May 3, 2022
A study published by the American Journal of Transplantation reveals how surgeons in China reportedly executed prisoners for their organs. Uyghur Muslims share their fearful memories of having their bodies checked as potentials whilst in detention.
“When I was in the concentration camp in Xinjiang my organs were scanned and many blood tests were done on me. I was so scared as I didn’t know why they were doing those tests,” Aisha, an Uyghur mother of three whose name has been changed for safety reasons told The New Arab.
Over the years China has repeatedly denied killing prisoners from minority groups such as Falun Gong, Uyghurs and Kazakhs for their organs. However, a new study reveals that the country has breached their own legislation of the Dead Donor Rule in China (DDR).
“Xinjiang is a minefield for organs and many of the prisoners in concentration camps are Uyghurs or minority groups. The Chinese government did this to Falun Gong minority prisoners years ago and now they are doing this to us”.
“Chinese doctors have personally conducted executions of prisoners on the operating table, using the tools of medicine,” explains Matthew Robertson.
The Australian National University researcher, who reviewed thousands of Chinese medical papers with research fellow Jacob Lavee, unearthed evidence from over 71 papers published between the years 1980 to 2015 that showed evidence of prisoners having their hearts removed before being medically brain dead.
“This is the first time a study on this topic has been published in a peer-reviewed journal and we hope that the global medical community looks closely at our findings,” Matthew, also a research fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, told The New Arab.
The DDR forbids the procurement of vital transplant organs from living donors and physicians are forbidden from participating in execution according to Chinese law. Evidence after 2015 from medical papers was seized as physicians stopped recording their procedures.
The majority of organ donations come from prisoners in China but to date, many hospitals in China have very short waiting times for organs. China is known to be the second-largest transplant country in the world after the United States.
“China is known to be the second-largest transplant country in the world after the United States”
Human rights researchers have found that China performs even more transplants than the biggest transplant provider in the US and have stated that they would perform 50,000 transplants by 2023.
“I have breathing problems and I think that saved me as I may have not been healthy,” Aisha adds. “I know other prisoners who were in the camps who were healthy and after going to medical checks we never saw them again.”
She is not the only one. Omir Birkali, an Uyghur Muslim was incarcerated in 2017. The doting husband and father was detained in three camps over a nine-month period.
“Once they put a bag on my head, took all of my clothes and checked all my bodily parts”
“When I was detained I had undergone immense torture including beatings and underwent many body checks. Once they put a bag on my head, took all of my clothes and checked all my bodily parts. I was so scared I thought they were going to butcher me whilst I was alive,” Omir told The New Arab.
‘The world must look back in shame’: The courageous Uyghur women ensuring China’s genocide is not erased from history https://t.co/gK4RrIjE8r
— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) April 6, 2022
Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong are all minority groups that have been affected by China’s discrimination against them, often being detained without a legitimate reason.
To date, more than one million Uyghur Muslims have been placed in concentration camps in Xinjiang. Those who have escaped have undergone torture, abuse and harrowing trauma.
Enver Tohti was an Uyghur surgeon in China who in 1999 was sent to an execution ground to perform surgery on what he believed to be dead prisoners.
“I could see around more than ten executed prisoners lying down on the slope of a mountain. I was told by my chief surgeon that now it was my job to take the organs out as quickly as possible,” explains Enver.
“When I cut through his heart the blood came out and that showed that his heart was still pumping blood and he was still alive. I froze at that stage and became like a robot having to perform the task I was made to do.”
The China Tribunal which was held in 2019 also found that China had been forcefully taking the organs from prisoners according to witness testimonies and evidence presented at the tribunal.
China denied this was the case and continues to evade accountability but human rights groups fear that without a medical record of the causes of death of prisoners and patients, forced organ harvesting may still be prevalent in China today.
Maryam, an Uyghur exile and mother who currently resides in Istanbul believes this is the case: “Xinjiang is a minefield for organs and many of the prisoners in concentration camps are Uyghurs or minority groups. They (the Chinese government) did this to Falun Gong minority prisoners years ago and now they are doing this to us.
“More needs to be investigated as I know many people have said organs are being sent to the Middle East at short time spans but they need to know that these may be the organs of their own Uyghur Muslim brothers and sisters that may have been killed for their organs.”
Tasnim Nazeer is an award-winning journalist, author, and Universal Peace Federation Ambassador. She has written for Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Middle East Eye, CNN, BBC, and others. She was awarded the FIPP the global network of media Rising Stars in Media Award 2018.