British government 'ignored' Chinese organ harvesting, Tribunal rules

Gabriella Swerling
Dr Enver Tohti, a former surgeon in China who now works as an Uber driver in the UK, claims he was ordered to “cut deep and work fast” on a victim who was still alive - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

The British government ignored continued organ harvesting in China to avoid acknowledging “an inconvenient truth”, an independent tribunal has suggested.

Fore more than a decade, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been accused of “acts of cruelty and wickedness” that match those of “medieval torturers and executioners”. Victims have allegedly had their bodies cut open - some while still alive - for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale.

However today for the first time, an independent tribunal concluded that China is a “criminal state” which, “beyond reasonable doubt” has committed crimes against humanity, acts of torture, and that enemies of the state continue to be medically tested and killed for their organs.

The Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting of Prisoners of Conscience in China, known as the China Tribunal, heard evidence from medical experts, human rights investigators and alleged victims over a six-month period.

In a judgment lasting an hour-and-a-half and read out before hundreds of people including international media in London the Tribunal Chairman, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal, criticised the British government for failing to act.

Tribunal Chairman, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who led the prosecution of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal, criticised the British government for failing to act    Credit: Tele/Tele 

He said that the British government has “sought to dismiss the allegations without making a judgement based on consideration of known facts and evidence”, thereby enabling it to avoid finding “an inconvenient truth”.

He added: “Countries testing grave allegations and not letting the PRC escape oversight could have helped the PRC to understand that the practice in which it was engaged had to stop if it was to find a place in the world of something more than an enormously powerful commercial partner and competitor of other states, large and small.”

Dr Enver Tohti, 57, was among those who gave evidence to the Tribunal. He was working as a surgeon in Urumqi in northwest China in 1995 when he was asked by his bosses: “do you want to do something wild?”.

As a keen young doctor, he said yes and the following day he was driven to the Western Mountain Execution Grounds where he saw around 15 bodies on the mountain side. All of them had been shot in the head.

However he was ordered to “cut deep and work fast” on one victim whom he claimed had not been anaesthetised and who had been shot in the chest.

“I started cutting down the middle and then he started struggling and I knew then that he was still alive,” the father-of-three told The Telegraph, “but he was too weak to resist me.”

“I saw there was blood coming out of the cut which means the heart is still pumping,” he added. He was ordered to remove the liver and both kidneys, sew the body back up, and “remember that today nothing happened”.

Dr Tothi, who now works as an Uber driver in the UK, has suffered flashbacks and nightmares following the incident and now dedicates his life to campaigning for awareness of the practice.

Followers of Falun Gong, a religious spiritual practice, were "certainly" among those used as a source for "forced organ harvesting" in recent decades - and there was a "risk" that Uighur Muslims have suffered similar treatment, the Tribunal found.

The Tribunal alleged that hospitals could request organs to be extracted "on demand" from donors - without their consent.

In 2015, Beijing had pledged to stop using executed inmates as a source of organ transplants. However the Tribunal said it is "satisfied that [the practice] is continuing".

Yesterday The Telegraph revealed that almost 20 children and adults at risk of having their organs harvested  by criminal gangs or authorities have fled to the UK in recent years.

Sir Geoffrey said that when asked questions in Parliament, Baroness Goldie and Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, referred to ‘analysis’ and ‘assessment’ of the available material as to why they had reached the conclusion that there is “insufficient evidence” to confirm that organ harvesting is ongoing.

As a result, the Tribunal contacted Mr Field, asking for this “analysis or assessment that must exist” and inviting him to give evidence, which he declined.

“No analysis of the kind - that certainly should exist - has been provided and the answers by ministers to questions in both Houses of Parliament do nothing to explain the Government’s position apart from by their placing some reliance on the World Health Organisation,” Sir Geoffrey concluded.

“Governments around the world and international organisations, all required to protect the rights of mankind, have expressed doubt as to the accusations thereby justifying their doing nothing to save those who were indue course to be killed to order,” he added.

There is currently no law in the UK preventing British patients travelling to China for transplant surgery.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “Of course any claims of organ harvesting are disturbing. We have noted this report and will read it carefully.

“The UK government is very concerned about Human Rights in China, and Ministers raise these concerns regularly with their Chinese counterparts.”

A statement from the Chinese Embassy said: "The Chinese government always follows the World Health Organization's guiding principles on human organ transplant, and has strengthened its management on organ transplant in recent years."