In Depth Look at the Law: Secrecy in China - Successfully Hiding the Truth About Executions for Profit from the World

Supplying the International Demand for Human Transplant Organs is Big Business in China

The demand for transplantable organs is the main reason why organ procurement is so pervasive in China. [204] It is common knowledge that high-paying customers will receive a prompt organ transplant in China. [205]Former transplant patients have reported that they were expected to hand out "red envelopes" filled with money to every doctor they saw.[206]

The money is shared with both prison and court officials. [207]It has been reported that foreign nationals pay upwards of $200,000 for an organ transplant performed in China, using Chinese donors. [208] Sadly, there is also a reported case where a transplant recipient died because the essential post-operation care and treatment ceased because the patient ran out of money.[209]

Due to the high demand for organs, the large number of death-row prisoners, the improved medical technology, and the huge profits, selling organs from executed prisoners in China will continue. [210] The situation is exacerbated because many of the people who are key participants in the harvesting of the organs are poorly paid prison and hospital administrators.[211]

Executions for Profit Have Extra Benefit -- Intimidation and Control of the Citizenry

China's organ procurement from the bodies of executed prisoners is not only a lucrative money-maker, it is also a method to coerce and intimate the general population into submission of government control.  [212] Actually, since the discovery of the lucrative organ transplant market, the number of crimes punishable by death has increased.[213]

Chinese web bulletins boards have reported information discussing the sale and corruption of the "organ business." [214] Chinese websites advertising organ transplants openly admit to obtaining their organs from executed prisoners. [215] One website specifically targeting foreigners announced on the front page that viscera or soft interior organs including brain, lungs, and heart could be found immediately. [216] This website also thanked the support of the Chinese government, specifically naming the Supreme Demotic Court. [217]

Secrecy in the Chinese government

China has maintained an air of secrecy concerning the sale of organs harvested from executed prisoners, concealing the transfer of profits. [218] China strove to keep the 1984 order on the use of prisoner cadavers confidential in order to avoid international backlash. [219] Even official figures regarding death sentences and executions in China are kept secret from the public and foreigners. [220] Additionally, international human rights organizations are not permitted to visit prisoners in China. [221] Until recently, the Chinese government emphatically denied the legal procurement of organs from Chinese prisoners condemned to death.[222]

The only people that would be present at the scene of an organ harvesting are the victim and the perpetrators. [223] No bystanders would be allowed to witness the event. [224] Afterward, no body would be found, and no autopsy would be conducted. [225] The body would be cremated, and the evidence vanished. [226] The operating room would be left like any other empty operating room. [227] Cremation of the body prevents any evidence from surfacing regarding the harvesting of organs. [228] In addition, any wills created by condemned prisoners are subject to official censorship by the government.[229]

The Supreme People's Court issued a secret regulation concerning a prisoner's last will and testament that states, "Those parts which are slanderous in nature or which make reactionary statements are not to be handed over to the person's family . . . sections complaining about grievances or alleged injustices are not to be passed on to the person's family." [230] When one executed prisoner's brother asked to see the documentation of his brother's consent to donate his organs, the Chinese officials would not give him the information. [231] Furthermore, the government warned the brother that if he did not keep silent, he and his family would face retaliation.[232]

Organ transplant recipients have stated that the entire process is completed with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. [233] The recipients are typically not told the names of their doctors or the identity of the donors. [234] They are not given any documentation revealing the consent of the donor or family members. [235] Moreover, the procedure is often performed in the middle of the night.[236]

China's Government Keeps Journalists From Reporting On Its Executions for Profit Programs

China continues to crack down on individual journalists, newspapers, and websites for reporting any news the government deems sensitive. [237] In the Shandong province, it was reported that the Pingdu city government issued a document in March 2007 requesting that officials "use all measures to downsize the impact of negative reporting to a minimum level." [238]

Chinese national reporters caught reporting on human rights violations from within China are subjected to imprisonment and often charged with communicating state secrets. [239] For the two years prior to August 2006, the Chinese police had detained foreign journalists at least thirty-eight times for covering social issues, including environmental protests, land disputes, and AIDS victims. [240]

While foreign journalists are only detained for relatively short periods of time, Chinese journalists face much harsher punishment. [241] One Chinese journalist suffered from beatings and sleep deprivation while in prison for posting political essays on the Internet. [242]

Yahoo, Google, and MSN Go Along with China's Secrecy

Some large corporations are aiding China in its agenda to maintain its secrecy of governmental practices and suppress the freedom of its citizens . [243] Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have all facilitated or at least participated in China's repression of the media, enabling China's claim of state secrets. [244]

Yahoo signed China's "Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry," which means that Yahoo agreed to officially censor the Internet.  [245] Yahoo has also provided the Chinese government with account holder information, which led to the conviction of at least four Chinese Internet users. [246]

Google has introduced a self-censoring search engine specifically designed for China as an alternative for its existing search engine.[247]

