Human Harvesting

Human Harvesting

How 16 years of persecution of Falun Gong has made China one of the top transplant countries in the world.
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I was strolling down the sidewalk in the heart of the beautiful old town St. Augustine, Florida last week when my friend and I noticed a peculiar form of protest occurring. Several people, all of varying race, gender, and age, were sitting down cross-legged in the middle of a grassy park, each holding a lit candle. As I got closer to the individuals, I was able to read a sign they had posted that said something along the lines of “16 years of Falun Gong Persecution in China.” On another poster was a diagram of a human body depicting various organs labeled with selling prices. Not sure of what any of this meant, I went home that night and did some research.

Falun Gong [also known as Falun Dafa] is a Chinese spiritual practice founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992.

According to the practice's official website,

It is a discipline in which “assimilation to the highest qualities of the universe—Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance)—is the foundation of practice. Practice is guided by these supreme qualities, and based on the very laws which underlie the development of the cosmos.”

Originally, the Chinese government backed and supported Falun Gong as the exercises and meditations it taught its followers had health benefits deemed advantageous to the people of China. However, as the practice gained widespread support throughout the country, the Communist Party of China grew skeptical of the influence the practice then held. Therefore, in July of 1999, the leader of the Communist Party of China at the time, Jiang Zemin, took drastic action to take down Falun Gong as the party felt its massive following threatened their control over the people of China. First, he released a series of hateful propaganda which attacked the founder of the practice, Li Hongzhi, and the beliefs of all its followers. Zemin’s goal was to make the rest of the country hate the Falun Gong; taking down a hated group is much easier than bringing down a group loved and respected by all.

As of July 20, 1999, the official persecution and suppression of the Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist regime began. Zemin’s next step included the capturing of many Falun Gong practitioners and sending them to labor camps and detention centers. Others were and still are harassed; their entire practice banned from the country. With most of the party being wrongfully imprisoned, the Chinese government saw a window of opportunity to both make large amounts of money, and get rid of their “enemies.” The Falun Gong prisoners became nothing more to them than an organ bank, and they remain the same to this day. As of March 2006, the Falun Dafa Information Center has exposed the truth of the organ harvesting, so it’s no longer just a rumor.

While wrongfully imprisoned, blood tests are administered to the prisoners in order to match them up to a potential organ buyer overseas. Once a match is made, the organs are harvested without any anesthetics while the person is still alive. Organ harvesting of Falun Gong victims is well known and condemned by nearly every other nation across the planet. In May of 2006, the World Medical Association released a "Resolution on Organ Donation in China:"

Whereas, the WMA Statement on Human Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation stresses the importance of free and informed choice in organ donation; and…Whereas, there have been reports of Chinese prisoners being executed and their organs harvested for donation. The WMA demands that the Chinese Medical Association condemn any practice in violation of these ethical principles and basic human rights and ensure that Chinese doctors are not involved in the removal or transplantation of organs from executed Chinese prisoners. The WMA demands that China immediately cease the practice of using prisoners as organ donors.

However, the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners has persisted for many years after the above statement. A recent documentary, and winner of the 2014 Peabody Award for documentaries, titled Human Harvest, sought to bring light to the continued crimes against humanity committed in China. The film is not yet available in the USA, however, you can watch the trailer here. The opening line is a testimony from a Chinese doctor about his first encounter with live organ harvesting as a medical student. He said, “When I cut through...blood was still running... that is to say, this person was not dead.”

This grotesque crime against humanity is occurring today in China. The Falun Gong practitioners have suffered unjustified persecution for their beliefs for 16 years and that is simply far too long. As fellow human beings, it is necessary that we take a stand against these horrific crimes in any way that we can. Here you can sign the petition, as I have, which will contact your district’s House representative on your behalf and request that he or she take action. Perhaps, if a mass of people sign this petition, our voices will be heard in Washington D.C., and justice will be brought to the Falun Gong practitioners in China.


Cover Image Credit: minghui.org

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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5 Thoughts You've Probably Had About The Government Shutdown If You, Like Cardi B, Are Paying Attention

I'm not sure if Trump thinks he's playing a real-life game of "The Sims," but I can assure you that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in.

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2019 — what a time to be alive, am I right? Normally I would use that phrase sarcastically, but each day I am more and more confused, transfixed, and curious (with just a dash of anticipation) about our current state as a society and the direction we're going. Even though most of the time the world seems like sh*t, you've got to admit that out of all the times in history, the current one we're in has a lot of cool perks. I mean, 70 years ago, who would've guessed that there'd be computers and a world wide web filled with endless information and apps that allow 125 million people to see cute pictures of Kim Kardashian's baby. And compared to life in the 1600s, an airplane seems just as extraordinary as the second coming of Jesus.

We're making a lot of wonderful and exciting progress, like our advancements in medicine, but for some reason, we've hit an impasse in terms of social improvement. Not even three years ago would I have guessed that the U.S. would elect an unqualified, most likely racist, reality TV star as president, but alas, here we are, which brings me to his latest antics.

