Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Area activist campaigns to raise awareness about human rights

November 1, 2006

Felice Boewe is banking on Americans' compassion to bring about an end to human organ harvesting in mainland China.

Boewe, a Leawood resident, brought her SOS Car Tour of Kansas to Leavenworth County last week, making stops in Tonganoxie, Lansing, Leavenworth and Bonner Springs, trying to raise awareness about the inhumane acts she said were commonplace in concentration camps in China.

"We don't want money -- we want compassion," Boewe said after a stop in Lansing. "We want people to care enough to say something or do something, like call your representative or the White House to let them know about this."

In 1999, China banned the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement, for undermining social stability in the communist country. The Chinese government estimated the movement's practitioners in China numbered anywhere from 10 million to 70 million.

Earlier this year, Boewe said, eyewitnesses told of a network of concentration camps throughout China where Falun Gong practitioners were being held and where detainees' organs were being harvested for transplants. The organ extractions, she said, were being completed while the donor was still alive.

The reports have spurred congressional hearings, a U.N. inquiry and an outburst at the White House back in April when Chinese President Hu Jintao was visiting.

Boewe, who came to the United States 40 years ago from Taiwan, said the reports also encouraged her to take action. Since June, she's visited more than 50 cities and towns in Colorado and Kansas, visiting with local media outlets and spreading her message.

"If no major, mainstream network or newspaper will bring this news to the American people, what else can we do?" she said.

At each stop, Boewe distributes pamphlets about the alleged abuse of the Falun Gong and a copy of the "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China" by a Canadian human rights lawyer and a former member of the Canadian Parliament.

Boewe said she had been warmly received throughout her tour, and she believed her message was catching on in middle America.

She said she hoped calls from ordinary citizens to their elected officials would shine a light on the plight of the Falun Gong and bring an end to the alleged abuses.

"If the politicians would just say a few kind words of emotional support, we would have the Chinese people's -- not the Chinese government's -- support forever.

"It's like they say: The only way for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing when faced with evil," she said.

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