WARNING: Disturbing content People are secretly executed or sedated on a surgeon’s table as their organs are removed one by one. This is the reality of organ harvesting.
IMAGINE being abducted and whisked away to a cell where you spend the next several months or years without charge or conviction.
There, authorities torture you and force you to watch films designed to brainwash in a bid to align your views with those of China’s ruling Communist Party.
Every now and then you are dragged from your filthy, overcrowded cell into a room where, without warning, needles are jabbed into your arm and blood is drawn into as many vials as it can fill. Then prison authorities instruct a group of drug addicted criminals to use violence to restrain you as you are made to give a urine sample and subjected to invasive medical procedures.
No one responds to your screams or cries for help. No explanation is offered. The process is repeated regularly. You might make it out alive after years of enduring the brutal treatment. Or you might be secretly executed.
There’s also a strong chance you might die on the operating table after surgeons sedate you and start removing organs from your body, one by one — while you’re still alive.
The government will say that you simply disappeared or that you were never there to begin with. But it’ll most likely say nothing at all.
Meanwhile, wealthy people will file into purpose-built hospitals for lifesaving organ transplants. The selection of human kidneys, livers and other organs is vast. That’s because thousands of people have been slaughtered to put them there. Organ harvesting is a lucrative business for the Chinese government.
That is the reality for thousands of Chinese citizens who have reportedly been subjected to forced medical testing for the purposes of organ harvesting for the best part of the past two decades.
China’s Communist Party continues to commit human rights atrocities on political prisoners in detention centres, labour camps and prisons across the country, according to reports.
No one is safe under the Communist Party’s regime but Falun Gong — a spiritual meditation based on the guiding principles of “truth, compassion and tolerance” — practitioners are the main targets.
The Chinese government banned the Falun Gong in 1999 and has been mercilessly persecuting, torturing, killing and locking them up in “black jails” — a network of extra-legal labour camps and detention centres established by the Communist Party to detain citizens without charge or conviction.
Falun Gong members protest in Canberra about organ harvesting in China.
‘THERE ARE NO FORMAL LAWS PROHIBITING THE ORGAN HARVESTING’
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) performs systematic research into the reports of state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting in China from prisoners of conscience.
DAFOH Australia spokeswoman Sophia Bryskine said the organisation was “particularly focused on China because, unlike anywhere else in the world, it is the only place where systematic forced organ harvesting continues to occur on a mass, state-sanctioned level”.
“There are no formal laws prohibiting the practice,” Dr Bryskine said.
“In fact, a ‘1984 Provision’ still remains in place, which allows for executed prisoners to be used as donors — in direct violation of all international guidelines.”
Dr Bryskine said the international community needed to take a “much stronger stance … come forward and supply pressure” on the issue.
“It’s like saying ‘we are going to gradually stop killing people’ — it’s unacceptable,” she said.
“China hasn’t even confirmed prisoners of conscience have been killed for their organs. They only said they stopped the practice for executed prisoners who had death sentences.”
Dr Bryskine said a lot of prisoners “don’t even go through a legal sitting”.
“The Chinese legal system is corrupt,” she said. “It has to stop.”
Arthur Caplan, leading US ethicist and founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU, offered his observations on organ harvesting in China.
“In the US or Europe, you have to be dead first in order to be an organ donor. In China, they make you dead,” he said.
Several Chinese refugees who have resettled in Australia told news.com.au the world needs to stand up and condemn China for the persecution of its nationals and for committing human rights atrocities.
‘I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT UNTIL IT HAPPENED TO ME’
Falun Gong practitioner Jintao Liu, 36, understands why some people might find it hard to believe that the government is carrying out organ harvesting on a mass scale because he previously felt the same way.
Mr Liu, 36, was arrested without charge or conviction and imprisoned for more than two years over his spiritual beliefs in 2006.
Mr Liu said he was haunted by the torture and abuse he suffered during a lengthy stint in a series of Beijing detention centres and labour camps.
Mr Liu told news.com.au he remembered being perplexed when prison authorities carried out apparent health checks on him and others behind bars because they otherwise had such little regard for human life.
“I was placed in a room where the rest of the occupants were all drug offenders,” Mr Liu told news.com.au. “Once when they were beating me — they have all sorts of methods — they were pinning me down and striking my back, with fists and legs … when an old drug offender walked inside the room and warned them not to damage my organs when they were beating me.”
Mr Liu soon realised something far more sinister than he ever imagined possible was going on.
