The Takenouchi Manuscripts and the Story of Humanity Never Told

The Takenouchi Manuscripts and the Story of Humanity Never Told

The Takenouchi manuscripts are a set of mysterious documents that were rewritten by a man named Takenouchino Matori 1,500 years ago in a mixture of Japanese and Chinese characters, transcribed from even older texts. According to legend, the original documents were written in divine characters many millennia ago by ‘the gods’. The unusual texts tell a story of humanity in a way that has never been told before, starting from the beginning of creation up until the emergence of Christianity. They talk of an era in our ancient past where mankind lived in peace and harmony, united under the rule of the son of a Supreme God.

The Takenouchi documents are said to be preserved by the Takenouchi family, descendants of Takenouchino Matori, son of the legendary Japanese hero Takenouchi no Sukune . According to Yamane Kiku in his book “The Authentic History of the World Secreted Away in Japan”, the original manuscripts were handed down from generation to generation and kept within the Kosokotaijingu Shrine in Mount Omijin in Toyama Prefecture.

It is not clear how Takenouchino Matori translated the supposedly ‘divine language’, but according to modern transcriptions, the Takenouchi documents describe the history of all nations in the ‘Divine Era’. They talk of an ancient world which evolved in four different periods of time starting around 300 billion years ago:

  • Seven generations of ‘heavenly gods’ in the Tenjin era, [Each generation has sub-generations the Tenjin Era (7 generations),
  • The Joko/Koto era consisting of 25 generations
  • The Fukiaezu dynasty consisting of 73 generations
  • The Kanyamato dynasty, which includes 125 generations, starting in 660BC and continuing to this day.

In the beginning, the story goes that the world was a sea of mud, which took 22 billion years to form. The first God and Goddesses emerged, the heavens and the Earth were separated and the Sun and Moon were created. Gradually, Earth took form during a period of 6 generations. In the fifth generation, the Gods gave birth to the Creator of Nations, who descended to Mount Kurai in Japan, dressed in a ‘shiny’ body. During the period of the seventh generation, various beings developed technologies including transportation and writing, weather control, farming technology and computers. This seventh generation started the beginning of the lineage of World Emperors starting with Sumera-Mikoto, an ancient Japanese word. The Takenouchi documents refer to the Sumera-Mikoto as the ‘Son of the Sun’, since he descended from the Sun God.

The children of the Sun God started the High Ancient Dynasty and after 8 billion years, their sons and daughters were sent all over the world to start their own nations. In the Takenouchi documents, the account of human creation does not follow the path of evolution. Rather, it was the Gods that created humans, and the sons of Gods created five types of coloured people (white, red, blue, yellow and black) and scattered them all over the Earth. Japan became the centre of the world, from where the Gods created races and dispersed them outwards.

The Koto Era was the womb of the creation of a unified world government under the reign of the first god emperor, the Sumera-Mikoto. Sumera-Mikoto divided the world into 16 regions with Japan at its centre, appointing a king to rule over each region. The crest off the Sumera-Mikoto, the 16 petal chrysanthemum, symbolizes the world and its 16 regions. This crest, known today as the Chrysanthemum Flower Seal is still used today as the Imperial Seal of Japan, a crest used by members of the Japanese Imperial family. Under the Meiji Constitution (1890-1947), no one was permitted to use the Imperial Seal except the Emperor of Japan.

The passport of Japan contains the 16 petal chrysanthemum. Image Source: Wikipedia

But the 16 petal chrysanthemum has not only been used in Japan. It was also present on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (a reconstruction using original bricks is now shown in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin), at the Alhambra Palace in Spain, and at various locations in Rome, Egypt, and elsewhere. Is it a coincidence, or is there an ancient connection?

Bas-relief on the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, showing three 16-petal chrysanthemums. Image source: Wikipedia

According to the Takenouchi manuscripts, the seat of this world government was located in the Hida Mountains in Japan. The Kosokotaijingu Shrine was the most sacred of all, dedicated to the ancestors of mankind. It is said that the shrine was built with a non-rusting metal called hihiiro-kane. According to the Takenouchi documents, all five coloured races of humanity visited the shrine to celebrate in an annual festival.

The documents state that Sumera-Mikoto made frequent tours all around the world. He travelled in a flying vessel called Ameno-ukifune (‘floating ships’). The documents tell us that the places that these vessels landed were named ‘hane’ (‘winds’). Many places in Japan have names that include the word ‘hane’. These, according to the Takenouchi documents, were ancient landing sites. Even today, one of the Tokyo airports is called Haneda airport.

The ancient social system was based on agriculture. People cultivated the land as farmers of the Sumera-Mikoto. The land was owned by the Gods but administered by the people.

Although the land was leased, there was no tax involved. There was no one to control or exploit them. People could enjoy the fruits of their labour. The Sumera-Mikoto aimed to bring happiness to his people, who in return loved and respected him.

However, Sumera-Mikoto would decide who would be king of a region and who not, he had the power to add or remove a person based on their governing abilities. This reminds us of the accounts given in the ancient Sumerian texts where the first kings were appointed directly by Gods, while the first kings were the Gods.

The Takenouchi documents also refer to pyramids. According to the documents they were either human-made structures or human-moulded hills that Sumera-Mikoto would use to communicate with the heavenly Gods. The texts mention the building of numerous ‘hiramito’ (‘shrines’) for the coming of the sun god. The word ‘pyramid’ is said to be derived from the word ‘hiramito’.

As with many other ancient mythologies, the golden era at some point comes to an end, usually when humans begin to be disobedient to their Gods, and this was the case during the Fukiaezu dynasty, which saw the end of many millennia of peace and prosperity. Catastrophic upheavals caused two continents in the Pacific Ocean, Tamiara and Miyoi, to sink into the sea and at the very end of this Era, an enormous earthquake caused a 200-metre tsunami that devastated Japan. These disasters were brought on by the ‘corruption’ of the human spirit. People forgot Sumera-Mikoto and became arrogant, provoking the wrath of their Gods.

One of the most peculiar aspects of the Takenouchi documents is the account of Moses and Jesus, who are both said to have ended up in Japan. Even more surprising is the fact that their supposed tombs can still be visited today. The so-called grave of Jesus (who is said to have lived up to the age of 106), can be found in the remote mountains of northern Japan in a strange little town known as Shingo, in the Aomori Prefecture. The town calls itself Kirisuto no Sato (‘Hometown of Christ’), and just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of town is an 8-foot-high wooden cross surrounded by a white picket fence, which sits on a bluff in the woods overlooking a gravel parking lot.

According to the Takenouchi texts, Moses too ended up in Japan where he is said to have lived for 583 years. His supposed grave can be found today at the foot of Mount Hodatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Trying to unravel the origins and authenticity of the Takenouchi documents is now an impossible task as the original manuscripts were allegedly confiscated by government authorities and later lost. As a result, much speculation has circulated regarding the accuracy, and indeed the agenda, of the Takenouchi texts.

According to Ichiro Yamane, grandson of Kiku Yamane, who wrote the book “The Authentic History of the World Secreted Away in Japan”, the Takenouchi Documents were propagandistic documents, written by the Japanese military to justify the Japanese Emperor ruling the world. Remember that according to the Takenouchi documents, humanity started from Japan, and Japan was the centre of the world.

In the 19 th century, Kiyomaro Takenouchi founded an offshoot of the Shinto religion based on the Takenouchi documents. Could the manuscripts have been created to give birth to another religion?

Today the mainstream opinion is that the Takenouchi documents are nothing more than a hoax, and an elaborate one at that. Others maintain that they may have their roots in truth. However, with the original texts now missing, it is one mystery that will probably never be solved.

Featured Image: Takenouchi no Sukune, Japanese, 19th century, Source: Harvard Art Museums.

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Lake of Blood: The dark history of Laguna Yahuarcocha, Ecuador

Laguna Yahuarcocha, meaning blood lake in the Kichwa language, is a sacred lake of Ecuador. Looking across the still water in the picturesque region of Ibarra, it is hard to imagine that it was once the scene of a bloody massacre, a consequence of indigenous resistance against Inca domination.

Laguna Yahuarcocha, also spelt Yawarkucha, is located about 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the northern city of Ibarra. Sitting at a height of 2190 meters (7185ft) above sea level, it is one of the region’s main attractions today. It is estimated to be around 12,000 years old, and is a vestige of the post-glacier age. Historically, it is important because studies by some researchers claim this area holds wide, unexplored archaeological evidence.

The name Yahuarcocha (‘Yahuar’ – blood, ‘Cocha’ – lake) has its origins in Kichwa, which is part of the Quechuan language spoken primarily in the Andes region of South America.

Yahuarcocha Lake from the San Miguel Mirador, Ibarra, Ecuador ( Wikimedia Commons )

This so named ‘blood lake’ was the scene of an ancient battle between the Incas, with Huayna-Capac (11th leader of the Incas and last undisputed emperor to rule) as their leader against a united front of indigenous peoples known as the Caranqui-Cayambe-Pasto confederation. Prior to the Inca conquest in the late fifteenth century, the Kingdom of Quito (modern day Ecuador) was made up of several linguistic groups including Pasto, Otavalo-Caranqui and Cayambe

Huayna Capac, drawn by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala . The title, in Poma de Ayala's nonstandard spelling, reads: El onceno inga Guainacapac, "The Eleventh Inca, Huayna Capac". ( Wikimedia Commons )

Inca fortresses, built around the time of the battle, have recently been discovered near an extinct volcano called Pambamarca. Its discovery provided archaeologists with evidence of the war fought by the Inca shortly before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Twenty fortresses have been identified as having been built by the Inca and two forts were built by the Cayambe. Evidence suggests that there was a pre-Columbian frontier, or borderline, which experts think existed between the Inca fortresses and the fortresses of the indigenous Cayambe people.

The discovery provided archaeological evidence to support the legend of Lake Yahuarcocha, which Spanish chroniclers told when they penetrated into South America during the 16th and 17th centuries. According to these stories, Inca ruler Huayna Capac sought to conquer the Cayambe using a "very powerful army.” He was hoping for a quick victory but ended up getting entangled in a long struggle.

The west gate of the Inca fortress of Quitoloma. Archaeologists are working on excavating and conserving it. Credit: Chad Gifford / Pambamarca Archaeological Project


Where Royals Were Born: The 1,000-Year-Old Kukaniloko Birthing Site of Hawaii

The Kukaniloko Birthing Site is an important cultural and historical site located in Central Oahu, Hawaii that is sacred to the native Hawaiians, as it was the place where many Ali’i (Hawaiian royalty) came to give birth to their children. The main reason for the choice of this site was the belief that there is an immense amount of spiritual energy (mana) in that area, which meant that the royal children born there would be blessed in their lives ahead, and would have prosperous reigns.

Kukaniloko means ‘to anchor the cry from within’, and the site originally consisted of two rows of 18 stones, which were meant to represent the 36 chiefs of Oahu who witnessed the births, and a stone backrest where a royal woman would give birth. The Kukaniloko Birthing Site was constructed during the 12 th century A.D. by an Oahu chief. His son, Kapawa, was the first person to be born at the site. This spot was in use up until the 17 th century A.D.

Whilst only royals were allowed to enter this sacred site, not all royals were allowed to give birth at the Kukaniloko Birthing Site. Only those who had not engaged in human sacrifices, and had unblemished genealogy were allowed to have their children at this birthing site. This rule seems to have been strictly enforced, as it is believed that Keopualani, the wife of King Kamehameha (the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii), was not allowed to give birth at Kukaniloko, as the king practised human sacrifice.

Women who had their children at the Kukaniloko Birthing Site are said to have been able to give birth with ease and without experiencing any pain. Prior to giving birth, the would-be mother was required to follow a strict diet and exercise regime as prescribed by the kahuna (priests). In addition, various plants were ingested to make the process of giving birth painless. Furthermore, during the process of giving birth, the mother would be made to drink a sap mixed with water for the same purpose.

When a royal was to be born, the mother would be brought to the Kukaniloko Birthing Site. There, up to 48 chiefs would be present to witness the birth and accompanying rituals, and were used as oral reference. Several retainers and kahuna were also present to aid the birth, after which, certain rituals would be carried out. One of these, for instance, was the ‘splitting of the bamboo ceremony’. During this ceremony, a kahuna would split a piece of bamboo between his teeth, which would then be used to sever the newborn’s umbilical cord. After this, two pahu (drums) were sounded, which informed the commoners of the birth, and the sound from these instruments was capable of travelling a great distance.

Corrugated stone at Kukaniloko State Park, on National Register of Historic Places ( public domain )

It was believed that the Kukaniloko Birthing Site possessed a great amount of spiritual energy. This in turn meant that the children born there would be recognised by the gods, and that they were certain to attain high status in life, as well as experience a prosperous reign. It has been pointed out that the reigns of four rulers who were born at the Kukaniloko Birthing Site, La'a (ca. 1420), Ma'ilikukahi (ca. 1520), Kalanumanuia (ca. 1600), and Kakuhihewa (ca. 1640), were marked by peace and prosperity.

It was reported that the site, despite its importance, was threatened by modern development. In 2007, for example, a proposal for the construction of an 18-hole golf course and 3100 houses at the site and its surrounding area was made. Fortunately, the site was saved when the heirs of the Galbraith parcel (a parcel of land surrounding the site, and was once a pineapple farm), in co-operation with the Hawaii director of the Trust for Public Land, agreed to sell that land for conversion into many small farms. This ensured that the site retained its natural environment.


Il mistero dei manoscritti di Takenouchi



I manoscritti di Takenouchi sono una serie di misteriosi documenti trascritti 1.500 anni fa, da testi ancora più antichi, da un uomo di nome Takenouchi Matori in un misto di caratteri giapponesi e cinesi.

Secondo la leggenda, i documenti originali sono stati redatti in caratteri divini molti millenni fa dagli stessi dei.
Gli insoliti testi raccontano una storia dell'umanità in un modo mai raccontato prima, dall'inizio della creazione fino alla nascita del cristianesimo.



Si parla di un'epoca nel nostro antico passato in cui l'uomo viveva in pace e in armonia, uniti sotto il governo del figlio di un Dio Supremo.

I documenti Takenouchi sarebbero stati custoditi dai discendenti di Takenouchi Matori, figlio dell'eroe leggendario giapponese Takenouchi no Sukune. Secondo Yamane Kiku nel suo libro "La storia autentica del Mondo Secreted Away in Japan", i manoscritti originali sono stati tramandati di generazione in generazione e mantenuto nel Santuario Koso kotai jingu situato nella prefettura di Toyama.

Secondo l'autore Kiku Yamane nel suo libro "Authentic History of the World Secreted Away in Japan" afferma che i manoscritti originali sono stati tramandati di generazione in generazione e custoditi all’interno del Santuario Kosokotaijingu in Mount Omijin nella prefettura di Toyama. Non è chiaro come Takenouchino Matori abbia tradotto il presunto 'linguaggio divino', ma secondo le trascrizioni moderne, i documenti Takenouchi descrivono la storia di tutte le nazioni dell’Era 'Divina' .

I manoscritti parlano di un mondo antico che si è evoluto in quattro differenti periodi di tempo a partire da 300 miliardi di anni fa.

Sette generazioni di "divinità celesti" nell'era Tenjin, [Ogni generazione ha sotto-generazioni nell’era Tenjin (7 generazioni),

- L'era Joko / Koto composta da 25 generazioni
- La dinastia Fukiaezu composta da 73 generazioni
- La dinastia Kanyamato, che comprende 125 generazioni, a partire dal 660DC e continua fino a oggi.

In principio, raccontano questi documenti, il mondo era costituito da un mare di fango e sono occorsi 22 miliardi di anni per formarsi così come lo conosciamo oggi.

Nei documenti Takenouchi, il racconto della creazione umana non segue il sentiero dell'evoluzione.

Piuttosto, erano gli Dei quelli che hanno creato gli esseri umani, e i figli degli Dei a loro volta hanno creato cinque tipi di persone di colore (bianco, rosso, blu, giallo e nero) che si sono dispersi su tutta la Terra.

In quel periodo il Giappone era diventato il centro del mondo, da dove gli dei crearono razze che si sono disperse verso l'esterno.

Il Koto era stato il grembo della creazione di un governo mondiale unificato sotto il regno del primo imperatore dio, la Sumera-Mikoto che aveva diviso il mondo in 16 regioni con il Giappone al centro, alla nomina di un re che doveva governare su ogni regione.


