“Organ harvesting is a lucrative business that is state-sponsored in China and specifically targets Falun Gong practitioners as well as other prisoners of conscience, which is unacceptable,” Czech MEP Tomas Zdechovsky said in his introductory speech at an event organized at the Press Club in Brussels on 29 June, on the eve of the EU rotating presidency by the Czech Republic.
The conference was an initiative of EU Today which had invited to the debate [watch full conference below]
- Carlos Iglesias, head of the legal team of NGO Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH)
- Nico Bijnens, President of Falun Gong Belgium,
- A Chinese Falun Gong practitioner who had been a victim of the repression of the Chinese Communist Party, and
- Willy Fautre, director of the Brussels-based watchdog Human Rights Without Frontiers.
“I was one of those MEPs who tabled the last resolution against this practice adopted by the European Parliament on 5 May last,” Zdechovsky said.
During the conference, the attendees could watch a video showing several phone conversations between a potential client abroad in search of an organ and several hospitals in China. It could be concluded from those discussions that human organs could be provided to him, even “à la carte.” Indeed, the foreign client asked with insistence to get an organ from a Falun Gong practitioner because “those people have a healthy life, do not smoke or use drugs” and the potential traffickers in the hospitals agreed to this sort of transaction.
In the resolution, the Parliament is calling on the Chinese authorities to promptly respond to the allegations of organ harvesting and to allow independent monitoring by international human rights mechanisms, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Up to now, there has not been any constructive response.
The Parliament is concerned over the lack of independent oversight as to whether prisoners or detainees provide valid consent to organ donation. Its resolution also denounces the lack of information from the Chinese authorities on reports that the families of deceased detainees and prisoners are being prevented from claiming their bodies.
The EU and its Member States should raise the issue of organ harvesting in China at every Human Rights Dialogue, said MEP Zdechovsky, who insisted that the EU Member States should publicly condemn organ transplant abuses in China
The resolution also warns EU citizens against transplant tourism to China and proposes to take the necessary measures in order to prevent such a business. No detail is however provided about the nature of such measures but some think this sort of tourism should be criminalized.
The issue has however become more complex since China has established transplant centers in the Gulf region which have advertised ‘halal organs’ which can only come from Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The Parliament calls on its Member States to ensure that their conventions and cooperation agreements with non-EU countries, including China, in the area of health and research respect the EU’s ethical principles in relation to organ donation and the use for scientific purposes of elements and products of the human body.
On the eve of its presidency of the EU, the Czech Republic should consider the resolution of the Parliament about the issue of forced organ harvesting as a matter of priority.