Tuesday, 12 September 2017
On another matter, Australia could do more for minorities that live in China, particularly the Falun Gong. Australia, along with 11 other countries, is a signatory to a joint statement, The human rights situation in China. The statement calls upon China to uphold its laws and its international commitments. I share the concerns of increasing numbers of people that state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience occurs in the People's Republic of China. Practitioners of Falun Gong and Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians are being subjected to organ harvesting. The United Nations Convention against Torture has called on China to conduct an independent investigation of claims that Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished. The 17-year-old prosecution of the Falun Gong meditation practice by the Chinese Communist Party is a violation of international human rights treaties.
I understand China performs about 10,000 organ transplants per year. There are 165 Chinese organ transplant centres that advertise that matching organs can be found within two to four weeks. I have to say that this is surprising. China does not have an organised or effective public system of organ donation or distribution, so to be able to claim such figures is quite amazing. The organ transplant system in China does not comply with the World Health Organization's requirements for transparency and traceability in organ procurement pathways.
I think it should also be noted that China has extremely low rates of voluntary organ donation, owing to traditional beliefs. I understand the growing concern about organ harvesting in China is fuelled by the Chinese government's failure to adequately account for the sources of excess organs. The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, has requested this information.
It is also significant when we consider these disturbing reports that last year the United States House of Representatives passed quite a comprehensive motion about this issue. In part, it demands an immediate end to the 17-year-old persecution of the Falun Gong by the Chinese government and the immediate release of all Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience. It also encourages the United States medical community to help raise awareness of unethical organ transplant practices in China, and it calls on China to allow a credible, transparent and independent investigation into organ transplant abuses. This is where I think that these recent developments in the United States, with regard to the passing of this 2016 motion, do give some pointers to what Australia could do and how we could do a lot more on this very troubling issue.