Our Daily Dose: A new film that overturns the toxic truth about the fluoride that is in our drinking water [VIDEO]

Hailed by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century, water fluoridation is something most of us assume to be safe and effective. But new science has upended this assumption, revealing that fluoride is a developmental neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. The CDC tells us that drinking fluoride decreases tooth decay, at best, by 25%. That is one-half to one cavity per person over a lifetime. Is one less cavity worth risking a child’s long-term brain and thyroid health? It’s time to rethink this very old practice.

In OUR DAILY DOSE, filmmaker Jeremy Seifert (GMO OMG) lays out the dangers of water fluoridation informatively and creatively, highlighting the most current research and interviewing top-tier doctors, activists, and attorneys close to the issue. Through thoughtful examination of old beliefs and new science, the film alerts us to the health threat present in the water and beverages we rely on every day. This is an eye-opening look at how we have less control over our health than we may have thought.


JUDGE ANNA von REITZI: MY REPLY TO “SNOPES”, NBC, CBS, TED TURNER AND THE AMERICAN PRESS CLUB TOO

My Answer to “Snopes”, NBC, CBS, Ted Turner, and the American Press Club, Too.

First of all, as has been established several times, “Snopes” is the brainchild of a couple liberal Californians and whatever similarly minded (and prejudiced) volunteers they can draft into carrying out their self-appointed mission of making their own opinions into facts.

In my experience, Snopes can’t tell an actual fact from a fairytale and would be well-advised to find other employment. Be that as it may, I do understand that those who have been programmed since babyhood to rely on authority and that means anyone else’s authority– instead of using their own brains — will have a hard time discerning truth from fiction.

Here’s your wake up call and my reply to Snopes and all the other pundits out there:

If I am not a judge, why haven’t I been arrested for “impersonating” one for the past three years?

If I don’t know what I am talking about, why have I not paid the IRS a dime in twenty years?

If I am not “legit” why do I have a 300-page affidavit of probable cause, published (Amazon.com: “You Know Something Is Wrong When…..An American Affidavit of Probable Cause”) detailing step-by-step (with the public record references) how we have all been defrauded by international banks running “governmental services corporations” as for-profit businesses and pretending that they are the government the people are owed?

How is it that that affidavit has been available for all to see since last June and not one tiny bit of it has been disproven?

And why is it—- when faced with sworn testimony of crimes committed against the American People— have all the supposed “authorities” scuttled away like cockroaches under a bright light?

Not a single answer from “Congress”—- not a peep.

Why is it that the public interest litigation I brought before the “ SUPREME COURT FOR THE STATE OF ALASKA” objecting to the mischaracterization of Alaskans as Federal United States Citizens subject to arbitrary arrest under the provisions of the NDAA 2012—-could not be heard?

Could it be that I am correct and they are frauds? That they in fact have NO JURISDICTION? No right to even SPEAK TO us when we are standing on the land of our forefathers?

Why is it that the Farm Union Cases successfully prosecuted by General Gage all the way through the Supreme Court (yes, I was just a young woman at the time, but I was involved in that through my Mother) have been “sealed” by the “UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT”?

And this is just for starters. If “Snopes” or any of the mainstream media corporations are NOT in the pockets of the crooks responsible for the looting and misadministration of our public trusts, they ARE at the very least proven to be the most worthless, brainless, useless excuses for journalists or investigators of any kind that the world has ever seen.

You would all do far better to rely on your hairstylists and barbers for the actual news, because all you will be “fed” by these bought and paid for “handlers” is a constant diet of trivia, sex, and death.

In 1989 my husband and eldest son went on a summer fishing and camping trip leaving me alone for two weeks. I used the time alone to clean out the garage and think deep thoughts. Out of boredom one night I started keeping a scorecard related to the Evening News— I drew four columns labeled: Sex, Death, Sex and Death, and Other. And as the “news” stories rolled by, I ticked off tally marks….. over 90% of the stories involved sex or death or both.

And the next question is—- what possible good does it do me to know about a single murder case in LA? Or Chicago? Why THAT murder case and not any one of 300 others?

You see how it is, when you finally start to THINK again?

You are being led around by your noses and your most base instincts, sex and fear, to grease political agendas and to push you to ask for more “government services” and to buy more “stuff” and that is all — absolutely all—the mainstream media does and that is all it promotes: consumerism and fear and prejudicial gossip.

Just sit down in front of your television and do what we did. Keep a tally. Ask yourselves— now, how was I benefitted by knowing about that?

Very quickly you will note that you were not benefited at all by any of the crap that they are feeding you, except perhaps for the weather report. The sum total of the purpose of the “news” is to make you feel depressed, hungry, sexually aroused, and fearful about things that you are helpless to do anything about.

So why put up with that kind of abuse? What possible use is it? Turn it OFF and keep it OFF. Stop buying their “product”.
By the time 9/11 rolled around, I was able to stand there and ask a very important question—- “Where is all this Hollywood quality film coverage coming from?”

Now that you stop and think of it—- how was it possible that the Twin Towers tragedy was filmed from every possible angle in high definition Technicolor just like a Disney movie? Why wasn’t it the real world chopped up and pieced together coverage you would have expected to get from tourists on the sidewalk and officer workers shooting photos through dirty windows and footage from gritty parking lot and security cameras?

Answer— it was all set up. The Hollywood film crews were set up the night before.

Hello? Earth to America? You watched over 3000 innocent people die in full color HDTV and it was obviously set up that way by the “governmental services corporation” you have been mindlessly obeying and paying to murder and rob you and everyone else on Earth for the past 150 years.

WAKE UP! BIRDS SINGING! FULL ALERT! SWITCH YOUR BRAIN CELLS BACK TO THE “ON” POSITION.

For Snope’s information– and everyone else’s:

There are three court systems in this country:

(1) Administrative Courts which are in-house corporate tribunals designed to oversee the operations of the “federal corporation” and its franchises and employees only

(2) Maritime/Admiralty/Martial Courts which are of restricted jurisdiction and run under the delegated authority of the “Federal Government” by Bar Association Members

Both of these above court systems are operated by Bar attorneys and they are all incorporated and they all run under international law in the Jurisdiction of the Sea and don’t properly have a thing to do with anyone who isn’t a federal employee, involved in seafaring, or otherwise naturally subject to their jurisdiction.

(3) Common Law Courts which came to this country with the Colonists and which have functioned on the land of this country for over 400 years are the courts “of the people, by the people, and for the people” — and if you bother to carefully read Articles I, VI, and Amendment VII you will clearly see that ALL issues of Law pertaining to living people and their assets are to be tried at Common Law.

Common Law is the “Law of the Land” and so is The Constitution “Law of the Land” as opposed to “law of the corporations” (maritime) or “Law of the Sea”
(Admiralty).

People are “land assets”— we come from the land and go back to the land we belong to the land, quite literally, and so we are owed the Law of the Land, but for several decades the self-interested “governmental services corporations” have contrived to avoid that fact and to instead press-gang all of us and our assets both public and private into the foreign international jurisdiction of the sea and have prosecuted us under the false presumption that we are all British Crown Subjects owned lock, stock, and barrel by the British Crown Corporation.

This is the vicious unconscionable fraud scheme that these rotten criminals have perpetuated on the American People and had guts enough to promote on American soil.

If “Snopes” was worth the powder to blow it to Hell and back, it would have long ago investigated the nature of the BAR Association and the IRS and would have discovered (as perfectly average Americans eventually did) that the American Bar Association and the Internal Revenue Services are both owned and operated by Northern Trust, Incorporated, and that they are both private bill collection agencies and licensed privateer organizations operated by British Crown subsidiaries.

They don’t have any public role or office at all. They are not units of government. They are not innocent professional organizations. They are undeclared Foreign Agents and they are in default on the Treaty allowing them to be here: 1947 Bar Association Treaty.

If “Snopes” had a brain in their combined heads, they would have then looked at life a bit differently and would be the ones opening up your eyes concerning the actual situation you are facing. Instead of concluding that I am not a judge, they would be asking in what sense these other yahoos are judges? Judges of who? Judges of what? Judges in what sense?

Who are they? Who or what do they work for if not the people? Where are the Common Law Courts required to serve the people by Amendment VII?

Oh, well, bless my soul! Here they are, in Alaska, in Colorado, in Florida….all sorts of unincorporated American counties and states all operating under Common Law with real live Common Law Judges and Common Law Grand Juries and Common Law Trial Juries, and may God be praised, there are EVEN Constitutional Sheriffs who have taken up their public offices and who are enforcing The Constitution again.

You have been denied access to The Constitutional guarantees and the Common Law of the Land because your political status records have all been self-interestedly falsified by these vermin. It is up to you to object and to notify John Kerry that a Great Correction is owed by the “governmental services corporation” pretending to be your lawful government.

Ban Ki-Moon needs a shout up his drain pipe, too.

Dear Mr. Secretary…… I am NOT a British Crown Subject and have never considered that to be any kind of beneficial status at all. Any and all representations not withstanding, I claim my birthright status as one of the “free sovereign and independent people of the United States” and note that in the absence of the performance of the duty noted at 2 United States Statutes at Large 153, Subchapter 28, Section 1— no other political status may be presumed against me, including any claim that the 14th Amendment had any affect upon my standing or political status or that of my family. I live on the land and do not accept any claim of “residency” or “address” apart from the GPS you can see on any map. I fear that I have been the victim of organized crime and have suffered identity theft and have been defrauded, but I claim my birthright and will uphold it. Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this grave error and misrepresentation of the American people by the United States of America (Minor) and the District of Columbia Municipality. Please note that the primary culprit, the “FEDERAL RESERVE” has been re-incorporated under United Nations City State auspices, and that the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND / IMF is also a UN Agency and is implicated in this criminal fraud scheme, so that it appears that the United Nations is itself a crime syndicate operating on our shores. Prompt action to correct is highly recommended.

Finally, Mr. Secretary, it has come to our attention that those who have profited most by this gigantic fraud scheme have proposed to kill off their creditors and in this way escape their obligation to repay the property, interest, and collateral the people are owed.


“The Coming War On China” – Watch John Pilger’s Powerfully Relevant Documentary

“The aim of this film is to break a silence: the United States and China may well be on the road to war, and nuclear war is no longer unthinkable,” Pilger says in his 2016 documentary The Coming War on China, which you can watch free on Youtube here or on Vimeo here.

“In a few years China has become the world’s second-biggest economic power,” Pilger’s introduction continues. “The United States is the world’s biggest military power, with bases and missiles and ships covering every continent and every ocean. China is a threat to this dominance, says Washington. But who is the threat? This film is about shifting power, and great danger.”

As we’ve been discussing for years now, the relentless quest of the US-centralized empire-like power alliance for total world domination has put it on a collision course with the surging economic powerhouse of China which refuses to be absorbed into the imperial blob. The empire’s continued existence depends upon its ability to undermine China before it grows too powerful or the empire grows too weak to stop its ascent, at which point global hegemony becomes impossible and we are living in a truly multipolar world.

China has therefore always been the final boss fight in the global campaign of violence and domination by what Pilger calls the “empire which never speaks its name”. And the ramping up of anti-China narrative management by the US government indicates that we are being psychologically primed to accept this world-threatening confrontation, just as Pilger warned in 2016.

“The danger of confrontation grows by the day,” Pilger says.

The powerful film breaks down the way the USA has been encircling China with a “noose” of military bases since the Korean War, which all have massive amounts of military firepower, including nuclear firepower, pointed right at China’s cities. Pilger shows the psychopathic toll this has inflicted upon the people who live in the areas where the US war machine has set up shop in the Pacific, including an especially enraging segment on the use of Bikini Atoll natives as human guinea pigs to test the effects of nuclear radiation on people. Also deeply disturbing is the revelation of just how close the US came to launching nuclear warheads at China due to a miscommunication during the Cuban missile crisis.

The film describes China’s recent history and explains its climb in economic power which led us to this point, and the USA’s generations-long history of provocation and hostility toward its government. It also addresses the silly projection so many westerners harbor that if the US wasn’t bullying and slaughtering the world into compliance, China would take over doing the same.

The White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” & creating a global pandemic, according to two US officials & a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast https://t.co/3Xjm08G2Mw

&mdash The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 21, 2020

Back in 2016 it was harder for people to see this escalation on the horizon, but now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic we’re hearing a frantic, disproportionate amount of anti-China sentiment from the Trump administration and its supporters, in the same way we heard Russia hysteria amplified over the last three years by Trump’s enemies. Trump was politically pressured to dangerously escalate cold war tensions with Russia, and he’s now being politically incentivized to pass the blame for his administration’s spectacular failures in addressing this pandemic on to the Chinese government in a way which manufactures support for escalations on that front as well. Two different narratives, same agenda.

“The new president, Donald Trump, has a problem with China,” Pilger says at the end of the documentary. “The urgent question now is will Trump continue with the provocations revealed in this film and take us all to the edge of war?”

The answer to that question appears to be coalescing. It’s a good time for us all to watch this film.

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.


The Takenouchi Manuscripts and the Story of Humanity Never Told - History

In our homeland's case, we can not afford a "balanced" approach to history since in the past and present years, our homeland's history, as it refers to Philippine-US relationships, has been imbalanced in favor of the Americans, who as far as we baby boomers can remember, are only "the good guys" and "do-gooders" in history. It is time for us, especially for Filipinos-in-the-Philippines to recover our history, a nationalist history, which necessitates uncovering the lies and myths about America since the American arrival into and 50-year occupation of our homeland, the sweet nothings about "Philippine-American Special Relations," etc. perpetuated through our school textbooks, mass media, government pronouncements, and Filipinos with Americanized minds, etc.

We Filipinos, here and abroad, past and present, relied and continue to use these official explanations that lead only to our ignorance of hidden truths and knowledge of untruths, thus perpetuating the post-WW2 neo colonial conditions that brought only worsening impoverishment to the masses foreign control of the national economy and its plunder of our national patrimony (of course, with the help of the local collaborators/traitors to our homeland and native majority).

- Bert

History has been one of my favorite subjects in high school, and to this day it continues to be one of my great interests. In retrospect, I think the study of History , whether of the Philippines, of another country or that of the World, was badly taught since the stress has been mainly on memorizing names, dates and events. This teaching method made History to become/remain unpopular among many students and most important, to losing its true value for the future adult citizens and members of society.

It was only when battles during the Vietnam War became a daily news item did my outlook towards History in general take a different spin. From then on, even while attending a college of engineering, I would spend time and money reading about the Vietnam War (more aptly, American intervention) and especially, about the causes or roots of this war. My great interest in history also led me into appreciating the other branches of the social sciences or the humanities, i.e. philosophy, psychology, etc, those subject matters that go deep into "what is man?" and comprise mainly the so-called"liberal education." (see History and Liberal Learning).

To digress a bit: Many of those who attended the Uiversity of the Philippines have had a taste of liberal education and thus seem more attuned with societal issues. And in general, some or many who are for technical education may have found them boring too. It partly explains why we engineers --wherever we graduated from-- tend to be generally unqualified in human/organizational management uinless we study and learn.

Two truisms: One where it is said "history repeats itself." Another where I would say "history does not have to repeat itself." Man makes history not the other way around (I do not believe in absolute historical determinism). A rough analogy: in the project engineering practice of better managed organizations, after project completion we sit down and talk about "lessons learned," to identify the good and the bad in the project just closed out for the purpose of not repeating mistakes.

It should make us wonder why we do not use our scientific/technical approach or thinking in our social analysis and problem-solving. It maybe due to the case when most of the time human problems are much more complex than most technical/inanimate problems. In human problems wisdom in problem-solving is acquired only from a combo of education, time and experience. Though again, acquired knowledge also may oftentimesrequire the will, i.e. "political will," of the rulers --and of the active citizenry to press the rulers-- to implement it.

WHO SHOULD RULE THEN? If we have chosen the wrong rulers, we have to force/make them become good rulers --but this is another topic.)

Back to our history study. The reason I mention the above is the fact that we Filipinos grew up and were schooled in books, including those on Philippine history, written primarily by American and Americanized authors. History, come to think about it if seriously studied, provides one an understanding of a people, a place, a culture. A history to understand ourselves: why are we what we are? what brought us here - to our current predicament?