At the Chinese government's request, Microsoft shut down the blog of a China-based researcher working for the New York Times. [248] Microsoft has also prohibited Chinese MSN Spaces account holders from using specific terms including "human rights," "Falun Gong," and "Tibet Independence" in their account names or page titles. [249]

[204]Brown, supra note 1, at 1078.
[205] Id.
[206] Organs, supra note 4, at 46 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation); Traditionally in Chinese culture, money gifts are given in small red envelopes, symbolizing good luck and fortune.
[207] Id.
[208] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 438.
[209] Organs, supra note 4, at 46 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[210] Brown, supra note 1, at 1079.
[211]. Organs, supra note 4, at 11 (statement of Michael E. Parmly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Right and Labor, Dept. of State).
[212] Id. at 1 (statement of Fla. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations, Chairwoman, Subcomm. on Int'l. Ops. and Human Rights ).
[213] Id. at 29 (statement of Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Project Dir., Organs Watch).
[214] Id. at 11 (statement of Michael E. Parmly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Right and Labor, Dept. of State).
[215] Failing, supra note 31, at 3.
[216] Bloody, supra note 67, at 17.
[217] Id.
[218] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 443-44.
[219] Id. at 446.
[220] Repression, supra note 10, at 8.
[221] Bloody, supra note 67, at 4.
[222] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 446.
[223] Bloody, supra note 67, at 3.
[224] Id.
[225] Id.
[226] Id.
[227] Id. at 4.
[228] Brown, supra note 1, at 1068.
[229] Id. at 1068-69.
[230] Allison K. Owen, Death Row Inmates or Organ Donors: China's Source of Body Organs for Medical Transplantation, 5 (No. 2) IND. INT'L & COMP. L. REV. 495, 502 (1995).
[231] Organs, supra note 4, at 2 (statement of Fla. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations, Chairwoman, Subcomm. on Int'l. Ops. and Human Rights ).
[232] Id.
[233] Bloody, supra note 67, at 20.

[234]Id.
[235] Id.
[236] Id.
[237] Failing, supra note 31, at 13.
[238] Repression, supra note 10, at 19.
[239] Bloody, supra note 67, at 4.
[240] Failing, supra note 31, at 13.
[241] Id. at 14.
[242] Id.
[243] Id. at 15.

[244] Id.
[245] Failing, supra note 31, at 16.
[246] Id.
[247] Id.
[248] Id. at 15.
[249] Id. at 15-16.

In Depth Look at the Law: China Death Vans and China's Widespread Corruption - There is No Fairness in China's Criminal Justice System

Corruption of China's Communist Party

It has been reported that there is widespread corruption among Chinese government officials including graft, bribery, use of official position for personal gain, blackmail, misuse of public money, and extortion. [161] One source cites graft and bribery as constituting over 50% of the economic crimes in China.[162]

Under the current Chinese government, the rights of individuals are always subject to the drafting of new legislation that may suspend those rights. [163] Moreover, violations of those rights guaranteed by the Chinese constitution are generally not enforceable against the government because of the lack of checks and balances in the system. [164]

The Communist Party always takes precedent over the independent rule of law. [165] Chinese citizens may only exercise their right to freedom if their behavior does not infringe upon the interests of the society and the state. [166] Research has indicated that Chinese citizens who engage in promoting freedom of expression are arbitrarily arrested, detained, tortured, and convicted. [167]

Many crimes involving expression of ideas or even an association with an idea or movement that differs from the party line are classified as political crimes. [168] The ensuing trials are held in secret, excluding observers and even lawyers, under the excuse of maintaining state secrets.[169]

Economic gain from organ harvesting

China sells organs of executed prisoners on a large scale for profit under the guise of state secrets. [170] China has a system that readily sentences, condemns, and executes human beings so that their organs can be sold by government officials for personal gain. [171]

Arrestees are often denied immediate access to legal representation following their detention. [172]  Chinese police even take extreme steps to limit defense attorneys from assisting their clients. [173]

For example, Chinese police severely limit the length and number of times a defendant is allowed to meet with his attorney, require the attorney to brief police concerning the nature of the conversation prior to the meeting, cancel meetings that are intended to cover topics that are not preapproved, and severely restrict the attorney's access to the prosecution's evidence. [174]

Torture Is An Accepted Practice

Moreover, torture is often used to elicit confessions. [175]  International organizations have documented the widespread abuse and torture of prisoners occurring at all types of detention facilities and legal institutions in China. [176]

One individual reported that he was forced to confess to a crime after undergoing torture perpetrated by the police that included electrical shock applied to the toes, fingers and genitals, beating with heavy chains and sticks, and injection of hot pepper, gasoline, and ginger into his nose. [177] Thus, it is not surprising then that China refuses to accept the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which allows for regular international inspection of detention centers.[178]

Injustice is Inherent in China's Criminal Justice System

In addition to the arrest and detention of prisoners, trials are often held before defendants are provided adequate time to prepare a defense. [179] Defendants do not have a guaranteed right to cross-examine witnesses. [180]

