Twelve United Nations human rights experts stated in June 2021 that they are “extremely alarmed by reports of alleged ‘organ harvesting’ targeting minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians, in detention in China.”
The experts included nine Special Rapporteurs who are special procedures mandate holders of the UN Human Rights Council charged with independent fact-finding and monitoring. They noted that similar concerns had been raised by UN experts 14 years ago but that the response from China was insufficient to mitigate the concerns.
In their statement last June, the 12 experts cited credible evidence that detained minorities are specifically targeted for medical exams believed to be used for organ allocation and added that “this form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.”
The statement called for a prompt response from China and repeated the ongoing request that “international human rights mechanisms” be allowed access to independently monitor organ sourcing in China. China responded two months later with blanket denials, not only of the specific forced organ harvesting allegations, but also denying any mistreatment of religious and ethnic minorities and any use of forced labor, repeating the refrain that the allegations are all human rights rumor-mongering.
In an article published in Forbes, Dr. Ewelina U. Ochab, founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, asserted that the “allegation-denial ping-pong” would cease when the UN makes public an assessment currently being finalized. This is an assessment which UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet mentioned in her opening remarks of the UNHRC in September.
Former U.S. representative to the UN Andrew Bremberg commended the experts for raising their concerns and said that “the Chinese Communist Party’s blatant lies in response to the questions raised by the UN Special Rapporteurs on state-sponsored forced organ harvesting is shameful but not surprising.” He highlighted the role the U.S. and other UN member states now have to determine if the UN experts’ statement will result in holding China accountable for its crimes, or whether it will simply be ignored.
The concern that the statement could fail to motivate an appropriate international condemnation was echoed by the Christian human rights NGO ChinaAid which endorsed the statement of the UN experts as an important “step forward,” but expressed concern that the world “remains idle” in the face of these crimes against humanity.