There will be a screening of the film in Bristol, England on Wednesday, the 25th of January, 2017 from 16:00 till 18:00. It is hosted by Bristol Against Forced Organ Harvesting and it will be held at:
The Conference Room, City Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR, UK
Get in touch: BristolAFOH@zsr.org.uk
Speakers will be:
Ethan Gutmann, an award-winning China analyst and human-rights investigator, is the author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal. He has written widely on China issues for publications such as the Wall Street Journal Asia, Investor's Business Daily, Weekly Standard, National Review, and World Affairs journal, and he has provided testimony and briefings to the United States Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency, the European Parliament, the International Society for Human Rights in Geneva, the United Nations, and the parliaments of Ottawa, Canberra, Dublin, Edinburgh, and London. A former foreign-policy analyst at the Brookings Institution, Gutmann has appeared on PBS, CNN, BBC, and CNBC.
Benedict Rogers is the East Asia Team Leader at the human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). He also serves as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, and recently organized their inquiry on China and authored their new report: The Darkest Moment: The Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2013-2016, launched in July.
'Hard To Believe' was screened at the Swan Hill Town Hall Auditorium on June 26 (Sunday), 2016, at 1:30 PM.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with Lisa Zhang, whose mother was incarcerated in a Chinese labor Camp for her belief, and was awarded a Gold Medal for the defense of Human & Religious rights.
On May 19-22, 2016, Hard To Believe attended the 12th Annual International Conference on Clinical Ethics Consultation (ICCEC) in Washington, D.C., to help raise awareness of Chinese Community Party's killing of prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, for the sale of their organs.
"Hard To Believe", which investigates the Chinese Communist Party's crime of harvesting organs from living prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, for profit, and discusses the silence of public media, politicians, and the medical community on the issue, was screened at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre in Melbourne on March 21, 2016.
Many attendees were shocked by the facts presented in the movie about the medical crime in China, and signed the petition to the Prime Minister, calling on the Australian government to take action to help stop the organ trade in China.
"Hard To Believe" attended the 2016 Medicine and Religion Conference in Houston, Texas, to introduce the issue of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China for their organs.
The response was very positive. Many attendees were previously unaware of transplant abuse in China or that the spiritual believers of Falun Gong were the primary victims of the crime.
On December 11 'Hard To Believe' screened in the Cinema Scala in the second largest city of the Czech Republic, Brno. The tickets were sold out, and extra seats were brought in before the movie began to seat more people.
Many audience members were speechless at the end of the film, before a lively discussion and Q&A session took place.
Swoop Film producer, Kay Rubacek, was interviewed by the Epoch Times about attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities to present Hard To Believe and how the information presented in the film was received by the attendees.
Here's the report from the Houston print edition of the Epoch Times newspaper.
~ The Report Begins ~
The unethical use of organs for transplant from prisoners in China was a topic of discussion at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities in Houston, Texas. Over one thousand professionals in the field of bioethics and related humanities attended the meeting and exhibition booths.
One unexpected booth among the rows of exhibiting colleges and journal publishers was the documentary film "Hard To Believe." It was released this year by New York-based film company Swoop Films, and focuses on state-sanctioned and mass killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs in China. The film asks why so little has been done in America to investigate and stop the crime.
Kay Rubacek, producer at Swoop Films, attended the event, which she said was an opportunity to meet face-to-face with professionals in the bioethics field, a group particularly relevant to the topic.
"Many ethicists have heard of the issue before but were unaware that an investigation via a documentary film had been done. They applauded our effort to bring this issue to light through this popular medium, and in a format that they can use in their college classrooms," Rubacek said.
The interviews in the documentary go beyond simply presenting the evidence of the crime, and ask American media, politicians, and the international medical community why so little has been done to stop the crime. The answer seems to lie in the very title of the film; that the killing of innocent people for their organs is, well, 'hard to believe'.
Rubacek says that independent investigators have found that the majority of these organs are coming not only from prisoners of conscience, but particularly from practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline which is persecuted in China. "This is particularly abhorrent, and ethicists immediately understand that," Rubacek said.
But not all ethicists are rushing to use the film in their classrooms for fear of losing funding or ties with the Chinese regime. "One college said that they have many Chinese students and ties with China and they are afraid that if they broadcast a film that criticizes China in any way they will lose out,” Rubacek says.
“Yet the majority of college teachers I've talked with have told me how important this material is for their classrooms to generate open-minded discussion, not criticism, and that as ethicists they shouldn't be afraid to discuss these issues.”
