China has admitted that it harvests organs from condemned prisoners, but very little information about the practice has emerged in the press. Executed prisoners are believed to account for two-thirds of all transplants, although the government apparently wants to promote a voluntary scheme.
But who are these prisoners? Even less information is available about this, although the Falun Gong, a persecuted indigenous group, claims that its members are being killed for their organs.
A frightening article in the Weekly Standard sheds some light on the situation. Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann interviewed several Uighur refugees now living in the West who had witnessed the process of organ transplantation. They tell stories of ghastly abuses of political prisoners.
The Uighur ethnic minority live in Xinjiang, the vast, arid Western province of China. They are not Chinese but Turkic; most are Muslims and a few have joined terrorist groups. To smother the possibility of revolt, the government has been encouraging Han Chinese to migrate there. In the 1990s there were riots which resulted in hundreds of deaths and arrests. “When it comes to the first organ harvesting of political prisoners, Xinjiang was ground zero,” says Gutmann.
From what they told him, it appears that prisoners are injected with an anticoagulant. Then they are dispatched with a bullet in the right side of the chest. This leaves them unconscious but still alive. Organs are quickly removed, without anaesthetic, to ensure that they are fresh. They are immediately transplanted to patients, who appear to be mostly Communist Party officials.
Although most articles on the topic have depicted the prisoners as hardened criminals, Gutmann interviewed an Uighur policeman who told him that organs were harvested from young men arrested in political demonstrations. In the late 1990s, a young Uighur doctor was told “harvesting political prisoners was normal. A growing export. High volume. The military hospitals are leading the way.”
When political unrest died down in Xinjiang, harvesting organs from Falun Gong started.
“By my estimate up to three million Falun Gong practitioners would pass through the Chinese corrections system. Approximately 65,000 would be harvested, hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics. An unspecified, significantly smaller, number of House Christians and Tibetans likely met the same fate. By Holocaust standards these are piddling numbers, so let’s be clear: China is not the land of the final solution. But it is the land of the expedient solution.”
After riots in 2009, harvesting from Uighur political prisoners has resumed. Gutmann concludes:
“China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status, has not just committed human rights abuses—that’s old news—but has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group.”
Weekly Standard, Dec 5