This week, a prominent Japanese university opened an exhibit detailing medical experiments performed upon live American prisoners of war in WW2. Such horrors are not confined to the previous century, according to a documentary by filmmaker Leon Lee, who chronicled the harvesting of organs from tens of thousands of live prisoners in China.
“It’s a story straight out of a horror movie, but it’s been common practice in China for more than a decade,” writes the Australian News.com. “State-run hospitals have secretly harvested body parts from tens of thousands of prisoners, removing their vital organs while they are still alive.” The article goes on to describe this practice as “a form of evil we have not yet seen on this planet.”
Deciding whether comparable evil has ever been seen on Earth is a contest no sane person would want to be stuck judging, but the sheer scale of what Lee describes makes it a strong contender for the hellish title. He alleges there are over 65,000 victims, many of them dissected in military hospitals and labor camps. “They take the heart, liver, cornea, lungs, skin, kidneys,” he told News.com.au. “Mostly they take all the organs.”
Among the eyewitnesses cited by Lee are a Chinese police officer who claims to have seen organs harvested from a woman who was tortured and raped for days, before she was mutilated without anesthetic, and the wife of a doctor said to have extracted the corneas of some 2,000 patients while they were still alive. She alleges that some of the victims were subsequently burned alive after the cornea extractions, and that the Chinese government tried to assassinate her husband after he fled from his grisly job.
News.com.au notes that China has a very high number of organ transplants with suspiciously short waiting lists, a system supposedly fueled by organs from death row prisoners, although “researchers say this cannot account for the huge number of transplants.” Lee’s documentary says that many of the organs come from political prisoners, and members of the persecuted Falun Gong sect.
The researchers quoted by Lee are human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian member of parliament David Kilgour, who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for their work on behalf of abused members of Falun Gong. They were awarded by the International Society for Human Rights in 2009 for their work. They are the authors of a 2009 book called Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners In China. Lee’s documentary is similarly entitled Human Harvest.
Chinese organ harvesting has been condemned by the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Canadian government, and the U.S. Congress. The UK Daily Mail reports that “Laws preventing organ tourism to China are being instated around the world and are already in place in Israel and Spain.”
Naturally, the Chinese government denies these allegations, claiming that “all organ donors are volunteers, and that the practice will stop in August regardless,” according to the News.com.au report. The Daily Mail notes that the number of registered voluntary organ donors in China is vastly smaller than the ten thousand organs transplanted annually.
The Politburo even has a few scapegoats picked out, describing the persecution of Falun Gong as the work of former president Jiang Zemin, and fingering security chief Zhou Yongkang for the organ harvesting that they claim is not happening.
This would spell the end of an industry valued at over a billion dollars annually. Lee described the hefty income from organ transplants as a vital funding stream for Chinese hospitals, whose government funding has steadily decreased over the past 30 years. Will they be able to make do without the money from transplant tourism? Lee sounds skeptical that China will truly end the practice. “You can help spread awareness in your networks of family and friends and hopefully this film, which is currently gaining momentum, will help to shed a light on this atrocious crime. That’s the hope anyway,” he told the Daily Mail.