In addition, verdicts and subsequent sentences are often determined by private committees prior to a proper trial. [181]Unfortunately, it is quite common for a court to have reached a verdict before the defendant even enters the courtroom. [182]

Appeals may be rejected based on a mere summary examination of the case by a judge in his chambers. [183] Official statistics released by the Chinese government note that the conviction rate for all crimes between 1998 through 2002 was 99.1%, an almost perfect conviction rate, which is troubling considering the reports of torture being used to force confessions and the denial of adequate legal representation.[184]

Even though the Supreme People's Court is now supposed to review all death penalty cases, one researcher discovered that during a two and a half month period in early 2007, at least thirteen people were executed without their cases being reviewed and approved by the high court.[185]

Hospitals are Involved in the Death Penalty Process - It's a Profit Center for Them

Once a prisoner is convicted and sentenced to death, the hospital system becomes involved with the harvesting of the organs. [186] With China's social medical system, the government controls all medical personnel and hospital facilities. [187] Such strict controls prevent medical personnel from questioning the source of the organs used in transplants or their duty to perform the transplants. [188] Furthermore, medical personnel are sworn to secrecy regarding the organ transplantation work they perform. [189] Often, they are presented with donor bodies that have bullet holes in the head or other wounds common in execution victims.[190]

Under the communist system, many rural hospitals suffer from a severe shortage of funding. [191] In the face of these conditions, some hospitals are forced to resort to creative ways to generate revenue, including the sale of organs harvested from prisoners. [192]

Hospitals have the unique ability to generate large amounts of revenue from organ transplants. [193] The Organ Transplant Center of the Armed Police General Hospital located in Beijing posted literature stating, "Our Organ Transplant Center is our main department for making money. Its gross income in 2003 was 16,070,000 yuan. From January to June of 2004 income was 13,570,000 yuan. This year (2004) there is a chance to break through 30,000,000 yuan." [194] Due to increased revenue and demand, six new hospitals dedicated solely to organ transplants were constructed between 2001 and 2004.[195]

The majority of the money generated from the sale of organs of executed prisons goes to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese military. [196]

China's military is a fully functioning business, sanctioned by the government to raise money for military activities and make up for the lack of resources provided by the government. [197]Most of the hospitals partaking in the sale of the harvested organs are run by the PLA.[198]

The PLA has a close relationship with the prison system as well as the justice system, ensuring that a great number of the victims are actually condemned because of their political or religious beliefs. [199] Chinese military members not only have access to the prison system in China but also to the prisoners themselves. [200]

The PLA's interactions with these prisons and prisoners are more secretive than those of the civilian government, and they are impervious to Chinese laws. [201] A former doctor of the PLA stated that his job required him to remove the corneas and skin from the corpses of over one hundred executed prisoners, which included a few victims of intentionally botched executions. [202] The hospital paid the Higher People's Court a specific dollar amount for each corpse, although no receipts or records of the exchange were documented.[203]
[161]. Lin, supra note 145, at 5-6.
[162]. Id.
[163]. Brown, supra note 1, at 1050.
[164]. Id.
[165]. R.P. Peerenboom, Article: What's Wrong with Chinese Right?: toward a Theory of Right with Chinese Characteristics, 6 HARV. HUM. RTS. J. 29, 33 (1993).
[166]. Id.
[167]. Daniel C. Turack, Article: the New Chinese Criminal Justice System, 7 CARDOZO J. INT'L & COMP. L. 49, 63-64 (Spring 1999)
[168]. Executed, supra note 5, at 21.
[169]. Id.
[170]. Brown, supra note 1, at 1075.
[171]. Organs, supra note 4, at 15 (statement of N.Y. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations).
[172]. Executed, supra note 5, at 1.
[173]. Id. at 21.
[174]. Id.
[175]. Id. at 1.
[176]. Id. at 13.
[177]. Repression, supra note 10, at 6.
[178]. Executed, supra note 5, at 13.
[179]. Id. at 1.
[180]. Id.
[181]. Id.
[182]. Id. at 28.
[183]. Executed, supra note 5, at 1.
[184]. Id. at 3.
[185]. Repression, supra note 10, at 7.
[186]. See Id. at 42-43 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[187]. Brown, supra note 1, at 1072.
[188]. Id.
[189]. Id.
[190]. Id.
[191]. Bloody, supra note 67, at 8.
[192]. Id. at 9.
[193]. Id.
[194]. Id. at 9-10.
[195]. See Id. at 44.
[196]. Organs, supra note 4, at 15 (statement of N.Y. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations).
[197]. Bloody, supra note 67, at 9.
[198]. Organs, supra note 4, at 15 (statement of N.Y. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations).
[199]. Id.
[200]. Bloody, supra note 67, at 10.
[201]. Id. at 10-11.
[202]. Organs, supra note 4, at 57 (statement of Wang Guoqi, former doctor, Chinese PLA Hospital).
[203]. Id.

