Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on Forced Organ Harvesting

On May 12, 2022, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and James McGovern (D-MA) held a hearing entitled “Forced Organ Harvesting in China: Examining the Evidence.”

Upon opening the hearing, Rep. Smith descried the arrogance and depravity of the CCP, “nowhere is that principle of utter disregard for the dignity of the human person, and of using people as a utilitarian means to an end, more apparent than in the horrific practice of harvesting the organs of human beings, even before they meet the standard of brain death.” Smith sounded a call for action, “China’s organ harvesting industry is truly barbaric. We cannot accept more excuses. We do not want more false promises. We need answers. We need a concerted effort to stop this barbaric practice—not only in China, but also by its global enablers.”

Also giving opening remarks was Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) who said, “While this heinous practice has been used against a variety of ethnic and religious groups like the Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims, and Christians, Falun Gong practitioners in particular have been the target of the CCP.” He added, “The right to worship and freedom of belief must be protected throughout the globe. No person should ever be intimidated, forced from their ancestral homeland, imprisoned, or murdered because of their beliefs.” Bilirakis also stated that he was supportive of H. R. 6319, the Falun Gong Protection Act.

Guest speaker Sir Geoffrey Nice, Chairman of the China Tribunal, an independent, non-activist, impartial panel that took a dispassionate look at the evidence. They reached the judgement that the CCP is committing crimes against humanity including “murder, extermination, imprisonment, torture, rape, and enforced disappearance” against the Falun Gong. The Tribunal concluded that “Any person or organisation that interacts in any substantial way with the PRC – the People’s Republic of China – including doctors and medical institutions; industry, and businesses, most specifically airlines, travel companies, financial services[,] businesses, law firms, and pharmaceutical and insurance companies, together with individual tourists; educational establishments; arts establishments should recognise that, to the extent revealed in this document, they are interacting with a criminal state.”

Matthew P. Robertson, PhD Doctoral researcher at the Australian National University and China Studies Research Fellow for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told the Committee that China is “the only country that has run what amounts to a state-sanctioned organ trafficking business out of its hospitals, while systematically using prisoners as the almost sole source of organs over many decades.” He also said that despite China’s gestures of reform, there is no evidence to indicate that China has made any changes to how organ transplants are conducted. In fact, he said that Huang Jiefu is reported to have claimed China will be performing 50,000 transplants a year from voluntary donors by 2023, which is more than the United States.

Robertson and Prof. Jacob Lavee of the Heart Transplantation Unit, and Deputy Director of the Department of Cardiac Surgery, at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel, wrote an article published in BMJ Medical Ethics detailing suspicious data regarding China’s voluntary donation program. The researchers explained how a statistical analysis of the CCP’s reported expansion of the nation’s voluntary organ donation system matched so exactly the pattern of a simple quadratic equation that fabrication of data is highly suspect, especially when compared to data from voluntary organ donation systems of other countries.

Their most recent American Journal of Transplantation article reported the results of their computational text analysis using highly targeted keyword searches of Chinese medical publications. Their findings revealed 71 papers that described Chinese surgeons, many of which were trained in the West, killing prisoners by extracting their hearts while still alive.

Ethan Gutmann, author and investigative journalist, told the Committee about his experience interviewing 20 thousand Uyghur refugees who escaped from Chinese detention camps. Detained 18-year-olds leave the camps to work in forced labor factories while 28-year-olds are preferred by the CCP for organ harvesting. Every year, between 2.5 to 5% of 28-year-olds disappear from the camps. He estimated that the organs of 25 to 50 thousand Uyghurs are harvested annually.

Gutmann recalled how the World Psychiatric Association denounced Russian psychiatrists for using psychiatric hospitals to torture dissidents, thereby causing them to be ostracized from international psychiatric meetings and academic discourse, journals, and collaborations for drug development.

“Now, we know more about Chinese transplant hospitals then we ever knew about Soviet psychiatric hospitals,” Gutmann said. Yet instead of condemning China’s transplant professionals, he argued, the West rationalizes collaboration with Chinese transplant professionals. “We need to abolish all Western contact with the Mainland Chinese transplant industry. No Chinese transplant surgeons in our medical journals, our universities, and our conferences. And a freeze on all sales of surgical equipment, pharmaceutical development, and testing in China.”

Dr. Enver Tohti described his experience in 1995 of extracting the liver and kidneys from a man who was still alive after having been shot in the right side of the chest at an execution field.

Robert A. Destro, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, advised everyone to “follow the money.” He noted that many US agencies end up serving the interests of the Chinese Government but are not held accountable. He suggested that Congressional hearings be held to determine how US agencies are using the billions of dollars they are appropriated each year for China related issues in order to advance US policy.

Destro felt the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Acts H.R. 1592 and S. 602  are “steps in the right direction” as “those [Chinese] on the other side of transactions – whether for trade in solar panels, electric cars, or other business transactions – [who] have turned their own citizens into ‘commodities’ and run the human equivalents of auto ‘chop shops’ are not to be trusted.

“Congress must engage with executive branch and the business and medical communities to change … a culture that excuses operational failure because it is impossible to change the CCP and other bad actors,” Destro concluded, and bemoaned the current State Department culture regarding China, which he described as “institutionalized foot dragging.”

Congressman Smith then explained that the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act, if passed, would (1) establish property-blocking and visa-blocking sanctions; (2) prohibit exports of certain surgical devices to entities that are identified as being responsible for forced organ harvesting or related human trafficking; and (3) require the Department of State to report on these practices.

He added that the American medical community must examine moral complicity in these heinous crimes. The American business community, he argued, should link human rights with trade instead of putting profits before human rights.

Smith deplored the fact that forced organ harvesting in China has been “trivialized for so long” by U.S. government agencies, international NGOs and the medical community: “Why aren’t we speaking out as part of our healthcare diplomacy about this terrible abuse?”

Smith then charged the media with performing the investigative journalism required to expose forced organ harvesting of innocent prisoners of conscience in China.

Media that covered the Commission’s hearing included:

The Epoch Times: China’s persecution of Falun Gong shows CCP perceives freedoms as threat: Rep. Smith

Catholic News Service: Smith calls organ harvesting in China ‘a horror story’ at hearing on Hill

Daily Caller: China harvests organs from tens of thousands of living prisoners each year, activist tells Congress

NTD: Testimony on forced organ harvesting in China

The Vision Times: Chinese regime harvests over 150,000 organs from jailed prisoners each year: expert

The BL: U.S. Human Rights Committee calls on China to stop forced organ harvesting practice

The Ohio Star: China harvests organs from tens of thousands of living prisoners each year, activist tells Congress=

American Thinker: China’s monstrous organ harvesting practices

Union of Asian Catholic News: US Congressman calls organ harvesting in China ‘a horror story’

Breitbart: Expert: China is harvesting as many as 150,000 organs from concentration camp victims annually