Thinking about what transpired in the past provides a history buff a way of linking isolated, if not apparently unrelated events or historical milestones and therefore gives meaning and direction to the “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions concerning such past events. Learning and understanding history help provide a fresh perspective, the identification of a common thread, on recent and current events. Such obtained knowledge when applied to society can help formulate some and fundamental, even radical but necessary, approaches to problem solving of society’s current ills.

As to our Philippine history, I believe and think that the 50-year American intervention, occupation and colonization of our homeland need a deeper rethinking if one wants to understand the seemingly confusing and incomprehensibly perennial predicament of Filipinos in the Philippines.

The restudy of Philippine-American History by us Filipinos should aptly begin with the unknown and underlying rationalization and/or justification by Social Darwinism the ignored and glossed over shift to expansionism by the formerly anti-imperialist and isolationist America most especially its dominant racist mindset for both market- and military-driven expansions explained away by the so-called Manifest Destiny towards the Pacific Rim during the later decades of the 19th century. Note that decades before, America declared and warned the Europeans, through its Monroe Doctrine, that the western hemisphere -all the Americas- was its sole domain, its "backyard."


Contents

Prior persecutions Edit

From its first appearance to its legalization under Constantine, Christianity was an illegal religion in the eyes of the Roman state. [3] For the first two centuries of its existence, Christianity and its practitioners were unpopular with the people at large. [4] Christians were always suspect, [3] members of a "secret society" whose members communicated with a private code [5] and who shied away from the public sphere. [6] It was popular hostility—the anger of the crowd—which drove the earliest persecutions, not official action. [4] Around 112, the governor of Bithynia–Pontus, Pliny, was sent long lists of denunciations of Christians by anonymous citizens, which Emperor Trajan advised him to ignore. [7] In Lyon in 177, it was only the intervention of civil authorities that stopped a pagan mob from dragging Christians from their houses and beating them to death.

To the followers of the traditional cults, Christians were odd creatures: not quite Roman, but not quite barbarian either. [8] Their practices were deeply threatening to traditional mores. Christians rejected public festivals, refused to take part in the imperial cult, avoided public office, and publicly criticized ancient traditions. [9] Conversions tore families apart: Justin Martyr tells of a pagan husband who denounced his Christian wife, and Tertullian tells of children disinherited for becoming Christians. [10] Traditional Roman religion was inextricably interwoven into the fabric of Roman society and state, but Christians refused to observe its practices. [11] [notes 1] In the words of Tacitus, Christians showed "hatred of the human race" (odium generis humani). [13] Among the more credulous, Christians were thought to use black magic in pursuit of revolutionary aims, [14] and to practice incest and cannibalism. [15]

Nonetheless, for the first two centuries of the Christian era, no emperor issued general laws against the faith or its Church. These persecutions were carried out under the authority of local government officials. [16] At Bithynia–Pontus in 111, it was the imperial governor, Pliny [17] at Smyrna in 156 and Scilli near Carthage in 180, it was the proconsul [18] at Lyon in 177, it was the provincial governor. [19] When Emperor Nero executed Christians for their alleged involvement in the fire of 64, it was a purely local affair it did not spread beyond the city limits of Rome. [20] These early persecutions were certainly violent, but they were sporadic, brief and limited in extent. [21] They were of limited threat to Christianity as a whole. [22] The very capriciousness of official action, however, made the threat of state coercion loom large in the Christian imagination. [23]

In the 3rd century, the pattern changed. Emperors became more active and government officials began to actively pursue Christians, rather than merely to respond to the will of the crowd. [24] Christianity, too, changed. No longer were its practitioners merely "the lower orders fomenting discontent" some Christians were now rich, or from the upper classes. Origen, writing at about 248, tells of "the multitude of people coming in to the faith, even rich men and persons in positions of honour, and ladies of high refinement and birth." [25] Official reaction grew firmer. In 202, according to the Historia Augusta, a 4th-century history of dubious reliability, Septimius Severus (r. 193–211) issued a general rescript forbidding conversion to either Judaism or Christianity. [26] Maximin (r. 235–38) targeted Christian leaders. [27] [notes 2] Decius (r. 249–51), demanding a show of support for the faith, proclaimed that all inhabitants of the empire must sacrifice to the gods, eat sacrificial meat, and testify to these acts. [29] Christians were obstinate in their non-compliance. Church leaders, like Fabian, bishop of Rome, and Babylas, bishop of Antioch, were arrested, tried and executed, [30] as were certain members of the Christian laity, like Pionius of Smyrna. [31] [notes 3] The Christian theologian Origen was tortured during the persecution and died about a year after from the resulting injuries. [33]

The Decian persecution was a grave blow to the Church. [34] At Carthage, there was mass apostasy (renunciation of the faith). [35] At Smyrna, the bishop, Euctemon, sacrificed and encouraged others to do the same. [36] Because the Church was largely urban, it should have been easy to identify, isolate and destroy the Church hierarchy. This did not happen. In June 251, Decius died in battle, leaving his persecution incomplete. His persecutions were not followed up for another six years, allowing some Church functions to resume. [37] Valerian, Decius's friend, took up the imperial mantle in 253. Though he was at first thought of as "exceptionally friendly" towards the Christians, [38] his actions soon showed otherwise. In July 257, he issued a new persecutory edict. As punishment for following the Christian faith, Christians were to face exile or condemnation to the mines. In August 258, he issued a second edict, making the punishment death. This persecution also stalled in June 260, when Valerian was captured in battle. His son, Gallienus (r. 260–68), ended the persecution [39] and inaugurated nearly 40 years of freedom from official sanctions, praised by Eusebius as the "little peace of the Church". [40] The peace would be undisturbed, save for occasional, isolated persecutions, until Diocletian became emperor. [41]

Persecution and Tetrarchic ideology Edit

Diocletian, acclaimed emperor on November 20, 284, was a religious conservative, faithful to the traditional Roman cult. Unlike Aurelian (r. 270–75), Diocletian did not foster any new cult of his own. He preferred older gods, Olympian gods. [42] Nonetheless, Diocletian did wish to inspire a general religious revival. [43] As the panegyrist to Maximian declared: "You have heaped the gods with altars and statues, temples and offerings, which you dedicated with your own name and your own image, whose sanctity is increased by the example you set, of veneration for the gods. Surely, men will now understand what power resides in the gods, when you worship them so fervently." [44] Diocletian associated himself with the head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter his co-emperor, Maximian, associated himself with Hercules. [45] This connection between god and emperor helped to legitimize the emperors' claims to power and tied imperial government closer to the traditional cult. [46]

Diocletian did not insist on exclusive worship of Jupiter and Hercules, which would have been a drastic change in the pagan tradition. For example, Elagabalus had tried fostering his own god and no others, and had failed dramatically. Diocletian built temples for Isis and Sarapis at Rome and a temple to Sol in Italy. [43] He did, however favor gods who provided for the safety of the whole empire, instead of the local deities of the provinces. In Africa, Diocletian's revival focused on Jupiter, Hercules, Mercury, Apollo and the Imperial Cult. The cult of Saturn, the Romanized Baal-hamon, was neglected. [47] In imperial iconography, too, Jupiter and Hercules were pervasive. [48] The same pattern of favoritism affected Egypt as well. Native Egyptian deities saw no revival, nor was the sacred hieroglyphic script used. Unity in worship was central to Diocletian's religious policies. [47]

Diocletian, like Augustus and Trajan before him, styled himself a "restorer". He urged the public to see his reign and his governing system, the Tetrarchy (rule by four emperors), as a renewal of traditional Roman values and, after the anarchic third century, a return to the "Golden Age of Rome". [49] As such, he reinforced the long-standing Roman preference for ancient customs and Imperial opposition to independent societies. The Diocletianic regime's activist stance, however, and Diocletian's belief in the power of central government to effect major change in morals and society made him unusual. Most earlier emperors tended to be quite cautious in their administrative policies, preferring to work within existing structures rather than overhauling them. [50] Diocletian, by contrast, was willing to reform every aspect of public life to satisfy his goals. Under his rule, coinage, taxation, architecture, law and history were all radically reconstructed to reflect his authoritarian and traditionalist ideology. The reformation of the empire's "moral fabric"—and the elimination of religious minorities—was simply one step in that process. [51]

The unique position of the Christians and Jews of the empire became increasingly apparent. The Jews had earned imperial toleration on account of the great antiquity of their faith. [52] They had been exempted from Decius's persecution [53] and continued to enjoy freedom from persecution under Tetrarchic government. [notes 4] Because their faith was new and unfamiliar [52] and not typically identified with Judaism by this time, Christians had no such excuse. [55] Moreover, Christians had been distancing themselves from their Jewish heritage for their entire history. [56]

Persecution was not the only outlet of the Tetrarchy's moral fervor. In 295, either Diocletian or his Caesar (subordinate emperor), Galerius, [57] issued an edict from Damascus proscribing incestuous marriages and affirming the supremacy of Roman law over local law. [58] [notes 5] Its preamble insists that it is every emperor's duty to enforce the sacred precepts of Roman law, for "the immortal gods themselves will favour and be at peace with the Roman name. if we have seen to it that all subject to our rule entirely lead a pious, religious, peaceable and chaste life in every respect". [59] These principles, if given their full extension, would logically require Roman emperors to enforce conformity in religion. [60]

Public support Edit

Christian communities grew quickly in many parts of the empire (and especially in the East) after 260, when Gallienus brought peace to the Church. [61] The data to calculate the figures are nearly non-existent, but the historian and sociologist Keith Hopkins has given crude and tentative estimates for Christian population in the 3rd century. Hopkins estimates that the Christian community grew from a population of 1.1 million in 250 to a population of 6 million by 300, about 10% of the empire's total population. [62] [notes 6] Christians even expanded into the countryside, where they had never been numerous before. [64] Churches in the later 3rd century were no longer as inconspicuous as they had been in the first and second. Large churches were prominent in certain major cities throughout the empire. [65] The church in Nicomedia even sat on a hill overlooking the imperial palace. [66] These new churches probably represented not only absolute growth in Christian population, but also the increasing affluence of the Christian community. [67] [notes 7] In some areas where Christians were influential, such as North Africa and Egypt, traditional deities were losing credibility. [64]

It is unknown how much support there was for persecution within the aristocracy. [69] After Gallienus's peace, Christians reached high ranks in Roman government. Diocletian appointed several Christians to those positions himself, [70] and his wife and daughter may have been sympathetic to the church. [71] There were many individuals willing to be martyrs, and many provincials willing to ignore any persecutory edicts from the emperors as well. Even Constantius was known to have disapproved of persecutory policies. The lower classes demonstrated little of the enthusiasm they had shown for earlier persecutions. [72] [notes 8] They no longer believed the slanderous accusations that were popular in the 1st and 2nd centuries. [74] Perhaps, as the historian Timothy Barnes has suggested, the long-established Church had become another accepted part of their lives. [72]

Within the highest ranks of the imperial administration, however, there were men who were ideologically opposed to the toleration of Christians, like the philosopher Porphyry of Tyre, and Sossianus Hierocles, governor of Bithynia. [75] To E.R. Dodds, the works of these men demonstrated "the alliance of pagan intellectuals with the Establishment". [76] Hierocles thought Christian beliefs absurd. If Christians applied their principles consistently, he argued, they would pray to Apollonius of Tyana instead of Jesus. Hierocles considered that Apollonius's miracles had been far more impressive and Apollonius never had the temerity to call himself "God". [77] He saw the scriptures were full of "lies and contradictions" and Peter and Paul had peddled falsehoods. [78] In the early 4th century, an unidentified philosopher published a pamphlet attacking the Christians. This philosopher, who might have been a pupil of the Neoplatonist Iamblichus, dined repeatedly at the imperial court. [79] Diocletian himself was surrounded by an anti-Christian clique. [notes 9]

Porphyry was somewhat restrained in his criticism of Christianity, at least in his early works, On the Return of the Soul and Philosophy from Oracles. He had few complaints about Jesus, whom he praised as a saintly individual, a "humble" man. Christ's followers, however, he damned as "arrogant". [82] Around 290, Porphyry wrote a fifteen-volume work entitled Against the Christians. [83] [notes 10] In the work, Porphyry expressed his shock at the rapid expansion of Christianity. [85] He also revised his earlier opinions of Jesus, questioning Jesus' exclusion of the rich from the Kingdom of Heaven, [86] and his permissiveness in regards to the demons residing in pigs' bodies. [87] Like Hierocles, he unfavorably compared Jesus to Apollonius of Tyana. [88] Porphyry held that Christians blasphemed by worshiping a human being rather than the Supreme God, and behaved treasonably in forsaking the traditional Roman cult. "To what sort of penalties might we not justly subject people," Porphyry asked, "who are fugitives from their fathers' customs?" [89]

Pagan priests, too, were interested in suppressing any threat to traditional religion. [90] The Christian Arnobius, writing during Diocletian's reign, attributes financial concerns to provisioners of pagan services:

The augurs, the dream interpreters, the soothsayers, the prophets, and the priestlings, ever vain. fearing that their own arts be brought to nought, and that they may extort but scanty contributions from the devotees, now few and infrequent, cry aloud, 'The gods are neglected, and in the temples there is now a very thin attendance. Former ceremonies are exposed to derision, and the time-honoured rites of institutions once sacred have sunk before the superstitions of new religions.' [91]

They believed their ceremonies were hindered by the presence of Christians, who were thought to cloud the sight of oracles and stall the gods' recognition of their sacrifices. [90]

Christians in the army Edit

At the conclusion of the Persian wars in 299, co-emperors Diocletian and Galerius traveled from Persia to Syrian Antioch (Antakya). The Christian rhetor Lactantius records that, at Antioch some time in 299, the emperors were engaged in sacrifice and divination in an attempt to predict the future. The haruspices, diviners of omens from sacrificed animals, were unable to read the sacrificed animals and failed to do so after repeated trials. The master haruspex eventually declared that this failure was the result of interruptions in the process caused by profane men. Certain Christians in the imperial household had been observed making the sign of the cross during the ceremonies and were alleged to have disrupted the haruspices ' divination. Diocletian, enraged by this turn of events, declared that all members of the court must make a sacrifice themselves. Diocletian and Galerius also sent letters to the military command, demanding that the entire army perform the sacrifices or else face discharge. [93] [notes 11] Since there are no reports of bloodshed in Lactantius's narrative, Christians in the imperial household must have survived the event. [98]

Eusebius of Caesarea, a contemporary ecclesiastical historian, tells a similar story: commanders were told to give their troops the choice of sacrifice or loss of rank. These terms were strong—a soldier would lose his career in the military, his state pension and his personal savings—but not fatal. According to Eusebius, the purge was broadly successful, but Eusebius is confused about the technicalities of the event and his characterization of the overall size of the apostasy is ambiguous. [99] Eusebius also attributes the initiative for the purge to Galerius, rather than Diocletian. [100]

Modern scholar Peter Davies surmises that Eusebius is referring to the same event as Lactantius, but that he heard of the event through public rumors and knew nothing of the privileged discussion at the emperor's private religion ceremony that Lactantius had access to. Since it was Galerius's army that would have been purged—Diocletian had left his in Egypt to quell continuing unrest—Antiochenes would understandably have believed Galerius to be its instigator. [100] The historian David Woods argues instead that Eusebius and Lactantius are referring to completely different events. Eusebius, according to Woods, describes the beginnings of the army purge in Palestine, while Lactantius describes events at court. [101] Woods asserts that the relevant passage in Eusebius's Chronicon was corrupted in the translation to Latin and that Eusebius's text originally located the beginnings of the army persecution at a fort in Betthorus (El-Lejjun, Jordan). [102]

Eusebius, Lactantius, [103] and Constantine each allege that Galerius was the prime impetus for the military purge, and its prime beneficiary. [104] [notes 12] Diocletian, for all his religious conservatism, [106] still had tendencies towards religious tolerance. [notes 13] Galerius, by contrast, was a devoted and passionate pagan. According to Christian sources, he was consistently the main advocate of such persecution. [109] He was also eager to exploit this position to his own political advantage. As the lowest-ranking emperor, Galerius was always listed last in imperial documents. Until the end of the Persian war in 299, he had not even had a major palace. [110] Lactantius states that Galerius hungered for a higher position in the imperial hierarchy. [111] Galerius's mother, Romula, was bitterly anti-Christian, for she had been a pagan priestess in Dacia, and loathed the Christians for avoiding her festivals. [112] Newly prestigious and influential after his victories in the Persian war, Galerius might have wished to compensate for a previous humiliation at Antioch, when Diocletian had forced him to walk at the front of the imperial caravan, rather than inside it. His resentment fed his discontent with official policies of tolerance from 302 on, he probably urged Diocletian to enact a general law against the Christians. [113] Since Diocletian was already surrounded by an anti-Christian clique of counsellors, these suggestions must have carried great force. [114]

