Canadian tour to end Chinese organ harvesting stops in Kincardine


By Barb McKay

Hannah Wang has found safety and security in Canada after a brush with death in her home country of China 13 years ago. Now she is dedicating her life to finding justice for others who she says were not as fortunate.

Wang is a practitioner of the Falun Gong movement – a spiritual discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. The movement began in China in 1999 and now has 100 million followers in more than 100 countries who advocate for freedom of beliefs. It is that fight for freedom, Wang says, that has cost hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens their lives at the hands of a Communist government.

On Aug. 19, Wang, her husband Eric Rusek and two fellow Falun Gong followers were in Kincardine. They and several others are on a cross-Canada tour to draw attention to what they say is the persecution and mass killing of Falun Gong practitioners through organ harvesting. Falun Gong followers allege the People’s Republic of China government under former president Jiang Zemin, in power from 1993 until 2003, tried to virtually eliminate the movement by harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience for transplant procedures. A study conducted this year by a team of researchers, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former MP David Kilgour, documented the practice and determined that nearly 7,800 organs were transplanted last year alone in 146 hospitals in China. The organs were commonly from Falun Gong practitioners, Muslims, Christians and Tibetans. This study was reported on by the Globe and Mail in July.Matas and Kilgour received Nobel Prize nominations for their work.

Rusek said the government has acknowledged that organ harvesting has taken place but says the organs have come from executed prisoners. Rusek said that is impossible because the number of executions each year has decreased but the number of organ transplants has increased.

Wang said when Zemin was in power, Falun Gong followers and human rights activists were often arrested and thrown in prison for protesting or if an event was to take place that the government thought might attract protesters. Twice, in January 2000 and in February 2003, she was arrested and sent to a labour camp without having had a trial. Each time, she remained imprisoned 18 months.

“It is hard work and you do not get to rest much,” she said of her experience in the labour camps. “My bones were broken the second time and they did not fix it.”

Wang waited for medical treatment and began to lose hope until one day she was brought into a small room where she was seen by a doctor. But rather than have her fractures examined, Wang was given a series of medical tests. The doctor took blood and urine samples and checked her heart. After she was released from prison she heard from other Falun Gong followers who had undergone similar testing. Wang believes they were checking to see if she was a candidate for an organ transplant.

Wang escaped to Thailand and applied as a refugee to come to Canada. She arrived in July 2008 and is now living in Toronto where she is a member of the Falun Dafa Association of Toronto. In 2006, she took part in a similar tour across Canada to raise awareness about organ harvesting and to call for the arrest of Zemin for human rights violations.

This time, Falun Gong followers are visiting 250 communities across the country and collection signatures to be presented to the Canadian government ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China next month. The United States Congress passed a resolution earlier this year conveying concern regarding “persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People's Republic of China.”Rusek and Wang would like to see Canada take a similar stance.

Until justice is served Wang will continue to draw attention to the issue.

“I’m lucky,” she said, “and I have a responsibility. We want more people to know the truth.”