Substantial additional evidence has come to light confirming that China is continuing to execute political prisoners in order to sell their organs to patients seeking transplants. Peter Westmore reports.
David Kilgour and David Matas, the two Canadian human rights lawyers who in 2006 released a landmark report which investigated allegations of organ-harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China, have released a revised report into the allegations.
David Kilgour, who visited Australia and met journalists and parliamentarians in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, is a former member of the Canadian Parliament and former Canadian Government secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific region. David Matas is an immigration, refugee and international human rights lawyer, in private practice in Winnipeg, Canada.
Titled Bloody Harvest, their new report is based on the 2006 one, but contains substantial additional information not available to them at the time of compiling the earlier report. (See www.organharvestinvestigation.net).
They said, “Nothing we subsequently discovered shook our conviction in our original conclusions. But much which we later discovered reinforced it. This version presents, we believe, an even more compelling case for our conclusions than the first version did.”
In particular, despite the fact that a law came into effect on July 1 last year banning the sale of human organs (liver, kidneys, heart, corneas, etc.), there is very clear evidence that the practice continues.
A Belgian Senator, Patrik Vankrunkelsven, in late November 2006, called two different hospitals in Beijing pretending to be a customer for a kidney transplant. Both hospitals offered him a kidney on the spot for 50,000 Euros.
In the same month, the Deputy Health Minister in China decried the selling of organs from executed prisoners, saying “under-the-table business must be banned”. Yet it was supposed to have been banned five months earlier, indicating that the ban is not being enforced.
In the latest report, Kilgour and Matas show that organ-harvesting in China is an integral part of the business of running hospitals, including military hospitals.
In China, government funding for hospitals has been sharply reduced since 1980, forcing hospitals to seek additional revenue from patients and other sources.
In 2004, the web site of the Organ Transplant Centre of the Armed Police General Hospital in Beijing stated: “Our Organ Transplant Center is our main department for making money. Its gross income in 2003 was 16,070,000 yuan. From January to June 2004, income was 13,570,000 yuan. This year  there is a chance to break through 30,000,000 yuan.”
The law banning payments for organ donations is therefore little more than “window dressing”, to persuade the Western world that China is clamping down on the problem.
Bloody Harvest also contains documentary evidence, based on telephone conversations by Chinese speakers, with Chinese hospitals, in which inquiries were made about receiving organs.
In some cases, the questioner specifically asked whether organs were available from Falun Gong practitioners (whose organs are regarded highly because they do not smoke or drink), and the hospital doctor confirmed that Falun Gong practitioners were the source of organs.
While official Chinese Government web sites claimed that there was an acute shortage of human organs available in the country, Chinese hospital web sites advertise extremely short waiting-times for organs.
The China International Transplantation Assistant Centre website says: “It may take only one week to find out the suitable [kidney] donor, the maximum time being one month … . If something wrong with the donor’s organ happens, the patient will have the option to be offered another organ donor and have the operation again in one week.”
In contrast, the report says, the average waiting time for a kidney in Canada was 32.5 months.
Despite official government prevarications, the report concludes that “the organ source for virtually all Chinese transplants is prisoners”.
The report also documents the massive growth of organ-harvesting in recent years, and the expansion of transplant facilities since 2000. For example, there were only 22 liver-transplant centres in China before 1999 (when organ-harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners commenced), but the number had grown to 500 by April 2006.
It says: “The money to be made has led to the creation of dedicated facilities, specialising in organ transplants. There is the Peking University Third Hospital Liver Transplantation Centre founded in October 2002, the Beijing Organ Transplantation Centre founded in October 2002, the Organ Transplant Centre of the People’s Liberation Army Number 309 Hospital established in April 2002, [and] the People’s Liberation Army Organ Transplant Research Institute.”
The Oriental Organ Transplant Centre in Tianjin, which began construction in 2002, is a building with 14 floors above ground, and two below ground, with 300 beds.
— Peter Westmore.