Manichean persecution Edit

Affairs quieted after the initial persecution. Diocletian remained in Antioch for the following three years. He visited Egypt once, over the winter of 301–302, where he began the grain dole in Alexandria. [113] In Egypt, some Manicheans, followers of the prophet Mani, were denounced in the presence of the proconsul of Africa. On March 31, 302, in an official edict called the De Maleficiis et Manichaeis (302) compiled in the Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum and addressed to the proconsul of Africa, Diocletian wrote

We have heard that the Manichaens [. ] have set up new and hitherto unheard-of sects in opposition to the older creeds so that they might cast out the doctrines vouchsafed to us in the past by the divine favour for the benefit of their own depraved doctrine. They have sprung forth very recently like new and unexpected monstrosities among the race of the Persians - a nation still hostile to us - and have made their way into our empire, where they are committing many outrages, disturbing the tranquility of our people and even inflicting grave damage to the civic communities. We have cause to fear that with the passage of time they will endeavour, as usually happens, to infect the modest and tranquil of an innocent nature with the damnable customs and perverse laws of the Persians as with the poison of a malignant (serpent) . We order that the authors and leaders of these sects be subjected to severe punishment, and, together with their abominable writings, burnt in the flames. We direct their followers, if they continue recalcitrant, shall suffer capital punishment, and their goods be forfeited to the imperial treasury. And if those who have gone over to that hitherto unheard-of, scandalous and wholly infamous creed, or to that of the Persians, are persons who hold public office, or are of any rank or of superior social status, you will see to it that their estates are confiscated and the offenders sent to the (quarry) at Phaeno or the mines at Proconnesus. And in order that this plague of iniquity shall be completely extirpated from this our most happy age, let your devotion hasten to carry out our orders and commands. [115]

The Christians of the empire were vulnerable to the same line of thinking. [116]

Diocletian and Galerius, 302–303 Edit

Diocletian was in Antioch in the autumn of 302, when the next instance of persecution occurred. The deacon Romanus visited a court while preliminary sacrifices were taking place and interrupted the ceremonies, denouncing the act in a loud voice. He was arrested and sentenced to be set aflame, but Diocletian overruled the decision, and decided that Romanus should have his tongue removed instead. Romanus would be executed on November 18, 303. The boldness of this Christian displeased Diocletian, and he left the city and made for Nicomedia to spend the winter, accompanied by Galerius. [117]

Throughout these years the moral and religious didacticism of the emperors was reaching a fevered pitch now, at the behest of an oracle, it was to hit its peak. [118] According to Lactantius, Diocletian and Galerius entered into an argument over what imperial policy towards Christians should be while at Nicomedia in 302. Diocletian argued that forbidding Christians from the bureaucracy and military would be sufficient to appease the gods, while Galerius pushed for their extermination. The two men sought to resolve their dispute by sending a messenger to consult the oracle of Apollo at Didyma. [119] Porphyry may also have been present at this meeting. [120] Upon returning, the messenger told the court that "the just on earth" [121] [122] hindered Apollo's ability to speak. These "just", Diocletian was informed by members of the court, could only refer to the Christians of the empire. At the behest of his court, Diocletian acceded to demands for a universal persecution. [123]

First edict Edit

On February 23, 303, Diocletian ordered that the newly built Christian church at Nicomedia be razed, its scriptures burned, and its treasures seized. [124] February 23 was the feast of the Terminalia, for Terminus, the god of boundaries. It was the day they would terminate Christianity. [125] The next day, Diocletian's first "Edict against the Christians" was published. [126] [notes 14] The key targets of this piece of legislation were senior Christian clerics and Christians' property, just as they had been during Valerian's persecution. [130] The edict prohibited Christians from assembling for worship, [131] and ordered the destruction of their scriptures, liturgical books, and places of worship across the empire. [132] [notes 15] But Christians tried to retain the scriptures as far as possible, though, according to de Ste Croix, "it appears that giving them up. was not regarded as a sin" in the East [134] sufficient numbers of them must have been successfully saved, as is evident from the representative findings of "early biblical papyri" in the stream of the transmission of the text during this period. [135] Christians might have given up apocryphal or pseudepigraphal works, [136] or even refused to surrender their scriptures at the cost of their own lives, and there were some cases where the scriptures were not in the end destroyed. [137] Christians were also deprived of the right to petition the courts, [138] making them potential subjects for judicial torture [139] Christians could not respond to actions brought against them in court [140] Christian senators, equestrians, decurions, veterans, and soldiers were deprived of their ranks and Christian imperial freedmen were re-enslaved. [138]

Diocletian requested that the edict be pursued "without bloodshed", [141] against Galerius's demands that all those refusing to sacrifice be burned alive. [142] In spite of Diocletian's request, local judges often enforced executions during the persecution, as capital punishment was among their discretionary powers. [143] Galerius's recommendation—burning alive—became a common method of executing Christians in the East. [144] After the edict was posted in Nicomedia, a man named Eutius tore it down and ripped it up, shouting "Here are your Gothic and Sarmatian triumphs!" He was arrested for treason, tortured, and burned alive soon after, becoming the edict's first martyr. [145] [notes 16] The provisions of the edict were known and enforced in Palestine by March or April (just before Easter), and it was in use by local officials in North Africa by May or June. [147] The earliest martyr at Caesarea was executed on June 7, [148] and the edict was in force at Cirta from May 19. [149] In Gaul and Britain Constantius did not enforce this edict [150] but in the East progressively harsher legislation was devised the edict was firmly enforced in Maximian's domain until his abdication in 305, but persecutions later began to wane when Costantius succeeded Maximian, and was officially halted when Maxentius took power in 306.

Second, third, and fourth edicts Edit

In the summer of 303, [151] following a series of rebellions in Melitene (Malatya, Turkey) and Syria, a second edict was published, ordering the arrest and imprisonment of all bishops and priests. [152] In the judgment of historian Roger Rees, there was no logical necessity for this second edict that Diocletian issued one indicates that he was either unaware the first edict was being carried out, or that he felt it was not working as quickly as he needed it to. [153] Following the publication of the second edict, prisons began to fill—the underdeveloped prison system of the time could not handle the deacons, lectors, priests, bishops, and exorcists forced upon it. Eusebius writes that the edict netted so many priests that ordinary criminals were crowded out, and had to be released. [154]

In anticipation of the upcoming twentieth anniversary of his reign on November 20, 303, Diocletian declared a general amnesty in a third edict. Any imprisoned clergyman could now be freed, so long as he agreed to make a sacrifice to the gods. [155] Diocletian may have been searching for some good publicity with this legislation. He may also have sought to fracture the Christian community by publicizing the fact that its clergy had apostatized. [156] The demand to sacrifice was unacceptable to many of the imprisoned, but wardens often managed to obtain at least nominal compliance. Some of the clergy sacrificed willingly others did so on pain of torture. Wardens were eager to be rid of the clergy in their midst. Eusebius, in his Martyrs of Palestine, records the case of one man who, after being brought to an altar, had his hands seized and made to complete a sacrificial offering. The clergyman was told that his act of sacrifice had been recognized and was summarily dismissed. Others were told they had sacrificed even when they had done nothing. [157]

In 304, the fourth edict ordered all persons, men, women, and children, to gather in a public space and offer a collective sacrifice. If they refused, they were to be executed. [158] The precise date of the edict is unknown, [159] but it was probably issued in either January or February 304, and was being applied in the Balkans in March. [160] The edict was in use in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki, Greece) in April 304, [161] and in Palestine soon after. [162] This last edict was not enforced at all in the domains of Constantius and was applied in the domains of Maximian until his abdication in 305. In the East, it remained applicable until the issue of the Edict of Milan by Constantine and Licinius in 313. [163]

Abdications, instability, and renewed toleration, 305–311 Edit

Diocletian and Maximian resigned on May 1, 305. Constantius and Galerius became Augusti (senior emperors), while two new emperors, Severus and Maximinus, became Caesars (junior emperors). [164] According to Lactantius, Galerius had forced Diocletian's hand in the matter, and secured the appointment of loyal friends to the imperial office. [165] In this "Second Tetrarchy", it seems that only the Eastern emperors, Galerius and Maximinus, continued with the persecution. [166] As they left office, Diocletian and Maximian probably imagined Christianity to be in its last throes. Churches had been destroyed, the Church leadership and hierarchy had been snapped, and the army and civil service had been purged. Eusebius declares that apostates from the faith were "countless" (μυρίοι) in number. [167] At first, the new Tetrarchy seemed even more vigorous than the first. Maximinus in particular was eager to persecute. [168] In 306 and 309, he published his own edicts demanding universal sacrifice. [169] Eusebius accuses Galerius of pressing on with the persecution as well. [170]

In the West, however, the loose ends of the Diocletianic settlement were about to bring the whole Tetrarchic tapestry down. Constantine, son of Constantius, and Maxentius, son of Maximian, had been overlooked in the Diocletianic succession, offending the parents and angering the sons. [164] Constantine, against Galerius's will, succeeded his father on July 25, 306. He immediately ended any ongoing persecutions and offered Christians full restitution of what they had lost under the persecution. [171] This declaration gave Constantine the opportunity to portray himself as a possible liberator of oppressed Christians everywhere. [172] Maxentius, meanwhile, had seized power in Rome on October 28, 306, and soon brought toleration to all Christians within his realm. [173] Galerius made two attempts to unseat Maxentius, but failed both times. During the first campaign against Maxentius, Severus was captured, imprisoned, and executed. [174]

The Peace of Galerius and the Edict of Milan, 311–313 Edit

In the East, the persecution was officially discontinued on April 30, 311, [175] although martyrdoms in Gaza continued until May 4. The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica (today Sofia, Bulgaria) by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East. Galerius, now on his deathbed, issued this proclamation to end hostilities, and give Christians the rights to exist freely under the law, and to peaceable assembly. Persecution was everywhere at an end. [176] Lactantius preserves the Latin text of this pronouncement, describing it as an edict. Eusebius provides a Greek translation of the pronouncement. His version includes imperial titles and an address to provincials, suggesting that the proclamation is, in fact, an imperial letter. [177] The document seems only to have been promulgated in Galerius's provinces. [178]

Among all the other arrangements that we are always making for the benefit and utility of the state, we have heretofore wished to repair all things in accordance with the laws and public discipline of the Romans, and to ensure that even the Christians, who abandoned the practice of their ancestors, should return to good sense. Indeed, for some reason or other, such self-indulgence assailed and idiocy possessed those Christians, that they did not follow the practices of the ancients, which their own ancestors had, perhaps, instituted, but according to their own will and as it pleased them, they made laws for themselves that they observed, and gathered various peoples in diverse areas. Then when our order was issued stating that they should return themselves to the practices of the ancients, many were subjected to peril, and many were even killed. Many more persevered in their way of life, and we saw that they neither offered proper worship and cult to the gods, or to the god of the Christians. Considering the observation of our own mild clemency and eternal custom, by which we are accustomed to grant clemency to all people, we have decided to extend our most speedy indulgence to these people as well, so that Christians may once more establish their own meeting places, so long as they do not act in a disorderly way. We are about to send another letter to our officials detailing the conditions they ought to observe. Consequently, in accord with our indulgence, they ought to pray to their god for our health and the safety of the state, so that the state may be kept safe on all sides, and they may be able to live safely and securely in their own homes. [179]

Galerius's words reinforce the Tetrarchy's theological basis for the persecution the acts did nothing more than attempt to enforce traditional civic and religious practices, even if the edicts themselves were thoroughly nontraditional. Galerius does nothing to violate the spirit of the persecution—Christians are still admonished for their nonconformity and foolish practices—Galerius never admits that he did anything wrong. [180] The admission that the Christians' god might exist is made only grudgingly. [181] Certain early 20th-century historians have declared that Galerius's edict definitively nullified the old "legal formula" non licet esse Christianos, [182] made Christianity a religio licita, "on a par with Judaism", [183] and secured Christians' property, [182] among other things. [184]

Not all have been so enthusiastic. The 17th-century ecclesiastical historian Tillemont called the edict "insignificant" [185] likewise, the late 20th-century historian Timothy Barnes cautioned that the "novelty or importance of [Galerius'] measure should not be overestimated". [186] Barnes notes that Galerius's legislation only brought to the East rights Christians already possessed in Italy and Africa. In Gaul, Spain, and Britain, moreover, Christians already had far more than Galerius was offering to Eastern Christians. [186] Other late 20th-century historians, like Graeme Clark and David S. Potter, assert that, for all its hedging, Galerius's issuance of the edict was a landmark event in the histories of Christianity and the Roman empire. [187]

Galerius's law was not effective for long in Maximinus's district. Within seven months of Galerius's proclamation, Maximinus resumed persecution. [188] Persecution would continue in Maximinus's district until 313, soon before his death. [189] At a meeting between Licinius and Constantine in Milan in February 313, the two emperors drafted the terms of a universal peace. The terms of this peace were posted by the victorious Licinius at Nicomedia on June 13, 313. [190] Later ages have taken to calling the document the "Edict of Milan". [notes 17]

We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases this regulation is made that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion. [190]

Known martyrdoms in the East (Dubious)
Asia Minor Oriens Danube
Diocletian's provinces (303–305) 26 [193] 31 [194]
Galerius's provinces (303–305) 14 [195]
Galerius's provinces (undatable) 8 [196]
Galerius's provinces (305–311) 12 [197] 12 [198]
After Davies, pp. 68–69. [notes 18]

The enforcement of the persecutory edicts was inconsistent. [200] Since the Tetrarchs were more or less sovereign in their own realms, [201] they had a good deal of control over persecutory policy. In Constantius's realm (Britain and Gaul) the persecution was, at most, only lightly enforced [143] in Maximian's realm (Italy, Spain, and Africa), it was firmly enforced and in the East, under Diocletian (Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt) and Galerius (Greece and the Balkans), its provisions were pursued with more fervor than anywhere else. [202] For the Eastern provinces, Peter Davies tabulated the total number of martyrdoms for an article in the Journal of Theological Studies. [199] Davies argued that the figures, although reliant on collections of acta that are incomplete and only partially reliable, point to a heavier persecution under Diocletian than under Galerius. [203] The historian Simon Corcoran, in a passage on the origins of the early persecution edicts, criticized Davies' over-reliance on these "dubious martyr acts" and dismissed his conclusions. [204]

Britain and Gaul Edit

The sources are inconsistent regarding the extent of the persecution in Constantius's domain, though all portray it as quite limited. Lactantius states that the destruction of church buildings was the worst thing that came to pass. [205] Eusebius explicitly denies that any churches were destroyed in both his Ecclesiastical History and his Life of Constantine, but lists Gaul as an area suffering from the effects of the persecution in his Martyrs of Palestine. [206] A group of bishops declared that "Gaul was immune" (immunis est Gallia) from the persecutions under Constantius. [207] The death of Saint Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was once dated to this era, but most now assign it to the reign of Septimius Severus. [208] The second, third and fourth edicts seem not to have been enforced in the West at all. [209] It is possible that Constantius's relatively tolerant policies were the result of Tetrarchic jealousies the persecution, after all, had been the project of the Eastern emperors, not the Western ones. [143] After Constantine succeeded his father in 306, he urged the recovery of Church property lost in the persecution, and legislated full freedom for all Christians in his domain. [210]

Africa Edit

While the persecution under Constantius was relatively light, there is no doubt about the force of the persecution in Maximian's domain. Its effects are recorded at Rome, Sicily, Spain, and in Africa [211] —indeed, Maximian encouraged particularly strict enforcement of the edict in Africa. Africa's political elite were insistent that the persecution be fulfilled, [212] and Africa's Christians, especially in Numidia, were equally insistent on resisting them. For the Numidians, to hand over scriptures was an act of terrible apostasy. [213] Africa had long been home to the Church of the Martyrs [214] —in Africa, martyrs held more religious authority than the clergy [215] —and harbored a particularly intransigent, fanatical, and legalistic variety of Christianity. [216] It was Africa that gave the West most of its martyrdoms. [217]

Africa had produced martyrs even in the years immediately prior to the Great Persecution. In 298, Maximilian, a soldier in Tebessa, had been tried for refusing to follow military discipline [218] in Mauretania, again in 298, the soldier Marcellus refused his army bonus and took off his uniform in public. [219] Once persecutions began, public authorities were eager to assert their authority. Anullinus, proconsul of Africa, expanded on the edict, deciding that, in addition to the destruction of the Christians' scriptures and churches, the government should compel Christians to sacrifice to the gods. [220] Governor Valerius Florus enforced the same policy in Numidia during the summer or autumn of 303, when he called for "days of incense burning" Christians would sacrifice or they would lose their lives. [221] In addition to those already listed, African martyrs also include Saturninus and the Martyrs of Abitina, [222] another group martyred on February 12, 304 in Carthage, [223] and the martyrs of Milevis (Mila, Algeria). [224]

The persecution in Africa also encouraged the development of Donatism, a schismatic movement that forbade any compromise with Roman government or traditor bishops (those who had handed scriptures over to secular authorities). One of the key moments in the break with the mainline Church occurred in Carthage in 304. The Christians from Abitinae had been brought to the city and imprisoned. Friends and relatives of the prisoners came to visit, but encountered resistance from a local mob. The group was harassed, beaten, and whipped the food they had brought for their imprisoned friends was scattered on the ground. The mob had been sent by Mensurius, the bishop of the city, and Caecilian, his deacon, for reasons that remain obscure. [225] In 311, Caecilian was elected bishop of Carthage. His opponents charged that his traditio made him unworthy of the office, and declared itself for another candidate, Majorinus. Many others in Africa, including the Abitinians, also supported Majorinus against Caecilian. Majorinus's successor Donatus would give the dissident movement its name. [226] By the time Constantine took over the province, the African Church was deeply divided. [227] The Donatists would not be reconciled to the Catholic Church until after 411. [228]

Italy and Spain Edit

Maximian probably seized the Christian property in Rome quite easily—Roman cemeteries were noticeable, and Christian meeting places could have been easily found out. Senior churchmen would have been similarly prominent.

