China issues “inadequate” and “misleading” response to UN correspondence on forced organ harvesting
Evidence-based concerns raised by nine United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs dismissed as “fabricated” and “defamatory” by PRC.
The International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), and China Aid Association (CA) say China’s response to UN correspondence on human organ harvesting allegations are “inadequate and misleading” leaving many “outstanding questions related to state-sponsored organ trafficking in China.“
In its official response to a joint correspondence issued by nine UN Special Rapporteurs and human rights working groups, the Chinese Government described witness testimonies as coming from ‘actors’ who were ‘dishonestly drawing the attention of international public opinion to themselves’ and being ‘doomed to failure.’
The UN correspondence included Uyghur testimonies demonstrating a concerning parallel to the numerous accounts of forced organ examinations detailed by practitioners of the Buddhist qigong practice Falun Gong over the past 20 years. It also raised the alarm that Uyghurs are now also being targeted as a major source of organs by the Chinese State.
The correspondence also stated that “Forced organ harvesting targets a number of ethnic religious or linguistic minorities, such as Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians held in detention in different locations.”
Some initial reactions from ETAC, VOC and CA to China’s response include:
The UN Special Rapporteurs requested information “on the legal grounds for the performance of medical examinations on prisoners or detainees particularly on the basis of their ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics such as Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians.”
The PRC response cited State Council orders and public security guidelines to claim that these medical tests were for the health of the detainee being examined, and that they have the right to be apprised of the nature of the examination and its outcome.
Yet, in the cases cited by the Special Rapporteurs, the witnesses make clear that the purpose of the examination was not for their own health. The examinations were coercive, were focused specifically on organ function, were shrouded in secrecy, were unexplained, and took place in the context of incarceration based on religious and/or ethnic identity.
For example Ms. Gulbakhar Jalilova reports being made to wear a black hood and taken to an unknown location for the examination. She reports being subjected to blood tests, ultrasounds, and regular chest X-rays. She reports that when she asked about the purpose of the examinations, she was told to be quiet and not ask questions. Mr. Omir Bekali made similar allegations: blood tests, ultrasounds of the abdominal and thoracic organs, all while handcuffed with a black hood over his head. He does not report being apprised of the purpose of the examination.
These medical examinations are consistent with the kind of examinations needed to assess organ function, but they are not consistent with standard examinations for the general health of the prisoner, which would in any case not be conducted on a regular basis as these were. The PRC response provides no new data that would suggest the purpose of these examinations was anything other than an assessment of organ function, required prior to organ removal.
The UN Special Rapporteurs requested information on measures “adopted to guarantee the need for donation and transplantation activities to be transparent and open to scrutiny, while protecting the personal anonymity and privacy of donors and recipients.”
The PRC response contains nothing on these measures. Recent research indicates that voluntary transplant activities in China are not in fact transparent. When scrutinised, it instead appears that the Chinese state has falsified its official transplant statistics (Robertson et al. 2019)
The Special Rapporteurs request information on “how data is collected to prevent abuse of transplantation systems, such as registries of donors, waiting lists of recipients numbers of transplantations, donor consent and monitoring compliance.”
The PRC response again cites general policies but does not contain specific information explaining how these protocols are upheld and does not provide the Special Rapporteurs access to verify their claims. As noted, recent research shows that official registry data appears to have been falsified to promote state narratives of reform.
China’s full response is available to read here.
The UN correspondence to China is the most high-profile statement made by an international body that challenges Chinese authorities on organ harvesting evidence since the China Tribunal declared China a ‘criminal state’ guilty of Crimes Against Humanity against Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs in March 2020.
Chaired by one of the world’s most distinguished human rights lawyers, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the Tribunal’s Judgment exposed an elaborate state-sponsored programme to incarcerate and murder its own innocent citizens to facilitate an illicit trade of forced organ removal that had been covered up by the Chinese Government for over 20 years.
Commenting on the response of the Chinese Government, Ambassador Bremberg, President of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and former Permanent Representative for the United States to the Office of the United Nations stated:
“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. Research conducted by VOC experts has demonstrated how the CCP has falsified official statistics on organ transplantation. When China’s initial claim that all donations were sourced from voluntary civilian donors proved untenable, they revised their narrative claiming that organs were sourced from death row inmates. I commend the UN Special Rapporteurs for submitting these questions to China and urge member states to end their complacency based on the CCP’s completely inadequate response. It is up to member states, including the United States, to decide if the Special Rapporteurs’ work is ignored, or to finally act to demand accountability for China’s horrific practice of harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience.”
Dr. Bob Fu, President and Founder of China Aid Association stated:
“China has continued to show a blatant disregard for the evidence revealing an organized system of forced organ harvesting. Falsified documents and accusations against credible witnesses are desperate tactics used by a government attempting to cover up the truth. It can no longer be overlooked by the world. The evidence points to an inhumane campaign targeting the organs of ethnic and religious minority groups is clear. It is our obligation to stand against transplant abuse through multilateral cooperation at every level. Another day without action is another day of the continuation of this horrific system.”
Susie Hughes, Executive Director of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), the human rights charity that initiated the China Tribunal, added:
“Once again Chinese officials have failed to provide official statistics on transplantations, waiting times for organ allocation or sources for organs, as requested by UN experts in 2006, 2007, and now 2021. How long will the international community tolerate this lack of transparency and absolutely disregard for the value of human life. It’s time for a global boycott of China’s transplantation sector until innocent minority groups are released and ethical transplant practices are demonstrated by the Chinese State.”
Professor Wendy Rogers, Chair of the International Advisory Committee of ETAC commented:
“The Chinese responses to the very reasonable questions posed by the OHCHR joint communication are yet more smoke and mirrors. In response to detailed and credible accounts of wrongful detention and medical testing, China offers blanket denials not supported by the available evidence. In response to questions about transparency in the procurement of organs, China cites systems that have been shown to falsify data on organ transplants. In response to questions about the persecution of minorities, China makes clearly false claims about equal treatment of all citizens, which directly contradict the State’s observed actions in Xinxiang. China cannot substantiate its claims of an ethical organ transplant system. Instead it resorts to bluster, insults and lies. It is time for the international community to stand together against the horrors of the Chinese system of forced organ harvesting.”