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State-sanctioned organ harvesting in China implicates millions

11/12/2015

Summary

A new form of crime – organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China – was exposed in March 2006. In the same month, the World Organisation to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) started its investigations.

Before the communist regime started ordering deletions of online advertisements and transplant numbers, Chinese hospitals openly advertised wait times of two weeks to match organs to foreign patients in need of transplants. In phone conversations in early 2006, surgeons in these hospitals admitted having abundant organ sources, including Falun Gong practitioners, and confirmed wait times of a few weeks.

How many prisoners of conscience have been killed for their organs? Some valuable work has been done. David Kilgour and David Matas, a former Canadian crown prosecutor and a renowned international human rights lawyer, respectively, “concluded that there were 41,500 transplants in the six-year period from 2000 to 2005, where the only explanation for the sourcing was Falun Gong practitioners.”

Researcher and journalist Ethan Gutmann estimated that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were murdered for their organs from 2000 to 2008.

The communist regime first harvested organs from political prisoners decades before the persecution of Falun Gong began, but the sheer number of Falun Gong practitioners and the policy of a 16-year nationwide suppression made such large-scale harvesting possible and made practitioners the main target.

This report lists evidence that forced organ harvesting is state-sanctioned with involvement of military and armed police hospitals, as well as public security and judicial systems.

WOIPFG also made an attempt to estimate the scale of the crime by adding up transplant volumes in 712 hospitals (13% of all hospitals in China, excluding military and Chinese medicine hospitals) that are involved in kidney and liver transplants. The total number of kidney transplants between 2000 and 2014, inclusive, is estimated to be around three million, which implies millions of victims of all types of prisoners of conscience.

1. Organ harvesting is state-sanctioned, with involvement of military and armed police hospitals, as well as public security and judicial systems

The order to harvest Falun Gong practitioners’ organs came from the very top. High-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, including Bai Shuzhong, head of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Logistics Department’s Health Division, and former Politburo member Bo Xilai, confirmed in investigative phone recordings that Jiang Zemin, then-leader of the CCP, personally ordered the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners.

In addition, former Defence Minister Liang Guanglie admitted that the CCP’s Central Military Commission had held meetings to discuss forced organ harvesting.

When Jiang Zemin launched the suppression campaign in 1999, his directives were to: ruin Falun Gong practitioners’ reputation, cut off their finances, and extinguish them physically. Organ harvesting fits the third directive while making money for the Party.

Military and armed police hospitals not only perform a large number of transplants themselves, but also supply donor organs to other hospitals. Many doctors possess military and civilian dual accreditation. In many cases, military hospitals have been turned into killing institutions.

Chen Qiang, a kidney broker for the PLA No. 307 Hospital in Fengtai District, Beijing, admitted that CCP officials, police, and prison authorities orchestrate and trade practitioners’ organs, and that they could even provide identification information proving that the source of the organs were indeed Falun Gong practitioners.

2. Evidence suggests the existence of a large living 'donor' pool

We have found that China’s transplant industry is supported by a large living “donor” pool, with the need of recipients (paying customers) determining the “donors” – people who are killed on demand for their organs – instead of a recipient waiting for a matching organ to become available. The wait time is very short (a few weeks), compared to years in other countries.

Another pattern we observed is the astonishing number of urgent transplants performed. Urgent cases refer to patients who require a transplant within a few days. In such a short timeframe, it is difficult to find a donor in most countries. In China, however, urgent liver transplants constituted 26.6% of the total (1,150 out of total 4,331 liver transplants collected in the data sample) by December 2006.

The Sujiatun secret detention facility (referred to as “concentration camp” by some sources) was exposed in March 2006 and attracted international scrutiny. Shortly after, the Sujiatun detainees were transferred to other facilities. Hospitals throughout the country indicated that in April or May, there would be abundant organ donors, after which getting donors would be difficult.

During this period, the Hunan People’s Hospital even offered to perform 20 free transplants, claiming to have 10 kidneys and 10 livers. This suggested to us that the supply of organs had temporarily outstripped demand in the two months after Sujiatun was shut down.

All of these pieces of evidence point to the conclusion that Sujiatun and other secret detention facilities were used as pools of unwilling organ donors, to be harvested on demand as matching patients come along.

When the suppression of Falun Gong began in July 1999, millions went to Beijing to petition for their right to belief. The Beijing Public Security Bureau used the increased numbers of steamed buns consumed to estimate that during this peak period, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who had gone to Beijing to appeal peaked at one million in a single day between early 2000 and end of 2001. Many of these practitioners were detained and sent back to their hometowns, where they would be punished locally.

An even greater number refused to identify themselves, out of concern that their families or workplaces would be implicated. Many of these practitioners were then sent off to labour camps and detention facilities across China, potentially to serve as the initial population for what was to become a live organ bank.

3. The regime exerts political power to pressure hospitals to perform ever more transplants

Since harvesting Falun Gong practitioners’ organs is a political task ordered by top Party leadership, transplant hospitals are under pressure to perform.

Through years of Internet research and calling various hospitals and surgeons, we have mapped 9,500 surgeons and 865 Chinese hospitals that have performed organ transplants. Among the 865 hospitals, 712 are involved in kidney and liver transplants. Of the 712 hospitals, 85% are categorised as class three, 14% class two, and less than 1% class one or unknown.

