Bengaluru, India—It was a quiet Sunday morning on Sept. 16. While most of the people in Bengaluru were just making their plans for the day, there were nearly 100 Bengalureans who had already made their way to witness something that would change their perspective on life forever. It was not the usual show that ended with cheering and clapping. The audience were shell shocked, in utter disbelief, and some of them had even broken down into tears.
The crowd had gathered at Bengaluru’s Suchitra Auditorium to watch the prestigious Peabody Award-winning film Human Harvest, and ended up feeling dismayed and devastated.
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Leon Lee, the 2014 documentary exposes one of the worst genocides in human history. The movie reveals the alarming issue of Chinese state-run hospitals involved in harvesting and selling organs by murdering thousands of prisoners of conscience.
The main victims of this mass genocide are practitioners of Falun Dafa, an ancient meditation system based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. Also known as Falun Gong, this spiritual practice was introduced in China in 1992 and became extremely popular across China and beyond due to its health benefits. By the late 1990s, it was estimated that nearly 70 million to 100 million people in China alone were practicing Falun Dafa.
Fearing the upsurge in the number of Falun Dafa practitioners, on July 20, 1999, Jiang Zemin, the chief of the Chinese regime at the time, started an illegal and inhuman nationwide campaign of persecution against the peaceful practice of Falun Dafa, which continues even today.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began the systematic persecution of Falun Gong by using over 100 torture methods to force the practitioners to give up their beliefs. Among the methods used, the single most gruesome crime ever committed is the forced organ harvesting from Falun Dafa practitioners while they are still alive.
The film Human Harvest is based on the investigative works of two Canadian Nobel Peace Prize nominees, David Matas and David Kilgour. It is recognized for its compelling storytelling and exposing how innocent prisoners of faith are used as a “live organ bank.”
Post-screening, the panel discussion ensued, involving Prakash Belawadi, a noted actor and director; Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International; Sanjiv Bhalla, a member of the Falun Dafa Association of India; and Dr. Shirdi Prasad Tekur, a noted pediatrician.
Belawadi, who moderated the panel discussion, started off by saying, “I want to clarify that this is not a political film about China. This is actually about human rights abuses.”
Aakar Patel said: “I thought the film was very interesting… I think that this particular film, this documentary showed things that China has a lot to answer for. But, ultimately the source of power in any large society for change rests internally with its people.”
Dr. Shirdi Prasad said, “Each of us has got a purpose, and it is an aligned purpose… Being aligned to a purpose and knowing that we are all in it together, I think that itself will change our minds quite a bit. And naturally, so many people in China (persecuted for their faith) really should be hurting us. We may not be able to do anything immediately, but we can start with ourselves.”
Sanjiv Bhalla said: “The Chinese people have no human rights, yet China is there on the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations… There is no easy solution to it… All that we’ve been doing and continue to do is to raise awareness about this… But sometimes the truth is so horrendous that people are in disbelief.”
Bhalla also mentioned that the situation is similar to what happened during the Nazi era, only that it could be 15 times bigger than what happened to the Jews.
Prakash further added that if you bring everything into the sunlight, if there is transparency, we can actually begin to trust. However, he wouldn’t trust China as it is not a transparent state, and that is why exposure, bringing awareness, is a real weapon against lack of transparency.
One of the members in the audience added that in India there is a very good legal framework for organ transplants. Though there have been cases of some illegal organ transplants, over the years, the laws have become more stringent. Therefore, the threat of such things happening in a highly populated nation like India is practically zero, and on top of it, India respects the fundamental right to the freedom of faith.
Bhalla also shared that Falun Dafa was introduced to India in 2001 and there is no organization behind it. Falun Dafa practitioners are normal members of society, individuals who come together to give a collective voice to the practice. Everything is absolutely free of charge and is taught by volunteers.