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.

[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'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, Apr. 25, 2006, ¶¶ 13-14, (last visited July 29, 2008).

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



[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 (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 (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 (last visited July 29, 2008).

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


[70]Id. at 35.

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

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

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