Archive for March 2011
In this shaky, unsustainable age of free content and bargain-rate kindle, it is understandable that National Review would want to keep my review of Tim Johnson’s new book behind the paywall. Fair enough. Lord knows, I can relate. But David Kilgour informs me that he is putting it up for free on his website tonight. So go to David’s website and look around, lots of interesting stuff there. Alternately, since the barn door is open, you can read my take on the book here.
Back in 2009, I gave a talk at the Foreign Press Association in London. I’ve lost 35 pounds since then (made you look!) and I have also revised the numbers slightly based on new information (and some mulling as well). That’s what this post is about. Since 2009, I have been quoted in several places, most recently here) on my estimates of how many Falun Gong were harvested during the last decade or so.
[UPDATE: I was also quoted recently (and fairly extensively) in CQ Global Researcher v.5-14 on the subject of Falun Gong organ harvesting and trafficking. Here’s a teaser: “At least 62,000 were victims of organ harvesting operations from 2000-2008, according to Matas and Kilgour and Ethan Gutmann, an investigative journalist.” Anyway, you can buy the entire report here]
The truth is that outside of a few, select individuals in the Chinese military hospitals and the 6-10 office, we don’t know the answer to that question. But I believe estimates are possible, and even useful, as long as we do not engage in false precision and stay reasonably conservative. My estimates are based on a sample of approximately 50 Falun Gong refugees from the Laogai system. Not what I would like, but good enough for a wartime sample. Yet I also flag that inherent imprecision by coming up with a low estimate and a high estimate. I don’t truly believe in either extreme. The truth is probably found somewhere in the middle and that’s why I provide a best estimate, or a median.
Shrewd observers will note that I originally gave a best estimate of approximately 85,000, and now I’m saying about 65,000. I’ll give you the rationale for those new numbers in a minute, but here’s the main reason they changed: I sat down with the Laogai Foundation researchers in DC and they informed me that they had revised their total estimate of the Laogai System (defined as labor camps, prisons, black jails, psychiatric hospitals, long-term detention centers, the lot) down from 4-6 million to 3-5 million. I have reasonable confidence in their logic surrounding this point, so I have revised my estimates accordingly.