The bishop of Rome Marcellinus died in 304, during the persecution, but his death is disputed among historians: Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in his Historia Ecclesiastica that Marcellinus was "brought away by the persecution", an obscure phrase that may refer to his martyrdom or to the fact that he fled the city. [229]

Others assert that Marcellinus was a traditor. [230] Marcellinus appears in the 4th-century Church's depositio episcoporum but not its feriale, or calendar of feasts, where all Marcellinus's predecessors from Fabian had been listed—a "glaring" absence, in the opinion of historian John Curran. [130] Within forty years, Donatists began spreading rumors that Marcellinus had been a traditor, and that he had even sacrificed to the pagan gods. [231] The tale was soon embroidered in the 5th-century forgery, the 'Council of Sinuessa', and the vita Marcelli of the Liber Pontificalis. The latter work states that the bishop had indeed apostatized, but redeemed himself through martyrdom a few days afterward. [130]

What followed Marcellinus's act of traditio, if it ever actually happened, is unclear. There appears to have been a break in the episcopal succession, however, since his successor, Marcellus I, was not consecrated until either November or December 308 this is probably due to the fact that it was impossible to elect a new bishop during the persecution. [232] In the meantime, two factions diverged in the Roman Church, separating the lapsed, Christians who had complied with the edicts to ensure their own safety, and the rigorists, those who would brook no compromise with secular authority. These two groups clashed in street fights and riots, eventually leading to murders. [232] It is said that Marcellus, a rigorist, purged all mention of Marcellinus from church records, and removed his name from the official list of bishops. [233] Marcellus himself was banished from the city, and died in exile on January 16, 309. [232]

The persecution was firmly enforced until Maximian's abdication in 305, but started to wane when Costantius (who seemed not to have been enthusiast about it) succeeded as August. [234] After Costantius's death, Maxentius took advantage of Galerius's unpopularity in Italy (Galerius had introduced taxation for the city and countryside of Rome for the first time in the history of the empire) [235] to declare himself emperor. On October 28, 306, Maxentius convinced the Praetorian Guard to support him, mutiny, and invest him with the purple robes of the emperor. [236] Soon after his acclamation, Maxentius declared an end to persecution, and toleration for all Christians in his realm. [237] The news traveled to Africa, where in later years a Christian of Cirta could still recall the precise date when "peace" was ushered in. [238] Maxentius did not permit the restitution of confiscated property, however. [239]

On April 18, 308, Maxentius allowed the Christians to hold another election for the city's bishop, which Eusebius won. [240] Eusebius was a moderate, however, in a still-divided Church. Heraclius, head of the rigorist faction, opposed readmission of the lapsed. Rioting followed, and Maxentius exiled the combative pair from the city, leaving Eusebius to die in Sicily on October 21. [239] The office was vacant for almost three years, until Maxentius permitted another election. Miltiades was elected on July 2, 311, as Maxentius prepared to face Constantine in battle. Maxentius, facing increasingly strong domestic opposition to his rule, now agreed to the restitution of Christian property. Miltiades sent two deacons with letters from Maxentius to the prefect of Rome, the head of the city, responsible for publishing imperial edicts within the city, to ensure compliance. [241] African Christians were still recovering lost property as late as 312. [242]

Outside Rome, there are fewer sure details of the progress and effects of the persecution in Italy and the number of deaths is unclear. The Acta Eulpi records the martyrdom of Euplus in Catania, Sicily, a Christian who dared to carry the holy gospels around, refusing to surrender them. Euplus was arrested on April 29, 304, tried, and martyred on August 12, 304. [243] According to the Martyrologium Hieronymianus, the bishop of Aquileia Chrysogonus was executed during this period, while Maximus of Turin and Venatius Fortunatus mention the martyrdom of Cantius, Cantianus and Cantianilla in Aquileia as well. [244] [245] In Spain the bishop Ossius of Corduba narrowly escaped martyrdom. [143] After 305, the year when Diocletian and Maximian abdicated and Constantius became Augustus, there were no more active persecutions in the West. Eusebius declares that the persecution lasted "less than two years". [234]

After a brief military standoff, [246] Constantine confronted and defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge outside Rome on October 28, 312 Maxentius retreated to the Tiber river and drowned. Constantine entered the city the next day, but declined to take part in the traditional ascent up the Capitoline Hill to the Temple of Jupiter. [247] Constantine's army had advanced on Rome under a Christian sign. It had become, officially at least, a Christian army. [248] Constantine's apparent conversion was visible elsewhere, too. Bishops dined at Constantine's table, [249] and many Christian building projects began soon after his victory. On November 9, 312, the old headquarters of the Imperial Horse Guard were razed to make way for the Lateran Basilica. [250] Under Constantine's rule, Christianity became the prime focus of official patronage. [251]

Nicomedia Edit

Before the end of February 303, a fire destroyed part of the imperial palace. Galerius convinced Diocletian that the culprits were Christian conspirators who had plotted with palace eunuchs. An investigation into the act was commissioned, but no responsible party was found. Executions followed. [252] The palace eunuchs Dorotheus and Gorgonius were eliminated. One individual, a Peter, was stripped, raised high, and scourged. Salt and vinegar were poured in his wounds, and he was slowly boiled over an open flame. The executions continued until at least April 24, 303, when six individuals, including the bishop Anthimus, were decapitated. [253] The persecution intensified. Now presbyters and other clergymen could be arrested without having even been accused of a crime, and condemned to death. [254] A second fire appeared sixteen days after the first. Galerius left the city, declaring it unsafe. [255] Diocletian would soon follow. [252] Lactantius blamed Galerius's allies for setting the fire Constantine, in a later reminiscence, would attribute the fire to "lightning from heaven". [256]

Lactantius, still living in Nicomedia, saw the beginnings of the apocalypse in Diocletian's persecution. [257] Lactantius's writings during the persecution exhibit both bitterness and Christian triumphalism. [258] His eschatology runs directly counter to Tetrarchic claims to "renewal". Diocletian asserted that he had instituted a new era of security and peace Lactantius saw the beginning of a cosmic revolution. [259]

Palestine and Syria Edit

Before Galerius's edict of toleration Edit

Known martyrdoms in Palestine (dubious)
Date Martyrdoms
303–305 13
306–310 34
310–311 44
Palestinian martyrdoms recorded
in the Martyrs of Palestine.
After Clarke, 657–58.

Palestine is the only region for which an extended local perspective of the persecution exists, in the form of Eusebius's Martyrs of Palestine. Eusebius was resident in Caesarea, the capital of Roman Palestine, for the duration of the persecution, although he also traveled to Phoenicia and Egypt, and perhaps Arabia as well. [260] Eusebius's account is imperfect. It focuses on martyrs that were his personal friends before the persecutions began, and includes martyrdoms that took place outside of Palestine. [261] His coverage is uneven. He provides only bare generalities at the bloody end of the persecutions, for example. [262] Eusebius recognizes some of his faults. At the outset of his account of the general persecution in the Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius laments the incompleteness of his reportage: "how could one number the multitude of martyrs in each province, and especially those in Africa and Mauretania, and in Thebaid and Egypt?" [263]

Since no one below the status of governor held the legal power to enforce capital punishment, most recalcitrant Christians would have been sent to Caesarea to await punishment. [264] The first martyr, Procopius, was sent to Caesarea from Scythopolis (Beit She'an, Israel), where he had been a reader and an exorcist. He was brought before the governor on June 7, 303, and asked to sacrifice to the gods, and to pour a libation for the emperors. Procopius responded by quoting Homer: "the lordship of many is not a good thing let there be one ruler, one king". The governor beheaded the man at once. [265]

Further martyrdoms followed in the months thereafter, [266] increasing in the next spring, when the new governor, Urbanus, published the fourth edict. [267] Eusebius probably does not list a complete account of all those executed under the fourth edict—he alludes in passing to others imprisoned with Thecla of Gaza, for example, though he does not name them. [268]

The bulk of Eusebius's account deals with Maximinus. [262] Maximinus took up the office of emperor in Nicomedia on May 1, 305, and immediately thereafter left the city for Caesarea, hurrying, Lactantius alleges, so as to oppress and trample the diocese of Oriens. [269] Initially, Maximinus governed only Egypt and the Levant. He issued his own persecutory edict in the spring of 306, ordering general sacrifice. [270] The edict of 304 had been difficult to enforce, since the Imperial government had no record of city-dwelling subjects who held no agricultural land. [271] Galerius solved this problem in 306 by running another census. This contained the names of all urban heads of household and the number of their dependents (past censuses had only listed persons paying tax on land, such as landowners and tenants). [272] Using lists drawn up by the civil service, Maximinus ordered his heralds to call all men, women, and children down to the temples. There, after tribunes called everyone by name, everyone sacrificed. [273]

At some point after the publication of Maximinus's first edict, perhaps in 307, Maximinus changed the penalty for transgressions. Instead of receiving the death penalty, Christians would now be mutilated and condemned to labor in state-owned mines. [274] Since Egyptian mines were overstaffed, mostly due to the influx of Christian prisoners, Egyptian penitents were increasingly sent to the copper mines at Phaeno in Palestine and Cilicia in Asia Minor. At Diocaesarea (Sepphoris, Israel) in the spring of 308, 97 Christian confessors were received by Firmilianus from the porphyry mines in the Thebaid. Firmilianus cut the tendons on their left feet, blinded their right eyes, and sent them to the mines of Palestine. [275] [notes 19] On another occasion, 130 others received the same punishment. Some were sent to Phaeno, and some to Cilicia. [278]

Eusebius characterizes Urbanus as a man who enjoyed some variety in his punishments. One day, shortly after Easter 307, he ordered the virgin Theodosia from Tyre (Ṣūr, Lebanon) thrown to the sea for conversing with Christians attending trial and refusing sacrifice the Christians in court, meanwhile, he sent to Phaeno. [279] On a single day, November 2, 307, Urbanus sentenced a man named Domninus to be burned alive, three youths to fight as gladiators, and a priest to be exposed to a beast. On the same day, he ordered some young men to be castrated, sent three virgins to brothels, and imprisoned a number of others, including Pamphilus of Caesarea, a priest, scholar, and defender of the theologian Origen. [280] Soon after, and for unknown reasons, Urbanus was stripped of his rank, imprisoned, tried, and executed, all in one day of expedited proceedings. [281] His replacement, Firmilianus, was a veteran soldier and one of Maximinus's trusted confidants. [282]

Eusebius notes that this event marked the beginning of a temporary respite from persecution. [283] Although the precise dating of this respite is not specifically noted by Eusebius, the text of the Martyrs records no Palestinian martyrs between July 25, 308 and November 13, 309. [284] The political climate probably impinged on persecutory policy here: This was the period of the conference of Carnuntum, which met in November 308. Maximinus probably spent the next few months in discussion with Galerius over his role in the imperial government, and did not have the time to deal with the Christians. [285]

In the autumn of 309, [285] Maximinus resumed persecution by issuing letters to provincial governors and his praetorian prefect, the highest authority in judicial proceedings after the emperor, demanding that Christians conform to pagan customs. His new legislation called for another general sacrifice, coupled with a general offering of libations. It was even more systematic than the first, allowing no exceptions for infants or servants. Logistai (curatores), strategoi, duumviri, and tabularii, who kept the records, saw to it that there were no evasions. [286] Maximinus introduced some innovations to the process, making him the only known persecuting emperor to have done so. [287] This edict now required food sold in the marketplaces to be covered in libation. Maximinus sent sentries to stand guard at bathhouses and city gates to ensure that all customers sacrificed. [288] He issued copies of the fictitious Acts of Pilate to encourage popular hatred of Christ. Prostitutes confessed, under judicial torture, to having engaged in debaucheries with Christians. Bishops were reassigned to work as stable boys for the Imperial horse guard or keepers of the Imperial camels. [289] Maximinus also worked for a revival of pagan religion. He appointed high priests for each province, men who were to wear white robes and supervise daily worship of the gods. [290] Maximinus demanded that vigorous restoration work be done on decaying temples within his domain. [291]

The next few months saw the worst extremes of the persecution. [292] On December 13, 309, Firmilianus condemned some Egyptians arrested at Ascalon (Ashkelon, Israel) on their way to visit the confessors in Cilicia. Three were beheaded the rest lost their left feet and right eyes. On January 10, 310, Peter and the bishop Asclepius from the dualist Christian sect Marcionism, both from Anaia, (near Eleutheropolis, Israel), were burned alive. [293] On February 16, Pamphilus and his six companions were executed. In the aftermath, four more members of Pamphilus's household were martyred for their displays of sympathy for the condemned. The last martyrs before Galerius's edict of toleration were executed on March 5 and 7. [294] Then the executions stopped. Eusebius does not explain this sudden halt, but it coincides with the replacement of Firmilianus with Valentinianus, a man appointed at some time before Galerius's death. [295] The replacement is only attested to via epigraphic remains, like stone inscriptions Eusebius does not mention Valentinianus anywhere in his writings. [296]

After Galerius's edict of toleration Edit

After Galerius's death, Maximinus seized Asia Minor. [297] Even after Galerius's edict of toleration in 311, Maximinus continued to persecute. [298] His name is absent from the list of emperors publishing Galerius's edict of toleration, perhaps through later suppression. [299] Eusebius states that Maximinus complied with its provisions only reluctantly. [300] Maximinus told his praetorian prefect Sabinus to write to provincial governors, requesting that they and their subordinates ignore "that letter" (Galerius's edict). [301] Christians were to be free from molestation, and their mere Christianity would not leave them open to criminal charges. Unlike Galerius's edict, however, Maximinus's letter made no provisions for Christian assembly, nor did he suggest that Christians build more churches. [297]

