An independent panel of lawyers and experts claims China is murdering members of a religious spiritual group and harvesting their organs for transplants. Members of the China Tribunal said in a unanimous determination on Monday that the evidence clearly indicated forced organ harvesting had taken place over at least two decades, The Guardian reports—with the panel saying it was “certain that [the] Falun Gong [spiritual group] was a source—probably the principal source—of organs for forced organ harvesting”.
“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways, and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man,” said Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who chaired the tribunal. “There is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing.”
Members of religious minorities such as Falun Gong are allegedly among those who have been killed for their organs, based on evidence that the tribunal has accepted from medical experts and human rights investigators, among others. Falun Gong is a relatively young spiritual practice that combines meditation with a moral philosophy built upon tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It was first taught publicly in 1992, and the group first started being prosecuted in China in 1999, after it had attracted tens of millions of followers and was viewed as a threat to the communist party. Thousands of members have since been jailed, according to the ABC.
The tribunal said it was less clear whether the Uyghur Muslim minority had been victims of transplants, but noted that they were vulnerable to "being used as a bank of organs".
China dismissed claims that it was carrying out forced organ harvesting as untrue. The country announced in 2014 that it would cease the practice of removing organs for transplantation from executed prisoners, and has repeatedly denied accusations of doing so in recent years. China also insisted that it adheres to international medical standards which require organ donations to be made by consent and without any financial charges. It declined to participate in the tribunal, however, which was initiated by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China and its members—a group that examines whether crimes have been committed as a result of transplant practices in the country.
In an interim judgement released in December, the panel said it was "beyond doubt" that forced organ harvesting from prisoners has taken place "on a substantial scale by state-supported or approved organisations and individuals". It was further noted that their findings were "indicative" of genocide, though it was not clear enough to make a positive ruling.
The tribunal has invited governments and international groups to investigate the issue further.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.