To His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10
December 10, 2014
Re: On Human Rights Day: Open Letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning three years of DAFOH petitions calling for an immediate end of forced organ harvesting in China
Dear High Commissioner Zeid,
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, DAFOH, extends congratulations on your appointment as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and wishes you well in your role.
DAFOH is an international NGO of doctors and advocates raising awareness of unethical forced organ procurement in China since 2007.
The purpose of this letter is to convey an urgent concern: almost two million people have signed a DAFOH petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights during the past three years. The people aim to bring the unethical practice of forced organ harvesting from prisoners and prisoners of conscience in China to your attention.
In a country with no effective voluntary organ donation, China reports about 10,000 solid organ transplant surgeries a year, second only to the U.S., and regime authorities endorse a dependence on taking prisoners organs In the past 15 years, it is estimated that about 150,000 prisoners and prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong practitioners detained within China’s extensive Laogai prisons, have been secretly slaughtered for their organs.The forced organ harvesting takes place without free, voluntary consent, which is the precondition for ethical organ donation.
The consequences of this abuse are not limited to China but also spread internationally as patients from abroad travel to China seeking rapid organ transplants as medical tourists. While the student massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989 generated a widespread international outcry, the prorated, occult killing of 50 times as many innocents for their organs has not gained enough attention. Although hidden from the public eye, this should not generate less objection than the massacre on Tiananmen Square.
This matter constitutes crimes against humanity and was previously raised with your predecessor. Unfortunately it did not receive public acknowledgment by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), although UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak has also reported about the forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China in previous years. A committed international response is overdue. DAFOH and the two million signatories believe that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should contribute to ending this abusive practice.
The recent announcement from China to end the practice by January 1, 2015, is no reason for celebration. Chinese officials have repeatedly announced that they will now refer to prisoners as “citizens” who have the right to donate their organs like any other citizen in China. Thus, prisoners’ organs will still be entered in China’s secretive public organ donation system. This approach, in violation of internationally recognized ethical standards, defines China’s lack of sincerity in ending the current practice. It is a deceptive “solution” based merely on unilateral definition changes in order to bypass ethical standards and to ensure the continuation of the abusive practice.
We have brought this issue to the attention of the OHCHR since 2012, when DAFOH delivered its first petition concerning forced organ harvesting in China and global collusion in Geneva. This once largely unknown crime against humanity has gained widespread global attention:
During a two months period in 2012, 166,000 people signed a DAFOH petition against forced organ harvesting addressed to the OHCHR.
In December, 2013, delegates from DAFOH delivered a petition of 1.5 million signatories, gathered in over 50 countries and regions within five months. At a meeting with representatives of your Office, our doctors conveyed concerns and requested further investigation. To date, the 1.5 million signatories and DAFOH have not received a formal acknowledgement of our petition efforts from your Office.
This year, we have continued our initiative and collected 300,000 signatures for our 2014 petition.
While there may not be a formal mechanism for the OHCHR to receive petitions like ours, a sincere moral obligation remains to acknowledge this urgent crisis and the courageous efforts of two million signatories.
Silence is not an option when the lives of tens of thousands of people are at risk: the innocuous matching of blood type and tissue factors in a Chinese prison may result in a death sentence. This is unacceptable.
A pilot study of forced labor camp inmates yielded an unprecedented widespread use of medical exams and blood tests imposed on forced labor camp workers and prisoners of conscience known to be abused and tortured. The costs for such forced medical exams among this group raises the question: what are these medical exams for, if not for their health care?
Silence on this issue is tantamount to covering up these crimes against humanity. Breaking that silence is a growing international demand for ending these flagrant human rights abuses in China—as evidenced by parliamentarian resolutions, ethical standards of medical organizations and the broad grass root efforts of volunteers —, the OHCHR should advocate for the tens of thousands who otherwise will be killed for their organs in China.
Given the United Nations’ mission, the OHCHR should be taking the international lead on this issue and calling for transparent and independent investigation of the concerns. Hesitation to acknowledge the problem, or investigate the evidence further, is an admission of indifference that will take a toll in innocent human life. Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Uighurs and Christians have already died for their organs, and will continue to die every day as long as the abusive practice in China continues unabated.
It is the hope of doctors and citizens all over the world that you will reflect upon the stark reality that millions of people are facing in China and take the righteous action required to prevent global collusion, to stand up to this unprecedented evil, and help to end these crimes against humanity.