Excerpts from UN Special Rapporteurs Reports on Organ Harvesting from Falun Gong Practitioners in China
(Clearwisdom.net) Since allegations of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist government surfaced in March 2006, several of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs have asked the Chinese government for a full explanation. While these Special Rapporteurs have pointed out to the Chinese government that a full explanation is needed, the Chinese government has so far provided no meaningful response to the evidence.
The initial report
The first report by these experts was sent on August 11, 2006, jointly by Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture Prof. Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion Ms. Asma Jahangir, and Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Ms. Sigma Huda. The joint report (http://falunhr.org/reports/UN2007/Torture-UN-07.pdf, paragraph 40; also http://falunhr.org/reports/UN2007-org/FreedomExpression-UN-07.pdf; para. 107-111) stated:
"Organ harvesting has been inflicted on a large number of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations, for the purpose of making available organs for transplant operations. Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas were systematically harvested from Falun Gong practitioners at Sujiatan Hospital, Shenyang, Liaoning province, beginning in 2001. The practitioners were given injections to induce heart failure, and therefore were killed in the course of the organ harvesting operations or immediately thereafter.
108. It is reported that employees of several transplant centres have indicated that they have used organs from live Falun Gong practitioners for transplants. After the organs were removed, the bodies were cremated, and no corpse is left to examine for identification as the source of an organ transplant. Once the organs were removed they were shipped to transplant centres to be used for transplants for both domestic and foreign patients. Officials from several detention facilities have indicated that courts have been involved in the administering the use of organs from Falun Gong detainees.
109. It is reported that there are many more organ transplants than identifiable sources of organs, even taking into account figures for identifiable sources, namely: estimates of executed prisoners annually, of which a high percentage of organs are donated by, according to the statement in 2005 of the Vice Minister of Health Mr. Huang Jiefu; willing donor family members, who, for cultural reasons, are often reluctant to donate their organs after death; and brain-dead donors. Moreover, the reportedly short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors.
110. It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons.
111. On organ transplants, in general, it has been reported that in March 2006, legislation was introduced which bans the sale of human organs and requires the donor to give written
permission. The legislation also limits transplants to certain institutions, which must verify the source of the organs. This law came into force on 1 July 2006. Contrary to the Government assertion that human organs have been prohibited from sale, in accordance with the 1991 WHO guiding principles, it has been reported that up to this time Chinese law has allowed the buying and selling of organs, has not required that donors give written permission for their organs to be transplanted, there has been no restriction on the institutions which could engage in organ harvesting or transplants, there was no requirement that the institutions engaged in transplants had to verify that the organs being transplanted were from legal sources, and there was no obligation to have transplant ethics committees approve all transplants in advance. Moreover, evidence exists, for example, that at least up until April 2006, price lists for organ transplants in China were published on the Internet."
The Follow Up
The Chinese authorities replied to the Special Rapporteurs with categorical denials.
To that, Ms. Jahagir and Prof. Nowak followed up with a second joint letter on January 25, 2007.
The full text is available from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/7session/reports.htm (document number: A/HRC/7/3/Add.1) and from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/7session/reports.htm (document number: A/HRC/7/10/Add.1):
"A critical issue was not addressed in the Government's previous responses, in particular: It is reported that there are many more organ transplants than identifiable sources of organs, even taking into account figures for identifiable sources, namely: annual estimates of executed prisoners by whom a high percentage of organs are donated, according to the statement in 2005 of the Vice Minister of HLTH, Mr. Huang Jiefu; willing donor family members, who for cultural reasons, are often reluctant to donate their organs after death; and brain-dead donors. Moreover, the short waiting times that have been advertised for perfectly-matched organs would suggest the existence of a computerized matching system for transplants and a large bank of live prospective donors. It is alleged that the discrepancy between available organs and numbers from identifiable sources is explained by organs harvested from Falun Gong practitioners, and that the rise in transplants from 2000 coincides and correlates with the beginning of the persecution of these persons.
The Special Rapporteurs note reports that on 15 November 2006, Vice-Minister Huang reiterated at a conference of surgeons in Guangzhou that most organs harvested come from executed prisoners. And notwithstanding the reported stringent criteria in place for donors, including for those sentenced to death, the Government informed in its response of 28 November, that voluntary donations, and donations between relatives are the two other legitimate sources of transplant organs. According to the allegations, based on data from the China Medical Organ Transplant Association, between the years 2000 and 2005 there were 60,000 transplantations performed, or approximately 10,000 per year for six years. This period coincides with the alleged rise in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. In 2005, it is reported that only 0.5% of total transplants were accounted for by donations by relatives; non-relative brain dead donors were around nine in 2006; and estimates--given that the Government does not make public statistics on executions--for 2005 indicate 1770 executions were carried out, and 3900 persons sentenced to death. It is alleged that the discrepancy between the number of transplants carried out and the number of available sources is made up from the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners. However, it is also reported that the true number of executions is estimated to be around 8,000 to 10,000 per year, rather than the figure of 1770 executions referred to above.
As the Special Rapporteur on torture recommended in his report on his visit to China, he reiterates that the Government (E/CN.4/2006/6/para. 82, recommendation q) should use the opportunity of the restoration of the power of review of all death sentences by the Supreme People's Court to publish national statistics on the death penalty. A full explanation of the source of organ transplants would disprove the allegation of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, particularly if they could be traced to willing donors or executed prisoners. The request for an explanation for the discrepancy in the number of transplants between the years 2000 to 2005 and the numbers from identifiable sources of organs is reiterated."
In a later report submitted to the Human Rights Council, Tenth session, Mr. Nowak stressed that "New reports were received about harvesting of organs from death row prisoners and Falun Gong practitioners." The full text is available from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/10session/reports.htm (document number: A/HRC/10/44/Add.5).
Report from Committee against Torture
Independent experts of the United Nations Committee against Torture also addressed the issue of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.
Below is from one report with the document number of CAT/C/CHN/CO/4 (full text available from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats41.htm).
"While noting the State party's information about the 2006 Temporary Regulation on Human Organ Transplants and the 2007 Human Organ Transplant Ordinance, the Committee takes cognizance of the allegations presented to the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture who has noted that an increase in organ transplant operations coincides with 'the beginning of the persecution of [Falun Gong practitioners]' and who asked for 'a full explanation of the source of organ transplants' which could clarify the discrepancy and disprove the allegation of organ harvesting (A/HRC/7/3/Add.1). The Committee is further concerned with information received that Falun Gong practitioners have been extensively subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prisons and that some of them have been used for organ transplants (arts. 12 and16).
The State party should immediately conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished."