Forced organ harvest awareness visit
Tears glistened in the eyes of Angela Huang as she recounted her two years of imprisonment without trial in China from 2001 to 2003.
Huang said her detention, along with extended periods of surveillance and harassment, was because she was an adherent of Falun Gong, a Buddhist-based spiritual practice also known as Falun Dafa.
She was in Palmerston North last week during a national tour raising awareness about forced state-sanctioned organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. The movement had grown during the 90s to have as many as 100 million adherents.
With similarities to tai chi and yoga, followers said the traditional Chinese meditation practice was based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, with exercises to purify body and mind. However, its growing popularity was regarded as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party.
On the Chinese Embassy website, Falun Gong is described as an ‘‘anti-social’’, ‘‘antihumanity’’ and ‘‘evil’’ cult.
With help from translator Daisy Lee, Huang told how the persecution and imprisonment cost her job - 18 years working for a Shanghai television station - her freedom, her marriage, and separation from her 13-year-old son.
Escaping home in secret, she eventually claimed refugee status in New Zealand in 2007, where she was reunited with her son, who is here as an international student.
Lee said others on the tour had also been ‘‘demonised’’, beaten, illegally imprisoned, and forced to undergo ‘‘brainwashing’’. The New York-based Epoch
Times claimed that up to 1.5 million organ transplants, largely from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, may have taken place in China since 2000.
‘‘Chinese people don’t make [many] organ donations. It’s a cultural thing. So where does China get to be the biggest [international] organ transplant centre?’’ Lee asked.
The US House of Representatives and European Parliament passed resolutions condemning the practice earlier this year.
It was the subject of Ethan Gutmann’s 2014 book The Slaugh
ter, and several films, including 2005 documentary Hard to Believe, and this year’s award-winning human rights drama The Bleeding Edge.
‘‘Chinese people don't make [many] organ donations. It's a cultural thing.’’ Daisy Lee
Falun Gong’s Daisy Lee and Angela Huang in The Square during the SOS Car Tour.