Forced organ harvesting of political prisoners in China, independent tribunal concludes
An extraordinarily disturbing portrait of systematic forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China has been revealed in the final judgement of an independent panel established to investigate the issue. The report details evidence of an organized infrastructure harvesting organs that targets persecuted groups including the Falun Gong and the Uyghurs.
Set up in 2018 by ETAC, the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, the China Tribunal was tasked with investigating the extent of forced organ harvesting in China. The tribunal, consisting of seven members, was chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, an expert in human rights law and previously involved in the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević for war crimes in the early 1990s.
The tribunal's 60-page summary report, coming ahead of a soon-to-be-released full report, outlines a culture of forced organ harvesting underpinned by a massive infrastructure involving medical personal and facilities dedicated to the process. The conclusion is quoted as unanimous, "and sure beyond reasonable doubt," based on significant volumes of direct and indirect evidence.
The complete final conclusion of the panel reads:
"Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply. The concerted persecution and medical testing of the Uyghurs is more recent and it may be that evidence of forced organ harvesting of this group may emerge in due course. The Tribunal has had no evidence that the significant infrastructure associated with China's transplantation industry has been dismantled and absent a satisfactory explanation as to the source of readily available organs concludes that forced organ harvesting continues till today."
China denies these allegations, and points to a recently established formal voluntary donation scheme, instituted in 2013, as evidence of more rigorously regulating how organs are harvested and distributed in the country. However, the tribunal noted in its report the volume of transplant operations conducted in the country do not fit with the number of donors officially registered.
"In 2017 the declared number of registered donors was 375,000 and these resulted in 5146 'eligible' donors (i.e. people who have died and have, or are assumed or taken to have, consented to donation of their organs), a conversion rate 140 times greater than that of the USA where 140 million registered donors resulted in 10,824 eligible donors; a conversion rate of 0.008% against the PRC's 1.4%," the report concludes.
Alongside incredibly short waiting lists, with some patients offered transplants as soon as two weeks after lodging requests, the report describes systematic detainment and torture of specific persecuted groups. Evidence suggests Falun Gong prisoners were, "systematically subjected to blood tests and organ examinations," while other prisoners were not, leading to the postulation that a, "a systematic medical databank of potential living organ donors," was being generated.
Citing similar evidence of actions directed towards the Uyghurs, the tribunal concluded there is substantial evidence to suggest the crime of genocide has been committed. It is noted that, after accepting legal advice, the tribunal "cannot be certain that Genocide itself is proved." One vital legal element needed to establish the crime of genocide is that of explicit genocidal intent, and while the tribunal has clearly found both the Falun Gong and the Uyghurs were systematically targeted, there is no specific evidence so far of genocidal intent.
The finding of the tribunal follows on from an expansive study published earlier this year calling for the retraction of hundreds of research papers involving transplanted hearts, livers or lungs in mainland China. The study revealed more than 400 papers published over the last 20 years did not clearly describe how organs used in research were acquired.
In a statement provided to The Guardian by the Chinese embassy in London, it is claimed the government abides by all international regulations on human organ transplants and avowedly denies the allegations made in the tribunal's report.
"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 rumors."
Source: China Tribunal