China is killing detainees and harvesting their organs, tribunal finds

China is killing detainees and harvesting their organs, tribunal finds

In China, it may take only a couple of weeks to get an organ transplant. Compared to the months or years of anguish often associated with the process, this seems like a joyously short waiting list. However, the reason organs are so easy to come by in China is dark, dystopian and truly unsettling.

An independent, London-based tribunal has found that the Chinese government is killing detainees and harvesting their organs. Furthermore, the victims are entirely innocent in some - if not most - cases. Speaking of the unanimous decision, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC explained: “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.”

Sir Nice, who was also a prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, stated that they were certain of “Falun Gong as a source - probably the principal source - of organs for forced organ harvesting”. Falun Gong is a comparatively new religion which the Chinese government decided, in 1999, was a threat to communism due to the numbers it had attracted. Centred on compassion, meditation and truthfulness, it is a peaceful movement but its followers continue to be persecuted.

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China has publically acknowledged that it has harvested organs from executed prisoners. However, as a country where the government regularly stands accused of tyranny, it wasn’t long before the motivations behind the executions were linked to the organ harvesting. However, in 2014 China announced that the process would stop.

But the tribunal, which brought together human rights investigators, medical specialists and other experts, found that the complete opposite is true. “There is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing,” stated Sir Nice. Other claims suggest that detainees' organs are harvested while they are still alive, though they may well die during the process.

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Named the China Tribunal, the British-based collective of experts has uncovered some concerning truths. The investigation was created by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (Etac) and received testimony from both former Falun Gong and Uighur Muslim inmates who gave accounts of being medically tested on in Chinese jails.

“On the day we were transferred to the labour camp, we were taken to a medical facility where we underwent physical check-ups,” Falun Gong activist Jennifer Zeng, who spent a year in a female labour camp, told the Guardian. “We were interrogated about what diseases we had and I told them I had hepatitis.”

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“The second time, after about a month in the camp, everyone was handcuffed and put in a van and taken to a huge hospital,” Zeng continues. “That was for a more thorough physical check-up. We were given X-rays. On the third occasion in the camp, they were drawing blood from us. We were all told to line up in the corridor and the tests were given.”

Responding to the paper, the Chinese embassy said earlier this year: “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.”

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However, their claims conflict with the information collected. “Inmates of the labour camp were not allowed to exchange contact details, so there was no way to trace each other after we were released,” Zeng said during the tribunal. “When anyone disappeared from the camp, I would assume that she was released and had gone home.”

“But in reality that cannot be confirmed,” she adds, “as I had no way to trace others after my release and I now fear they might have been taken to a hospital and had their organs removed without consent and thus killed in the process.”

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The plight of followers of Falun Gong was highlighted in a news story last year. American mother Julie Keith found an SOS message hidden inside a Halloween decoration which explained that the author was incarcerated in one of China’s forced labour camps. His only crime, however, was his religion.

Having worked to publicise the note, it eventually made international headlines and, years later, Julie finally met the man who had written it. Having highlighted this terrible injustice and having been released, he was now a symbol of the resistance and fled to Jakarta. However, it is thought that he was visited by a Chinese agent and died not long after.

This is just one story of many which, together, betray a long history of violence, aggression and injustice levelled at this relatively young religion. It is hoped that the China Tribunal will force the Chinese government to stop harvesting the organs of prisoners - and to stop the persecution of social minorities.