The Uyghurs – Forced organ harvesting

Approximately 60,000-100,000 organ transplants take place in China every year, six to ten times that which the Chinese Communist Party admit to. But surely large amounts of organ donations is something any country would be proud of, even boast about internationally? Not when evidence points to the fact that these organs are being forcibly removed from (often conscious) minorities such as Uyghur Muslims.

Following the change in Chinese policy in 2015, switching to a ‘voluntary-based’ organ donation system, there was an international sigh of relief with the expectation that prisoners of conscience and religious minorities would no longer be used as organ banks. This relief was sorely misplaced and has resulted in an international human rights blind spot.

Forensic analysis undertaken post-2015 by figures such as Matthew Robertson, China Studies Research Fellow, indicate that the Chinese government has falsified organ-transplant data to mask their growing forced organ harvesting practises. Organs in China are available both ‘on-demand’ (within days or weeks) or in emergencies (within 24-72 hours). This is far from the reality of waiting times in countries such as the UK where the average wait for a kidney donor is two and half to three years, and three years in the USA. Whereas in China, according to the organ transplantation department of the First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, ‘it may take one week to find a HLA-matched donor, the maximum time being one month’ and if ‘an abnormal situation with the donor’s organ is discovered, the centre will be responsible for choosing a donor for the patient and commence the operation again within one week.’ If China is able to source a kidney within one week, which is a match for the recipient, it is indicative of there being a ‘blood-typed pool of living donors able to be executed on demand.’

Uyghur Muslims in the North-west region of China have been systematically targeted for suppression by the Chinese government, with increasing ferocity over the past five years. As part of the Uyghur human rights abuses the Chinese officials have embarked on a mass scale collection of blood samples, DNA and other intimate medical data gathering with emerging evidence of widespread CT scans, chest x-rays and ultrasounds forced upon detainees. Although on the surface this act of the Chinese government appears relatively low-level, particularly in comparison to the over 1 million Uyghurs being detained in concentration camps and mass forced sterilisation of Uyghur women, in fact this information gathering is far more sinister. The China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, concluded in 2020 that ‘in regard to the Uyghurs the Tribunal had evidence of medical testing on a scale that could allow them, amongst other uses, to become an ‘organ bank.’

If the forced organ harvesting of millions of innocent, healthy, people was not heinous enough a crime, there are extensive reports of organs being forcibly removed whilst the victim is still alive and conscious. Although many of these first-hand testimonies span back from the 1990’s, there is increasing evidence of these practices continuing through to the current day. Zheng Qiaozhi, a former intern at China’s Shenyang’s Army General Hospital, who has since fled from China, spoke to the New York Post in early 2000’s of his time as an organ-harvesting draftee:

“The prisoner was brought in, tied hand and foot, but very much alive. The army doctor in charge sliced him open from chest to belly button and exposed his two kidneys. “Cut the veins and arteries,” he told his shocked intern. [Qiaozhi] did as he was told. Blood spurted everywhere.

The kidneys were placed in an organ-transplant container.

Then the doctor ordered [Qiaozhi] to remove the man’s eyeballs. Hearing that, the dying prisoner gave him a look of sheer terror, and [Qiaozhi] froze. “I can’t do it,” he told the doctor, who then quickly scooped out the man’s eyeballs himself.”

As a billion-dollar industry for China, it is unsurprising that the government is intent on deceiving the international medical community to shirk ethical considerations.

This is the moment the world needs to take action. No longer will words such as ‘concern’ and ‘worry’ be enough. We have been here before, what is happening in Xinjiang today has painful similarities to 1930’s and 40’s Germany and the world said, ‘never again.’ The UK government needs to act decisively and address the irrefutable evidence that the Chinese government have mounted a genocide against the Uyghur population, and are using them as a ‘bank’ for forced organ harvesting.

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