British and American Officials Call for an End to China’s Organ Harvesting Practices

The British Parliament, the U.K. Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China, the U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the U.S. Ambassador at Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom are all calling for an end to China’s organ harvesting practices.

Last year, the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China was formed in the U.K. in response to numerous, credible reports of the Chinese government’s harvesting organs from living prisoners of conscience. The Tribunal was commissioned by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC).

The Tribunal’s Chair, British attorney Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, overseas a seven-member panel, including lawyers, an academic, a senior medical expert and a businessman. The panel held a hearing on April 6-7 in London with plans to publish their final judgment in mid-June. However, after the first three days of hearings last December, they were “certain, unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time, involving a very substantial number of victims …. by state-organized or approved organizations and individuals.”

In his Op-Ed in La Croix International, Benedict Rogers, deputy chairman of the U.K.’s Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and an adviser to ETAC writes that “…for such an eminent panel to take the unusual step of issuing an interim judgment must surely command attention. They took their decision, they said, in the hope that it might ‘save innocents from harm.’”

Rogers noted that China’s forced organ harvesting program is “one of the most difficult human rights violations to prove because, in contrast to many other abuses, the only witnesses are the doctors, police and prison officers involved. The evidence, in a hospital operating theatre, is cleaned away with clinical efficiency.”

On March 5, British Parliamentarians tabled an Early Day Motion to address the issue of religious persecution and forced organ removal from prisoners of conscience in China. The British government will be called upon to take definitive action to eradicate the Chinese government’s forced organ harvesting practices.

An additional debate on force live organ harvesting was held by the U.K. Parliament on March 26 to further raise awareness of this issue. British MP Fiona Bruce, chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, described China’s forced organ harvesting practices as “a crime against humanity and … potentially nothing less than a 21st century genocide” adding, “Will we once again hear the phrase ‘never again’ spoken with regret when eventually the truth comes out? It is not the case that nothing can be done … It cries out to be addressed. Those who fail to do so will one day be held to account.”

In its yearly Country Reports on Human Rights released on March 13, the U.S. Department of State, for the very first time, identified the issue of organ harvesting in China by stating, “Some activists and organizations continue to accuse the government of involuntarily harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, especially members of Falun Gong.”  In an interview with The Epoch Times, David Matas, co-author of Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter, noted that the States Department’s reference is an important acknowledgment and indicator of the seriousness with which the evidence regarding organ harvesting is taken.

Matas further notes that “there is an implicit, albeit belated link [in the State Department’s report] to the House of Representative’s June 2016 resolution calling for an investigation by the Department of State.” House Resolution 343, passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives, expresses grave concerns over “persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.” HR 343 specifically asks the Department of State to take action. Perhaps this year’s Department of State report is the beginning  of the investigation requested by Congress three years ago.

David Kilgour, former Canadian parliamentarian and co-author of Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter, suggested that “relinking human rights with trade talks, applying the Magnitsky Act to surgeons and others participating in organ abuse, and warning U.S. universities about the risk of training surgeons from China, and so on, would all help.”

Erping Zhang, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center, pointed out that “China is the only country on earth that spends more money on domestic security than its national defense. The U.S. must stand firm on its moral grounds and protect human rights around the world, China in particular.”

One week before the Department of State’s report was released, Ambassador at Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom in the U.S. Department State Sam Brownback delivered a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong calling on Beijing to end all forms of religious persecution in China. “Since 1999, the United States has designated China as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998,” Brownback said, which is the most serious category for violators of religious freedom. Addressing China’s forced organ harvesting practices, he said, “Data from brave persistent researchers raise concerning questions regarding the organ transplantation system in China, with voluntary donations unable to meet the demand. This is a truly horrifying prospect.”

In its annual report released on April 29, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified China as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom and explains how the Chinese government has enacted a campaign to co-opt faith-based practices that are not state-sanctioned and remain outside of the Chinese regime’s control.

In addition, the report notes that in 2018, “human rights advocates, medical professionals, and investigative journalists presented additional evidence that the practice [of organ harvesting] continued on a significant scale.” USCIRF Commissioner Gary L. Bauer pointed out that since China is a rising power with global influence, its level of basic human rights violation is “really deeply disturbing.”

USCIRF offered several recommendations to the U.S. government for ending China’s transplantation crimes, including discussions with China on religious liberty and human rights as well as issuing sanctions against individuals in China responsible for persecution campaigns against religious groups.