In Depth Look at the Law: China Death Vans and Harvesting Prisoner Organs for Profit

Due to reports of the torture and anguish of prisoners and the secrecy surrounding the death penalty's application in China, it is virtually impossible to independently verify that any executed prisoners truly gave consent for the use of their organs.[100]

Chinese prisoners are generally not notified of their impending execution until just hours before it occurs.[101] As a result, donor consent is rarely obtained in spite of it being a lawful requirement. [102]The family members of the condemned prisoners are also rarely informed of the execution.[103]

Even when the family members are notified of the execution, they are rarely informed of the prearranged plans for organ extraction. [104] In the rare instances where the family members are notified, they are offered money in advance to authorize the use of the prisoner's organs. [105] If the family refuses the payment, it is then common for the government to provide the family with a large bill following the execution to recoup losses ranging from food and lodging for the prisoner to the cost of the bullet used to perform the execution.[106]

One death row prisoner was witnessed lying on the floor in solitary confinement with all of his limbs stretched out and shackled to the ground by his wrists, ankles, and even his neck. [107] He was fed one meal a day.[108]  Only after he "consented" to donating his organs was he unshackled from the ground. [109] However, he was still in leg irons and handcuffs.[110]

It has also been reported that prisoners who are healthy and have useful organs are often pushed to the front of the waiting lists for executions.[111] In essence, once a prisoner has been deemed fit for an organ transplant, the prisoner becomes nothing more than a warm object sheltering an organ for some other waiting and paying person.[112]

Chinese ideology

The underlying ideological principles of China's social and political culture justify the use of organs from executed prisoners. [113]Society as a whole is deemed more important than individual rights. [114] Because of the organ deficit for transplantation and the demand from high-paying foreigners, China justifies the use of these prisoners' organs for the overall good of the country. [115] The Chinese government considers the use of death row prisoners for organ transplants charity.[116]

The criminals are considered bad people deserving of their death sentence. [117] In producing the death, the prisoners create waste that can be used to help others continue their lives, hence charity. [118] Even hospital and prison employees deem the system of retrieving organs without consent just a way to pay back the state for the expense of the prisoners' care while incarcerated.[119]

China's nonexistent organ donation program

Less than one percent of the organs used for transplants in China are harvested from the recipient's family members or brain-dead donors. [120] China lacks an organized formal system for individuals to volunteer their organs for use after their death. [121]Chinese people are adverse to donating organs based on religious beliefs and out of respect for their elders and ancestors.[122]

Chinese culture insists that regardless of cremation or burial, the body should remain intact after death. [123]Particularly with Buddhist and Confucian beliefs, the bodies must remain whole after death, making true donations very rare or even nonexistent.[124]

China's secret organ transplant policy

In 1984, the Chinese government issued an official order titled "Provisional Regulations on the Use of Dead Bodies or Organs from Condemned Criminals." [125]The order served as the sole legal authority regarding the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners.[126]

However, the directive was not law, just a set of orders to carry out the organ transplants to the benefit of the Chinese government. [127] The order only established basic guidance regarding the procedure but failed to adequately address the human rights of the prisoners. [128]The 1984 order was never officially passed by the Chinese Communist People's Congress, but it served to carry out the government's demands.[129]

The 1984 order regarding the extraction of organs from executed prisoners stipulated the following requirements:


  1. consent of the prisoner or the prisoner's family;

  2. procurement of the organ only after the prisoner's death was confirmed by a supervising official; and

  3. the preservation of absolute secrecy regarding the organ harvesting.[130]


The order also required that medical workers refrain from wearing hospital insignia or drive marked vehicles to or from the executions. [131]In addition, the order states that the organ removal times must be coordinated with crematoriums, so the bodies can be cremated immediately following the procedure.[132]

Even though consent was one of the stipulations in the order, the Chinese government has never produced any evidence confirming a prisoner's consent to donate his or her organs. [133] Furthermore, a prisoner shackled to the ground twenty-four hours a day is in no condition to offer an informed consent.[134]

An unwritten policy also existed ranking the order in which members of society would be recipients of the organ transplants:


  1. high-ranking government officials and military members;

  2. wealthy overseas Chinese and other foreigners;

  3. wealthy Chinese citizens; and finally

  4. the common citizen.[135]


Next week: China made sale of human organs illegal in 2006 - so why is it such a growing industry?

