The World Today - Tuesday, 12 August, 2008
Reporter: Jennifer Macey
ELEANOR HALL: China's human rights record is again under scrutiny, this time
at an International Transplantation Congress in Sydney. A Canadian human rights
lawyer says he has new evidence of forced organ removals from prisoners and
Falun Gong practitioners in China.
David Matas says Chinese hospitals perform 10,000 organ transplant operations each year and that many of the recipients are foreigners. As Jennifer Macey reports, he's now calling on the Australian Government to do more to stop the practice.
JENNIFER MACEY: China performs an estimated 10,000 organ transplant operations each year more than any other country in the world except for the United States. But China has no formalised system of organ donations and human rights groups say the short waiting times and availability of organs in China raises serious questions about their source.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch first reported 10 years ago that the majority of these organs come from prisoners. Now Canadian Human Rights Lawyer David Matas says among the prison population, it's now members of Falun Gong who are being increasingly targeted.
DAVID MATAS: China's source of organs for transplants is almost entirely from prisoners according to the Deputy Minister of Health it's 95 per cent, according to other statistics it's 96 per cent. So it's almost entirely forced organ harvesting. And there's two sources - it's prisoners sentenced to death and Falun Gong practitioners.
JENNIFER MACEY: Mr Matas says hospitals and prisons have arrangements to split the profits made through organ transplant operations, often to foreign patients. He says the prisoners are killed after their organs are removed.
DAVID MATAS: Basically they wait until there's an order from the hospital, they will blood test the person, and then they inject the person with potassium, and then they put them into a van and the actual organ extraction is in the van, where the prisoner is killed through the organ extraction and then the body is cremated.
JENNIFER MACEY: Last year David Mr Matas and Canadian former secretary of state David Kilgour released a report investigating allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong members in China. Mr Matas concedes it's difficult to find proof of this practise as China won't release official statistics on executions or organ transplants
But he says he has new audio tapes of Chinese doctors admitting they have Falun Gong organs for sale.
DAVID MATAS: We had callers calling in to China pretending to be relatives of patients who needed organs and asking the hospital that they were calling for organs of Falun Gong practitioners on the basis that Falun Gong's an exercise regime that practitioners are healthy and their organs are healthy. And we got admissions on tape throughout China and we've got the transcripts in our report and we've got phone records and we got the tapes from pick up to hang down.
JENNIFER MACEY: Dr Yuan Hong worked as a heart surgeon for ten years at a medical university hospital in north eastern China. He says it was an open secret at his hospital that prisoners organs were used in transplant operations for patients who had travelled from Japan.
YUAN HONG (translated): I start to notice these issues because one of the nurse wearing the army dress and then I also find an anaesthetist also wear the same clothes. So I ask him "why do you have to wear these clothes?" and then he told me, "we have to go to the place where people do executions, so we needed to transplant a kidney there."
JENNIFER MACEY: So you knew of Japanese people who were coming to your hospital for organ transplants?
YUAN HONG (translated): Because foreigner came to our hospital to be treated. It's a hot topic, so everybody knows.
JENNIFER MACEY: Jennifer Zeng is a member of Falun Gong who was offered asylum in Australia several years ago. In China she spent a year in a labour camp near Beijing. She says at the camp her blood was taken for tests and she underwent several health checks.
JENNIFER MACEY: Only Falun Gong practitioners were tested and get this physical check up. A lot of Falun Gong practitioners thought that Falun Gong got some special treatment, because they saw a physical check up after you were there for long years, it's good for your health.
So they ask the police, 'how about we pay for the physical check' and the police clearly said no, it's only for Falun Gong. So other prisoners even protested against it, they say, they are not treated fairly because they obviously didn't know the purpose.
JENNIFER MACEY: Human rights lawyer David Matas says there's a lot more the Australian Government could do to help stamp out the practice.
DAVID MATAS: The Government's could introduce extra-territorial legislation so that transplant tourism can become a crime, the way now child sex tourism is a crime,.
ELEANOR HALL: Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas ending that report by Jennifer Macey.