Some members of the European Parliament are demanding action to combat organ harvesting, after experts gave evidence at a Nov. 29 subcommittee hearing confirming that the Chinese communist regime has been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience on a large scale.
“We came to the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that forced organ harvesting was proved,” Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who chaired the 2019 China Tribunal, an independent panel investigating the issue, told the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights on Nov. 29.
“It means taking people, the Falun Gong, killing them, ripping out all their organs to sell on the commercial market.”
The China Tribunal concluded in its 2019 report that state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting had been taking place in China for years “on a significant scale.” The report (pdf) stated that it was “certain” the organs are being sourced from imprisoned Falun Gong adherents and that they’re “probably the principal source.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline with meditative exercises and moral teachings. In July 1999, the Chinese regime launched a nationwide campaign to round up adherents and throw them into prisons, labor camps, brainwashing centers, and psychiatric wards, in an effort to force them into renouncing their faith.
In 2006, allegations of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong adherents in detention first emerged.
The Chinese regime is making enormous profits from supplying its transplant industry with harvested organs. Based on estimates, Nice said that each victim’s body could generate up to about half a million dollars when fully exploited.
Earlier this month, Chinese authorities released a price list of different transplant organs, such as $15,600 for a heart, drawing criticism from health experts, who said that the communist regime was trying to whitewash its transplant abuses.
Martin Elliott, a professor of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the University College London, who was on the tribunal panel, presented to the EU lawmakers different types of evidence the tribunal had relied upon to reach its conclusion. For example, that the “number of registered donors has always been significantly lower than the transplants performed” in China, meaning there was “some hidden donor pool,” he said.
“Transplants were being carried out on the order of 60,000 to 90,000 a year at that time,” Elliott said.
He said prisoners of conscience were being subjected to medical tests, further pointing to the grisly practice.
“We heard further evidence that these inmates were subjected to blood tests for uncertain reasons, [and] ultrasound examination of their organs,” he said.
Such tests are used if one wants to “establish that the prisoners were either healthy or well, or that their organs are in good condition,” he said.
But given that many of the detainees were subjected to torture at these facilities, “it’s difficult to imagine” that the tests had any other purpose than to test for organ health, the professor said.
For years, China has been a top destination for transplant tourism, since Chinese hospitals offer wait times as short as a few days. By contrast, in Western countries, the typical wait time for an organ transplant is months, if not years. Such short wait times in China, Elliott argued, could “only be explained by a latent pool of donors.”
Recently, several U.S. state legislatures have passed resolutions warning U.S. citizens against traveling to China for organ tourism. A Texas state resolution adopted in June said that traveling to the country for this purpose amounted to “unwittingly becoming involved in murder.”
Isabel Santos, a Portuguese politician and a member of the EU subcommittee, said through a translator that the annual transplant figure presented by Elliott “really does show the industrial scale” of China’s organ harvesting practices.
“It really shows us how urgent it is for us to reflect on joint action. It cannot just be EU action. It needs to be joint action undertaken by all international organizations to fight this scourge,” Santos said.
“We also need to criminalize those who benefit or make use of this practice. That does seem to be the only way that we’re going to be able to fight this type of crime.”
María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, a Spanish politician and a member of the subcommittee, said through a translator that China’s organ harvesting was really “murder on an industrial scale.” She also questioned whether the EU should strengthen legal protection to ensure that “none of those organs reach our member states.”
Dominic Porter, the head of division for China, Macao, Taiwan, and Mongolia from the EU’s diplomatic arm European External Action Service, told the subcommittee that the external ministry has “repeatedly expressed concerns” about the “secrecy” around China’s death penalty and organ transplant statistics.
“So let me be clear that the EU condemned in the strongest terms the criminal, inhumane and unethical practice of forced organ harvesting,” Porter said.