[100]See Repression, supra note 10, at 11.
[101]Brown, supra note 1, at 1066.
[102]Id.
[103]Id.
[104]Id. at 1066-67.
[105]Id. at 1067.
[106]Brown, supra note 1, at 1067.
[107]Organs, supra note 4, at 47 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[108]Id.
[109]Id.
[110]Id.
[111]Donny J. Perales, Rethinking the Prohibition of Death Row Prisoners as Organ Donors: a Possible Lifeline to Those on Organ Donor Waiting Lists, 34 ST. MARY'S L.J. 687, 699 (2003).
[112]Organs, supra note 4, at 49 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[113]Brown, supra note 1, at 1082.
[114]Id.
[115]Id.
[116]Organs, supra note 4, at 44 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[117]Id.
[118]Id.
[119]See Id. at 25 (statement of Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Project Dir., Organs Watch).
[120]Kirk C. Allison, Ph.D., MS, Mounting Evidence of Falun Gong Practitioners Used as Organ Sources in China and Related Ethical Responsibilities, THE EPOCH TIMES, July 24, 2006, ¶ 4, available at http://en.epochtimes.com/news/36-8-7/44706.html (last visited July 29, 2008).
[121]Repression, supra note 10, at 10.
[122]Brown, supra note 1, at 1080; On a personal note, growing up in a Chinese family has provided me with experience and insight into the Chinese way of showing familial and ancestral respect. When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, I experienced the rituals of preserving and worshipping his body after death. My grandfather's body was transported from the hospital to a Buddhist temple. At the temple, the family gathered around his body, along with two Buddhist monks, and chanted Buddhist verses for approximately two hours. Afterward, my grandfather's body remained at the temple until the funeral where he was cremated. My family went back to the temple daily to visit him until the day he was cremated. Everyone in the family spent countless hours making hundreds of water lilies out of gold paper money. We had to make enough to cover his entire body like a blanket. This blanket was burned along with his body. The blanket was meant to be a bed of lilies for my grandfather to float upon in the afterlife. The blanket was made out of gold paper money so that my grandfather would never suffer in the afterlife because he would be surrounded by good fortune.

[123] Repression, supra note 10, at 10.
[124] Organs, supra note 4, at 3 (statement of Fla. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations, Chairwoman, Subcomm. on Int'l. Ops. and Human Rights).
[ 25] Id. at 42 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[126] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 445.
[127] Organs, supra note 4, at 42 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[128] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 445.
[129] Organs, supra note 4, at 42 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[130] Hemphill, supra note 29, at 447.
[131] Id.
[132] Organs, supra note 4, at 52 (translation of "The Provisions on the Entry and Exit of Cadavers and Treatment of Cadavers").
[133] Id. at 43 (statement of Harry Wu, Executive Dir., The Laogai Research Foundation).
[134] Id.
[135] Id. at 42.

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 3: Who are the Falun Gong? Why are they targeted for execution and organ harvesting?

This is third part of our new Friday Legal Memo Series - In Depth Look at the Law, where we're focusing on an international horror that is not getting enough attention. In China, people are being executed inside mobile death vans, vehicles that drive from village to village. First, the victim is killed inside the van. Thereafter, his organs are taken from him almost immediately so they can be sold for a profit. All this, while grieving loved ones may well be just outside the vehicle. This is real. Take notice. Spread the word.

Practitioners of Falen Gong have been targeted for execution and organ harvesting by China. Why?

Falun Gong was founded in 1992 by Li Honghzi in northeastern China. [46] Falun Gong followers practice meditative, slow-motion exercises and adhere to the movement's guiding principles of truthfulness, benevolence, and forbearance taken from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.[47]

The Chinese government touts protection of certain religious activities, which include Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. [48]However, all other religious groups, sects, and denominations are illegal and subject to suppression by the Chinese government.[49]

In April 1999, over ten thousand Falun Gong members gathered in Tiananmen Square to peacefully protest the persecution of their practices.[50]

On April 25, 1999, fifteen thousand members of Falun Gong gathered outside of the government's central headquarters in Beijing and demanded official recognition.[51] Following the April 1999 protests, the Chinese government began a campaign to eradicate the Falun Gong. [52]Leaders of the movement were detained, the organization was outlawed, and a massive media campaign was launched aimed at discrediting the organization.[53]

On July 22, 1999, the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Civil Affairs decreed the Falun Gong an illegal organization.[54]

Following the outlaw of Falun Gong, the international news media and academic groups began producing and disseminating documentation of the group's rapid dismantling. [55] In October 2000, the Chinese government increased efforts to destroy the Falun Gong by pronouncing the group as a "reactionary and hostile" organization.[56]

As a result, detention and re-education efforts were increased. [57] The Chinese government undertook a three-pronged approach to quash the Falun Gong movement: 1) re-education of members; 2) violent treatment of members; and 3) distribution of anti-Falun Gong propaganda.[58]

Eight hundred thirty thousand Falun Gong followers had been arrested by the conclusion of April 2001. [59] However, it was reported in April 2006 that each year, more than twice as many Chinese nationals join Falun Gong than the Communist Party, much to the Chinese government's fear and dismay.[60]

In 2001, the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, stated, "Religion must never be allowed when it opposes the direction of the Party of the socialist system, or destroys national reunification or ethnic identity." [61]

In late 2001, China declared the use of the Internet to organize or coordinate the activities of "evil cults" a criminal offense. [62] In the years following, thousands of Falun Gong followers were detained and charged with violating the anti-cult laws.[63]

