Human Rights Report: Inside China’s Secret Campaign of Harvesting Organs and Killing Political Prisoners

First of its kind Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation report details rampant extrajudicial execution and organ harvesting from dissidents, based on secret documents and reporting inside China.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) today released its report on Organ Procurement and Extrajudicial Execution in China. This unprecedented report examines in detail the allegations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government has engaged in coercive organ transplant practices over the past two decades. It presents new primary documentary evidence and original datasets, includes important context on our evolving understanding of the Chinese death penalty system, and critically re-examines previously-published works on organ harvesting.

The report — authored by Australian academic Matthew P. Robertson, a China Studies Research Fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who has been reporting on and investigating the subject for eight years, including from inside China — charts the growth of the Chinese transplantation system since 2000, the characteristics of its organ supply, and evidence concerning the harvesting of organs from two of the CCP’s regular targets: Muslim Uyghurs and followers of the Falun Gong religious movement. From his original research, Robertson concludes the following:

  • Chinese hospitals have been performing a significant number of transplants since the year 2000, often on an on-demand basis; given the absence of a functioning voluntary transplant system, this implies that prisoners of one kind or another are being blood-tested and killed on demand.
  • China’s official explanations for organ sourcing have been both deceptive and inadequate in accounting for this activity, meaning that some other source appears to have been used.
  • There is a significant body of evidence consistent with prisoners of conscience being used as organ sources. Evidence includes the coincidence of the anti-Falun Gong campaign (in July 1999) with the rapid growth of China’s transplant industry six months later, widely reported blood tests and physical examinations consistent with those required for organ procurement, telephone admissions by Chinese doctors, threats of organ harvesting by prison and labor camp guards, and participation in the anti-Falun Gong campaign by Chinese transplant surgeons.
  • During the same period, the CCP has embarked upon a large-scale campaign against Uyghur Muslims. Part of this campaign has included blood-testing, DNA typing, and the reported shipment of Uyghurs from Xinjiang to the Chinese interior by rail. Former Uyghur detainees now in exile have reported blood tests and physical examinations consistent with those necessary to establish organ health.
  • Starting in the year 2000, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rapidly constructed a world-class organ transplantation system that began performing tens of thousands of transplants annually. Initially, PRC officials claimed that all organs were from voluntary civilian donors. When this claim became untenable, they stated that organs were in fact from death row prisoners.
  • The claim that the majority of organs could have come from death row prisoners is contradicted by the well-established decline in death row executions from the year 2000 onwards. The PRC’s transplantation system continued to expand through the year 2007, when judicial reforms led to tighter scrutiny over death row sentences, and the number of executions continued to decline.
  • Since 2015, China’s organ transplantation system has claimed to source organs from voluntary donors only. Forensic analysis of the relevant data shows that it has been falsified.
  • A close examination of PRC transplant activity indicates that Chinese hospitals have been performing at least several times more transplants than even the largest estimates of death-row prisoners are able to account for. Given this, the provisional conclusion is that some other organ source, apart from death-row prisoners, must have been utilized.
  • The number of liver transplants performed on an emergency or on demand basis expanded significantly post-2000. This is an extremely strong indication of a blood-typed pool of living donors able to be executed on demand.
  • Given that the official explanation for the current (post-2015) source of organs — voluntary donors — has been falsified, yet transplants continue both at scale and on demand, it appears that a secondary concealed organ source is being exploited.
  • The only remaining plausible explanation for a substantial portion of the organ source since 2000 is prisoners of conscience.

“Our findings on plausible organ harvesting and extrajudicial execution are just another indicator of the abhorrent human rights violations at the hands of the Chinese Communist state,” says Marion Smith, VOC’s executive director. “Sadly, the Chinese people and the international community are not strangers to the Chinese government’s lies. We’ve seen the censorship, misinformation, and outright mendacity that tried to keep the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak under wraps for several weeks, as the virus spread beyond Wuhan and China. Our report shows the shocking depravity of the Chinese system and the unprecedented scale of China’s organ transplant system. We call on the international community to take action to examine, condemn, and help stop these blatant human rights violations.”

The full-length report is available here. 

Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is an educational, research, and human rights nonprofit devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.

For further information or to set up an interview with Marion Smith or Matthew Robertson, please contact Emily Stewart or call  (202) 629-9500.