~ The End ~
"Hard To Believe" was screened this Monday (Nov. 16) at Clemson University in South Carolina, attracting many students, as well as campus and local media coverage.
Many students were moved by the film, and said they gained a deeper understanding about China's political environment, media situation, and the victims' struggle to get the information out of China to seek help from the West.
One student watched the film as an outside assignment to their unrelated studies and offered to share their inspiring report with our blog:
• Briefly describe the film/event in enough detail to show me that you were there paying attention including the discussion period.
- This film was a documentary intended to raise awareness about the harvesting of organs in China. The US has turned a blind eye to the atrocity that is taking place across the sea. The Falun Gong are subjected to constant fear of being taken into custody by the government, or worse, harvested for their organs. They are subjected to torture and physical examinations. The curious thing is, they do not see the exams are the most important aspect. But to those that know the truth, this is a test to see if they are acceptable patients to be harvested. The government is making millions off of “illegally” harvested organs, which they are taking from living, and non-consentual prisoners. The oppression these people are facing could be considered the least of their worries.
• Briefly describe your response/reaction to the film/event. Did you like it? Was it boring, exhilarating, etc? Be honest. You will not be penalized for not liking it.
- This film was enlightening, and engaging. I had no idea about the problem that was occurring in China. I was completely unaware of the current situation. The film filled me with, what I believe to be, unbiased information, while also sparking my interest and concerning me to the point that I wished to be involved in the action taking place.
• Describe two points of information that you received during the film/event/discussion that are of educational value to you.
- Organ harvesting is a very real, and serious matter. It is inhumane and unethical, no matter how you look at it. These prisoners are not vicious, they simply practice a different method, seen as taboo to the Chinese government.
- I also got an insight into a communist way of life. I have been sheltered from this type of government. The speaker spoke about how the government controls all media, and can make you believe what they see most fitting, not always what is true. They control social networking, further spreading their belief system, and condemning all others.
• Relate the film to one or more of the following topical themes of the course: Environment, Population, Culture, Economy, Politics.
- Culture: Falun Gong is a belief system that is highly opposed by the Chinese government. Because of this opposition, the followers are persecuted, tortured, and executed. No actual crime is being committed, only a different way of thinking. These people are non-violent participants.
- Politics: China is a communist country. This allows them to control the media, thus controlling the beliefs of those who do not choose to get their own information. They force feed it’s citizens with false accusations with little to no reliability or supporting information. This allows them to maintain control.
- Politics: Other governments are hesitant to get involved, in what is a seemingly obvious and disgusting practice. The US began involvement, but were cut short. We must work together to raise awareness and put an end to this atrocity. It is essentially genocide, yet it has little to no media coverage.
- Population: The population is pitted against each other. Humanity is now at stake. Even though these people know about the horrors that take place, citizens are still reporting each other for practicing Falon gong.
• Relate the event to one or more particular (parts of a) country in a particular world region. Be specific. What and how does the film inform us about this place(s)?
- China: This film is based out of China. The “crimes” being committed are in China. The Chinese government is harvesting their citizens for their organs in order to turn a profit. This display of communistic rule was new to me. It was unheard of in a democratic society.
- US: The US began to get involved, but was soon cut short of their goal. The Chinese people are trying to raise awareness in order to receive help from one of the Global superpowers. Without our input, the Chinese government will be able to continue practicing this unethical and inhumane procedure.
- Israel: The Israeli government has made it illegal to get transplants in China without proper documentation. This came as a result of a doctor noticing a seemingly impossible appointment for a heart transplant.
During the screening of Hard To Believe at NSW Parliament on Oct. 28, 2015, an inspiring speech was made by Nathan Kennedy, the president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR), which was a sponsor of the event.
~ The Speech Begins ~
This month we celebrate 70 years of the United Nations. An organisation that has as a central purpose promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms. It arose from the ashes of war. A war fought in part to stop the torture and murder of people based on disability, mental health, their race, their sexuality and their beliefs. Millions died. It is an understatement to say it was hard to believe. The world said ‘never again’.
Not long after its formation, the United Nations would proclaim the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This would become the central document on which the world would base its understanding of human rights after WWII. It guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom from torture. The very rights that now, 70 years later are being denied the Falun Gong.
It’s hard to believe that in the 21st Century, 70 years after it was thought the world had learned its lesson, a nation which voluntarily became a party to the Charter of the United Nations would not only imprison people for their beliefs but would harvest organs from them.
Seventy years on the world has changed. China is touted as the next Super Power. We need to decide the type of world we want for the next 70 years and beyond. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights firmly believes that it should be a world where respect for international human rights law is not something just preached but something practised. In part that means doing what is being done here tonight. Exposing those things that are hard to believe and painful to watch but which through awareness can be stopped."