President Jiang Zemin actually created the 6-10 office, a special branch of the Chinese government designed specifically to eliminate the Falun Gong movement. [64] The 6-10 office sent thousands of Falun Gong practitioners to prisons and labor camps.[65]

Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture, capricious detention, and re-education to include confinement, forced labor, and psychological treatments. [66] One research group identified over three thousand Falun Gong practitioners who have lost their lives as a result of persecution by the Chinese government.[67]

Organ harvesting of Falun Gong prisoners may have begun a decade ago

Researchers linked the large surge in organ transplants performed in China to the persecution and imprisonment of Falun Gong members in 1999. [68] In many prisons and labor camps, Falun Gong practitioners have been singled out from non-practitioners for blood tests and organ examinations.[69]

Although those practitioners were given medical screenings, presumably to determine compatibility for organ transplants, many diagnosed with illnesses were not provided with any medical treatments.[70]

One study found that Falun Gong practitioners who die in captivity would officially be categorized as suicide by the Chinese government, and their bodies would be immediately cremated. [71] Furthermore, it has been reported that a large number of these deaths were carried out specifically to gather organs for transplants.[72]

Many family members of executed Falun Gong practitioners have reported seeing corpses with surgical incisions and missing body parts. [73] Moreover, the government gave no explanation as to why the corpses were mutilated.[74]

Many Falun Gong practitioners whose organs were harvested following their execution were never identified by their families because these practitioners refused to identify themselves to the authorities when they were captured. [75]Therefore, it is easy to conclude that these unidentified practitioners were the easiest and safest targets for clandestine organ harvesting.

These findings parallel international human rights groups that have widely reported that executions in China are often performed in conjunction with specific transplant requirements, i.e., shooting a prisoner in the head when kidneys are needed or shooting a prisoner in the chest when corneas are needed.[76]

[46]Christopher Chaney, The Despotic State Department in Refugee Law: Creating Legal Fictions to Support Falun Gong Asylum Claims, 6 (No. 1) Asian-Pac. L. & Pol'y J. 130, 142 (Winter 2005).

[47]Leavy, supra note 50, at 756-57.

[48] 48Id. at 757-59.

[49]Chaney, supra note 51, at 142.

[50]Id. at 131.

[51] Leavy, supra note 50, at 761.

[52] Id.

[53]Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 9.

[54]Id. at 10.

[55]Joseph Watson & Alex Jones, Falun Gong Demonstrator Speaks Out on Chinese Government's Ghoulish Organ Harvesting, Prison Planet.com, Apr. 25, 2006, ¶¶ 13-14, http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/april2006/250406speaksout.htm (last visited July 29, 2008).

[56] Edelman & Richardson, supra note 48, at 254.

[57]Id.

[58]Id.

[59]Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 10.

[60]Id. at 11.

[61]Leavy, supra note 50, at 756.

[62]David Matas & David Kilgour, Bloody Harvest Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, OrganHarvestInvestigation.Net, Jan. 31, 2007, at 34 [hereinafter Bloody], available at http://organharvestinvestigation.net/report0701/report20070131-eng.pdf (last visited July 29, 2008). Matas and Kilgour continued their research after publishing their first report and published this updated report with additional findings.

[63] Kirk C. Allison, Ph.D., M.S., Assoc. Dir., Univ. of Minn., Program in Human Rights and Health, Address at the University of Hawaii at Manoa: Transplantation and Human Rights in China, slide 89 (Oct. 29, 2007), available at http://organharvestinvestigation.net/events/Kirk_Allison_102907.pdf (last visited July 29, 2008).

[64]Bloody, supra note 67, at 38.

[65]Allison, supra note 68, slide 70.

[66] Matas & Kilgour, supra note 46, at 9.

[67]Fear of Torture or Ill-Treatment/Prisoner of Conscience, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/049/2006), Aug. 29, 2006, at 1, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/049/2006/en/dom-ASA170492006en.pdf (last visited July 29, 2008).

[68]Bloody, supra note 67, at 45.

[69]Id.

[70]Id. at 35.

[71]Hemphill, supra note 29, at 439-40.

Next Friday: Prisoners as another source for China's organ harvesting business

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty -2: Truly Inhumane Killings Are Happening in China Under the Guise of Capital Punishment

This is second part of our new Friday Legal Memo Series - In Depth Look at the Law, where we're focusing on an international horror that is not getting enough attention. In China, people are being executed inside mobile death vans, vehicles that drive from village to village. First, the victim is killed inside the van. Thereafter, his organs are taken from him almost immediately so they can be sold for a profit. All this, while grieving loved ones may well be just outside the vehicle. This is real. Take notice. Spread the word.

How does China officially respond when confronted with these horrors? China doesn't deny the death vans exist. Instead, China claims that the death vans are more humane.

Executions in China are performed by either lethal injection or firing squad. [20] China approved the use of lethal injection in 1997. [21] Although the Chinese government is claiming that lethal injection is a more humane form of execution, there have been reports that the executioners have lowered the dosage amounts to cut costs, which results in a lingering, more agonizing and painful death. [22]

China Prefers Lethal Injection Over the Firing Squad - But Not Because it is a More Humane Manner of Death.

