Organs of prisoners illegally harvested in China, tribunal claims

Organs of prisoners illegally harvested in China, tribunal claims

The tribunal alleged that hospitals could request organs to be extracted "on demand" from donors without their consent.

By Sanya Burgess, news reporter 

Tuesday 18 June 2019 06:35, UK

The organs of prisoners are being illegally harvested and traded in China, an international tribunal has claimed.

Beijing had pledged to stop using executed inmates as a source of organ transplants in 2015 - but the tribunal has suggested there was no evidence this practice has stopped, and said it is "satisfied that it is continuing".

It added that followers of Falun Gong, a religious spiritual practice, were "certainly" among those used as a source for "forced organ harvesting" in recent decades - and there was a "risk" that Uighur Muslims have suffered similar treatment.

The tribunal alleged that hospitals could request organs to be extracted "on demand" from donors without their consent.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, served as the China tribunal's chairman.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC served as the China tribunal's chairman

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC served as the China tribunal's chairman

Its report stopped short of labelling China's actions a genocide - noting some prisoners had been released - but claimed it was "beyond reasonable doubt" the country was guilty of crimes against humanity.

Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations of forced organ harvesting.

Witnesses giving evidence to the tribunal described brutal detention conditions in Xinjiang detention camps. They told of years of imprisonment without trial and alleged they were forced to undergo blood tests and organ scans - and claimed some inmates had disappeared after being tested.

Jennifer Zeng, 52, was arrested for following Falun Gong. She said she was held against her will, physically and mentally tortured, and kept in cramped conditions at a labour camp in 2000.

Jennifer Zeng was arrested for following Falun Gong

Jennifer Zeng was arrested for following Falun Gong

During her imprisonment, her blood was tested and her organs were scanned. She was freed from the camp after pretending to reform in 2001, and came across a news story explaining what those tests had been for.

Ms Zeng, who now lives in America, told Sky News: "Only at that stage, I realised what a narrow escape I had. If I had not told the doctor I have had hepatitis C, I could have become a victim as well."

Many of the prisoners who allegedly had their organs harvested were executed beforehand, but the tribunal was told stories of doctors removing organs while a patient was still alive.

Dr Enver Tohti, a former surgeon from Xinjiang, admitted that he had removed organs from a living prisoner during the oppression of Falun Gong.

In 1995, aged 32, the surgeon claimed he was instructed to enter a field and operate on a man who had been shot in the chest.

Falun Gong members perform in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in a protest against organ harvesting

Falun Gong members perform in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in a protest against organ harvesting

Dr Tohti told Sky News: "I became like a robot to carry out the duty I was programmed for. When I cut through, the man tried to resist but he was too weak to resist my insertion [of the scalpel]. When my scalpel cut through his skin I could see bleeding. That indicates the heart is still pumping blood, so he was still alive. I just carried on doing my job."

The man's liver and kidneys, which took just half an hour to remove, were placed in a box. Dr Tohti claimed he was told by the official in charge: "Remember, nothing happened today."

The Chinese transplant trade is estimated to be a $1bn (£800m) industry, with a liver being valued at $160,000 (£130,000).

In 2016, the Bloody Harvest report estimated that 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals.

Up to 300 supporters of the practice of Falun Dafa march against the importing of human organs from China to Austria

Up to 300 supporters of the practice of Falun Dafa march against the importing of human organs from China to Austria

Suspicions over the source of organs were raised in 2000, when there was an increase in transplants taking place with unusually short waiting times.

Around this time, persecution of the 70 million Falun Gong followers in the country began as China grew to perceive the group as subversive and a potential threat.

Although numbers are hard to verify, it is reported there are about 1.5 million prisoners of conscience in China. They are not only those who follow Falun Gong, but also include Uighur Muslims, Christians and Tibetan Buddhists.

Ethan Gutmann, an investigative writer who has spent years scrutinising China's camps, said: "What has happened here is a true crime against humanity. Falun Gong was round one. The Uighurs is round two, and sped up."

In 2018, the UN cited reports that one milliion Uighurs were in different camps and centres in the country. China responded that they "enjoy equal freedom and rights".

Susie Hughes, co-founder of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), said: "It is no longer a question of whether organ harvesting in China is happening, that dialogue is well and truly over. We need an urgent response to save these people's lives."

Ethan Gutmann said the organ harvesting in China 'is a true crime against humanity'

Ethan Gutmann said the organ harvesting in China 'is a true crime against humanity'

The tribunal was formed by ETAC, with its legal counsel saying they have worked pro bono to "preserve their independence".

There is currently no law in the UK that prevents British patients travelling to China for transplant surgery.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Of course any claims of organ harvesting are disturbing. We have noted this report and will read it carefully.

"The UK government is very concerned about human rights in China, and ministers raise these concerns regularly with their Chinese counterparts."

A statement from the Chinese Embassy said: "The Chinese government always follows the World Health Organization's guiding principles on human organ transplant, and has strengthened its management on organ transplant in recent years."

During a news conference last year, Huang Jiefu, head of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee and chairman of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, refuted allegations of living organ collecting in the country.

"China's model of organ donation and transplantation features strong government support for the legal, administrative and health sectors, and progress of the capacity building of organ transplantation clinical service and technical development," he said.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/organs-of-prisoners-illegally-harvested-in-china-tribunal-claims-11743480

Falun Gong participate in street theatre in a protest over the Chinese government harvesting body organs

Falun Gong participate in street theatre in a protest over the Chinese government harvesting body organs

China is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes

China is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes

'A throwaway comment saved me from having my organs harvested'

'A throwaway comment saved me from having my organs harvested'