~ The End ~
The International & European Premiere of Hard To Believe was successfully held at the Film Casino in Vienna, Austria. Ethan Gutmann, an investigative journalist and China analyst who is featured in Hard To Believe, and Ms. Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada, 2015 and a human right advocate, attended the VIP reception of the event and the post-screening Q&A session.
Many event attendees were moved and shocked by the film and the presented evidence on forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. The true story shared by Dr. Envert Tohti in the film about his own involvement in removing organs from a living prisoner was especially shocking to the audience and caught a lot of attention.
There was a lively panel discussion after the screening, and in addition to Ethan and Ms. Anastasia, Dr. Katja Hausmann, the representative of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) also joined the discussion and shared her opinion on this issue in China.
Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, MD, from the University of Sydney, made a moving speech during the screening of Hard To Believe at NSW Parliament in Sydney, Australia.
Professor Fiatarone Singh has been awarded many grants from the government and other funding bodies for research in exercise and aging. She is the founding director of the Fit for Your Life Foundation, an international non-profit organization, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the International Group, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH).
~ The Speech Begins ~
"Today I woke up to the news that a former seminarian from Australia urged Tory ministers in London to ignore their consciences and the "wholesome instinct" to love thy neighbor.
“Implicitly or explicitly, the imperative to "love your neighbor as you love yourself" is at the heart of every Western policy. …It's what makes us decent and humane countries as well as prosperous ones, but - right now - this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error.”
"It will require some force," he warned.
"It will gnaw at our consciences, yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever.
Perhaps he left the seminary prematurely was my first thought.
Well, I would agree that an altruistic desire to help our neighbors indeed lies at the heart of our humanity. The problem, perhaps, is a troublesome trend in some arenas to narrow the definition of ‘neighbor’ to those who share our values, our culture, our political beliefs, our skin tone. This is not actually what “Love they neighbor as thyself” was meant to imply.
What does this have to do with organ harvesting of voiceless victims in a foreign land? Imagine that your child has developed terminal liver failure from hepatitis c, and you heard that a prominent surgeon, the head of Transplantation Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, would be able to facilitate an organ transplant and move your child up to the head of the queue of similarly desperate patients. You make an appointment and find out that amazingly this can be arranged for next week. A young male prisoner who has been convicted of a capital crime in Queensland will be executed and his liver harvested and flown to Sydney to save the life of your child. You are asked if you wish your child to receive this liver. What do you say?
Now most of you are reacting in horror, and thinking that you would of course never agree to such a thing, that execution is forbidden in Australia, a civilized country, and it could never be justified to kill one person to save another. You report the prominent surgeon who has proposed such an outrageous solution to the RPA Ethics Committee and the Chief of Surgery and ask that he be stripped of his position immediately for violating the Hippocratic Oath, along with the principles governing medical and surgical practice in Australia.
Yet, what is your reaction when you hear, as you have heard and seen tonight, that this has been happening for decades in China? Are the executed young men your neighbors? What if I told you that the orchestrator of this vast transplant system in China, Huang Jiefu, is a hepatobiliary transplant surgeon who was trained at USYD, and is in fact currently an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney? What if I told you that 5 times in the past 2 years - I, along with a prominent list of international ethicists, physicians, and human rights lawyers and Nobel Prize nominees, have written to the Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of Medicine at the University of Sydney, asking that his honorary professorship be removed, given his unapologetic violation of the ethical principles of his profession and the University - and what if I told you that I have yet to receive a response to these letters?
Today, as an Australian citizen, you are free to travel to China, organize for someone to be killed to order so that you can have his or her organs for yourself or a loved one, have that organ inserted into your body, and then pass through immigration without the dreaded Border Force militia so much as asking to see your surgical wound, much less your stolen organ. God forbid you have brought an apple from the plane with you, however, and attempted to smuggle it through customs.
How can this situation exist?
If you live in this country, and organize a hit man to kill someone for you because you wanted his or her bank account, his or her spouse, or his or her business for yourself - you would be jailed for life. You would be guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, and rightfully so. Yet is not the patient who travels to China and profits from the murder of a Chinese prisoner or religious practitioner guilty of the same conspiracy, the same crime?
There are only 3 countries that have made such an act of transplant tourism a crime or not reimbursable by medical insurance - Israel, Spain, and Taiwan. Australia has no such law against this human rights violation. I believe that we should.
