UN Statement on Forced Organ Harvesting in China

14 June 2021 | International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China


On June 14, 2021, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner released a statement in response to allegations of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians in China.


UN human rights experts*, including eight UN Special Rapporteurs reviewed credible reports including those detailing forced medical examinations, such as blood tests, ultrasound and x-rays, discriminatory conducted only on ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities illegally detailed in China. Results from these forced examinations are stored in databases which facilitate organ allocation. There is no evidence to suggest that other prisoners undergo medical examinations.


“Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations,” they said. “We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.


“According to the allegations received, the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers. This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.”


“Despite the gradual development of a voluntary organ donation system, information continues to emerge regarding serious human rights violations in the procurement of organs for transplants in China,” the UN experts said.


“The experts call on China to promptly respond to the allegations of ‘organ harvesting’ and to allow independent monitoring by international human rights mechanisms.”

Pastor Bob Fu, Founder and President of ChinaAid, said, “While I am encouraged to see the UN human rights experts acknowledge the Chinese Communist Party’s systematic organ harvesting of religious prisoners, more needs to be done. I urge the UN’s Special Rapporteurs to launch a full investigation into these horrific crimes.”


Ellen Kennedy, Executive Director, World Without Genocide: “In 1948, China was among the nine members of the committee that wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. China has since reiterated support of the UDHR, including on the 60th anniversary in 2008. Yet the evidence about the CCP’s forced removal of body organs represents the most egregious violation of human rights imaginable. China must be held accountable for these crimes.”


Dr. Jianli Yang, Founder and President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China: “Forced organ harvesting has been going on in China for a very long time, but it has never been acknowledged by the Chinese government. We welcome the recent actions by the UN on this important issue of urgent global concern. However, we must admit there is a great deficiency on the part of the international community in its effort to push for a thorough investigation into these state-sponsored murders and hold the CCP regime accountable.”


Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice: “The Lantos Foundation welcomes the recent statement by a distinguished group of UN Special Rapporteurs, expressing their grave alarm at the credible allegations of forced organ harvesting targeting religious minorities in China. This macabre report of torture and death is one of the most chilling human rights abuses taking place in the world today. China must not escape accountability for its outrageous harvesting of body parts from those it views as expendable. We strongly urge the UN to do all in its power to uncover the full extent of this profound violation of human rights and to hold China accountable for these crimes.”

Members of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) have responded to the news:


Susie Hughes, Executive Director: “This is such an important move by the UN HRC Special Procedures experts, and the fact they’ve done it speaks volumes for the credibility of the evidence at hand. The Chinese Government can no longer hide the hideous barbarity of the organ harvesting taking place inside China’s prisons, hospitals and detention centres. China’s response to the UN Special Rapporteurs, an extraordinary barrage of slanderous accusations and name calling of the victim communities, will fall on deaf ears as the world grows wise to the deceptive and criminal nature of the Chinese Communist Party.”


David Matas, International Human Rights Lawyer, ETAC Advisory Committee Member: “This is a welcome development. It presents a broad and up to date spectrum of UN concern. It is also a harbinger of more, much more, from the UN to come.”


Prof Wendy Rogers, Professor of Clinical Ethics, ETAC Advisory Committee Chair: “I welcome this development. Terrible human rights abuses are occurring in China. ETAC supports all efforts to bring these to a halt.”


*The United Nations experts: Ms. Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences;Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while counter-terrorism; Ms. Elina Steinerte (Chair-Rapporteur), Dr. Miriam Estrada-Castillo (Vice-chairperson), Ms. Leigh Toomey, Mr. Mumba Malila, Mr. Priya Gopalan, Working Group on arbitrary detention.

Read the full UN Human Rights Council press release here: China: UN human rights experts alarmed by ‘organ harvesting’ allegations


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