Report alleges China killing prisoners to harvest organs
Residents walk past an image of the Chinese Communist Party flag displayed on a giant screen on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. (AP / Ng Han Guan)
Published Thursday, June 23, 2016 11:38AM EDT
A new report claims that China is still engaged in the widespread practice of harvesting organs from political prisoners so that they can be transplanted into foreigners who are willing to pay top dollar for the surgeries.
The report comes from the International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China, a group of medical professionals and human rights advocates dedicated to ending organ trafficking in China.
Former Canadian MP David Kilgour is one of the authors of the report, along with Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer David Matas. Together, they published a book in 2009 examining China’s suspicious transplant program.
The pair worked with investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, who has published a similar book on his own, to update the numbers and report that the organ harvesting practice continues, despite China’s denials.
They allege that while China says 10,000 organ transplants take place each year in the country, closer to 60,000 to 100,000 transplants take place each year.
"This number is extremely upsetting,” Gutmann says in a video accompanying the report’s release.
They acknowledge that getting a firm handle on the numbers is difficult. But after analyzing hospital revenue, bed utilization rates, surgical personnel, state funding and more, they say it is clear that tens of thousands of transplants are taking place each year.
There are no official records on where these donated liver, kidneys and other organs are coming from.
The authors allege that the vast majority of the organs are harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, who are arrested for their religious beliefs and held in labour camps by the thousands before they are executed for their organs.
Other organs are believed to be taken from Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans and Christians.
“If somebody goes to China to get an organ at this point, chances are they are getting it from a Falun Gong practitioner who was murdered on their behalf,” Gutmann says.
China acknowledges it used the organs of deceased prisoners in the past, but it says that since 2015, that practice stopped and it now relies on the "largest voluntary organ donation system in Asia."
Gutmann says that is unlikely.
“Even if voluntary donations of organs have gone up, they can’t reach this level. This is live organ harvesting,” Gutmann says in the video.
The trio say foreign governments such as Canada, the U.S. and the E.U. need to begin by recording how many of their citizens are going to China for an organ. The next step would be to ban “organ tourism” to China.
Last week, the U.S. House passed a resolution calling on China to end alleged organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. The resolution also also condemns persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan immediately responded, calling the allegations of organ harvesting fabricated and groundless.
He added that Falun Gong is anti-China and urged Congress to refrain from supporting it.