By Julian Pecquet - 12/11/13 06:30 PM EST
Lawmakers diverged Wednesday over how far to take their criticism of China's alleged organ harvesting practices.
A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee unanimously approved a resolution condemning the practice. But Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked to work with his colleagues to shore up evidence of a controversial claim that China may have executed 65,000 members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to harvest their organs between 2000 and 2008.
“I think we need to reach out to Amnesty International and other mainline, respected human-rights groups to see if we can really support this rather specific” claim, Sherman said. “The vision of 65,000 people being executed solely for their organs is a rather vivid image and we may want to be less specific, less numerical or more certain that the number is defendable by consulting with other experts in the field.”
Claims of organ harvesting of live Falun Gong practitioners were first put forward by former Canadian politician David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas in 2006. Researcher Ethan Gutmann placed the number at around 65,000 in testimony before the committee last year.
The Chinese government denies the allegations, and the State Department has said it has seen no evidence to corroborate them.
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