2016 in Review: A year of extraordinary action and fortitude
This year the global community bore witness to a mass of demonstrative evidence and enduring courage as investigators and experts around the globe worked tenaciously to expose the crimes of China’s forced organ harvesting practices. In March, DAFOH conducted a critical examination of China’s official transplant numbers and transplantation practices throughout the country. We compared the official numbers with those publicized in reports generated by individual Chinese hospitals and considered all transplant sources which would contribute to the actual number of transplants conducted in China. We concluded that China’s annual transplant numbers may range between 30,000-50,000 transplants per year, far above the 10,000 that Chinese officials had claimed. Furthermore, our data unequivocally demonstrated that Falun Gong practitioners are the nation’s largest source for organ procurement
The US House of Representatives took an unprecedented step on June 13th by unanimously passing House Res. 343
, a bi-partisan call to end China’s forced organ harvesting of living prisoners of conscience. In her comments before the House, H.Res. 343’s initiator Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) referred to China’s killing of innocent people for profit as a “sickening and unethical practice [that] must stop.” The resolution notes that China’s organ transplantation system violates the WHO’s requirement of transparency and traceability in organ procurement.
Former Canadian MP David Kilgour, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann and international human rights attorney David Matas released a stunning new report detailing China’s illicit transplantation practices
. This 680 page report, published within weeks of the passage of H.Res. 343 in Congress, gives detailed evidence about transplant center bed counts, bed utilization rates, hospital revenue, surgical department personnel, staff training programs, medical journal articles, hospital websites, media reports, state funding and official propaganda dealing with China’s extensive transplant system. The authors estimate that up to 100,000 transplants occur annually in China and that organs are sourced from living prisoners of conscience, particularly the Falun Gong.
The European Union strengthened its call for an end to state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China with the passing of Written Declaration 48 by the European Parliament on July 27th with over half of the Parliament co-sponsoring the resolution well ahead of the deadline. The new legislation reinforces and builds upon a 2013 resolution which, despite being strongly supported, had not resulted in any definitive action being taken against China’s crimes.
China had hoped to garner accolades for announcing progress in transplant medicine at The Transplant Society’s (TTS) biennial conference in Hong Kong in August. Instead, Chinese officials were met with severe criticism
from many in the international transplant community and the global media. In response to China’s unsubstantiated claims of progress, TTS President Philip O’Connell stated: “I have to tell you there remains, in many sectors, a deep sense of mistrust of your transplant programs which have been responsible for overt commercial trafficking of prisoner organs for transplantation to wealthy foreigners from the West and Middle East.”
Shortly after the Hong Kong congress, prominent doctors from around the globe allegedly made statements in praise of China’s unsubstantiated reforms at a conference on Chinese organ donation processes held in Beijing in October. The conference had support from the China National Organ Donation & Transplant Committee (CNODTC), the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP), The Transplantation Society (TTS), and the World Health Organization (WHO). However, no evidence was presented that China now sources all organs for transplantation in an ethical or transparent way.
Attendees at the invitation-only Beijing conference reportedly visited pre-selected transplant hospitals in order to “see for themselves” the success of China’s touted reforms. However, the delegates did not insist on independent inspections
nor did they challenge official procedures or question the discrepant information made by government officials. After the hospital visit, WHO representative Dr. Jose Nunez reported that China’s practices are “safe, transparent, and ethical.”
While several experts came forward to speak out against forced organ harvesting this past year, we were disappointed that those who could have taken a more firm position did not. Although we understand the challenges in directly addressing China’s criminal activities, DAFOH believes that such a massive digression of medical and moral ethics requires an equal measure of attention and action.
DAFOH ended the last quarter of this year with the first International Day Against Forced Organ Harvesting on October 1st. Many volunteers and supporters from over two dozen countries helped our organization to collect more than 4,280 signatures during a one-day only petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
We applaud the international medical community, government bodies and independent investigators who have drawn attention to China’s transplantation crimes in this past year. We hope that those who have not taken a more active stand will do so in the coming year and help maintain the highest ideals in transplantation medicine, medical ethics and morality around the globe.
Italy passes groundbreaking legislation against organ harvesting
The Italian Chamber has unanimously adopted a new law
to address forced organ harvesting. Considered the strongest law to date on this issue, the law represents a growing international trend to sanction those who participate in organ transplant crimes. In 2008, Israel was the first to adopt legislation to address forced organ harvesting. Laws were subsequently passed by Spain
(2010) and Taiwan
(2015) as well as resolutions and declarations condemning China’s organ transplant crimes from other countries, including the United States (H.Res. 343, 2016) and the European Union (WD 48, 2016).