Some would suggest that Chinese health officials have promised to reform, and therefore they should be welcomed into the medical community. I believe this is premature and unwarranted. There is no evidence that supports the Chinese medical authorities’ claim that all harvesting of prisoners stopped on January 1, 2015. Within the military hospitals, the hiring of dedicated surgical teams to harvest organs has accelerated markedly in the last five years. And a Western doctor was recently assured by a Chinese military hospital surgeon that prisoners are still being slaughtered for organs.
As Ethan has said: ‘We cannot prevent the CCP from continuing this crime against humanity, but we can at least limit the moral decay of whatever society we live in.’ If we recoil in horror from the thought of harvesting happening in our own land, in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, than how can we stand silently in the face of admissions from the perpetrators themselves that it has happened, and continues to happen today? There is complicity in our silence.
Jan Hus, a Medieval priest martyred 600 years ago, was one of the great figures in the modern evolution of thought regarding human rights - that belief in the universal moral equality of human beings, and man's natural and inalienable right to freedom and happiness. Unlike some others, he did manage to make it all the way through his studies in the seminary. He said:
‘Seek the truth, hear the truth, learn the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, hold the truth and defend the truth until death.’ He was burned to death for speaking truth to power. There is little chance that such a fate could befall us, yet the silence is at times deafening.
What can we do?
I have a few practical suggestions.
1. Most importantly: Pass a law that makes it a crime for Australian citizens to travel to countries where organ harvesting occurs, or act as a broker for such organ trafficking, as there is no way to ensure that organs so obtained were ethically procured, without execution of the donor, coercion, or offering financial incentives to vulnerable peoples. This is something we can do right now, as it involves only our sovereign will to declare that we will not be part of this immoral trade, and will punish those who engage in it on all levels. It is illegal to do this in Australia. We simply need to make it illegal for our citizens to do it in other countries, particularly China.
2. Ask the Vice-Chancellor of USYD, Michael Spence why the head of the Chinese transplant system is still an honorary professor at USYD, given his violation of the ethical principles required of such honorary appointees.
3. Ask the President of The Transplantation Society, Phillip O’Connell, also a professor at USYD, to remove the membership and the Presidential Medal from HJ, given that TTS members must uphold the principles of the UN and the WHO regarding organ harvesting, and HJ has clearly said as recently as January 2015 that he believes that prisoners who are about to be executed have the right and the ability to freely consent to the harvesting of their organs.
Huang Jiefu’s interview with Phoenix Satellite Television on 11 January 2015: “I’m not saying I oppose donation from death-row prisoners. If the death-row prisoners are truly moved by their conscience, then it’s not impossible. But it must go through the citizen organ donation system, through the Red Cross, through the online computer system for a fair and equitable distribution. That’s transparent.”
The slippery slope has indeed been reached when organs from prisoners and prisoners of conscience, executed for their body parts, are mixed, as HJ says, ‘fairly, equitably’, indistinguishably, with organs donated by true volunteers. This is anything but transparent. It is in fact the complete eradication of transparency, as there is no longer any way to separate the ethical from the unethical transplants.
It may seem like these are inconsequential matters in the grand scheme of things, but such refusal to confront past crimes (if they are indeed past) makes us complicit in the cover up of those crimes, and is exactly the response from the West the CCP needs and wants to deny culpability and attempt to whitewash history. It is our responsibility to not let history be erased for the families of those who have been sacrificed. These are our neighbors. It is our duty to love them as ourselves.
Tony Abbott said this morning: ‘Too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all’.
I think he got that backwards.
I would say:
Too little mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.
We are all called to have mercy, especially for our most vulnerable neighbors, especially for those persecuted for simply asking to be allowed to practice their faith.
Justice will be our reward."
~ The End ~
Professor Katrina Bramstedt, one of the world's few formally trained transplant ethicists and a participant in 'Hard To Believe', recently gave a thought-provoking speech on "forced organ harvesting" at the NSW Parliament in Sydney, Australia.
Her speech is presented here. After read it, maybe we can ask ourselves that how we think about this issue happening in China today, and what we can do about it.
~ The Speech Begins ~
“Forced. Organ. Harvesting. This was the title given to me for our session. But as you can see, I have created a new one. But, nonetheless, think about those 3 words for a moment…. “FORCED. ORGAN. HARVESTING.” The phrase gives me great unease, physical and moral discomfort. Organ transplantation is supposed to be a medical marvel which pivots on the positive event of “organ donation,” not “forced organ harvesting.”
