Uyghur advocates welcome US bill against organ harvesting

Uyghur advocates welcome US bill against organ harvesting
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
02 March, 2023
A US House bill has been introduced to combat organ harvesting and trafficking, which is being hailed as a step forward by Uyghur human rights advocates.
US congressional bill introduced to address alleged harvesting of Uyghur organs. [Getty]

Members of the Uyghur community and their allies are welcoming a US congressional bill that has been introduced to address organ harvesting and human trafficking.

"The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) joins the Uyghur American Association (UAA) and Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) in welcoming Tuesday’s unanimous House Foreign Affairs Committee approval of a forced organ harvesting bill in the US House of Representatives," the UHRP noted in a public statement following the introduction of the bill. 

The House bill, "To combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking in persons for purposes of the removal of organs, and for other purposes", introduced by Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, has bipartisan support with co-sponsorship from another Republican and two Democrats.

"What has become apparent through open-source investigation and witness accounts, is that there is one country—one country in particular—which is engaged in state-sponsored harvesting of human organs from otherwise healthy human beings, on a systematic and industrial scale in absolute violation of ethics governing transplantation," said Smith, according to a statement from his office. "That country is the People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party."

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The bill would require reports on forced organ harvesting and trafficking, impose sanctions on those involved in organ trafficking, and block their visas to the US.

China has long been suspected and accused of taking the organs of members of its Turkic community and other minorities in detention for the purposes of medical transplants. According a 2021 United Nations report, human rights experts said they had received credible information of minority detainees being subjected to intrusive medical exams, while other prisoners tend to not receive the same treatment.

"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," they said. "We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief."

The UN human rights experts said, according to their sources who reported the allegations, that the most common organs removed from detainees are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers, with medical professionals involved in the trafficking.

"The complicity of the transplant industry in this heinous crime has to be stopped. We urge passage of the bill on the House floor and quick Senate take-up," said Omer Kanat, executive director of the UHRP, in a public statement. "We are very thankful to Representatives Smith, McCaul, Keating and Manning for their leadership."