An independent tribunal has concluded forced organ harvesting is continuing in China, using prisoners as the principal source of organs.
The China Tribunal was set up to investigate the practice of forced organ harvesting from prisoners in China, and to establish what criminal offences have been committed by the state, or state-approved bodies, organisations or individuals, in the country.
The chair of the tribunal, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, said there was a unanimous determination at the end of the hearing, saying they were ‘certain’ forced organ harvesting is happening, with members of the religious group Falun Gong being the ‘principal source’ of organs.
The China Tribunal revealed their final judgement in a report today, June 17. The investigation was conducted over the past 12 months, questioning over 50 witnesses, experts, investigators, analysts and law experts, as well as numerous written investigative reports and academic papers.
The report was initiated after allegations of prisoners in China, and specifically prisoners of conscience – those imprisoned for religious or political reasons, for example – were being killed for the sole purpose of removing one or more of their organs.
As the report states: ‘Within the Chinese transplant system, waiting times are said to be ‘extremely short’ by international standards and at times, transplants of vital organs (hearts, full livers) can be ‘booked’ in advance.’
The report said, via The Guardian:
The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man.
There is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing.
It is alleged a large proportion of prisoners being killed for their organs are members of religious minorities, such as Falun Gong. Persecution of the group has been rife since 1999, when it attracted millions of followers and was seen as a threat to the communist party in China.
Jennifer Zeng, a Falun Gong activist, fled China in 2001 after being imprisoned for a year in a female labour camp. According to Zeng, inmates were subjected to repeated medical check-ups, blood tests and X-rays, and were ‘interrogated about what diseases’ they had.
The tribunal suggests as many as 90,000 transplants are carried out in China every year, a figure much higher than official government sources report.
While the tribunal focussed on evidence from the year 2000 onward, it had reportedly heard evidence of kidneys being extracted from executed prisoners as far back as the 1970s.
China, however, insists it sticks to international medical standards, which require consent for organ transplants with no financial charge. Though they declined to participate in the tribunal.
In a statement to The Guardian, 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.
On 21 March 2007, the Chinese state council enacted the regulation on human organ transplant, providing that human organ donation must be done voluntarily and gratis. We hope that the British people will not be misled by rumours.
In 2014, China said it would stop using executed prisoners for organ transplants.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.