A group of researchers claim that the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners in China has persisted despite the government’s pledge of eradicating the practice in 2009.
The Chinese government has been collecting organs from executed prisoners to fulfill the huge demand from hospitals, reported Quartz. While it has denied the allegation for decades, China admitted to the practice in 2005.
The 718-page report, published by a human rights advocate team made up of lawyer David Matas, journalist Ethan Gutmann and former Canadian politician David Kilgour, revealed that hospitals have conducted transplant procedures with or without official permission to do so.
After tracking organ transplant numbers from select hospitals, the paper found that while only 164 hospitals in China were given official approval to conduct transplants, 712 hospitals continued to do the procedures anyway.
“Despite not being approved by the Ministry of Health, many of these facilities have not halted their transplant activities and some of these non-approved institutions had significant transplant volumes,” the study read. “Compared to the Ministry-approved hospitals, these institutions have more flexibility to obtain living organ sources through various channels and to continue organ harvesting.”
According to the data obtained from the Chinese government-run Xinhua news, only 10,000 organ transplants were said to be conducted in 2015. The figure was debunked by the researchers in its report.
“The (Communist Party) says the total number of legal transplants is about 10,000 per year. But we can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals,” Matas said in a statement.
Further research confirmed that all hospitals, with or without permission, have been conducting transplant procedures at around 60,000 to 100,000 transplants annually. The enormous gap allegedly consisted of executed prisoners who were imprisoned for their religious or political beliefs.
The report also revealed that political prisoners are reportedly given regular blood tests and medical examinations to make sure that their organs remain healthy for transplant.
The researchers are set to testify at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
In an online statement, former chair of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said:
“China has been perpetuating perhaps some of the most gruesome and egregious human rights violations against the Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience, yet has hardly faced any criticism, let alone sanctions, for these abuses.”
On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Chinese government is enforcing “strict laws and regulations on this issue” and called the allegations “imaginary and baseless.”