China ‘harvesting’ Falun Gong organs: report

Members of the Falun Gong group act out a scene of forced organ harvesting. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 June 2019

China ‘harvesting’ Falun Gong organs: report

  • The panel said a considerable amount of people were affected by the forced organ collection
  • The report said the waiting time for organ transplants is considerably short

LONDON: Forced organ harvesting has been carried out “for years throughout China” and members of the Falun Gong spiritual group have “probably” been the main victims, according to a panel of lawyers.
A report by the London-based China Tribunal, released to journalists ahead of a summary to be published online on Wednesday, concluded that “forced organ harvesting continues till today.”
The panel said it was “unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt — that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims.”
“Falun Gong practitioners have been one — and probably the main — source of organ supply,” it added.
The China Tribunal was set up by campaign group the “International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China” to examine the issue.
The panel, headed by British lawyer Geoffrey Nice, warned that the “concerted persecution and medical testing” of China’s Muslim Uighurs meant “evidence of forced organ harvesting of this group may emerge in due course.”
The report cited “extraordinarily short waiting times” for organs and the number of transplant operations performed as evidence, highlighting the “impossibility of there being anything like sufficient ‘eligible donors’.”
China has repeatedly denied accusations that it takes organs from prisoners of conscience.
A government spokesman issued a statement before the report’s release saying “we hope that the British people will not be misled by rumors.”


Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

Updated 18 October 2019

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

  • President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

COLOMBO: The Palaly Airport, a former military air base, has been turned into Jaffna International Airport, the third gateway to the island.

The new airport was inaugurated by the island’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet ministers also witnessed the ceremony.

The refurbished airport, costing $13.8 million, has a 1,400-meter long runway to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft, which can carry 70 passengers. It will later be expanded to 3,500 meters to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII.

After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country for flights to southern India before the civil war began, almost 40 years ago.

President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the upgraded Jaffna International Airport marked a “turning point” in Sri Lankan aviation, which would be “an asset for the entire nation.”

“The airport will deploy regional airliners and be elevated to an Asian travel destination,” the premier said.

“The airport, which is expected to accommodate direct flights between Sri Lanka and India, will contribute toward promoting the tourism industry in the north. This will play an important role in the economic growth and overall development of the country,” he added.  

The service will be made available first for Indian destinations, and later for flights to Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European cities.                                                      

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said Palaly airport was developed into Jaffna International Airport in a very short period of time.

“We were able to overcome the challenge successfully due to the sincere assistance we received from all institutes and stakeholders contributed to the development,” he said.

The minister said that in addition to Colombo and Jaffna international airports, three more airports in Sri Lanka will be upgraded to international airports, such as Ratmalana and Batticaloa.

“The opening of Jaffna airport for regional scheduled commercial passenger operations will undoubtedly enhance the quality of life of people in the area, with improved connectivity and accessibility that the airport brings to the region. It would also help reduce the current congestion at Bandaranaike International Airport and also eliminate the difficulties of the people in the north have in coming to Colombo Airport,” said H. M. C.Nimalsiri, director general of civil aviation.