Despite these allegations, the Chinese media and government officials continue to tout that lethal injection is a civilized method for administering the death penalty. [23] The Chinese media often justify the use of lethal injection by citing the use of lethal injection in the United States. [24] The death van designer also claims that switching from gunshots to lethal injections show that China is now promoting human rights. [25]

Critics, however, state that the death vans allow China to carry out executions more quickly and easily. [26] Realistically, the government is not seeking a more enlightened vision of capital punishment but rather a more efficient way to execute a larger number of people. [27] In addition, the vans keep the executions out of the public eye.[28]

Death Vans Are a Profit Machine: They are Used for Organ Transplantation and Lethal Injection is Better for a Fast Harvest

It has been reported that the Chinese government uses mobile execution units to harvest organs from prisoners condemned to death. [29] Human rights activists and death penalty opponents fear that China is using lethal injection more frequently to harvest the organs of executed prisoners to supply China's growing market for organ transplants. [30] Amnesty International is also concerned with China using lethal injection for the purposes of facilitating organ transplants from executed prisoners.[31]

These Silent, Mobile Death Vans are Viewed as Helping the Black Market Human Organ Market to Florish and Grow

The Executive Director of Human Rights in China states that the mobile execution vans help facilitate the black-market trade in organ sales because independent monitoring organizations, like the Red Cross, are denied access to prisons or labor camps. [32] With the secrecy already surrounding executions and organ harvesting in China, the death vans only aid in the business of black-market organ transplants. [33] Critics positively see a link between the silently rolling death vans and the organ trade.[34]

Amnesty International Reports on How Lethal Injection is Preferable in Human Organ Harvesting

According to Amnesty International, the chemicals used for lethal injection, which have neurological and neuromuscular effect, can be flushed through the kidneys without causing permanent damage. [35] The chief concern with damaging organs during execution is depriving the organs of oxygen or harming them physically through trauma. [36] Lethal injection allows the executioner to avoid both of these risks. [37] Although the drugs used for lethal injection in China is not publicly known, even the poisonous mix used in the United States would not damage the vital organs desired for transplants. [38]

With a shot of the anticoagulant, Heparin, beforehand, even a heart could be transplanted if removed quickly. [39] By leaving the body whole via lethal injection, organs can be extracted more quickly and effectively compared to execution by gunshot.[40]

Chinese Doctors Harvesting Human Organs With Grieving Family Members Just Outside the Van

Prior to the death vans, doctors had to hurriedly perform the organ extraction directly at the execution site before they were detected by the common people. [41] During one particular organ extraction inside an ambulance at the execution site, the doctors could hear people outside of the ambulance. [42] Because the doctors feared that those people might have been the prisoner's family, they left the job half finished. [43] The corpse was then hastily thrown in a plastic bag and left on the flatbed of the crematorium truck. [44] As the ambulance drove away, the people outside pelted the vehicle with stones. [45] Therefore, the windowless death vans would provide a much safer venue for the doctors and police officers performing the executions and organ extractions.

[20] Executed, supra note 5, at 44.

[21]Id. at 48.

[22] Charleton, supra note 3, ¶ 5.

[23] Executed, supra note 5, at 48.

[24]Id. at 50.

[25] MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 4.

[26] Antoaneta Bezlova, Death Penalty-China: Rapid Death by Roaming, Inter Press Service News Agency (Italy), July 19, 2006, ¶ 2, http://www.ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=34023 (last visited July 29, 2008).

[27] Charleton, supra note 3, ¶ 6.

[28] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶ 2.

[29] Joan E. Hemphill, Comment: China's Practice of Procuring Organs from Executed Prisoners: Human Rights Groups Must Narrowly Taylor Their Criticism and Endorse the Chinese Constitution to End Abuses, 16 Pac. Rim L. & Pol'y 431, 440 (Mar. 2007).

[30] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶ 16.

[31] People's Republic of China the Olympics Countdown-Failing to Keep Human Rights Promises, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/046/2006), Sept. 2006, at 2 [hereinafter Failing], available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/046/2006/en/dom-ASA170462006en.pdf (last visited July 29, 2008).

[32] Bezlova, supra note 26, ¶¶ 20-21.

[33] Id. ¶¶ 20-22.

[34] Id. ¶ 16; MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 7.

[35] Carers, supra note 14, at 16.

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Craig S. Smith, In Shift, Chinese Carry Out Executions by Lethal Injection, The N.Y. Times, Dec. 28, 2001, ¶ 11, available at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900E0D91131F93BA15751C1A9679C8B63 (last visited July 28, 2008).

[39] Id.

[40]MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 8.

[41] See Organs, supra note 4, at 59 (statement of Wang Guoqi, former doctor, Chinese PLA Hospital).

[42] Id.

[43] Id.

[44] Id.

[45] Id.
Next Friday: Who are the Falun Gong and How are they involved?