Italy’s new law institutes strong penalties for perpetrators, three to twelve years of imprisonment and fines ranging from € 50,000 to € 300,000 for anyone who trades, sells or buys human organs. The law also stipulates that any medical professional implicated in these crimes will be permanently banned from practicing medicine.
The law consists of several articles modifying the existing laws and adds a new article on Organ Trafficking from Living Persons to the section on Crimes Against the Individual Person, which already addresses slavery and human trafficking. In addition to penalties for those directly involved in buying or selling human organs, the law includes jail time and fines for anyone who promotes or advertises the trade of human organs.
In large part as a response to increased information about state sanctioned forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in China, the law was first introduced in 2013 and then adopted by the Senate in 2015 before being unanimously approved in November of 2016 and signed into law by President Mattarella this month.
New film chronicles organ harvesting victims’ plight
Miss World contestant and human rights advocate, Chinese born Canadian actress Anastasia Lin, has used her global platform to raise awareness about religious persecution and human rights abuses in China, especially that of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. She recently starred in Peabody Award winning director Leon Lee’s newest film, “The Bleeding Edge.”
The movie, based on actual testimony from former Chinese prisoners, is a fictional thriller about a Falun Gong practitioner who is imprisoned and later killed so her heart can be harvested. Drawing on victims’ accounts relayed to Lee and Lin, the film catalogues the physical and emotional torture, including rape, beating, and force-feeding of Chinese political prisoners of conscience, particularly Falun Gong practitioners.
After a recent screening of “The Bleeding Edge,” Lin told the Washington Free Beacon
that the “systematic killing” demands a fiercer response from the international community as well as an explanation from China.
Lee said, “In the last decade or so, hundreds of thousands of prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners, House Christians, Tibetans, Uyghurs, have been harvested – heart, liver, kidney, cornea and killed. The crime is still going on, despite all the efforts to stop it. I think the film will really help bring awareness to the issue and hopefully end the crime as soon as possible.”
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
At year’s end we would like to express our gratitude and admiration for the dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly at their own expense to gather evidence and speak the truth about forced organ harvesting. Thank you for a historic 2016.
Nov. 21, 2016 Canberra, Australia
AP photo Rod McGuirk
For over a decade, renowned human rights attorney David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State, Asia-Pacific, MP David Kilgour have traveled the world to share their ever increasing database of evidence-based research about the Chinese government’s mass murder of its own innocent citizens for the sole purpose of procuring organs to transplant for profit.
Since our last newsletter, Matas and Kilgour have spoken to lawmakers in Canada
and traveled to Australia to address the Parliament at Canberra. The AP story
about their visit was picked up by news media around the world. A Google search of ‘Matas and Kilgour November 21, 2016 Australia’ yields dozens of articles.
From Australia, Messrs. Matas and Kilgour traveled to Japan for a hearing at the Japanese Diet (Japanese Parliament) on November 29, 2016.
(left to right): Dr. Huang, Diet Member and host Yamada, Matas, Kilgour and Chu, Esq.
We would also like to recognize the investigative work of Ethan Gutmann who, with Kilgour and Matas, compiled and published an updated report about China’s transplant infrastructure that has given the international community a new understanding of China’s illicit practices.
Through the work of these researchers, information that openly circulates in Chinese professional journals and news media was made accessible to the world. Those who express doubt and disbelief about the findings and numbers generated by the report should be aware that the vast majority of the report’s data actually originated from China.
Additionally, DAFOH wishes to acknowledge the courage of Dr. Enver Tohti Bughta, who has traveled the world to speak out about his own personal experience of unwittingly harvesting organs from a still living “executed” prisoner in China over 20 years ago. Dr. Tohti recently presented at the Bio-Ethics 2016 conference
in Jerusalem, Israel.
It is inevitable that the list of those to whom we express gratitude will remain incomplete. Many people, volunteers and supporters have all helped to expose what should be considered the largest crime against humanity in modern times.
Finally, we cannot end without a very special thanks to all of the parliamentarians around the world who have worked hard to pass resolutions, written declarations or laws that offer a strong, definitive message: transplant abuse will not be tolerated in the 21st century.
Torsten Trey, MD, PhD
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Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) aims to provide the medical community and society with objective findings of unethical and illegal organ harvesting. Organ harvesting, the removal of organs from a donor, without free and voluntary consent, is considered a crime against humanity, as well as a threat to the integrity of medical science in general. This edition of our newsletter offers up-to-date information on international efforts to stop unethical organ harvesting.