European Parliament's 'Organ Harvesting in China' workshop discusses legal framework to curb China's organ trafficking

14-06-2015 Organ harvesting

( An “Organ Harvesting in China” workshop was held in the European Parliament in Brussels on April 21st, 2015, casting a spotlight onto the atrocities taking place in China.

The workshop was organised by the Policy Department A-Economy & Science for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). It was the EU's second official meeting regarding the topic since the resolution urging China to stop harvesting organs from dissidents, as well as religious and minority ethnic groups.

The “Organ Harvesting in China” workshop was held in the European Parliament in Brussels on April 21st, 2015
MEP Miroslav Mikolasik (left), Human Rights Sub-Committee (DROI), hosted the workshop

The 3-hour workshop discussed two issues: the state of the international human organ transplants (trafficking), and a rise in organ trafficking.

Ms Jöelle Hivonnet, an official of the European External Action Service (EEAS), compared laws from China, European countries and international law in her speech “The state of the international organ trade”.

Mr Stefaan van der Spiegel, team leader of “Substances of human origin” Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, introduced legislation on organ donation in Europe.

In her speech “The Istanbul Declaration, Recommended Strategies for the EU”, Dr Beatriz Dominguez, Medical Adviser of the National Transplant Organisation of Spain and Co-chair of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group, introduced the Istanbul Declaration and recommended that the EU view the forced organ harvesting in China from a world perspective. She also suggested that the EU establish legislation similar to the Istanbul Declaration.

Dr Francis L Delmonico, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, analysed the current policy of organ donation and transplantation in China. He emphasised that (the world) must condemn forced organ harvesting as a first step to ending the crime.

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia-Pacific Mr David Kilgour introduced an investigation into the Chinese regime's hugely profitable business of mass organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in his speech “State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China”.

Dr Marie Charlotte Bouesseau, Adviser for Service Delivery and Safety from the World Health Organisation (WHO), talked about the ethical donation and use of a global human organ framework.

Mr Huige Li, Professor of Vascular Pharmacology at the Johannes Gutenberg University, discussed the origins and rise of organ harvesting in China in his speech “Organ Procurement from Death-Row Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience in China”.

Member of European Parliament Mr. Peter Liese is interviewed after the workshop held in Brussels

After the workshop, Member of European Parliament Mr Peter Liese said, “We have unfortunately a lot of evidence saying that forced organ harvesting is happening. That is why we need to look at it more carefully and make it visible and make it public, and then put pressure on the Chinese authorities to really stop it, not only on paper, but also in practice.

“We need to involve the European Union as a whole. The Parliament has made its statement. It is good that the commission and legal action service have been here. We also need to involve the council. I have addressed it with the health commissioner and I am waiting for an answer. I hope that he will come back soon after the workshop. And I will also contact my colleagues in the foreign affairs committee, so that they can also raise it, get involved in it and mention it.

“We need to look at it at an European level and at a national level. Europeans that go to China or elsewhere to get an organ that came from somebody who was forced to donate, they should also be made aware that this is a crime and that they should not get involved in the crime.

“The purpose of the meeting was first of all to make it more clear to everybody in the European Union, in the public that we have a problem. And to look at what kind of solution we have for the problem.

“Of course it was clear that public debate would put pressure on the Chinese authorities and the authorities in any other country in the world where organ donation is done under unacceptable circumstances, that forced organ donation is a crime.

“It should be banned and we should do everything to ensure that it doesn't happen. And that those that do it get the most possible pressure.”

Dr Marta Lopez Fraga

Dr Marta Lopez Fraga, Secretary to the European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO), said that there was a lot of concern in the international community about illicit transplantation practices in China.

She said, “I think in this workshop, it was made evident that public opinion outside of China is concerned. And there is unanimity in the belief that these practices should not be carried on. The Chinese government has said that they would stop this practice this year. But they will now need to show that they are really stopping these practices and they would need to show transparency.

“I think different groups have different responsibilities. The medical community for example has applied a lot of pressure. For example Chinese doctors that are using unknown sources cannot publish their data in a scientific journal. So there is a lot of pressure on the scientific community. So this is making a difference.

"Initiatives like today are evaluating the situation in China with the view of expanding commercial links between China and the EU. So they are inquiring about certain aspects. So I think in different areas, little by little, pressure can be applied so that the situation is clarified. And so that the transplantation system in China becomes clear, transparent and fair.”

Mr David Kilgour said, “We looked at evidence. We concluded that there was absolutely no doubt that this was happening.

“When we had people phoning hospitals, detention centres in China, they had Falun Gong practitioners available like some horrible restaurant, saying we have lobster here, you can come pick it out.

“(Former Chinese Minister of Health) Huang Jiefu has never admitted to organs from Falun Gong practitioners, who are in most cases convicted of nothing, with no hearing and no appeal. They are just sent to the work camps on a signature by the police for 3 years. This is a system originated from Stalin, Russia and Hitler.”

Professor Huige Li, Institute of Pharmacology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (Germany); DAFOH European Delegate

Professor Huige Li said that he had suggested for the European Union to investigate several cases. One was a research article about organ transplantation by Wang Lijun, who discussed a few thousand cases of organ transplantation surgeries in Jinzhou City between 2004 and 2006.

“This means a few thousand lives were lost in the so-called research. Jinzhou has a population of about 3 million. Based on average death penalty rates in China, a city of this size might have about 50 death-row prisoners. So the majority of the organ source are not death-row prisoners. I believe they are mostly prisoners of conscience or Falun Gong practitioners. The doctors involved in Wang Lijun's research project indirectly admitted that they had used organs from Falun Gong practitioners. If the United Nations investigates this case, it will disclose many details.”



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