FORCE…it means not voluntary, unnatural. HARVEST…this comes from the Latin word, carpere "to cut, divide, pluck." These are NOT the concepts that spring to mind when one thinks of “organ donation.” Organ donation is a gift, not something plucked out from involuntary victims. From an ethics perspective, organ donation is the very opposite of forced harvesting because organ donation has the premise of voluntariness, and the procedure itself is not a rough and tumble harvest, but rather the careful, skilled, gliding of many hands in perfect sequence to reveal a beautiful treasure.
Involuntariness, un-naturalness, plucking of organs -- this is most definitely unethical, a violation of human rights. Yet, some patients with organ failure are ready recipients for such organs. Their desperation to save their life, potentially fueled by Australia’s severe under-performance in the area of organ donation, can lead them to unethical decisions such as organ tourism and organ purchasing.
The questions are many: Do our patients have an ethical obligation to receive only gifted organs? YES. Our bodies are not meant to house stolen valuables in any form.
Do surgeons have an ethical obligation to refuse to participate in organ harvesting? YES. Their hands are not made for torture.
And what about the ethical obligation of healthcare workers as a community? What is their duty in all of this? We need to get our act together. In Australia, under-performance in the area of donor referrals is one of the many problems that contribute to low rates of organ donation. Removing conflict of interest and benchmarking against proven, successful organ donation systems can move Australia forward and help shrink the gap between organ need and organ availability.
The “no worry” attitude, common in Australia can set a reckless standard of complacency by patients and providers, where benchmarking and innovation are set aside.
We suffer as a society when we fail to protect the vulnerable. We also suffer as a community when we allow our talents to be wasted.
So I am asking you to indeed worry. Be very worried. Be worried about our reputation as a medical community who is too idle. Be worried about the people robbed of their organs. But also, commit to make a difference. Use your hands as they were made to be used. Thank you."
~ The End~
Academics and professionals from medical and legal fields attended a pre-release private screening of Hard to Believe at the NSW Parliament in Sydney, Australia on October 28.
The screening supported by the Australia Lawyers for Human Rights was followed by a Q&A session facilitated by NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge.The Q&A addressed 'Forced organ harvesting in China: what is Australia's ethical responsibility and why does it matter?"
Three experts provided commentary in the Q&A session including China analyst and human rights investigator Ethan Gutmann who attended via a video link, renown transplant ethicist Professor Katrina Bramstedt from Bond University and Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, MD,a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the International Group, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting – both whom attended in person.
'Hard To Believe' will be publicly released in Australia in 2016.
Swoop Films was invited to present the new documentary film 'Hard To Believe' at the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) in Houston last week Oct 22-24 at the Hilton Americas.
Over 1,000 ethics professionals attended from around the country and our booth attracted a lot of attention, with many people stopping to learn more about the film and organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.
Many of the attendees had heard about the issue of forced organ harvesting in China but were unaware that a film had been made about it. Many said they would like to use the film to teach their college students and planned to ask their college to purchase an educational license, which also comes with a 32-page study and discussion guide that provides detailed information and reference material about the issue.
Many attendees bought DVDs and took petition postcards to sign and send to the US State Department to bring the government's attention to the issue and encourage them to support House Resolution 343.
"Hard To Believe", an award-winning documentary produced by Swoop Films and Stone Soup Productions will be released today on DVD; and digitally for one week only. The hour-long film exposes the widespread Chinese government practice of executing political prisoners and selling their organs to “transplant tourists.”
“Hard to Believe” is currently being broadcast on PBS stations, and is playing in film festivals. The DVD and digital release coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s address to the United Nations, and the World Heart Day on September 29.
“Hard to Believe” is a serious investigation into one of the most horrifying human rights abuses of our time. The murder of prisoners of conscience in China and the sale of their organs to foreign patients, comes to life through personal stories, including an author’s 7-year investigation and a surgeon’s confession.
“The question of why the international community allows this crime to continue is particularly timely with the Chinese President’s recent visit to the U.S.,” said Swoop Films executive Kay Rubacek.
Investigators estimate that up to 10,000 prisoners of conscience have been killed annually for the sale of their organs after 2001, when China’s prison population exploded after the Chinese Communist Party began persecuting any citizen practicing the Falun Gong spiritual discipline.
Leading U.S. ethicist and Founding Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU, Arthur Caplan, PhD. says the film, Hard To Believe, is “an important, timely, and deeply disturbing account of one of the great human rights abuses of our time.”
DVDs are now available for purchase from $20.00 via the documentary’ website. ”Hard To Believe” is available for digital streaming for $9.99 for one week only (Sept. 28 - Oct. 5) from www.hardtobelievemovie.com.