Our investigations of some of the 712 hospitals, such as the PLA No. 309 Hospital, Tianjin First Centre Hospital, and Fuzhou General Hospital of Nanjing Military Command, reveal that internal rankings exist among hospitals.

These internal rankings incentivise hospitals to become “top performers”. Common organisational methods used by the communist regime include monitoring by the 6-10 Office (an extralegal security agency created by the Party to eradicate Falun Gong practitioners) and distributing political pressure among the hospitals.

The CCP is accustomed to using violence in resolving its perceived crises. Falun Gong practitioners are its latest target group.

The regime first killed land owners and those who did not conform to its communist ideology, before moving on to Christians, Taoists, Buddhists, and popular folk belief groups to eliminate the perceived threat of religions. Mass killings and torture in the man-made famine of 1959-1961 and the Cultural Revolution established the Communist Party’s absolute authority, and the Tiananmen Square massacre prevented a political crisis and squelched democratic demands.

The persecution of Falun Gong is the Party’s latest effort to destroy traditional beliefs.With the goal of wiping out Falun Gong entirely, Jiang’s instruction to “extinguish them physically” has been carried out to its full extent.

4. Our findings came out as much larger than 41,500 or 65,000. It’s of a different magnitude – hundreds of thousands, and millions

Extensive research of the 712 hospitals’ official data yielded a total of 225,815 kidney and liver transplants performed up to December 2014. We define official hospital data as official numbers released by the hospitals or academic papers published by their doctors. This translates to, on average, 317 transplants per hospital between 2000 and 2014.

Many Chinese hospitals stopped updating their numbers or deleted relevant web pages after forced organ harvesting was first exposed internationally in 2006. The 225,815 figure does not account for various missing years of data for different hospitals. The revised total after filling in missing years between 2000 and 2014 (inclusive) totals to 401,678 transplants (including 309,031 kidney transplants). Details of the methodology are explained in Chapter Seven.

5. A media report prompts us to think of a more realistic estimate

On March 16th, 2014, Epoch Times reported an account of a Chinese affairs expert Yang Guang, whose former fellow student is the deputy head at a Chinese hospital affiliated with a medical university. He told Yang, “Since 2000, the 6-10 Office in Shenyang provided us with organ donors, who were Falun Gong practitioners. These practitioners had no names or addresses, each was given a code number; and only their gender and age information were provided.”

“The two hospitals affiliated with our medical university each conducted 2,000 - 3,000 organ transplants per year. Since there is a live organ donor bank, blood type matching can be completed within a month, sometimes even within 48 hours.”

“After the operations, the donor is sent to the cremation furnace, without the procedure of collecting ashes ... Immediately after we send out the report, monitored by the 6-10 Office personnel, we are ordered to delete all the data in our computers.”

This media report and our knowledge of the communist regime’s history of violence prompted us to dig deeper. We saw “thousands per year” in transplant-related mainland Chinese media reports. By comparing transplant numbers quoted from surgeons in media reports, we see large discrepancies between what the surgeons tell the media and what the hospitals tell the public.

For example, for Tongji Hospital of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, an article first published on Kwong Wah Yit Poh and later reproduced by China’s Sina Global News states that Tongji Hospital, which is one of China’s earliest and most authoritative hospitals that perform live donor kidney transplants, performs several thousand kidney transplants every year. In our 401,678 data set, we counted 4,600 transplants for this hospital from 2000 to 2014. The amount quoted in the media report is about 10 times that of the hospital’s official data.

No one knows the actual numbers,possibly with the exception of the 6-10 Office. However, numbers quoted in media reports can serve as a valid reference – not that they are accurate, but that they give us a pin on the map. Media reports, coupled with other references such as hospital scale, ranking, capacity, and so on, better illustrate the magnitude of the transplant volume.

We have noticed 19 Chinese medicine hospitals among the 712 hospitals that have performed kidney and liver transplants. To us, the involvement of Chinese medicine hospitals further corroborates the scale and prevalence of organ harvesting in China, as Chinese medicine has far less expertise in organ transplantation than Western medicine.

The information from Tongji and 10 other hospitals is illustrative and helps us perform an educated guess on the scale of victims.These 11 hospitals have the most information we can locate. From them, we see that the average ratio between a more realistic estimate compared to our 401,678 official hospital data set is 10:1.

If we apply the 10:1 ratio on all 712 hospitals, the total kidney and liver transplant volume between 2000 and 2014 would be four million. This means the scale of victims of organ harvesting is in the millions: between 1.5 million (if we assume two organs per victim are used in transplants) to 3 million (if we assume one organ per victim).

This finding indicates that the magnitude of victims of forced organ harvesting in China is much larger than in our previous understandings. We are compelled to share these findings to alert the world, as organ harvesting is a crime against all humanity.

WOIPFG conducted phone investigations of more than 1,000 organ transplant surgeons between March and September 2014. They are from 30 provinces, directly-controlled municipalities, and autonomous administrative regions in China. The investigation reveals that there are still hospitals in various places claiming to use Falun Gong practitioners’ organs, though it is more concealed compared to a few years ago.

How many innocent people are still locked up and being killed on demand for their organs? How can we stop this unprecedented crime against humanity? In order to reveal the full scale of forced organ harvesting, much more work needs to be done. This report aims to serve as a starting point for further investigation by governments and international agencies.