Recap of Five Years – DAFOH Petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Towards the end of 2012, DAFOH initiated a petition to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights asking the UN to call for an immediate end of the forced organ harvesting from all prisoners of conscience in China, primarily from detained Falun Gong practitioners, but also from Uighurs, House Christians and Tibetans. The petition asked the UN High Commissioner to call upon China to initiate investigations on forced organ harvesting in China that could lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators involved in these crimes against humanity.

Over the past five years, volunteers collected over 3 million petition signatures in over 50 countries and regions around the world. Three countries in particular stand out with remarkably high numbers of signatures: over 450,000 signatures were collected in the United Kingdom, over 223,000 signatures were collected in South Korea, and over 150,000 signatures were collected in Taiwan. In addition, large numbers of signatures also came from the Ukraine, the United States, and Canada.

In both 2013 and 2017, a delegation from DAFOH visited the office of the UN High Commissioner in Geneva to hand deliver petitions and ask for review of the organ harvesting crimes being committed in China. Although DAFOH has decided to end the petition, we still hope the United Nations will take seriously this call by 3 million of the world’s people to scrutinize China’s practice of live forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. Unfortunately, the recent departure of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva may further impede the possibility of any significant action by the United Nations.

In June 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, allowed Huang Jiefu, liver transplant surgeon and former Chinese Deputy Minister of Health, to be elected as Honorary Chair of the WHO Task Force on Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues despite serious concerns regarding Huang’s involvement in China’s unethical transplant practices.

On several occasions starting in 2005, Huang Jiefu has stated that nearly 90% of the organs used for transplantation were sourced from executed prisoners. In a 2013 interview Huang Jiefu is quoted as having said “Last year I did over 500 liver transplants. The one done in Guangzhou in November was the first citizen donation.”

While Huang was Deputy Minister of Health, China violated two internationally accepted ethical guidelines.  Principle 19 of the WMA Statement on Organ and Tissue Donation prohibits the use of executed prisoners’ organs for transplant yet the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners spread throughout China during his tenure. Principle 5 of the WHO Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation states that “Cells, tissues and organs should only be donated freely, without any monetary payment or other reward of monetary value. Purchasing, or offering to purchase, cells, tissues or organs for transplantation…should be banned.” Principles 6-8 also ban payments for organs. Yet, the selling of organs to those in need of transplants became a huge source of revenue for Chinese hospitals during this same period.

Therefore, DAFOH holds the position that the appointment of Huang Jiefu to the WHO Task Force on Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues is in clear contrast to the WHO task force’s mission and it is on ethical grounds that DAFOH strongly disagrees with the WHO’s decision to appoint Huang.