While China harvests human organs from its persecuted minorities, Britain is staying silent to protect free trade

Chinese camps containing more than one million Uighurs in the Xinjiang province are viewed as mass ‘organ banks’, where medics inspect the toll of dead prisoners and help themselves to useful parts from murdered human beings

Nabila Ramdani
Wednesday 25 September 2019 17:21 BST
Uighur Muslim woman tells Congressional-Executive Commission on China she asked Chinese to kill her whilst in detention camp

As Britain contemplates a brave new era of international free trade beyond Europe, the People’s Republic of China features prominently in its economic future. The dealings between the UK and the world’s most populous country already represents a market worth more than £66bn. Bilateral trade with China has reached peak levels, and the current Conservative government is convinced that the amount of goods and services exchanged between the two nations will multiply after Brexit.

Beijing is certainty excited about the opportunities: a statement from China’s commerce ministry last year announced that it had agreed to “actively explore the possibility of discussing a top-notch free trade agreement between the two sides after Brexit”.

In turn, Conservative ministers have put all considerations about the morality of such a deal to one side, focusing instead on their sacred cows of liberalisation and the free market in their negotiations with criminal regimes. Britain’s arms exports to belligerent allies such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and India are frequently criticised, along with other states involved in the widespread persecution of racial and religious minorities.

The collusion with China raises matters to yet another grotesquely macabre level.

The UN Human Rights Council has been told that China is actively selling human organs on an industrial scale, to be used in transplants. Evidence comes from the London-based China Tribunal, an independent body investigating and exposing the highly lucrative global trade in organ harvesting.

Comparisons with the Nazi regime are entirely appropriate when we consider that many of these organs have been harvested from those who are viewed as enemies of the Chinese state. They include members of the Falun Gong spiritual group, who practice a form of Buddhism. China’s ruling Communist Party pledged to eradicate them 20 years ago, and the crackdown has continued unabated ever since. Tibetans and members of some Christian minorities are also suffering the same fate.

Now Muslims are also high on the list of China’s internal adversaries, with so-called “re-education centres” being used to incarcerate them. There are now more than 20 million Muslims in China – the figure still makes them a significant minority in a country with a total population of 1.4 billion – and many are Uighurs, an ethnic group that originated in Turkey.

The concentration camps contain Uighurs who have been interned without trial and are subjected to the most terrible abuses imaginable. The UN has been advised that the crimes against the Uighurs that have been “proved beyond reasonable doubt” include being operated upon while still alive, and having their ears, kidneys, livers, lungs, cornea and skin removed.

A more cruel death is scarcely fathomable, and it is followed up by a victim’s remains being packaged and sold off for use in transplant operations and medical testing.

Chillingly, the camps containing more than a million Uighurs in the Xinjiang province are used as mass organ “banks”, where medics inspect the toll of dead prisoners and help themselves to useful parts from recently murdered human beings.

Beijing denies any wrongdoing, claiming that the forensic proof levelled against it is the result of nothing more than “rumours”. It admits that organs were taken out of executed prisoners up until 2015, but suggests that this practice has now stopped.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Yet Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, chair of the China Tribunal and prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia who led the case against Slobodan ​Milosevic, has heard compelling evidence from human rights and medical experts, as well as other witnesses about the Chinese organ trade. Quite rightly, he has said that the international community “can no longer avoid what it is inconvenient for them to admit”.

While China is earning an estimated £800m a year from its organ trade, countries such as Britain are looking forward to raking in far more in future Anglo-Sino economic transactions. So the UK will certainly play down the words of Hamid Sabi, a senior lawyer for the China Tribunal who, presenting their findings to the UN’s Council in Geneva this week, said events inside China now amounted to the “genocide” of racial and religious enemies. Sabi argued that these “crimes against humanity” were certainly comparable to the way the Nazis gassed the Jews, the way Rwandan Tutsis were butchered, and the manner in which the Khmer Rouge exterminated their foes. He called on the Council to take urgent action.

Like China, Britain is a UN Member State. It is about time it took these barbarous acts seriously, and made the protection of human lives paramount in all trade relations.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in