THE Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong has been described as a phys ed circle with slogans added.
Basically they are collection of fitness buffs who have chosen to seek greater intellectual and spiritual nourishment from their activities.
They certainly pose no threat to the Chinese government, however often they are denounced as an evil cult by those in power.
They have no real leader, no platform, and no fundraising structure, and certainly constitute no inner-party faction.
However, the two Canadian authors of this detailed and rather dry piece of reportage contend that Falun Gong members are persecuted more severely even than Tibetans.
Winnipeg civil rights lawyer David Matas and former Alberta member of Parliament David Kilgour convincingly demonstrate that the Chinese administration is engaged in the grisly practice of arresting and killing members of Falun in order to harvest their body parts (corneas, hearts, kidneys, livers and so forth).
Matas has taken on many unfashionable causes. But perhaps this one is becoming less unfashionable. His work on the Falun Gong file resulted in his name being put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Coincidentally, a travelling group of Falun Gong supporters performed at the Centennial Concert Hall this past week.)
Kilgour, who was born in Winnipeg but lives in Edmonton, is former prime minister John Turner’s brother-in-law. Both have written several books.
The major task of the volume is to demonstrate that the assertions made by the two Davids are true. This they do with aplomb, while leaving an utterly ghastly picture of Chinese politics.
The harvesting of body parts is viewed with distaste both in China and the West. Likewise, family members in both areas are usually willing, in the right circumstances, to make their sacrifice.
One group the Chinese do have in large numbers are condemned criminals. The authors claim, and there’s no good reason to doubt them, that the Chinese execute, in a year, more poor souls than the rest of the world put together.
But there are delicate issues of sensitivity involved.
Meanwhile, Falun Gong members are available in large numbers, and all of them healthy. The logistics and culture of organ harvesting are presented very well in the book, though people who are sensitive should eat but lightly before reading.
This group’s members suffer as they do for a range of reasons. They have healthy organs. They are in a naive way co-operative. The Chinese populace display a pronounced dislike of them.
And there is a lot of money to be made, from foreigners as well as Chinese. This point should be stressed. When Deng Xiaoping reoriented Chinese politics, health-care budgets were slashed.
A new form of health-care entrepreneurs emerged, willing to make the agreements to raise the money, enrich themselves, and keep hospitals open.
The Chinese have carried their anti-Falun Gong story across the world.
But they have been countered by the likes of Kilgour and Matas.
The appalling focus of the book makes this a difficult book to read, but it is not anything Matas and Kilgour have done to prove their case.
No, it is the sickening odour of death which creates problems.
Geoff Lambert is a political scientist at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba with an expertise in Chinese economics.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2010 H7