In the last decade, China has increased its investments in Latin America by 210%. Besides the interest it charges, there is an added cost that the countries of the region must accept: censorship. As an internal policy, the Communist Party not only represses the freedom of worship in China but also imprisons the faithful and harvests their organs. China demands that its international partners remain silent about the abuse in the country, thereby demanding censorship as a part of its foreign policy.
The rise of religious groups that were repressed for decades has hindered membership to the Communist Party. Thus, the regime imprisons political dissidents. Further, it reaps economic benefits by selling the organs of prisoners. The Falun Gong spiritual group faces the most persecution since its members practice a healthy lifestyle. So, their organs fetch higher prices.
Further, China sources 60,000 to 100,000 organs for transplantation from Uighur Muslims, Tibetans (mostly Buddhists), and Christians.
An independent tribunal in London found that China has been committing forced extraction of organs for years, across the country, on a significant scale. The court has no evidence that the relevant infrastructure associated with China’s transplant industry has been dismantled. In the absence of satisfactory explanations about the source of readily available organs, the court concludes that the forced extraction of organs continues.
MUST WATCH: An independent tribunal has unanimously concluded that prisoners of conscience have been—and continue to be—killed in #China for their organs “on a significant scale.” https://t.co/Rb6qM0xdCV
— Falun Dafa Information Center (@FalunInfoCtr) June 19, 2019
China has faced scrutiny and questioning for this crime. However, the regime maintained that it ended the practice in 2015. While responding to the court’s statements, the Chinese government spokesperson in London said that human organ donation is voluntary and cannot be monetized. In other words, according to China, they are not forcefully extracting organs nor selling them. But the court maintained otherwise and stressed that China is persecuting religious minorities in concentration camps.
According to the court, China has practiced the forced removal of organs for 20 years and labels it “potential genocide,” as there is “clear evidence” of the occurrence.
China pressured Ecuador to silence the persecuted
The persecution of Falun Gong people is lot limited to Chinese territory. In 2015, the traditional Chinese circus, Shen Yun, went around the world. But China pressured various countries with whom it has investment agreements to cancel the shows as the artists adhered to the Falun Gong spiritual path.
In Latin America, Ecuador canceled the circus performances. During Rafael Correa’s government, the country incurred not only multimillion-dollar debts with China but also pawned underground natural resources, such as oil, for a period longer than the government of the former president.
China was so influential in Ecuador that the government canceled the staging of the Shen Yun folk dance because the performers are practitioners of Falun Dafa.
As a consequence of this censorship, Ecuador held the International Congress “Freedom of Expression: Dialogues and Reflections from Law and Literature,” at the San Francisco de Quito University Campus, where the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China and how it spreads abroad was a topic of discussion.
In Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina, all people are obligatory donors.
A political and social change regarding this issue took place in Ecuador. Without consulting the citizens, the law mandates that all citizens are obligatory organ donors. The same happened in Colombia in 2016 under the government of Juan Manuel Santos. Argentina implemented the “Justina Law” named after a girl who died in need of an organ transplant.
Liberal / Libertarian commentators voiced their opinion immediately. Several voluntary organ donors amongst them expressed concern that these laws disincentivize voluntarism in society and, even more seriously, allow the State to publicly declare that people’s bodies do not belong to them.
Given that in the Chinese case, the donation is allegedly voluntary, it sets a dangerous precedent that several American nations have made donation mandatory. Despite supposedly requiring the will of the donor, China extracts organs forcefully. It also executes prisoners to harvest their organs. Meanwhile, the countries mentioned earlier own the organs of their citizens and can have them after their death.
China increased the sale of organs and religious persecution
For now, China is a crucial case. In 2006, former Secretary of State of Canada, David Kilgour, and human rights lawyer, David Matas, published the Kilgour-Matas report on organ harvesting in China.
It detailed that “the Government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, particularly in hospitals, but also at detention centers and ‘People’s Courts,’ have murdered a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience since 1999.
It was precisely in 1999 that, despite low levels of voluntary organ donation, China stood out as the second largest exporter of organs in the world. Therefore, Kilgour and Matas claim that the repression of the Falun Dafa increased the forced removal of organs. They even presented material from the websites of Chinese transplant centers that incriminate the regime, announcing the immediate availability of organs from living donors. In fact, they submitted transcripts where hospitals admitted they could obtain Falun Gong organs.
The organ exploitation has been going on for 20 years
To reduce religious persecution, Pope Francis I reached an agreement with the Chinese government to protect the 12 million Catholics. But the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, alleges that this worsens the situation of Catholics, as the agreement allows the Communist Party to elect priests and bishops. So the mass will not be according to the gospel but to the official narrative.
It is no coincidence that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is freedom of worship, along with freedom of speech, as the two go hand in hand.
Every communist regime has been able to suppress both because these freedoms hinder the advance of an ideology that demands obedience to a human god: the State.
In Cuba, the Communist Party continues to persecute the religious
For example, in Cuba, in the time of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Military Production Aid Units were forced labor camps for homosexual and religious people. Under the slogan “work will make you men,” those who were not considered fit for (armed) revolution had to rework themselves.
Recently, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the loss of the Cuban regime’s significant funding, Christmas celebrations were permitted, and Catholics were able to hold public office but to do so, they must join the Communist Party.
Little has changed in reality. In the month of Christmas alone, in December 2018, nearly 200 Catholics were detained on their way to or back from mass.
These instances remind us of the importance of safeguarding freedom of religion as otherwise, the consequences can be fatal.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Voltaire’s biographer, said, as a synthesis of his work, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.”
Thus, we must defend freedom of worship irrespective of our faith and agreements or disagreements. Protecting the liberty of the other implies protecting one’s own liberty. More so if the State has the power to appropriate your body.