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China’s other big business: Harvesting organs from prisoners while they’re still alive

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It has long been claimed that China performs organ removal from executed prisoners for transplants AFP/Getty Images

WARNING: Disturbing content

It’s a story straight out of a horror movie, but it’s been common practice in China for more than a decade.

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State-run hospitals have secretly harvested body parts from tens of thousands of prisoners, removing their vital organs while they are still alive.

Filmmaker Leon Lee has been following the researchers trying to bring down this inhumane and illegal industry. He says what they found was a form of evil we have not yet seen on this planet.

The Chinese government continues to illegally harvest organs from millions of its innocent prisoners despite saying it had ended the practice two years ago, a decade-long study has alleged.

Experts estimate between 60,000 and 100,000 organs are transplanted annually, and the majority of the hearts, livers and other organs are obtained by executing prisoners of conscience.

In all, approximately 1.5 million transplants have taken place at 712 liver and kidney transplant centres across China since 2000, with over 300,000 of those taking place at unregulated centres.

The report also found many surgeons had simply “lost count” of the quantity of transplants they had been asked to perform on a daily basis, with some having undertaken as many as six liver removals in one day.

The findings were published in an update to the 2009 book ‘Bloody Harvest’ and the 2014 book ‘The Slaughter’.

Falun Gong is a unique form of meditative practice established in 1992 and the Chinese government has fought to eradicate it for decades.

It has long been believed Falun Gong practitioners are being executed ‘on demand’ by the Chinese government, to compensate for the country’s shortage of organ donors.

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Most of the victims are thought to be members of the banned Falun Gong movement.

In 2006, reports emerged that the country’s leaders were executing members of the Falun Gong movement — a quasi-religious group with millions of followers, which is banned in China.

“The vast majority are Falun Gong practitioners,” said Lee. “There are also political dissidents and activists. They are taken without informing the family members.

“In a few cases, the family have accidentally got to see pictures of the body, and could see the surgery line. When they questioned the police, they said it had been suicide and they had done an autopsy.”

Matas and Kilgour, both Nobel Peace Prize nominees, have been speaking across the world about what’s happening, despite having had death threats. They want to see the names of those involved go on a list to face the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The report was researched and authored by former Canadian secretary of state David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas and journalist Ethan Gutmann to expose widespread medical wrong-doing in the Asian country

China has denied the allegations, and even made a documentary of its own in retaliation to Lee’s Human Harvest. It claims all organ donors are volunteers, and that the practice will stop in August regardless. Not everyone is convinced.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has been running an anti-corruption campaign, arresting those loyal to ex-leader Jiang Zemin, who were responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong.

Recent remarks from Xi’s top officials suggest the state is shifting its stance, pointing the finger at former security chief Zhou Yongkang for the organ harvesting.

It looks as though the billion-dollar industry is set to die, but it is far too late for the many victims of this abominable crime.

Find out more on the story and watch Leon Lee’s Human Harvest documentary on the SBS website.

China’s cultural revolution 50 years later

The Chinese Communist Party has engaged the state in the mass killings of innocents

The Chinese government officially state that 10,000 organ transplants take place in the country each year, but the trio believe this figure is far lower than the real quantity.

In a statement, Matas said: “We can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals.

“That increased discrepancy leads us to conclude that there has been a far larger slaughter of practitioners of Falun Gong for their organs than we had originally estimated.

“The ultimate conclusion is that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged the state in the mass killings of innocents.”

Falun Gong practitioners were forced to undergo medical tests before their results were put on a database of living organ sources so quick organ matches could be made, the authors claim.

In response to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference: “I want to say that such stories about forced organ harvesting in China are imaginary and baseless — they don’t have any factual foundation.”

In 2014, China announced that it would end the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners and move to a voluntary donation-based system.

Last year Amnesty International confirmed China remains the world’s largest executioner of prisoners in the charity’s annual report.

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