GLASGOW—Glasgow’s links with mainland China came under the spotlight last weekend as claims emerged that hospitals in its twin city of Dalian, in the northeast of China, sell organs taken from executed prisoners of conscience.
Glasgow hosted the European Society of Transplantation’s annual congress on Sept. 4–7. Alongside it, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), a nonprofit medical organization, ran a forum in which it was alleged that the Chinese communist regime removes organs from healthy prisoners while they are still alive.
Organs such as livers, kidneys, and hearts are then sold on the black market to wealthy patients in need of organ transplants, who often travel from Western countries. The primary source of such organs, according to the Nobel peace prize-nominated human rights lawyer David Matas, are members of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, which was banned in China in 1999. Matas’ findings are detailed in the book Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong For Their Organs, co-written with former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour.
Investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, author of “Losing the New China,” told the forum, “The northeast of China is the locus of organ harvesting of Falun Gong, no question about that. It’s where so much of my witness testimony points to, the stories keep emerging.”
Edward McMillan Scott, vice president of the European Parliament, seconded the allegations with a message to the forum relaying his own investigations.
“On my last visit to Beijing, in May 2006, I met former prisoners of conscience, one of whom, Cao Dong, was a former tour guide. He was also a practitioner of Falun Gong, a popular Buddha-school set of spiritual exercises, which has been persecuted by the regime since 1999. He told me that his buddy, also a practitioner, had disappeared from their cell one evening. He next saw his cadaver in the prison hospital with holes where body parts had apparently been removed.”
The former U.N. rapporteur on torture, Austrian lawyer Dr. Manfred Nowak, reported in 2006 that that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for two thirds of the cases of torture in Chinese regime custody submitted to his office.
Dalian and Glasgow have been twinned since 1987. Glasgow Lord Provost Bob Winter visited Dalian in 2008. The cities aim to increase cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, culture, education, and sports. Discussions are currently under way to link the schools in the two cities.
A spokesman for Glasgow city council told The Epoch Times, “Illegal organ harvesting is clearly a deplorable practice. Human and civil rights are a fundamental part of the council’s outlook and these issues were raised by the Lord Provost when he was in China in 2008.”
Yuyu Williamson, a Glaswegian human rights activist originally from China says Glasgow should not have such close links with China. “I think that Glasgow shouldn’t be a twin city with Dalian because while Glasgow respects human rights, what happens in Dalian is seriously against human rights. In the Western world, there are donations and they take organs to save people, but in China they kill people for the organs and sell the organs for profit.”
There are fears that such illegal practices could impact organ donation in the U.K.
“When transplantation gets a bad name it impacts on donations,” said Mr. Matas.
“The only way to keep the system going is through donations and every country needs more donations. They [organ transplant professionals] need to clean up the system to get the system to work in their own country and so they’re very concerned about it,” Mr. Matas added.
The medical establishment should investigate the allegations, said Dr. Donald Boyd, a medical doctor and leader of the Scottish Christian Party. “Western governments and the medical profession should be doing what they can to ascertain whether there is any substance to these allegations. It’s completely against all ethics—medical and humanitarian.”
Voluntary organ donations are virtually non-existent in China for cultural reasons. The Chinese regime claims that most organs come from executed prisoners who have given their consent while on death row.
Looking at all the available data, “China would need over 30,000 executions a year to sustain 10,000 transplants sourced solely from prisoners sentenced to death,” wrote Mr Matas, in an op-ed piece published in May in The Epoch Times. Yet the number of yearly executions, said Mr. Matas at the forum, is unlikely to be more than 7,000, based on the liberal estimates of a National People’s Congress delegate who was advocating death penalty reform.
If prisoners were not selected for compatibility before execution, Mr. Matas said, only around one in ten executed prisoners would be a suitable donor. With the huge discrepancies in the numbers, he believes that the Chinese regime’s explanation for its source of organs simply does not add up.