How The West Enabled China Organ Harvesting Expansion

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The “collapse of Western values,” a “massive case of denial” in the free world, and “religious bigotry” towards the Falun Gong spiritual movement have allowed China to potentially expand its industrial-scale harvesting of live organs to Uighur Muslims imprisoned in concentration camps, Ethan Gutmann, author of several seminal reports on the topic, told Breitbart News.

Gutmann’s research and writing, in conjunction with authors David Kilgour and David Matas, exposed a million-dollar Chinese industry centered around the killing of political prisoners – mostly Falun Gong members, but some Christians, Uighur Muslims, and others considered enemies of the state – and extracting of livers, kidneys, hearts, and other vital organs to sell to buyers in need.

In the update to their research in 2016, Gutmann, Kilgour, and Matas revealed that China was conducting between 50,000 and 90,000 more transplant surgeries than the official government estimates of organ donors, even including death row inmates, could account for. Filling the gap between documented organ donations and actual transplants completed were the bodies of prisoners of conscience, the report concluded. Both Falun Gong survivors and doctors who have testified to engaging in live organ harvesting have corroborated the report.

Since the publication of that revelation, the U.S. Congress, the U.K. Parliament, and several international human rights organizations have moved to condemn China. Yet the World Health Organization, an arm of the United Nations, has not acted, nor has the global medical community attempted to isolate and punish doctors associated with the Chinese Communist Party for this behavior.

China has never explained the discrepancy between the number of organs documented as available and the number of transplants conducted. Its state propaganda arms tout the world’s acclaim for its “fair” organ donation system.

“China is establishing a new national system for organ donation and transplantation, based on Chinese cultural and societal norms, that aims to be ethical and sustainable,” a 2012 WHO Bulletin article proclaimed.

This week, a tribunal organized by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), which Gutmann co-founded, published a report concluding that the Chinese communist regime had, “beyond reasonable doubt,” committed crimes against humanity by extracting organs from political prisoners while they were still alive and selling them to willing buyers. It also presented significant evidence that, adding to the crimes against Falun Gong practitioners, Chinese authorities have taken steps compatible with non-consensually extracting live organs from Uighur Muslims in western Xinjiang province, where some estimates suggest the government has imprisoned as many as 3 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz Muslims in concentration camps. Gutmann testified before the tribunal.

“In 2017, within 9 months – it’s really amazing – they blood-tested every Uighur man, woman, and child in Xinjiang. Now, Xinjiang is more than half Han Chinese … they don’t get the test, only the Uighurs, and the Uighurs are given DNA tests as well,” Gutmann told Breitbart News. He notes that the blood tests appear to serve no other purpose than creating an unwilling organ donor bank. Similarly, the China Tribunal report cited the testimony of survivors of the Xinjiang concentration camps who said they underwent testing to evaluate the health of their organs that appeared to serve no other purpose than identifying potential donors.

The potentially imminent mass harvesting of Uighur organs, after over a decade of harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, has made advocates against the practice “feel like we are living in a nightmare,” Gutmann told Breitbart News.

“Some of us are truly terrified and feel like we are living in a nightmare, a sort of science fiction world,” he said. “There’s a kind of unreality to this. The first unreality is, ‘My God, it’s happening again’ – and they are doing it in our faces this time.”

Gutmann credits the lack of action, partly due to “religious bigotry” against Falun Gong practitioners, on the part of the international community for allowing the practice to continue.

“The world really allowed China to go ahead with this persecution of Falun Gong. It opened the way for the persecution of the Uighurs,” he said.

“People are suddenly acting like they knew all along about Falun Gong – certainly people may have heard of it, but if you really look at what the Western world did for up to about 2016, [it] was a massive case of denial. It’s bigotry – religious bigotry – condemning a victim group based on style. Seriously, on style, on the fact that they act Chinese … this drove people crazy, it hasn’t gone away.”

The Falun Gong movement is a Buddhism-based spirituality and lifestyle movement that promotes its three key virtues – truthfulness, compassion, forbearance – in part through meditation and exercise. Their penchant for living healthy, conservative lifestyles and being ethnically compatible with the national majority made them attractive organ sources. In China, its practitioners are largely Han Chinese and span “from illiterate peasants to university professors to Communist Party cadres to soldiers,” Gutmann noted, terrifying the Party.

“I have to make it very clear the Falun Gong is an evil cult,” then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the architect of the Tiananmen Square massacre, said in 2001.

The shift away from using Falun Gong organs to, potentially, Uighur Muslims, may attract greater attention, but “anyone who has a beef with style here and is sort of relieved that it’s switched onto the Uighurs now … should be ashamed for thinking such a thing,” Gutmann says. He also warns against “mak[ing] a point in the West about how we’re not Islamophobic” by defending the Uighurs, because “this persecution of the Uighurs isn’t about their religion, it’s really about race.” The silence in the face of the Uighur camps – and, in some cases, open support for them – appear to confirm that, at least for many in the Muslim world, this is the case.

The Chinese Communist Party has largely ignored criticism from Western human rights groups about the Uighur camps.

“They really have assessed us just as really being weak and that we’ll sort of do anything even to get a contact high from their power and their money as long as Beijing can give us a story so that we can believe we’re somehow on the right side of history for helping to build a better China,” Gutmann added. He lamented the frustration even in the highest halls of power that little can be done to stop the repression of dissidents and minorities the Chinese Communist Party deems undesirable.

“I’ve had a State Department official confidently say to me, ‘They could kill them all and there’s nothing we can do,’ ok? And that you can quote,” he said.

Gutmann did, however, propose action that could isolate China’s medical industry and pressure it into change.

“The one thing we can do in the West, though, is if we were to wash our hands, if we were to do what we did with the Soviet psychiatrists during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s,” Gutmann said, “which was … once we found out that the Soviets were torturing dissidents in their mental hospitals, we denounced – the American Psychiatric Association did, the World Psychiatric Association did – and we didn’t allow them to come to any of our conferences. We didn’t allow them to publish in psychiatric journals; there were no joint efforts towards making psychoactive drugs.”

“Today, we haven’t done any of that,” he noted. “We didn’t even use the precedent. They’ve been publishing in our journals, they’ve been attending our conferences, they’ve been using our conferences to make propaganda points, including inside the Vatican.”

“The collapse of Western values on this has been absolutely remarkable,” Gutmann added.

Gutmann also posited that the ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States may trigger a change in government in China that would lessen the scale of mass imprisonment and organ harvesting.

“If [President Donald] Trump stays with the trade war, if he does not give in, if he keeps up 25 percent tariffs and it really does what I think it might do to the Chinese economy, that is, bring it down by 2 or 3 GDP points, if it brings that growth down to 4 percent, it is very possible that [Communist Party leader] Xi Jinping will fall, he will be deposed,” Gutmann suggested. “And I’m sure it’s just in favor of some communist bureaucrats … I could imagine a scenario where when they came in and Xi Jinping had fallen and they blame everything on him … you’d start seeing releases from the camps.”

Xi has “clearly amassed too much power,” Gutmann added. “He is driving the country to the brink the Soviet way through the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Making a difference in China’s behavior, however, is at best a farfetched goal for Gutmann.

“For me, I am no longer – maybe I never have been – in this field because I think I can save lives, I don’t think I can,” he said. “I think it’s way too late for that. I am in this field because every people deserves a history, especially a people that are being destroyed. This is the most important thing. There is no meaning otherwise to this.”

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