1. Forced Organ Harvesting
Forced organ harvesting is a state-sponsored and state-organized practice whereby a person’s vital organs are extracted without consent and the “donor” is killed in the process. China’s murder through transplantation occurs throughout the nation and is being performed on an industrial scale. The primary victims of forced organ harvesting include Falun Gong practitioners as well as other prisoners of conscience. It is not only a crime, but also a disgrace to the medical profession and a violation of the medical oath. It is therefore the responsibility of medical doctors to take a clear stand against this abusive practice.
2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
It is incumbent upon health professionals around the world to consider the health and human rights of all people and denounce instances where these rights are being abused. The state-wide persecution and forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China over the past 23 years is one such case.
Documented reports of physical torture, psychological reeducation, forced labor and the forced procurement of organs from Falun Gong practitioners without free, voluntary consent, reveal unequivocal human rights violations. Reports note numerous violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The transgressions include, but are not limited to:
- Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
- Article 25 (i): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
3. Forced Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China
The World Medical Association’s WMA Council Resolution on Organ Donation in China expressed in 2006 and then again in 2016 concerns regarding China’s practice of forced organ harvesting. The resolution highlights the importance of free and informed consent and stresses that organs procured without such consent must not be used for transplantation. In its statement, the WMA demands that China shall “immediately cease the practice of using prisoners as organ donors.”
In April 2022, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, ISHLT, updated its statement on transplant ethics, which includes several measures the organization has implemented to decouple from China’s illicit transplant practice.
In 2019, the China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, KC, concluded that Falun Gong practitioners, subjected to a nationwide, brutal persecution, have been the main victim of forced organ harvesting.
In June 2021, twelve UN Special Rapporteurs stated that they are “extremely alarmed” by reports on alleged organ harvesting. The experts stated that they have received credible information of forced medical examinations, and that information continues to emerge regarding serious human rights violations in the procurement of organs in China.
In October 2020, the World Medical Association adopted a Resolution on human rights violations against Uighur people in China. Given that the Chinese government estimated that Falun Gong had 70-100 million adherents before the onset of the persecution in July of 1999, that the Chinese government has oppressed Falun Gong for 23 years on a national and international level, and that a large amount of credible evidence for forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners has been gathered by independent investigators, it is essential to recognize both the persecution and mass murder of Falun Gong practitioners through forced organ harvesting.
Given the reports of systematic and repeated human rights violations, including forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China, and the irrefutable impact on the health and lives of Falun Gong practitioners, national and global medical associations should inform their constituent members, physicians, and the international health community about this abuse of transplant medicine in China and adopt official resolutions that would stipulate the following:
- formally condemn the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in China, and call upon physicians to uphold guidelines set out in the WMA Declaration of Tokyo, the WMA International Code of Medical Ethics and the WMA Council Resolution on Organ Donation in China;
- publish a resolution to support the Falun Gong community with the goal to discourage China from continuing the practice of forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners;
- formally enter into an exchange with the UN Special Rapporteurs to discuss next steps to end this violation of human rights and violation of ethical standards in medicine, eventually calling for independent inspections; and
- requesting from the UNHRC to establish a UN task force dedicated to the investigation of forced organ harvesting to ensure that this crime against humanity is brought to a verifiable end.