In Depth Look at the Law: China's Death Penalty - 1: The Death Vans and Black Market Organ Trade

The death van silently rolls into town collecting and executing condemned inmates. Falun Gong practitioners suddenly disappear or die unexplained deaths.

Both actions derive from the Chinese government's corruption and greed.

Substantial evidence demonstrates that China is grossly profiting from the black-market organ trade by using condemned prisoners and Falun Gong captives to supply much needed organs to high-paying customers.

Seeking to avoid backlash from the international community, especially in this highly publicized time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has deceptively utilized the more inconspicuous death vans and Falun Gong captives to continue its illegal organ extraction and transplantation activities.

The death penalty has been employed in China since the dawn of recorded history.[1]

Scholars date the first recorded public execution in China as early as 2601 B.C. [2] According to Epoch Times, there are 320 offenses that are currently punishable by death in China.[3]

Many of those executed in China are not even considered criminals by internationally accepted standards. [4] In fact, sixty-nine percent of the capital crimes covered by the Chinese criminal code are not violent in nature.[5]

For example, capital crimes include engaging in tax fraud, producing counterfeit currency, embezzling state property, demanding or accepting bribes, smuggling contraband across China's borders, pimping, and killing panda bears. [6] In addition, some capital crimes are vague, which include funding or committing terrorist crimes, belonging to a terrorist organization, and producing, trading, and storing toxic chemicals without authorization.[7]

Defendants sentenced to death are often executed within minutes or hours after the failure of their appeal.[8]

Instead of providing any thought to the comfort of prisoners condemned to death, the emphasis is placed on exhibiting the Chinese government's swift and firm hand of justice. [9] One research foundation estimated that 7,500-8,000 Chinese people were executed in 2006 alone. [10]

Death vans

In March 2003, the Chinese official press reported that the Yunnan Province purchased eighteen mobile execution units or "death vans." [11] The death vans shuttle from town to town doling out capital punishment.[12]

These mobile execution units were buses that were bought and converted for 500,000 Yuan each.[13] The vans are windowless, converted twenty-four seat buses that contain a metal bed where the prisoner is strapped down in preparation for execution. [14] The van is also equipped with a video monitor next to the driver's seat. [15] Once the procedure begins, the doctor inserts the needle, and the police officer presses a button to release the lethal cocktail into the prisoner's veins.[16]

The Supreme People's Court has urged all the courts throughout China to purchase these death vans to facilitate efficient executions.[17]

The death vans are more cost-effective, especially for small rural areas, to carry out local executions. [18] Otherwise, these small regions would need to build execution facilities or send their inmates to Beijing to be executed.[19]

Next week: More on the Death Vans and their use for organ transplantation; the methods of execution in China, and more....

[1]. Kelly M. Brown, Comment: Execution for Profit? A Constitutional Analysis of China's Practice of Harvesting Executed Prisoner' Organs, 6 Seton Hall Const. L.J. 1029, 1062 (Summer 1996).

[2]. Id.

[3]. Dennis Charleton, Mobile Death Vans - Good for Human Rights?, The Epoch Times, July 2, 2006, ¶ 4, available at http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-7-2/43479.html (last visited Jul. 28, 2008).

[4]. Organs for Sale: China's Growing Trade and Ultimate Violation of Prisoners' Rights: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Int'l. Ops. and Human Rights of the Comm. on Int'l. Relations, 107th Cong. 8 (2001) [hereinafter Organs] (statement of Cal. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Member, Comm. on Int'l. Relations).

[5]. People's Republic of China: Executed "According to Law"?-the Death Penalty in China, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/003/2004) Mar. 22, 2004, at 9 [hereinafter Executed], available at http://www.amnesty.ca/amnestynews/upload/asa1700304.pdf (last visited Jul. 28, 2008).

[6]. Id.

[7]. Id. at 10.

[8]. Id. at 44.

[9]. Id. at 45

[10]. People's Republic of China the Olympics Countdown: Repression of Activists Overshadows Death Penalty and Media Reforms, Amnesty Int'l (ASA 17/015/2007), Apr. 2007, at 8 [hereinafter Repression], available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/015/2007/en/dom-ASA170152007en.pdf (last visited July 28, 2008).

[11]. Executed, supra note 5, at 2.

[12]. Calum MacLeod, China Makes Ultimate Punishment Mobile, USA Today, June 15, 2006, ¶ 3, available at http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-06-14-death-van_x.htm (last visited July 28, 2008).

[13]. Executed, supra note 5, at 2. 500, 000 Yuan equals $60,000 USD.

[14]. Stop Carers Killing, Amnesty Int'l (ACT 50/009/2007), Sept. 27, 2007, at 3 [hereinafter Carers], available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/009/2007/en/dom-ACT500092007en.pdf (last visited July 28, 2008).

[15]. Id.

[16]. Id.

[17]. Id.

[18]. MacLeod, supra note 12, ¶ 14.

[19]. Id. ¶¶ 14, 20.

 
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