NEW YORK—In an unprecedented decision, a special Israeli rabbinical council ruled last week that the Chinese regime has been responsible for the killing of Falun Gong practitioners.
"On the basis of the accumulation of the various testimonies and indirect evidence, the International Court of the Nascent Sanhedrin, came to the conclusion that there were unnumbered cases of killing of innocent Falun Gong practitioners [by agents of the Chinese government], perhaps also out of consideration of material benefits derived from organ harvesting," said the court in a decision dated July 15, 2008.
"If the human rights issues are not addressed before the Olympic Games begin, we consider participation in them by athletes and by spectators and political leaders to be an indirect danger to world peace," it further stated.
The ruling was issued in response to a request filed by Israeli Falun Gong practitioners in July 2007. The Sanhedrin, an ancient council of sages re-established by several rabbis in Israel in 2004 as a source of Jewish jurisprudence, comprises 71 scholars of Jewish law and is headed by Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz. Its International Court, a subcommittee addressing international issues, put out the present opinion as a form of religious guidance and on the basis of Jewish law.
The court issued the decision after examining testimony and evidence brought before it by human rights experts, including the U.S.-based Human Rights Law Foundation (HRLF) and David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific and coauthor of an independent investigation entitled "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China." Also appearing before the council were several Chinese victims of rights abuses, including the widow of a man tortured to death in Chinese custody after being abducted for practicing Falun Gong.
"As a Jewish child growing up in the wake of the Holocaust, I made a vow to myself at the very young age of 13, that if it ever happened again, I would do all I could to put a stop to it," says attorney Terri Marsh. "Now as a human rights lawyer and legal participant in this case, I thank the Sanhedrin for finding the courage and wisdom to expose and condemn the crimes perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party against members of the Falun Gong faith in China."
Political Pressure and Olympic Implications
According to the rabbinical body, the Chinese government refused to appear before it, but did submit written and digital materials to refute the complaints. It also reportedly applied political pressure on the court to drop the case, but as a body independent of the Israeli government, the council did not heed the request.
To ensure the fairness of the proceedings without the Chinese government’s formal participation, the court followed a tradition of Jewish jurisprudence and acted “not only as an objective Judge but at the same time as attorney for the side which is absent,” thereby subjecting witnesses to cross-examination.
Having found the Chinese government responsible for the deaths of Falun Gong adherents, the court demanded that the Chinese government "assure the minimum of liberties as indicated by the seven Noahide commandments," that it implement a Chinese law passed in May 2007 meant to end organ harvesting without consent, and that it allow a coalition of international organizations to enter China and freely investigate the Chinese government's compliance with the above mentioned commandments, considered to be the "Human Rights Charter according to the Torah."
Lastly, it stated that "if the human rights issues are not settled before the opening of the Olympics, participation in these Games may be understood to indicate indifference to human rights violations in China, and support for suppression," rendering such participation "an indirect danger to world peace."
The full translation from Hebrew of the Sanhedrin's decision is available here: http://media.faluninfo.net/media/doc/2008/07/FINAL_DECISION_RE_FG_-_PRC.pdf