Maximinus issued orders in Autumn 311 forbidding Christians to congregate in cemeteries. [302] After issuing these orders, he was approached by embassies from cities within his domain, demanding he begin a general persecution. Lactantius and Eusebius state that these petitions were not voluntary, but had been made at Maximinus's behest. [303] Maximinus began persecuting Church leaders before the end of 311. Peter of Alexandria was beheaded on November 26, 311. [304] Lucian of Antioch was executed in Nicomedia on January 7, 312. [305] According to Eusebius, many Egyptian bishops suffered the same fate. [304] According to Lactantius, Maximinus ordered confessors to have "their eyes gouged out, their hands cut off, their feet amputated, their noses or ears severed". [306] Antioch asked Maximinus if it could forbid Christians from living in the city. [307] In response, Maximinus issued a rescript encouraging every city to expel its Christians. This rescript was published in Sardis on April 6, 312, and in Tyre by May or June. [308] There are three surviving copies of Maximinus's rescript, in Tyre, Arycanda (Aykiriçay, Turkey), and Colbasa. They are all essentially identical. [309] To address a complaint from Lycia and Pamphylia about the "detestable pursuits of the atheists [Christians]", Maximinus promised the provincials whatever they wanted—perhaps an exemption from the poll tax. [310]

When Maximinus received notice that Constantine had succeeded in his campaign against Maxentius, he issued a new letter restoring Christians their former liberties. [311] The text of this letter, which is preserved in Eusebius's Historia Ecclesiastica, however, suggests that the initiative was Maximinus's alone, and not that of Constantine or Licinius. It is also the only passage in the ancient sources providing Maximinus's rationale for his actions, without the hostility of Lactantius and Eusebius. Maximinus states that he supported Diocletian and Galerius's early legislation but, upon being made Caesar, came to realize the drain such policies would have on his labor force, and began to employ persuasion without coercion. [312] He goes on to assert that he resisted petitions from Nicomedians to forbid Christians from their city (an event Eusebius does not otherwise record), [313] and that when he accepted the demands of deputations from other cities he was only following imperial custom. [314] Maximinus concludes his letter by referencing the letter he wrote after Galerius's edict, asking that his subordinates be lenient. He does not refer to his early letters, which encouraged avid persecution. [315]

In the early spring of 313, as Licinius advanced against Maximinus, the latter resorted to savagery in his dealings with his own citizens, and his Christians in particular. [316] In May 313, [317] Maximinus issued one more edict of toleration, hoping to persuade Licinius to stop advancing, and win more public support. For the first time, Maximinus issued a law which offered comprehensive toleration and the means to effectively secure it. As in his earlier letter, Maximinus is apologetic but one-sided. [318] Maximinus absolves himself for all the failings of his policy, locating fault with local judges and enforcers instead. [319] He frames the new universal toleration as a means of removing all ambiguity and extortion. Maximinus then declares full freedom of religious practice, encourages Christians to rebuild their churches, and pledges to restore Christian property lost in the persecution. [320] The edict changed little: Licinius defeated Maximinus at the Battle of Tzirallum on April 30, 313 [321] the now-powerless Maximinus committed suicide at Tarsus in the summer of 313. On June 13, Licinius published the Edict of Milan in Nicomedia. [322]

Egypt Edit

In Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine, Egypt is covered only in passing. When Eusebius remarks on the region, however, he writes of tens, twenties, even hundreds of Christians put to death on a single day, which would seem to make Egypt the region that suffered the most during the persecutions. [323] According to one report that Barnes calls "plausible, if unverifiable", 660 Christians were killed in Alexandria alone between 303 and 311. [324] In Egypt, Peter of Alexandria fled his namesake city early on in the persecution, leaving the Church leaderless. Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis (Asyut), took up the job in his place. Meletius performed ordinations without Peter's permission, which caused some bishops to complain to Peter. Meletius soon refused to treat Peter as any kind of authority, and expanded his operations into Alexandria. According to Epiphanius of Salamis, the Church split into two sections: the "Catholic Church", under Peter, and, after Peter's execution, Alexander and the "Church of the Martyrs" under Meletius. [325] When the two groups found themselves imprisoned together in Alexandria during the persecution, Peter of Alexandria drew up a curtain in the middle of their cell. He then said: "There are some who are of my view, let them come over on my side, and those of Melitius's view, stay with Melitius." Thus divided, the two sects went on with their affairs, purposely ignoring each other's existence. [326] The schism continued to grow throughout the persecution, even with its leaders in jail, [327] and would persist long after the deaths of both Peter and Meletius. [325] Fifty-one bishoprics are attested for Egypt in 325 fifteen are only known otherwise as seats of the schismatic Church. [328]

The Diocletianic persecution was ultimately unsuccessful. As one modern historian has put it, it was simply "too little and too late". [22] Christians were never purged systematically in any part of the empire, and Christian evasion continually undermined the edicts' enforcement. [329] Some bribed their way to freedom. [330] The Christian Copres escaped on a technicality: To avoid sacrificing in court, he gave his brother power of attorney, and had him do it instead. [331] Many simply fled. Eusebius, in his Vita Constantini, wrote that "once more the fields and woods received the worshippers of God". [332] To contemporary theologians, there was no sin in this behavior. Lactantius held that Christ himself had encouraged it, [333] and Bishop Peter of Alexandria quoted Matthew 10:23 ("when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another" [334] ) in support of the tactic. [335]

The pagan crowd was more sympathetic to the Christians' sufferings than they had been in the past. [336] Lactantius, Eusebius and Constantine write of revulsion at the excesses of the persecutors—Constantine of executioners "wearied out, and disgusted at the cruelties" they had committed. [337] The fortitude of the martyrs in the face of death had earned the faith respectability in the past, [338] though it may have won few converts. [339] The thought of martyrdom, however, sustained Christians under trial and in prison, hardening their faith. [340] Packaged with the promise of eternal life, martyrdom proved attractive for the growing segment of the pagan population which was, to quote Dodds, "in love with death". [341] To use Tertullian's famous phrase, the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. [342]

By 324, Constantine, the Christian convert, ruled the entire empire alone. Christianity became the greatest beneficiary of imperial largesse. [343] The persecutors had been routed. As the historian J. Liebeschuetz has written: "The final result of the Great Persecution provided a testimonial to the truth of Christianity which it could have won in no other way." [344] After Constantine, the Christianization of the Roman empire would continue apace. Under Theodosius I (r. 378–95), Christianity became the state religion. [345] By the 5th century, Christianity was the empire's predominant faith, and filled the same role paganism had at the end of the 3rd century. [346] Because of the persecution, however, a number of Christian communities were riven between those who had complied with imperial authorities (traditores) and those who had refused. In Africa, the Donatists, who protested the election of the alleged traditor Caecilian to the bishopric of Carthage, continued to resist the authority of the central Church until after 411. [347] The Melitians in Egypt left the Egyptian Church similarly divided. [325]

In future generations, both Christians and pagans would look back on Diocletian as, in the words of theologian Henry Chadwick, "the embodiment of irrational ferocity". [348] To medieval Christians, Diocletian was the most loathsome of all Roman emperors. [349] From the 4th century on, Christians would describe the "Great" persecution of Diocletian's reign as a bloodbath. [350] The Liber Pontificalis, a collection of biographies of the popes, alleges 17,000 martyrs within a single thirty-day period. [351] In the 4th century, Christians created a "cult of martyrs" in homage to the fallen. [352]

Historian G.E.M. de Ste Croix argues that hagiographers portrayed a persecution far more extensive than the real one had been, [353] and the Christians responsible for this cult were loose with the facts. Their "heroic age" of martyrs, or "Era of Martyrs", was held to begin with Diocletian's accession to the emperorship in 284, rather than 303, when persecutions actually began Barnes argues that they fabricated a large number of martyrs' tales (indeed, most surviving martyrs' tales are forgeries), exaggerated the facts in others, and embroidered true accounts with miraculous details. [352] According to Curran, of the surviving martyrs' acts, only those of Agnes, Sebastian, Felix and Adauctus, and Marcellinus and Peter are even remotely historical. [350] These traditional accounts were first questioned in the Enlightenment, when Henry Dodwell, Voltaire, and, most famously, Edward Gibbon questioned traditional accounts of the Christian martyrs. [354]

In the final chapter of the first volume of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), Gibbon claims that Christians had greatly exaggerated the scale of the persecutions they suffered: [355]

After the church had triumphed over all her enemies, the interest as well as vanity of the captives prompted them to magnify the merit of their respective sufferings. A convenient distance of time or place gave an ample scope to the progress of fiction and the frequent instances which might be alleged of holy martyrs, whose wounds had been instantly healed, whose strength had been renewed, and whose lost members had miraculously been restored, were extremely convenient for the purpose of removing every difficulty, and of silencing every objection. The most extravagant legends, as they conduced to the honour of the church, were applauded by the credulous multitude, countenanced by the power of the clergy, and attested by the suspicious evidence of ecclesiastical history. [356]

Throughout his history, Gibbon implies that the early Church undermined traditional Roman virtues, and thereby impaired the health of civil society. [355] When Gibbon sought to reduce the numbers of the martyrs in his History, he was perceived as intending to diminish the Church and deny sacred history. He was attacked for his suspected irreligion in print. [357] The contemporary classical scholar Richard Porson mocked Gibbon, writing that his humanity never slept, "unless when women are ravished, or the Christians persecuted". [358]

Some later historians, however, took Gibbon's emphases even further. As Croix put it in 1954, "The so-called Great Persecution has been exaggerated in the Christian tradition to an extent which even Gibbon did not fully appreciate." [359] In 1972, the ecclesiastical Protestant historian Hermann Dörries was embarrassed to admit to his colleagues that his sympathies lay with the Christians rather than their persecutors. [360] Anglican historian W.H.C. Frend estimates that 3,000–3,500 Christians were killed in the persecution, although this number is disputed. [361]

Although the number of verifiably true martyrs' tales has decreased, and estimates of the total casualty rate have been reduced, the majority of modern writers are less skeptical than Gibbon of the severity of the persecution. As the author Stephen Williams wrote in 1985, "even allowing a margin for invention, what remains is terrible enough. Unlike Gibbon, we live in an age which has experienced similar things, and knows how unsound is that civilised smile of incredulity at such reports. Things can be, have been, every bit as bad as our worst imaginings." [217]


Contents

Organ transplantation in China Edit

China has one of the largest organ transplant programs in the world. Although China does not keep nationwide statistics on transplant volume, Chinese Communist Party-owned China Daily Chinese reported that Chinese officials had estimated that as many as 20,000 organ transplants were performed in 2006. [15] Approximately 9,000 transplants that took place in 2006 were kidney and liver transplants, according to data from the Chinese Ministry of Health. [16] Some sources say the actual number of transplants is significantly higher, based on detailed analysis of hospital records. [17] As a matter of culture and custom, however, China has extremely low rates of voluntary organ donation. Between 2003 and 2009, for instance, only 130 people volunteered to be organ donors. [18] In 2010 the Chinese Red Cross launched a nationwide initiative to attract voluntary organ donors, but only 37 people signed up as of 2011. [19] Due to low levels of voluntary organ donation, most organs used in transplants are sourced from prisoners. The Chinese government approved a regulation in 1984 to allow the removal of organs from executed criminals, provided they give prior consent or if no one claims the body. [20]

Despite the absence of an organized system of organ donation or allocation, wait times for obtaining vital organs in China are among the shortest in the world—often just weeks for organs such as kidneys, livers, and hearts. This has made it a destination for international transplant tourism [21] and a major venue for tests of pharmaceutical anti-rejection drugs. [22] [23] [24] The commercial trade in human organs has also been a lucrative source of revenue for the Chinese medical, military and public security establishments. [25] [26] Because there is no effective nationwide organ donation or allocation system, hospitals source organs from local brokers, including through their connections to courts, detention centers and prisons. [27]

Organ transplant recipients in China are generally not told the identity of the organ donor, nor are they provided with evidence of written consent. In some cases even the identity of the medical staff and surgeons may be withheld from patients. The problem of transparency is compounded by the lack of any ethical guidelines for the transplant profession or system of discipline for surgeons who violate ethical standards. [26]

By the 1990s, growing concerns about possible abuses arising from coerced consent and corruption led medical groups and human rights organizations to start condemning China's use of prisoner organs. These concerns resurfaced in 2001, when a Chinese military doctor testified before U.S. Congress that he had taken part in organ extraction operations from executed prisoners, some of whom were not yet dead. [28] In December 2005, China's Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu acknowledged that up to 95% of transplant organs from deceased donors, which make up 65% of all transplantations, came from executed prisoners and promised steps to prevent abuse. [29] [30] Huang reiterated these claims in 2008 and 2010, stating that over 90% of organ transplants from deceased donors are sourced from prisoners. [31] [32] [33] In 2006 the World Medical Association demanded that China cease harvesting organs from prisoners, who are not deemed able to properly consent. [34] In 2014, Huang Jiefu said that reliance on organ harvesting from death row inmates was declining, while simultaneously defending the practice of using prisoners’ organs in the transplantation system. [35]

In addition to sourcing organs from death-row inmates, international observers and researchers have also expressed concern that prisoners of conscience are killed to supply the organ transplant industry. [36] These individuals were not convicted of capital crimes, and in many cases were imprisoned extrajudicially on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

Persecution of Falun Gong Edit

Falun Gong is a Chinese qigong discipline involving meditation and a moral philosophy rooted in Buddhist tradition. The practice rose to popularity in the 1990s in China, and by 1998, Chinese government sources estimated that as many as 70 million people had taken up the practice. [37] [38] Perceiving that Falun Gong was a potential threat to the Party's authority and ideology, Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin initiated a nationwide campaign to eradicate the group in July 1999. [39]

An extra-constitutional body called the 6-10 Office was created to lead the persecution of Falun Gong, [40] [41] and authorities mobilized the state media apparatus, judiciary, police force, army, education system, families, and workplaces to “struggle” against the group. [42] [43]

Since 1999, Falun Gong practitioners have been the targets of systematic torture, mass imprisonment, forced labour, and psychiatric abuse, all with the aim of forcing them to recant their beliefs. [44] [45] As of 2009, the New York Times reported that at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been killed amid the persecution campaign [46] Falun Gong sources documented over 3,700 named death cases by 2013. Due to the difficulty in accessing and relaying information from China, however, this may represent only a portion of actual deaths. [44]

Sujiatun Edit

The first allegations of large-scale organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners were made in March 2006 by three individuals claiming knowledge of involuntary organ extractions at the Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province. One of the whistleblowers, the wife of a surgeon at the hospital, claimed her husband had performed numerous operations to remove the corneas of Falun Gong practitioners for transplant. [26]

Representatives of the U.S. State Department were dispatched to the Sujiatun hospital to investigate the claims. They made two visits, first was unannounced and another a tour of the facilities and found no evidence to prove the allegations were true, but said they remained concerned over China's treatment of Falun Gong and the reports of organ harvesting. [47] [48] Soon thereafter, in May 2006, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong asked former Canadian parliamentarian David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas to investigate the broader allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. Kilgour and Matas agreed to conduct an investigation as volunteers. [49]

Kilgour-Matas report Edit

David Kilgour and David Matas released the results of their preliminary investigation on 20 July 2006, in a report titled "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China". [50] Although the pair were denied visas to travel to China, they nonetheless compiled over 30 distinct strands of evidence which were consistent with allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. These included an analysis of statistics on organ transplantation in China, interviews with former Falun Gong prisoners, and recorded admissions from Chinese hospitals and law enforcement offices about the availability of Falun Gong practitioners' organs. [26]

In the absence of evidence that would invalidate the organ harvesting allegations—such as a Chinese government registry showing the source of transplant organs—Kilgour and Matas concluded that the Chinese government and its agencies "have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries." They estimated that from 2000 to 2005, the source for 41,500 organ transplants was unexplained, and that Falun Gong prisoners were the most plausible source for these organs. [26] [51] [52] The authors qualified their report by noting the inherent difficulties in verifying the alleged crimes: no independent organizations are allowed to investigate conditions in China, eyewitness evidence is difficult to obtain, and official information about both organ transplantation and executions is often withheld or is contradictory. [26] The initial report however received a mixed reception. In the US, a Congressional Research Service report by Thomas Lum stated that the Kilgour–Matas report relied largely on logical inference, without bringing forth new or independently obtained testimony the credibility of much of the key evidence was said to be questionable. [53]

In 2007, Kilgour and Matas presented an updated report under the title "Bloody Harvest: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China". The findings were subsequently rewritten as a book released in October 2009. [54] The reports received international media coverage, and the authors travelled internationally to present their findings to governments and other concerned organizations.

