In a horrific addition to the already known human rights abuses taking place in China, a tribunal has discovered that prisoners are being killed for the express purpose of stealing their organs. The China Tribunal was formed as an independent investigation to look into forced organ harvesting, and consists of physicians, lawyers, human rights activists, businessmen, and a historian. Sir Geoffrey Nice QC — most well known for the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic for genocide, war crimes, torture, and other crimes — chaired the tribunal.
On June 17th, the tribunal released its final judgment. It is alleged that China has over 1.5 million people detained in prison camps, many of whom are not criminals, but have been imprisoned because of their religion, their ethnicity, or because of their political views. Uyghur Muslims have been some of the most targeted, along with Falun Gong practitioners.
While Chinese government officials have claimed that the practice of forced organ harvesting no longer takes place, the tribunal has found otherwise. Investigators spent 12 months poring over evidence, interviewing witnesses, experts, investigators and analysts during public hearings, and received testimonies from Falun Gong and Muslims who had been in the camps and had undergone testing. The tribunal found:
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.
The tribunal also found that this equals genocide of the Falun Gong practitioners. “The Tribunal notes that forced organ harvesting is of unmatched wickedness even compared – on a death for death basis – with the killings by mass crimes committed in the last century,” the tribunal’s statement read. “There is justifiable belief in the minds of some or many – rising to probability or high probability – that Genocide has been committed.”
The transplant industry in China is estimated to be worth over $1 billion a year, with high numbers of transplants taking place and short waiting times. According to former prisoners, some of the organ extractions were committed while the detainees were still alive, who then died during the procedures.
While the Chinese government claims to have stopped harvesting organs from prisoners by 2015, pro-government media outlets in China were speaking positively of the practice after that.
This is just the latest of many human rights abuses of which China has been accused, including forcing women into abortions and, according to Human Rights Watch, mass imprisonment, torture, mass surveillance systems, forced house arrest, sexual harassment, and more. And though many governments across the world know of these abuses, little to no action has been taken to make them stop.
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