A U.S. congressional joint subcommittee convened a hearing Thursday on China's illicit organ transfers, just two weeks after the House passed a resolution urging Beijing to stop harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience.
Testifying before Congressman Christopher Smith and Dana Rohrabacher, investigators presented findings of a 798-page document published Wednesday that said the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in the mass killings and torture of imprisoned activists — primarily Falun Gong practitioners and ethnic Uyghurs, Tibetans and some Christians associated with non-official churches — in order to obtain organs for medical transplant.
Estimates of procedures
According to the new report, China's annual harvest far exceeds official government estimates of 10,000 surgical procedures annually.
“What is the volume of organ transplantation in China when we add up all the data from transplant centers and hospitals? Instead of 10,000 a year, we would say that the range is between 60,000 to 100,000 transplants a year, with an emphasis on the higher numbers,” said David Matas, a Canadian human rights attorney and co-author.
Alongside fellow co-author David Kilgore, a former top Canadian diplomat, their testimony was shared by investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, Professor Francis Delmonico of Harvard Medical School, and Charles Lee, an exiled Falun Gong practitioner.
“We want to reaffirm to everyone [that] any type of organ transplant has to be taken very carefully, especially in a country like China," Rohrabacher told VOA after the hearing. He called the communist leadership "so oppressive, this is being used not only as a means to earn money, which is immoral, but in repressing their people.”
“Organ trafficking is barbaric. It is Nazi-like and happening as we speak in many parts of the world, including especially in China," Smith told VOA. "The great concern is that military officers are making tremendous amounts of money by executing Falun Gong practitioners — and other prisoner of conscience — to extract their organs. It has to stop, it has to be exposed.
"I can’t imagine what it would be like for a prisoner to be in jail, and know that tomorrow, 8 a.m., you’re going have your pancreas or your liver taken, then you’ll be killed," he added.
On June 13, the House unanimously passed a resolution urging China to stop harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience and to end the 17 years of persecution against Falun Gong.
The resolution also restricts the State Department from issuing visas to those in China and other countries responsible for human organ harvest. The bill also requires annual policy compliance reports to Congress.
Chinese embassy spokesperson Zhu Haiquan responded to allegations of organ harvesting, calling them fabricated. He also called Falun Gong an anti-China movement, urging Congress to withdraw its support for the spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness and compassion.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin Service.