State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China Edit

In 2012, State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, edited by Matas and Dr. Torsten Trey, was published with essays from Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, Professor of Medicine, [55] Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics, [56] Dr. Jacob Lavee, cardiothoracic surgeon, [57] Dr. Ghazali Ahmad, [58] Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, [59] Dr. Torsten Trey, [60] Ethan Gutmann and Matas. [61] [62] [63] [64]

Ethan Gutmann Edit

Ethan Gutmann, an investigative journalist and author specializing in China, initiated his own investigation into the allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in 2006. Over the span of several years, he conducted interviews with over 100 refugees from China's labor camp and prison system, as well as with Chinese law enforcement personnel and medical professionals. [65] Based on his research, Gutmann concluded that organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience became prevalent in the northwestern province of Xinjiang during the 1990s, when members of the Uyghur ethnic group were targeted in security crackdowns and "strike hard campaigns." [66] [67] Enver Tohti, an exiled pro-Uyghur independence activist, claims to have carried out the first live organ transplant on a Uyghur Muslim prisoner in 1995. He said that the first time he performed the transplant procedure, he was taken to a room near the execution ground in Urumqi to remove the liver and kidneys of an executed prisoner. He claimed that the man's heart was still beating as he removed the liver and kidneys. [68]

By 1999, Gutmann says that organ harvesting in Xinjiang began to decline precipitously, just as overall rates of organ transplantation nationwide were rising. The same year, the Chinese government launched a nationwide suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual group. Gutmann suggests that the new Falun Gong prisoner population overtook Uyghurs as a major source of organs. [9] He estimated that approximately 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been killed for their organs between 2000 and 2008, and notes that this figure is similar to that produced by Kilgour and Matas when adjusted to cover the same time period. [9] [69]

These findings have been published in a variety of journals and periodicals, including the World Affairs Journal, the Weekly Standard, the Toronto Star, and the National Review, among others. Gutmann has also provided testimony on his findings before U.S. Congress and European Parliament, and in August 2014 published his investigation as a book titled The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting and China's Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem. [70]

Verdict by the China Tribunal Edit

The Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting of Prisoners of Conscience in China, known as the China Tribunal, [71] was initiated in 2018 [72] by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China. [73] [74] The tribunal, based in London, [73] was made up of a seven-member panel. [75] [76] Geoffrey Nice, a Queen's Counsel and the chair of the tribunal, was a prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for Yugoslavia. [73] According to an article in the scientific journal Nature, the tribunal does not have any legal authority. [75] The Chinese government declined an invitation to take part in the tribunal. [77]

The tribunal heard evidence over a six-month period. [71] The evidence included analyses of Chinese transplant data, and testimony from ex-prisoners, doctors and human rights workers. [75] Among the 50 witnesses, who testified either in person or via video link, [77] were David Kilgour and Jennifer Zeng. [73] [76] The tribunal also examined reports from the Committee Against Torture, Freedom House and Amnesty International. [77] Other submissions included internal Chinese medical records, previous investigations and academic papers. [77] Covertly recorded phone calls with transplant surgeons and undercover footage inside hospitals were also reviewed. [77]

In June 2019, the tribunal published their final judgment which unanimously concluded that crimes against humanity had been committed. [72] The tribunal's report said "forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and . Falun Gong practitioners have been one—and probably the main—source of organ supply." [72] The tribunal estimated between 60,000 and 90,000 transplant operations occurred per year, much more than the official figures of 10,000 from the Chinese government. [73] [77] The chair of the tribunal said "there is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing." [73]

The tribunal's report included a reference to a research paper, posted on the preprint server SocArXiv, that examined voluntary organ transplant data from 2010 to 2016. [75] The paper's authors said it was difficult to believe the consistent and significant growth in voluntary transplants each year, and they concluded that China's voluntary system probably included non-voluntary donors, likely prisoners. [75] A statistician commissioned by the tribunal reviewed the paper's analysis and agreed that the data on voluntary transplants appeared to be unreliable. [75] Francis L. Delmonico, chair of the World Health Organization's Task Force on Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues, told Nature that he was unconvinced by the paper because it did not contain direct evidence of organ harvesting from prisoners. [75]

Several distinct strands of evidence have been presented to support allegations that Falun Gong practitioners have been killed for their organs in China. Researchers, human rights advocates and medical advocacy groups have focused in particular on the volume of organ transplants performed in China the disparity between the number of transplants and known sources of organs the significant growth in the transplant industry coinciding with the mass imprisonment of Falun Gong practitioners short wait times that suggest an "on demand" execution schedule and reports that Falun Gong prisoners are given medical exams in custody to assess their candidacy as organ suppliers.

Increase in nationwide organ transplants after 1999 Edit

The number of organ transplants performed in China grew rapidly beginning in 2000. This timeframe corresponds with the onset of the persecution of Falun Gong, when tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were being sent to Chinese labor camps, detention centers and prisons. [78] [79]

In 1998, the country reported 3,596 kidney transplants annually. By 2005, that number had risen to approximately 10,000. [26] The number of facilities performing kidney transplants increased from 106 to 368 between 2001 and 2005. Similarly, according to China Daily, the number of liver transplantation centers in China rose from 22 to over 500 between 1999 and 2006. [15] The volume of transplants performed in these centers also increased substantially in this period. One hospital reported on its website that it performed 9 liver transplants in 1998, but completed 647 liver transplants in four months in 2005. The Jiaotong University Hospital in Shanghai recorded seven liver transplants in 2001, 53 in 2002, 105 in 2003, 144 in 2004, and 147 in 2005. [26]

Kilgour and Matas write that the increase in organ transplants cannot be entirely attributed to improvements in transplant technology: "kidney transplant technology was fully developed in China long before the persecution of Falun Gong began. Yet kidney transplants shot up, more than doubling once the persecution of Falun Gong started. Nowhere have transplants jumped so significantly with the same number of donors simply because of a change in technology." [26]

Furthermore, they note that during this period of rapid expansion in China's organ transplant industry, there were no significant improvements to the voluntary organ donation or allocation system, and the supply of death row inmates as donors also did not increase. [26] [36] Although it does not prove the allegations, the parallel between rapid growth in organ transplants and the mass imprisonment of Falun Gong practitioners is consistent with the hypothesis that Falun Gong practitioners in custody were having their organs harvested.

Discrepancy in known sources of organs Edit

According to a US congressional report in 2005, up to 95% of organ transplants in China are sourced from prisoners. [29] However, China does not perform enough legal executions to account for the large number of transplants that are performed, and voluntary donations are exceedingly rare (only 130 people registered as voluntary organ donors nationwide from 2003 to 2009 [18] ).

In 2006, the number of individuals sentenced to death and executed was far fewer than the number of transplants. Based on publicly available reports, Amnesty International documented 1,770 executions in 2006 high-end estimates put the figure closer to 8,000. [80] Because China lacks an organized organ matching and allocation system, and in order to satisfy expectations for very short wait times, it is rare that multiple organs are harvested from the same donor. Moreover, many death row inmates have health conditions such as hepatitis B that would frequently disqualify them as organ donors. This suggests the existence of a secondary source for organs. [27]

In a statement before the U.S. House of Representatives, Damon Noto said "the prisoners sentenced to death cannot fully account for all the transplantations that are taking place in China . Even if they executed 10,000 and transplanted 10,000 a year, there would still be a very large discrepancy. Why is that? It is simply impossible that those 10,000 people executed would match perfectly the 10,000 people that needed the organs." [81] David Kilgour and David Matas similarly write that traditional sources of transplants such as executed prisoners, donors, and the brain dead "come nowhere near to explaining the total number of transplants across China." Like Noto, they point to the large number of Falun Gong practitioners in the labor camp and prison system as a likely alternative source for organs. [26]

Organ transplant wait times Edit

Wait periods for organ transplants in China are significantly shorter than elsewhere in the world. According to a 2006 post on the China International Transplantation Assistance Center website, "it may take only one month to receive a liver transplantation, the maximum waiting time being two months. As for the kidney transplantation, it may take one week to find a suitable donor, the maximum time being one month. If something wrong with the donor's organ happens, the patient will have the option to be offered another organ donor and have the operation again in one week." [82] Other organ transplant centers similarly advertised average wait times of one or two weeks for liver and kidney transplants. [26] [83] [84] This is consistent with accounts of organ transplant recipients, who report receiving organs a matter of days or weeks. [21] [85] [86] By comparison, median wait times for a kidney in developed countries such as the United States, Canada and Great Britain typically range from two years to over four years, despite the fact that these countries have millions of registered organ donors and established systems of organ matching and allocation. [87] [88] [89]

Researchers and medical professionals have expressed concern about the implications of the short organ transplant wait times offered by Chinese hospitals. Specifically, they say these wait times are indicative of a pool of living donors whose organs can be removed on demand. [36] This is because organs must be transplanted immediately after death, or must be taken from a living donor (kidneys must be transplanted within 24–48 hours livers within 12 hours, and hearts within 8 hours). [90]

Kirk C. Allison, Associate Director of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, wrote that the "short time frame of an on-demand system [as in China] requires a large pool of donors pre-typed for blood group and HLA matching," which is consistent with reports of Falun Gong prisoners having blood and tissue tested in custody. He wrote that China's short organ wait times could not be assured on a "random death" basis, and that physicians he queried about the matter indicated that they were selecting live prisoners to ensure quality and compatibility. [90] Dr. Jacob Lavee, Director of the Heart Transplant Unit at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, recounts one of his patients traveling to China for a heart transplant. The patient waited two weeks for a heart, and the surgery was scheduled in advance—meaning the organ could not have been procured on the basis of a random death. [91] Franz Immer, chairman of the Swiss National Foundation for organ donation and transplantation, reports that during a visit to Beijing in 2007, he was invited by his Chinese hosts to observe a heart transplantation operation: "The organizer asked us whether we would like to have the transplantation operation in the morning or in the afternoon. This means that the donor would die, or be killed, at a given time, at the convenience of the visitors. I refused to participate." [9]

Editors of the Journal of Clinical Investigation write that "The only way to guarantee transplant of a liver or heart during the relatively short time period that a transplant tourist is in China is to quickly obtain the requisite medical information from prospective recipients, find matches among them, and then execute a person who is a suitable match." [36] Noto similarly says that China's organ transplant wait times and the ability to schedule transplants in advance can only be achieved by having a large supply of "living donors that are available on demand." Death row inmates alone are not numerous enough to meet this demand. [81]

Vulnerability of Falun Gong practitioners Edit

Since 1999, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in re-education through labor camps, prisons, and other detention facilities in China, making them the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the country. [92] In 2008, the U.S. Department of State cited estimates that half of China's official labor camp population of 250,000 were Falun Gong practitioners, [93] [94] and a 2013 report by Amnesty International found that Falun Gong practitioners comprised between 30 and 100 percent of detainees in the labor camps studied. [44]

Former Chinese prisoners have also reported that Falun Gong practitioners consistently received the "longest sentences and worst treatment" in the camps, and that they are singled out for torture and abuse. [44] [95] In 2006, a study by the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture noted that 66% of reported cases from China involved Falun Gong victims. [96] Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have died or been killed in custody, often under disputed circumstances. [39] [44] Family members of the deceased have reported being denied an autopsy [97] in some instances bodies were summarily cremated without the family's consent. [98] Analysts and rights groups have pointed to several factors that drive the especially severe treatment against Falun Gong practitioners in custody. These include directives issued from central government or Communist Party authorities [99] incentives and quota systems that encourage abuse [44] a sense of impunity in the event of deaths in custody [100] and the effects of the state propaganda that dehumanizes and vilifies Falun Gong practitioners. [43] [101]

The large numbers of Falun Gong prisoners in custody has led researchers to identify them as a likely source for organs. According to Gutmann's research, other marginalized prisoner groups may also have been targeted, including ethnic Tibetans and Uyghurs who reside predominantly in China's western regions. However, for reasons of geographic proximity, Falun Gong practitioners are more likely to be targeted. In addition, because their spiritual practice prohibits smoking or consumption of alcohol, they tend to be comparatively healthy. [9]

In the context of organ harvesting Kilgour and Matas point to a further source of vulnerability. Namely, in order to protect family members from punishment by security agencies, many detained Falun Gong practitioners refuse to give their names or other personally identifying information to police. "Though this refusal to identify themselves was done for protection purposes, it may have had the opposite effect. It is easier to victimize a person whose whereabouts is unknown to family members than a person whose location the family knows," says their report. Kilgour and Matas wrote that they had yet to meet or hear of any Falun Gong practitioners who were safely released from custody after refusing to identify themselves, despite the prevalence of this practice. [26] Similarly, Ethan Gutmann reports that in over a hundred interviews with former prisoners, he encountered only one Falun Gong practitioner who had remained nameless while in custody, and "her organs were even more worn out than my own." [9]

Medical testing in custody Edit

Ethan Gutmann interviewed dozens of former Chinese prisoners, including sixteen Falun Gong practitioners who recalled undergoing unusual medical tests while in detention. Gutmann says some of these tests were likely routine examinations, and some may have been designed to screen for the SARS virus. However, in several cases, the medical tests described were exclusively aimed at assessing the health of internal organs. [70]

One man, Wang Xiaohua, was imprisoned in a labor camp in Yunnan in 2001 when he and twenty other Falun Gong detainees were taken to a hospital. They had large quantities of blood drawn, in addition to urine samples, abdominal x-rays, and electrocardiogram. Hospital staff did not tend to physical injuries they had suffered in custody. This pattern was repeated in several other interviews. Qu Yangyao, a 30-something Chinese refugee, was taken from a labor camp to a hospital in 2000 along with two other Falun Gong practitioners. She says that hospital staff drew large volumes of blood, conducted chest x-rays and probed the prisoners' organs. There was "no hammer on the knee, no feeling for lymph nodes, no examination of ears or mouth or genitals—the doctor checked her retail organs and nothing else," writes Gutmann. [9]

Another woman, Jung Tian, recounts comprehensive physical exams and the extraction of large volumes of blood—enough for advanced diagnostics or tissue matching—while in a detention center in Shenyang city. At a women's labor camp in Guangdong province, a former detainee says that 180 Falun Gong prisoners were subject to medical tests in early 2003 and that the tests exclusively focused on internal organs. Another female witness who was held at Masanjia Labor Camp in 2005 said that only young, healthy practitioners had comprehensive medical exams upon arrival at the camp the old and infirm were given only cursory treatment. [9]

In addition to Falun Gong practitioners, researcher Jaya Gibson identified three Tibetan prisoners who were subject to "organs-only" medical exams, all of them shortly after 2005. [9]

Phone call evidence Edit

In March 2006, immediately after allegations emerged that Falun Gong prisoners were being targeted for organ harvesting, overseas investigators began placing phone calls to Chinese hospitals and police detention centers. The callers posed as prospective transplant recipients or organ brokers and inquired about the availability of Falun Gong organs. In several instances, they obtained recorded admissions that organs could be procured from Falun Gong prisoners. A selection of these conversations were cited as evidence in the report by David Kilgour and David Matas. [9] [26]

In one such call to a police detention center in Mishan city, an official said that they had five to eight Falun Gong practitioners under the age of 40 who were potential organ suppliers. When asked for details on the background of these individuals, the official indicated that they were male Falun Gong prisoners from rural areas. [102]

A doctor at the Minzu hospital in Nanning city said that the hospital did not currently have Falun Gong organs available, but that he had previously selected Falun Gong prisoners for organ harvesting. The doctor also advised the caller to contact a university hospital in neighboring Guangdong province, saying that they had better channels to obtain Falun Gong organs. [102] At the Zhongshan hospital in Shanghai, a doctor told investigators that all his hospital's organs were sourced from Falun Gong practitioners. During an April 2006 phone call to a military hospital in Guangzhou, a doctor told investigators that he had "several batches" of Falun Gong organs, but that the supply could run dry after 20 May 2006. In another call, investigators posed as an organ broker to call the Jinzhou city people's court. In response to a question about obtaining organs from Falun Gong prisoners, a court official said "that depends on your qualifications . If you have good qualifications, we may still provide some [organs]." [102]

Kilgour and Matas concede that in at least some instances, the hospital staff may have been supplying answers that the callers wanted to hear in order to make a sale. The results of these phone calls would also be difficult to replicate as allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong gained attention, hospitals would become more reluctant to candidly discuss their organ sourcing practices. [26]

