China's Harvesting of Uyghur Organs Gets Darker
CJ Werleman reports on new details emerging from China about the targeting of its Muslim minority for body organs sold on to Saudia Arabia.
“Now I have prove [sic] that ‘halal organs’ are real!” tweeted Enver Tohti, a former oncology surgeon in Xinjiang, China, on Sunday in response to a Chinese woman who provided a first-hand account of China’s illegal and grotesque organ harvesting programme in which she claims to have witnessed 37 Saudi nationals who were the recipients of organs forcibly removed from the “people of Xinjiang” – presumably Uyghur Muslims – at the Department of Liver Transplantation, Tianjin Taida Hospital in 2006.
When the interviewer asks “why were the people of Xinjiang chosen?” she replies: “Because they [the Saudi organ recipients] want Halal organs.”
When Tohti, and the Chinese woman identified only as Ms Aili, refer to “halal organs”, they are making reference to mounting claims that China is forcibly removing organs from Muslim political prisoners and then marketing them to mostly Saudi recipients on the basis their organs haven’t been exposed to alcohol, pork and other items considered forbidden – despite “halal organs” having no grounding whatsoever in Islamic ruling or practice.
When I asked Tohti if he believed Ms Aili’s testimony to be credible and whether it reached the evidentiary standard he had long been waiting for, he replied with an assertive “yes” to both questions.
His affirmation holds enormous weight for two reasons. Firstly, he’s credited with “carrying out the first case of live organ harvesting” in 1995 when he was ordered to remove the kidneys and liver from a Uyghur Muslim prisoner who had been made unconscious from a deliberately botched execution.
“I was called by my chief surgeon to go to a room near the Urumqi execution grounds to remove the liver and two kidneys from an executed prisoner,” Tohti told me when I spoke to him last year. “It turned out he wasn’t fully dead because they [the Chinese execution squad] shot him through the right chest [intentionally] to knock him out [without killing him], so I would have time to remove his organ.” Tohti could see the man’s still beating heart as he removed his kidneys and liver.
Secondly, his words matter because in an interview he gave to Radio Free Asia in early 2019, he claimed that wealthy Saudi nationals were primarily the main customers for these ‘Halal’ organs. But, when I spoke with him a month later, he went back on this claim, saying that it was a matter “best not spoken about until it can be confirmed” – a line he has taken in subsequent interviews with other news media outlets.
Now, as a result of Ms Aili’s television testimony, Tohti is standing by his earlier assertion, which suggests that the horrors taking place against Muslims in Xinjiang are far worse than we imagine. Atrocities are being fuelled by Beijing’s insatiable appetite to maximise profits from its “One, Belt, One Road” economic initiative, and its repressive rule.
The demand for Uyghur organs outweighs supply, according to Tohti, and thus explains the motive of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities in Xinjiang in implementing compulsory blood sample collection from Uyghur Muslims, with the objective being to create a “live organ-matching database”.
Essentially, “Muslims are being slaughtered on demand,” according to Ms Aili.
Professor Erkin Sidick, a senior optical engineer in space optics who maintains indirect contact with high-level Chinese Government officials, explained to me the ghoulish mechanics of China’s Muslim organ harvesting programme.
“The CCP transported and dispersed more than one million Uyghurs to various Han provinces first, then divided them into different groups. One group is for organ harvesting, another for biological experimentation, and others for other purposes, such as distributed killing. The CCP has run out money to maintain their vast concentration camps, and is resorting to these kinds of means. I constantly get info from high level Government officials through several middle men, but it has been impossible for me to make my info official because doing so will put some people in danger, including those government officials,” said Sidick.
In a tweet posted on 19 January 19, Erkin wrote: “Halal Organs #HalalUyghurs I just learned from a reliable source that the CCP regime recently started to transport a large quantity of Uyghur living organs to Saudi Arabia on the daily basis from Shanghai. I hope the international community pays attention to this.”
In a 2014 interview with Arabian Business, Dr Faisal Shaheen, director of the Saudi Centre for Organ Transplants, said that 7,000 Saudi patients are in need of kidney transplants alone, while also claiming that he knew of 410 Saudis who had purchased organs in the two-year period spanning 2012-2014 from “black markets” in China, Egypt and Pakistan.
Allegations regarding China’s forced organ harvesting programme have now been substantiated by a number of human rights groups, including a UK panel of lawyers and activists who published a report last year concluding that “China continues to kill prisoners of conscience for organ transplants”, with murdered members of the Falun Gong spiritual group and Uyghur minority “being used as a bank of organs” and providing the bulk of the estimated 69,300 illegal organ transplants in the country per year.
“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason,” said Sir Geoffrey Nice, the tribunal’s chairman. Many were “cut open while still alive for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale,” he added.
In November, a report published in the journal BMC Medical Ethics reveals an effort by Beijing to cover up its harvesting of body parts from Uyghur Muslim detainees by falsifying its organ donation data. It suggests that more than 90,000 Muslims and other political prisoners are being executed each year for the purpose of profiting from the sale of their live organs.
The European Parliament’s public health committee and human rights subcommittee say that illegally harvested kidneys fetch as much as €150,000 ($165,000) each, while UK law-makers have warned citizens desperate for transplant operations that they could be unknowingly “playing a role in the profiteering of atrocities against inmates in the Communist Government’s network of prisons and detention camps”.
We are now left with a single salient question: if the killing of Muslim detainees for profit isn’t enough to compel the international community to act, then what will?