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Amnesty: Executions at their highest in more than 25 years
01:00 - Source: CNN

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Report claims tens of thousands of organ transplants carried out in China each year

That contrasts with official figures, which puts the number at 10,000

Gap, report claims, is filled by prisoners of conscience executed for their organs

CNN  — 

A new report claims that China is still engaged in the widespread and systematic harvesting of organs from prisoners, and says that people whose views conflict with the ruling Chinese Communist Party are being murdered for their organs.

The report – by former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas, and journalist Ethan Gutmann – collates publicly reported figures from hospitals across China to show what they claim is a massive discrepancy between official figures for the number of transplants carried out throughout the country.

They blame the Chinese government, the Communist Party, the health system, doctors and hospitals for being complicit.

“The (Communist Party) says the total number of legal transplants is about 10,000 per year. But we can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals,” Matas said in a statement.

The report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals.

According to the report, that gap is made up of executed prisoners, many of them prisoners of conscience locked up for their religious or political beliefs. China does not report its total number of executions, which it regards as a secret.

The report’s findings stand in stark contrast to Beijing’s claim that, since the beginning of 2015, China has moved from almost completely relying on organs from prisoners to the “largest voluntary organ donation system in Asia.”

At a regular press conference Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China has “strict laws and regulations on this issue.”

“As for the testimony and the published report, I want to say that such stories about forced organ harvesting in China are imaginary and baseless – they don’t have any factual foundation,” she said.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission, which oversees organ donations in China, did not respond to a request for comment for this piece.

Patients queue at a hospital in China. More than 300,000 people require organ transplant operations every year.

Secret transplants

According to the report, thousands of people are being executed in China in secret and their organs harvested for use in transplant operations.

So who is being killed? The authors say mainly imprisoned religious and ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, underground Christians, and practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

While much of China’s organ transplant system is kept secret, official figures show that 2,766 volunteers donated organs in 2015, with 7,785 large organs acquired.

Official figures put the number of transplant operations at around 10,000 a year, which the report disputes.

The authors point to publicly available statements and records released by hospitals across China claiming they carried out thousands of transplant annually, and interviews with and official biographies of individual doctors who claim to have carried out thousands of transplant operations during their careers.

“Simply by adding up a handful of the hospitals that have been profiled in this (report), it’s easy to come up with higher annual transplant volume figures than 10,000,” the authors write.

According to official statistics, there are more than 100 hospitals in China approved to carry out organ transplant operations. But the report states the authors have “verified and confirmed 712 hospitals which carry out liver and kidney transplants,” and claims the number of actual transplants could be hundreds of thousands larger than China reports.

Falun Gong members stage a protest against China in Hong Kong.

‘Ghoulish and inhumane practice’

The apparent gap in official transplant figures, the report claims, is filled by prisoners of conscience.

According to Amnesty International, “tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained” since the government launched a crackdown on the practice in 1999.

China regards Falun Gong as a “cult” and claims followers engage in “anti-China political activities.”

“The government considers Falun Gong a threat to its power, and has detained, imprisoned and tortured its followers,” says Maya Wang, China researcher for Hu