The experts included special rapporteurs to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and members of a working group on arbitrary detention. They were "extremely alarmed" by reports of China's alleged "organ harvesting" that targeted minorities, including Tibetans, Muslims, Christians, Uyghurs and Falun Gong practitioners in detention in the country.
"Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic, or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations," the experts said in a joint statement from the OHCHR. "We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief."
Special rapporteurs are part of the largest body of independent experts in the U.N. human rights system. Among those involved were Siobhán Mullally, special rapporteur on trafficking in persons; Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues; Ahmed Shaheed; special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and Nils Melzer, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. (Related: The Chinese government is generating a fortune by harvesting organs from religious prisoners ... and nobody is doing anything about it.)
The experts, who serve as independent specialists for the U.N. human rights system and are not tied to any government, came to their conclusion based on what the OHCHR said was "credible information" that certain categories of detainees in China were being forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations without their consent. The OHCHR said that the results of these tests, which included X-rays and ultrasound tests, were reportedly registered in a database of living organ sources used to match organs to potential recipients.
"According to the allegations received, the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas, and, less commonly, parts of livers," the experts said. "This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anesthetists, and other medical specialists."
According to the OHCHR, the issue of forced organ harvesting has been previously raised by the experts with Chinese authorities in 2006 and 2007. But the response that the Chinese authorities has lacked critical data such as the waiting times for organ allocation or the information on the sources of the 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 OHCHR stated. It added that a separate U.N. human rights investigation mechanism highlighted concerns about removing organs from prisoners of a certain religious minority, though it did not specify which.
"Despite the gradual development of a voluntary organ donation system, information continues to emerge regarding serious human rights violations in the procurement of organs for transplants in China," the experts added.
China has pushed back against the OHCHR's report calling it "disinformation."
Liu Yuyin, a spokesman for the Chinese mission in Geneva, condemned the experts, saying that they had "slandered" China, which "staunchly opposes and categorically rejects the accusations."
"We are deeply alarmed that the special procedure mandate holders in question, lacking rudimentary thinking capability and judgment, have fallen for those clumsy lies," said Liu in a statement.
According to Liu, the experts had "ignored the authoritative information provided by the Chinese government and chose to take the disinformation provided by anti-China separatist forces and the evil cult 'Falun Gong.'"
"China is a country under the rule of law,” Liu added. "The trading of human organs and illegal organ transplantation are strictly prohibited by law."
Liu then called on the U.N. experts to "immediately correct their mistakes," stop their "blatant slandering of China" and "act in an impartial and objective manner."
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