“I had heard something about organ harvesting but even though I was being detained and beaten, at first I thought it was too brutal to believe,” he said.
“Emotionally I thought maybe those people who yelled not to hurt my organs just didn’t want me to die. Then my logic told me, why would these people care about my life?
“Why wouldn’t they say ‘don’t hurt this person’. Not ‘don’t hurt his organ’. I just felt it was strange they care about my organ rather than my person.”
But Mr Liu said he is one of the lucky ones, with many of China’s political prisoners never making it out alive.
He said some of his political prisoner friends were pulled from their cells by guards and never returned.
‘THE DOCTORS WERE SILENT’
Falun Gong practitioner Fengying Zhang, 66, thought she was going to be killed for her organs after being repeatedly subjected to forced medical testing.
Ms Zhang was arrested and imprisoned for handing out Falun Gong leaflets outside a Beijing marketplace in 2013. She became a political prisoner in a series of detention centres and labour camps, where she, along with hundreds of other prisoners, were repeatedly examined in medical procedures, reportedly aimed at assessing the viability of their retail organs.
Ms Fengying told news.com.au she was forced to give blood samples which were taken from her arms and earlobes.
She asked the doctors why they were taking her blood but they never answered, she said.
She was also made to provide urine samples, have X-rays and EKGs. She said she was among a group of about 100 detainees who were marched to a van and forced to undergo more tests together. Ms Zhang said she thought she would die on a surgeon’s table until she was released in 2014.
Former political prisoner Fengying Zhang thought she was going to be killed for her organs after being subjected to forced medical testing.
WHAT’S CHINA’S CURRENT STANCE ON ORGAN HARVESTING?
Following international pressure, China officially banned the procurement of organs from executed prisoners and announced that it would move to a voluntary donation-based system in 2014.
But it’s widely understood that the Chinese government continues to carry out mass killings of innocent people in order to obtain their organs for transplants.
A paper published in the American Journal of Transplantation highlights an “implausible discrepancy” between officially reported transplants and a “steep expansion” of China’s transplant infrastructure.
Another damning report released in June — by former Canadian politician David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas and journalist Ethan Gutmann — shows that organ transplants are carried out in China 10 times more than official government figures reveal.
“The (Communist Party) says the total number of legal transplants is about 10,000 per year. But we can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals,” Mr Matas said in a statement.
The report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals.
According to the report, the tens of thousands of organ transplants not reported by the government, are sourced from executed political prisoners who were locked up for their religious or political beliefs.
“That increased discrepancy leads us to conclude that there has been a far larger slaughter of practitioners of Falun Gong for their organs than we had originally estimated,” the report read.
“The ultimate conclusion is that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged the state in the mass killings of innocents, primarily practitioners of the spiritually based set of exercises, Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants.”
The authors claim that detained Falun Gong practitioners were forced to undergo medical tests before their results were put on a database of living organ sources so quick organ matches could be made.
Falun Gong protesters simulate a prisoner organ-harvesting in Hong Kong. Picture: Cory Doctorow/FlickrSource:Flickr
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China has “strict laws and regulations on this issue”.
“As for the testimony and the published report, I want to say that such stories about forced organ harvesting in China are imaginary and baseless — they don’t have any factual foundation,” she said earlier this year.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission, which oversees organ donations in China, could not be contacted for comment.
In 2005, Chinese officials admitted they harvested organs from prisoners and promised to reform the practice.
Five years later, director of the China Organ Donation Committee, Huang Jiefu, told medical journal The Lancet that more than 90 per cent of transplant organs were still sourced from executed prisoners.
The Chinese Government has repeatedly refused to reveal how many people it executes each year.
China was named the world’s biggest executioner in Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2015 report.
In releasing the annual report in April this year, the human rights group said it was impossible to obtain an exact figure on the number of people China has executed, but it is believed the figure is in the thousands, and is more than all the other countries in the world combined.
China was also named as the world’s top executioner in 2014, with Amnesty estimating it was at least 1000 — a conservative figure, and one it believes is much higher.
According to Amnesty International, “tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained” since the government launched a crackdown on the practice in 1999.
This investigation is the third in a three-part series by news.com.au.
The first part looked at the extreme torture and abuse inflicted on innocent people in China’s prisons. Then, news.com.au went inside China’s secret brainwashing centres, where political prisoners are forced to watch videos containing propaganda until they agree to change their beliefs.