By Terri Wu and Jan Jekielek at theepochtimes.com
America has come a long way to take action on communist China’s forced organ harvesting on prisoners of conscience, first reported by The Epoch Times over 15 years ago.
On March 27, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to punish the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience, marking the first non-symbolic legislative measure in the nation to counter the atrocity.
Dubbed the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023, the legislation aims to sanction anyone involved in forced organ trafficking. It requires annual government reporting on such activities in each foreign country. Those found to be involved will face a criminal penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison, or a civil penalty of up to $250,000. If its companion version passes the Senate, the bill will be ready for the signature of the U.S. president.
Renowned international human rights lawyer David Matas and the late David Kilgour, a human rights lawyer and a former Canadian member of Parliament, are the pioneers in investigating the matter. Their findings were first released in July 2006.
In a recent interview on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program, Matas shared the story of his investigation when the world didn’t know or believe killing on demand for organs existed. He and Kilgour began their work months after the news broke.
In March 2006, a Chinese doctor’s wife with the pseudonym of Annie made a public statement in Washington that her ex-husband harvested Falun Gong adherents’ corneas in a hospital in northeast China. Falun Gong, with tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, is a spiritual practice subjected to brutal persecution in China since July 1999.
Seeking independent investigation, a nonprofit organization, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, approached Matas, who was used to people going to him about different human rights violations. But, since he couldn’t work on every request, he tried to help by identifying another solution.
However, for this issue, he realized that there was no easy way or obvious alternative to deal with it.
“What I’m told straight up is, ‘If this happens, there are no bodies, and everybody is cremated. There are no autopsies, and there are no witnesses except the perpetrators and victims. Everything happens in a closed environment,’” Matas said. “‘There are no documents except the Chinese hospital and government prison records, which are not accessible. There’s no crime scene. The operating room is immediately cleaned up afterward.’”
He took the case, knowing there would be a lot of work. He said he didn’t start out seeking to prove that Annie was right. Instead, he kept an open mind, thinking he might reach a conclusion rather than leaving the case at a “he said, she said” level, referring to Annie’s and the CCP’s sides of the story.