Sun, March 26, 2006

For sale: $25,000 for a liver

It's long been known that China "harvests" the organs of people it executes, for sale to those who need transplants and can afford to pay.

The Chinese government from time to time denies this is being done. At other times it soft-pedals allegations by declaring the sale of organs is illegal.

That's true -- for citizens, but not the state. Some difference!

Considering that China "officially" executes up to 4,500 people a year (critics claim the number is closer to 10,000) for some 68 "crimes" that carry the death penalty, it means lots of organs.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department are some that consistently deplore the Chinese practice. While dozens of countries have the death penalty, none apply it as enthusiastically as China.

As much as 90% of all "legal" executions in the world are carried out in China -- with the victim's family even paying for the bullet and for the person's accommodation on death row.

If there's money to be made from an ethically questionable practice, communist China will find a way to profit from it.

Human rights investigators say China's sale of human organs -- hearts, lungs, livers, corneas -- to needy visitors nets up to $30,000 US dollars each.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that human rights activist Harry Wu, a former Chinese citizen, was informed that the organs of 50 prisoners on death row would be available during the year: $25,000 for livers, $20,000 for kidneys, $5,000 for corneas.

A U.S. human rights subcommittee was told that "anecdotal and circumstantial evidence" regarding the removal of organs from executed prisoners for sale to foreigners and wealthy Chinese "is substantial, credible and growing."

There are also first-hand reports of removing organs from living prisoners.

During "Strike Hard" campaigns against crime, the Chinese execute up to 800 people a month; the time between arrest and execution may be a few days or even less. Sometimes prisoners go from the courtroom to the execution grounds. Appeals rarely reverse the verdict.

Recently the Washington Post reported babies are being kidnapped in China and sold to orphanages, which adopt them out to foreigners who pay $10,000 to $20,000 per child. (This is not to suggest all babies adopted in China have been kidnapped. With a population of 1.2 billion, China has no shortage of abandoned kids, especially unwanted girls.)

A more grisly practice has recently come to light. The Echo Times, which specializes in reporting human rights abuses, recently ran accounts from an unidentified Chinese reporter who penetrated the secret underground Sujiatun Prison, in the northeastern city of Shenyang, where 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners are confined.

Falun Gong is a [practice system] that believes in meditation and good works.

Its unforgivable sin is that it's often more popular than the Communist party, thus invoking persecution by Chinese authorities.

The prison is directly connected to a hospital where prospective organ buyers have been told there's only a two-day wait for organs -- unheard of unless the "donor" is about to be killed. Of the thousands who've been sent to Sujiatun prison, no one is known ever to have returned.

China often convicts Falun Gong people for their beliefs, and apparently executes them for their organs.

In prisons, there's pressure on inmates to donate their organs before they are executed. But shortcuts are taken.

China's use of prisoners as guinea pigs, or as a supply to meet world demand, makes Nazi medical experimentation seem almost benign comparison.