greater than what value a slave can create in an underground factory.
   Criminals by Any Name
   The criminals that ran the underground brick factory consist of human traffickers, labor contractors, participating local police officers and other local officials. When the case broke, Li Fulin, deputy-director general of Shanxi Provincial Public Security Bureau, claimed that the underground brick factory represents a dark corner of society that would be cracked down on firmly. High-ranking officials have played a "positive" role and some of these slaves were rescued.
   What about the criminals that conduct the organ harvesting program? They include medical doctors, committing crimes in labor camps, detention centers, prisons, and hospitals, and the military. Who is the highest-ranking criminal in this case? This still hasn't been determined, though some suggest that it remains a top secret within the Chinese communist regime. However, we do know that the suppression of Falun Gong comes from the very top of the Chinese regime. The highest-ranking officials of the CCP orchestrate this persecution, so who can we rely on to rescue these victims?
   Family Members of the Missing
   Some of the child slaves in Shanxi's underground brick factories were rescued because their parents worked tirelessly for their release—a natural impulse when a loved one is in danger. Yet for this very reason, after the heinous crimes of the organ harvesting program were exposed, many people refused to believe that such an evil act could occur. They concluded: if so many people were missing, why didn't their family members look for them?
   In fact, it is not that their families hadn't looked for them. Like all information concerning the Falun Gong persecution, the regime thwarted any attempts to dig deeper into the matter.
   It is a situation with which I am intimately familiar. In 2000, I was arrested for practicing Falun Gong. My husband was informed of my arrest and imprisonment, but wasn't told in which labor camp I was kept. He spent four months struggling to locate me, but his efforts were in vain; everyone he approached refused to give him any information. Even if he intended to stake it all in his fight to find me, there was no one to fight with. Governmental agencies and law enforcement agents firmly believe that part of their job is to convince these desperately searching individuals that they are in fact to blame for the disappearance of their family members because they failed to convince them to give up Falun Gong.
   In a country run by state terrorism, Falun Gong practitioners are demonized and labeled as dissidents. Their families strongly oppose their cultivation and even threaten divorce or ostracize them because of what they've been told about Falun Gong. Many practitioners, who traveled to Beijing to make an appeal for Falun Gong, vanish mysteriously. Some of their family members dare not search for them, fearing that they might face the same fate. They often have nowhere to turn, being unable to even share their pain at the loss of a loved one. In extreme cases, family members are even forced to cooperate with local authorities in this crackdown. They aid in imprisoning elderly Falun Gong practitioners who often die in detention at last.
   Scale and Level of Crimes
   When comparing the scale and level of these crimes, consider that the brick factories are largely unorganized operations of independent gangs, while the organ harvesting program is a meticulous operation backed by a state-run crackdown. Because organ harvesting runs all the way to the top, it enjoys the assistance of high-ranking officials, the resources of a major part of the state apparatus, many highly skilled individuals, and the ability to quickly cover up information and destroy evidence. These tools were not available to the criminals running the underground brick factories.
   As a result, the world is shocked and appalled at the brick factories, but refuses to believe in the organ harvesting program. Particularly in China, the facts of this crime have been completely concealed within the country, thus remaining unknown to the public.
   What these two incidents have in common are that its victims are seen as less than human by the society at large—they are viewed merely as free labor or an organ supply. Through violence, these "sub-humans" become the possessions of enterprising criminals. With such a mentality, if underground brick factories can occur, there should be nothing incredible or shocking about an organ harvesting program.

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