The government shutdown.

Despite how bleak the future seems, a little part of me is just a tad grateful that I'm alive to see this all go down. Like everyone else, however, I've had quite a few thoughts about it all over the past few weeks...

1. So we're screwed, right?

We briefly had a government shutdown in 2013, but for some reason, I have absolutely no recollection of it (my 14-year-old self was probably too preoccupied with who was posted on my high school's Instagram "thot page." Spoiler alert: I was), so this is like my first experience dealing with one. There have been more than a dozen in U.S. history, but the current shutdown is the longest out of the list. My first thought when hearing about the news was "what the hell does THIS mean?" I immediately jumped to the conclusion that we were in a total state of anarchy, but of course, that isn't even partially true. According to The Balance, a government shutdown is "when non-essential discretionary federal programs close." The shutdown doesn't affect state social services, like the Department of Public Safety, and thankfully for us broke college students, funding for financial aid was approved last September, meaning there's no current effect on student financial aid programs.

However, federal services and agencies like the IRS (don't get too excited... you still have to pay taxes), Department of Labor, Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Institute of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration are completely shut down while the budget process is in limbo. With no current end in sight, this is bound to get very bad, very soon.

Already, hundreds of thousands of government employees have been sent home without pay and will continue to not be paid as long as the shutdown is in effect. People living in low-income housing may be evicted as HUD freezes funds for programs. Without funding, all of these services very well may close. Not only that, but the shut down is costing us money: approximately $1.2 billion every week. I wouldn't normally be worried, but Trump is the exact type of immature and petty to where he'll keep this going until he gets his way (or he's impeached, whichever comes first). His attitude firmly suggests that he's not backing down, and if services do close, there will be terrible effects on affected departments and citizen well-being.

Should we just drink the kool-aid now?

2. All of this over... a wall?

Out of all of the things that a president could request funding for, the one we currently have wants $5 billion for a damn steel wall? I'm not sure if he thinks he's playing a real-life game of The Sims, but I can assure you that real humans are much more crafty than we give each other credit for and that a wall will not keep out those that are truly determined to get in. Trump has said that the wall is the "only solution for a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border," yet common sense and many politicians/organizations can tell you that that's complete and utter bullsh*t. Not only that, but Trump's whole presidency has revolved around quelling illegal immigration, but no one has stopped to ask why he's only focusing on the border.

How would a wall decrease the number of people who overstay their visas? How would it decrease the number of illegal immigrants who aren't even crossing the border?!

While I am not well-versed in how much of a threat illegal immigration presents to the U.S. people and government, I still am convinced that there are way more important issues that the president should be concerned with. F*** global warming and renewable energy, let's build a wall, right?!?

Trump's obsession with his wall is a pathetic attempt to flex his self-professed prowess and a way to appease his hate-filled fanatics who only voted for him because he promised he could get it done.

What happened to Mexico paying for it? Oh right, that was just more bullsh*t.

3. People actually donated to this sh*t?

I just... People's stupidity and callousness never cease to amaze me. Before GoFundMe rightfully shut this fundraiser down, over 345,000 people actually donated $20 million dollars for a (wait for it) steel wall. Why is this the thing that people feel their money is worthy of being spent on? Imagine if we all banded together to raise $20 million dollars to help end homelessness or food insecurity. Or better yet, pay the federal employees who are getting screwed over by this whole ordeal.

4. How do Trump supporters feel about all of this?

I know that die-hard fans can take a lot of sh"t from their idols, but I think that after a while it's only natural for them to get fed up. Out of the 62 million people who voted for Trump, there's probably a good portion of them who are significantly affected by the shutdown. The ones who are government employees are feeling the brunt of it now, but if this continues on for months or even years like Trump is threatening, then we're all going to feel it and I can't think of any good excuses that someone could come up with in order to justify such a foolish and reckless decision made by the president. To a federally-employed Trump supporter, I can't imagine how it feels to go 26 days without a paycheck because the president you voted for is desperately trying to propose funding for a wall that you want to be built. It's got to be a catch-22, but hell, I feel like almost all Trump supporters are delusional anyway, so they're probably thinking they're undergoing some grand act of martyrdom.

5. Even Cardi B is worried... Now you know we're screwed.

Cardi B took to Instagram recently to post a video of her addressing her worries about the government shutdown. While not eloquently put, the rap princess is really only just voicing the thoughts and opinions of a lot of us out here. If Cardi B is taking the time out of her day to stop popping off at her haters and fantasizing about Offset's peen, then you know that this issue is a pretty big deal. The self-proclaimed gang member and boss bit** has admitted that she's scared. I think that warrants us to all be.

Well, there you have it, folks. Five of my most pressing thoughts about the government shutdown. As it continues, I'm sure they'll be thousands more that pop into all of our heads. But hey, let's look on the bright side -- we've made history; now's the only time we can say the government has been shut down all year.

Hopefully, we won't be able to say it for much longer.

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