This investigative tactic was revived in 2012, when Communist Party officials began investigating Politburo member Bo Xilai for a variety of crimes. Bo had previously been governor of Liaoning province, which researchers believe was a major center for organ harvesting. The "World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong" made phone calls to mid- and high-level officials with prior connections to Bo, posing as members of the internal Communist Party discipline and inspection group that was building the case against him. They asked questions about the chain of command involved in procuring organs from prisoners, including Falun Gong prisoners. When asked about Bo Xilai's involvement in organ harvesting, one high-ranking member of the Politburo reportedly told investigators that Politburo Standing Committee member and security czar Zhou Yongkang "is in charge of this specifically. He knows it." [103]

A city-level official in Liaoning province was asked by investigators what direction Bo Xilai may have given regarding removing organs from Falun Gong prisoners. The official replied "I was asked to take care of this task. Party central is actually taking care of this. He [Bo] was involved quite positively, yeah it seemed quite positive. At that time we mainly talked about it during the meetings within the Standing Committee." The official hung up after realizing that he had not confirmed the identity of the caller. [103]

Commercial incentives Edit

The growth of a commercial organ trade is linked to economic reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s that saw a steep decline in government funding to the healthcare system. Healthcare moved toward a more market-driven model, and hospitals devised new ways to grow their revenue. This pattern also applies to military hospitals since the mid-1980s, the People's Liberation Army has engaged in commercial and profit-making ventures to supplement its budget. [26] [81]

In their report on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, Kilgour and Matas describe transplant hospitals in China that cater to wealthy foreigners who paid upwards of $100,000 for liver, lung, and heart transplants. For instance, the website of the China International Transplantation Network Assistance Center posted the following price list on its website in 2006: Kidney: $62,000 Liver: $98,000–130,000 Liver+kidney: $160,000–180,000 Kidney+pancreas: $150,000 Lung: $150,000–170,000 Heart: $130,000–160,000 Cornea: $30,000. [26] In a statement before the U.S. House of Representatives, Gabriel Danovitch of the UCLA Medical Center said, "The ease in which these organs can be obtained and the manner that they may be allocated to wealthy foreigners has engendered a culture of corruption." [104]

Data on voluntary organ donations Edit

Beginning in 2010, Chinese authorities announced that the country would transition away from the use of prisoners as an organ source, and would rely entirely on voluntary donations coordinated through a centralized registry. By 2015, officials asserted that voluntary donors were the sole source for organ transplants in China. However, critics have pointed to evidence of systematic falsification of data related to voluntary organ donations, casting doubt on reform claims. [105]

In a paper published in the journal BMC Medical Ethics, for instance, researchers analyzed data on voluntary organ transplants from 2010 to 2018. Datasets were drawn from two national sources, several sub-national jurisdictions, and from individual Chinese hospitals. The researchers found compelling evidence of "human-directed data manufacture and manipulation" in the national datasets, as well as "contradictory, implausible, or anomalous data artefacts" in the provincial datasets, which suggests that the data "may have been manipulated to enforce conformity with central quotas." Among the findings was that the purported rate of growth in voluntary donations was derived from a simple quadratic equation, with nearly perfect model parsimony. These findings appear to undermine official claims about the extent of voluntary organ donations in China. [10] The authors of the BMC Medical Ethics article also note that China's model parsimony is one to two orders of magnitude smoother than any other nation's, even those that have experienced rapid growth in their organ transplantation sector. [106]

Case study: Liaoning Province Edit

In his book on organ transplant abuse, Ethan Gutmann included a case study centered on China's northeastern Liaoning province. Former Politburo member Bo Xilai served as mayor and party chief of Dalian city, Liaoning in the 1990s, and later was made Governor from 2001 to 2004. The province is known to have a high concentration of Falun Gong practitioners, and leads the country in reported Falun Gong deaths in custody. [9] Several observers have noted that Bo Xilai pursued an especially intense campaign against Falun Gong in the province, leading to charges of torture and crimes against humanity. [107] [108] [109]

Bo's close associate Wang Lijun was named head of the Public Security Bureau in Jinzhou, Liaoning, in 2003. In this capacity, he ran an organ transplantation facility where he reportedly oversaw "several thousand" organ transplants, leading to concerns that many of the organs were taken from political prisoners. [110] [111] During a 2006 award ceremony, Wang told reporters "For a veteran policeman, to see someone executed and within minutes to see the transformation in which this person's life was extended in the bodies of several other people—it was soul-stirring." [103] Gutmann says it is "extremely unlikely" that all the organs used in these operations were taken from executed death-row prisoners, who would not have been plentiful enough to supply thousands of organ transplants. However, Gutmann notes that Liaoning detained large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps and prisons. "It is also germane that both Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun built a large measure of their political power on the repression of Falun Gong," he writes. [9] [103]

In addition to organ transplants in Jinzhou, Gutmann notes that security agencies in Dalian city were supplying human cadavers to two major plastination factories, where the bodies are filled with plastics to be sent on display around the world as bodies exhibitions. According to an informant interviewed on the program 20/20, the plastinated cadavers came from executed prisoners. Again, however, Gutmann notes a disparity in the numbers: the body plastination factories operating in Dalian processed thousands of cadavers—far more than could be expected to be donated or taken from legally executed prisoners. The establishment of the body plastination factories coincided with the onset of the persecution of Falun Gong. [9]

According to a 2017 report from The Washington Post, research and reporting has undercut allegations that China continues to secretly conduct 60,000 to 100,000 organ transplants per year. [112] Data compiled by American company Quintiles IMS showed China's demand for immunosuppressant drugs, which are necessary to prevent the bodies of patients from rejecting transplanted organs, were approximately in line with the number of transplants China said it performed. [112] In 2016, according to health official Huang Jiefu, China performed a total of 13,238 organ transplant operations. [112] Xu Jiapeng, an account manager at Quintiles IMS in Beijing, said it was "unthinkable" China operated a clandestine system that the data on immunosuppressants did not pick up. [112]

Critics have alleged that China's immunosuppressant data would not include foreign transplant tourists but The Washington Post reported that these assertions did not stand up to scrutiny. [112] Jose Nuñez, head of the World Health Organization's transplantation program, said the number of foreigners going to China for transplants in 2015 was "really very low" compared with India, Pakistan, the United States as well as China's past. [112]

The Chinese government has repeatedly and categorically denied that Falun Gong practitioners have been killed for their organs, and insists that it adheres to World Health Organization standards. Specifically, the government claims that one of the major sources for the transplant figures, Professor Shi Bingyi, later alleged that the Canadian led investigative reports quoting him were fabricated. [79] However, the government has not refuted the specific points of evidence cited by researchers, nor provided an alternative explanation for the source of organs used in transplants. [113]

In response to a 2014 resolution on organ harvesting by the U.S. House of Representatives, a Chinese embassy spokesperson said that China requires written consent from organ donors, and declared that "the so-called organ harvesting from death-row prisoners is totally a lie fabricated by Falun Gong". The embassy representative then urged American lawmakers to stop "supporting and conniving" with Falun Gong. [114]

David Kilgour and David Matas say that the Chinese government's response to their investigation in 2006 contained "a good deal of invective, but no factual information which contradicts or undermines our conclusions or analysis". In particular, the Chinese government response centered on the charge that Falun Gong is an "evil cult" questioned the motives and independence of the researchers and noted a captioning error where their report had mislabeled the location of two Chinese cities. The government's response also stated that China prohibits the sale of human organs and requires written consent of the donor—claims which Kilgour and Matas say are belied by the evidence. [26]

From 2006 to 2008, two UN Special Rapporteurs made repeated requests to the Chinese government to respond to allegations about Falun Gong prisoners and explain the source of organs used in transplant operations. [113] [115] The Chinese government's responses did not address these questions or explain the sources of transplant organs. Instead, it wrote China is in compliance with World Health Organization standards, and described the conditions under which organ transplants are permitted under Chinese laws and regulations. It further stated that allegations of organ harvesting "are merely the product of agitation by Falun Gong . most of them have already been revealed to be unfounded rumours". [113]

The Chinese government also has sought to prevent public discussion of the issue outside its own borders, and has punished Chinese nationals who have spoken on the subject of organ harvesting. In May 2006, European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan-Scott went to China on a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations. His tour guide, Cao Dong, said he knew of organ harvesting and had seen his Falun Gong practitioner friend's cadaver "in the morgue with holes where body parts had been removed". [116] Cao Dong was sentenced to five years in prison for speaking with the European Union official. [117]

In 2007, the Chinese embassy in Canada intervened to cancel the broadcast of a documentary on Falun Gong and organ harvesting, which was scheduled to air on the national broadcast network CBC Television. [118] The same year, the Chinese embassy in Israel tried unsuccessfully to cancel a talk by researcher David Matas on the subject of organ harvesting, threatening that his testimony would have an adverse impact on China–Israel relations. [91]

Medical associations Edit

Allegations about organ harvesting from Falun Gong led to renewed focus on China's transplant practices by international medical authorities and professional associations. Medical professionals have raised a number of concerns stemming from the use of prisoner organs, and have debated the ethics of conducting exchanges with Chinese transplant hospitals.

In 2006, the World Medical Association adopted a resolution demanding that China stop using prisoners as organ donors. [119]

Since 2011, several medical journals have declared that they would cease publishing articles related to organ transplantation operations in China due to concerns about violations of medical ethics. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, a prestigious publication on biomedical research, declared that China's use of organs from executed prisoners "violates basic human rights. It violates core ethical precepts of transplant medicine and medical ethics. Worse still, some of those who are killed may be prisoners whose 'crimes' involve no more than holding certain political or spiritual beliefs." The journal decided that it would no longer accept manuscripts on human organ transplantation "unless appropriate non-coerced consent of the donor is provided and substantiated". [36] A similar decision was taken by the American Journal of Transplantation. [120]

Writing in The Lancet in 2011, a group of prominent American surgeons and bioethicists called for a boycott of Chinese science and medicine pertaining to organ transplantation. "It is clear from the numbers provided by China that not all of the organs for Chinese citizens and transplant tourists are provided by voluntary consenting donors. The source of many of these organs is executed prisoners whose consent is either non-existent or ethically invalid and whose demise might be timed for the convenience of the waiting recipient", they wrote. [121] The article's lead author, Dr. Arthur Caplan, later added "Killing prisoners for their parts is unethical on its own", but the practice is even more heinous given that some of the executed prisoners were imprisoned for religious or political beliefs. [122] [123]

In contrast, Jeremy Chapman, Australian transplantation surgeon, dismissed Kilgour and Matas's report as "pure imagination piled upon political interest". [124]

United Nations Special Rapporteurs Edit

From 2006 to 2008, two UN Special Rapporteurs made repeated requests to the Chinese government to respond to allegations about Falun Gong prisoners and explain the source of organs used in transplant operations. [113] In a February 2008 report, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak noted that in China "there are many more organ transplants than identifiable sources of organs . It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons". [115] The Chinese government's responses did not address these questions or explain the sources of transplant organs. [113]

Responses from other governments Edit

Several national governments have held hearings in their national legislatures regarding organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, with some of them subsequently adopting resolutions condemning organ transplant abuses in China or developing legislation to ban transplant tourism.

United States Edit

In July 2014, the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution condemning state-sanctioned organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience and members of other minority groups. [114] [125] The allegations have also surfaced in reports by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, [126] and in the Department of State Country Report on Human Rights for China for 2011. [127] In January 2015, the White House responded to a petition signed by 34,000 Americans condemning organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners. The response noted that "China's leaders have announced a pledge to abolish the practice of taking human organs for transplant from executed prisoners, although we are aware of continued reports of such practices. We take such allegations very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation." [128]

European Union Edit

The European Parliament heard testimony about organ harvesting in China during a 6 December 2012 session on human rights in China. One year later, it passed a resolution expressing "deep concern over the persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, as well as from members of other religious and ethnic minority groups." The resolution called for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, and urged Chinese authorities to respond to United Nations inquiries about the source of organs used in transplants. [129] In March 2014, the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels convened a follow-up event on organ transplant abuses in China. [130] Participants and speakers at the session endorsed the recommendations of the parliamentary resolution, which recognized that Falun Gong and other minority groups are targets of forced organ harvesting in China. EESC President Henri Malosse called for greater pressure to be put on the Chinese government to end organ transplant abuses. [131]

Italy Edit

In March 2014, the members of the Italian commission on human rights unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the immediate release of Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience in China, and urging Italian hospitals to reconsider collaborations with China in the area of organ transplants. [132] In 2015, the Italian Senate adopted a bill which makes it a crime to traffic in organs from living donors. Individuals found guilty of this offence could face 3–12 years in prison and fines of up to 300,000 Euros (US$350,000). [133] Senator Maurizio Romani, one of the bill's sponsors, noted that China performs the second highest number of transplants in the world, all without established procedures for organ donation or a national organ allocation system, and said that Falun Gong practitioners account for a significant portion of transplant organs. "We in Italy can't stop these violations, but we have the duty to make any effort in order not to be accomplices to this," he said. [134]

Australia Edit

In December 2006, the Australian Ministry of Health revealed that two of the country's major organ transplant hospitals had banned training of Chinese surgeons, in response to concerns about organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners. [135] On 21 March 2013, the Australian Senate unanimously passed a motion concerning reports of organ harvesting in China. [136] [137] The motion, which was introduced one day after a parliamentary briefing on the subject of organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners, called on Australia to adopt strict standards to address the practice of international organ trafficking. [138] The same year, Green party lawmakers in New South Wales, Australia, proposed legislation to criminalize and create specific offenses related to trafficking in human organs and tissue. [139]

In 2018, Graham Fletcher, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's North Asia Division, said "the idea that there is a separate, parallel, hidden, vast network of unspeakable activity where people are essentially killed for their organs, we don't believe that that is happening." Graham's statement was to a parliamentary inquiry into organ trading. [77]

Israel Edit

In 2007, Israel's national legislative body the Knesset adopted new legislation barring insurance companies from providing coverage to Israeli citizens who travel abroad to purchase organs. The move was partly a response to an investigation in which Israeli authorities arrested several men involved in mediating transplants of Chinese prisoners' organs for Israelis. One of the men had stated in an undercover interview that the organs came from "people who oppose the regime, those sentenced to death and from prisoners of the Falun Gong." [140] In addition to prohibiting citizens from buying organs overseas, the law also imposed criminal charges on organ traffickers. The new rules resulted in a significant decrease in the number of Israeli citizens seeking transplants abroad, while also helping to catalyze an expansion of the voluntary donor registry domestically. [91]

Spain Edit

In 2010, Spain implemented a law prohibiting its nationals from traveling abroad to obtain illegal organ transplants. The legislation was proposed after a Spanish citizen reportedly traveled to Tianjin, China, where he obtained a liver for US$130,000 after waiting for just 20 days. The Spanish legislation makes it a crime to promote or facilitate an illegal organ transplant, punishable with up to 12 years in prison. In addition, any organization found to have participated in illegal organ transplant transactions will be subject to a fine. [141]

Taiwan Edit

In June 2015, the national legislature of Taiwan passed an amendment to the "Human Organ Transplantation Act" to prohibit the sale or purchase of organs, including from abroad. The law also prohibits the use of organs from executed prisoners. Legislators who supported the bill noted that the amendments were intended to address the problem of Taiwanese citizens traveling to China to purchase organs, some of which were harvested from living donors. [142]

Canada and France Edit

Similar bills against organ tourism have been proposed in the French national assembly (2010) and in Canadian parliament (2007, 2013). [143] [144] [145]

On 10 December 2018, the S-240 bill – An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), was read the second time in House of Commons of Canada and referred to Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. In the debate, Vice-chair of Foreign Affairs and International Development Subcommittee on International Human Rights (SDIR) MP Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle mentioned that the numbers may actually be between 60,000 and 100,000 organ transplants per year. The principal victims of China's organ-harvesting industry was Falun Gong followers. China's organ-harvesting industry developed in tandem with its systematic repression of Falun Gong." She said: "Today is a profound anniversary marking the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago. Those sentiments are inextricably linked after the horrors witnessed in World War II and the conviction of never again. I submit that those sentiments are profoundly linked here as well to Bill S-240. After World War II, the world sought to ensure such madness ensued against humanity never happened again. Organ harvesting and trafficking are a nauseating reality and we must put a stop to them. Canada must act and must start by passing Bill S-240." [146]


Watch the video: Der große Fluss der Entwicklungen UND ein Blick in den Körper eines geompften Menschen