FALUN Gong practitioners Li Liu and her son Eric Jia are happy to be living in a free country where they can believe what they like.
But they say their hearts will never be free until husband and father Ye Jia is released from a Chinese prison.
They fear Ye Jia, a prisoner of conscience, will disappear without trace. And worse, that his vital organs will be ‘‘harvested’’ and sold on the booming Chinese organ transplant market — perhaps to Western people with enough money to buy an organ on demand.
Li Liu and Eric along with the Falun Gong community in Hurstville and Kogarah are determined to raise awareness of China’s organ transplant industry and the plight of its prisoners of conscience: the Falun Gong along with Christians, Tibetans and ethnic Uyghurs.
They want the United Nations to put pressure on the Chinese government to stop the alleged harvesting, stop the persecution and release the prisoners.
And they want Australian governments to implement laws making it illegal to receive organs illegally sourced from overseas.
The Chinese organ transplant industry was the recent subject of an SBS Dateline program investigation.
The program alleged the People’s Republic of China is using its prisoners of conscience as an endless source of livers, kidneys, hearts, lungs and corneas — sometimes extracted while victims are still alive.
While China has acknowledged that organs are taken from executed criminals, the numbers don’t stack up, as far more organs are transplanted than would be available from the recorded executions.
China does not have a developed tradition of voluntary organ donations.
In 2006 an investigation by former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas found that "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six-year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained".
In 2008 the UN requested that "the Chinese government fully explain the allegation of taking vital organs from Falun Gong practitioners and the source of organs for the sudden increase in organ transplants that has been going on in China since the year 2000".
A spokeswoman for the Falun Dafa Association of Australia, Lucy Zhao, said the systematic removal of organs was a state-sanctioned process in collaboration with Chinese Communist Party officials, the military, prison officials and surgeons.
"It is not possible to guarantee an organ in two to four weeks unless there is an unlimited access to organs," Ms Zhao said.
"Falun Gong disappear without trace — sometimes the families get a box of ashes — there is no trial, no explanation. Sometimes families are told that their loved one committed suicide or died of a heart attack."
Li Liu and Wei Zhuang have sent letters to the Chinese Supreme Court to sue former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin for torture and crimes against humanity.
More than 20,000 Falun Gong practitioners or family members have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin since the end of May this year.
FALUN GONG BANNED
Wei Zhuang is lucky to have escaped from prison and from organ harvesting since taking up Falun Gong when at university in 1998.
‘‘After I read this book (Zhuan Falun), I knew [Falun Gong] was the truth I had been waiting for,’’ she said. ‘‘My family enjoyed peace and harmony.’’
But by 1999 Ms Zhuang’s family was in serious trouble, forced into labour camps and re-education programs.
‘‘From 2001 to 2002, at the Shanghai Women’s Labour Camp, police let other criminals curse and beat me, and attempted to persuade me to give up my beliefs,’’ she said.
‘‘From 2012 to 2013, at Shanghai Women’s Prison when I was in solitary confinement, the police tortured me using various means — no sleep, no water, not enough food, not allowing us to urinate or defecate.
‘‘Before I was put into the women’s prison, the Shanghai Pudong Detention Centre sent me to hospital for a physical examination of my organs.
‘‘Only Falun Gong practitioners were required to do such a physical examination. I now understand that the blood tests and physical examinations were to help to build a live organ database of Falun Gong practitioners.’’
Ms Zhuang managed to escape from prison and from China but fears for her husband, who is unable to get a passport because he is Falun Gong.
Li Liu, in Australia for four years, started to practise Falun Gong in 1997 and is an advocate of its health benefits.
‘‘Many miracles happen so people don’t want to give it up,’’ Li Liu said.
‘‘If something helps you, you want to share it.’’
After years of evading authorities, her husband was caught printing Falun Gong literature and sentenced to eight years’ jail.
He has already served seven but no one is sure if he will be released or killed for organ harvesting.
Eric, 17, a student at Blakehurst High, has barely seen his father in the past 14 years.
Falun Gong (sometimes Falun Dafa) is an old Buddhist practice of exercise and meditation which hit the mainstream in the early 1990s and quickly grew.
At its core are the values of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance with an emphasis on morality and attaining enlightenment.
By 1999 there were more Falun Gong practitioners than members of the Communist Party, causing then leader Jiang Zemin to begin a campaign of eradication.
An extra-constitutional body called ‘‘the 6-10 Office’’ was created to deal with the perceived Falun Gong threat.
■ The St George Falun Gong community wants the public to sign an online petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, dafoh.org/petition-to-the-united-nations; write to your state and federal MPs; share on social media; and support DAFOH — Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, an international coalition of medical professionals.