Liver on sale for $160k: Uyghur organs ‘harvested’ in China's black markets
The series of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the government of China against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the country's Xinjiang region has once again come to the spotlight. A report claimed that Beijing is making billions of dollars on the black market by forcibly harvesting the organs of its vulnerable minorities – an alarming allegation that, if proved true, would expectedly lead to a call for action from the international community.
The recent report regarding the alleged Uyghur abuses was featured, according to the ANI news agency, in the Herald Sun – a morning tabloid newspaper based in Australia's Melbourne. As per the agency, the report contains many gruesome details about how a “healthy liver fetches around USD 160,000” in the organ shacks of the black market, and that this trade churns out an annual turnover of “at least USD 1 billion” for China.
Notably, this is not the first time that allegations have been raised regarding organ harvesting in the detention centres of China. In June earlier this year, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) said that its human rights experts were “extremely alarmed” by reports of “alleged ‘organ harvesting’ targeting minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians, in detention in China.”
The UN human rights experts said they have received credible information that detainees from ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities may be forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations such as ultrasound and X-rays, without their informed consent; while other prisoners are not required to undergo such examinations. The results of the examinations are reportedly registered in a database of living organ sources that facilitates organ allocation.
In its recent report, the Herald Sun daily elaborated on the procedures, including forced organ harvesting and sterilisation, that the Uyghur and other minorities are allegedly subjected to in China. The hospitals that carry out the organ transplant, the report said, are reportedly found not too far away from the detention centres. It revealed that the number of performed operations in the hospitals and the short waiting lists indicate there has been “forced organ harvesting” for a very long time on a large scale.
Nearly 80,000 Uyghurs were trafficked to factories across the country between 2017 and 2019, the newspaper reported, citing a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). “In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances,” the ASPI report stated.
Citing an investigation published in the Taiwan News, the newspaper reported that the assets worth $84 billion were seized from the Uyghurs in recent years, real estate comprising the majority of such assets.
According to the allegations received by the United Nations earlier this year, the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers. "This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists,” the UNHCR noted.
UN human rights experts, however, pointed out the issue to the Chinese government in 2006 and 2007. The government, in turn, responded with statements that lacked data such as waiting times for organ allocation or information on the sources of organs. “In this context, the lack of available data and information-sharing systems are obstacles to the successful identification and protection of victims of trafficking and effective investigation and prosecution of traffickers,” the UN said.