Tuesday’s vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a measure to punish those involved in China’s decades-old program of harvesting organs from political prisoners, a horrifying practice that experts believe became significantly more widespread after the establishment of Muslim concentration camps in 2017.
The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023 was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who also organized a hearing on the subject last year. During the hearing, experts on the topic discussed the testimonies of survivors of concentration camps who saw victims who were typically 28 years old go missing after medical tests “in the middle of the night,” believing they were killed for their organs. Members of the Falun Gong spiritual organization have long accused China of killing its members in order to sell their organs on the black market, in addition to the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims who were imprisoned in China under tyrant Xi Jinping.
After his measure was approved by the committee on Wednesday, Smith released a statement. “Under Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, the depravity of murdering between 60,000 and 100,000 young victims per year—average age 28—to steal their organs is unthinkable,” Smith stated. The bill was unanimously approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to be brought up for discussion and possible passage on the House floor.
The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act, a bipartisan measure sponsored by Reps. Bill Keating (D-MA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Kathy Manning (D-NC), among other things, would require the government of the United States to report on human trafficking for the purpose of stealing their organs and penalize those found engaging in live organ harvesting and the black market sale of stolen organs. The Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport to an American found guilty of breaking the law against stealing organs, while the law permits the expulsion from American land of foreigners found guilty of the activity. The consequences differ based on the nationality of the person involved. The regulation might theoretically apply to the rest of the nation, but it would not prevent an accused foreigner, such as Xi Jinping, from visiting the United Nations headquarters in New York due to previously established accords with the UN.
According to Rep. Smith’s office, the bill would “block and prevent all transactions in property as well as interests in property and make that individual inadmissible to the U.S. and ineligible to acquire a visa” if it were to become law.
The Chinese Communist Party has been employing political prisoners as unwitting organ donors since the 1990s, according to a pile of evidence gathered over years of careful research by human rights advocates, journalists, and specialists on human trafficking. The practice most certainly started in East Turkistan, the homeland of the Uyghurs, at least in 1990, according to Enver Tohti, an Uyghur surgeon who has frequently testified about being forced to remove organs from at least one prisoner. Tohti claims that in 1995, he was made to cut the heart out of a man who appeared to be a prisoner and had just been shot in the head by communist officials in China. When he removed the man’s kidneys and liver, the heart seemed to be still pumping.
Tohti told the Canadian House of Commons, “My main surgeons were thrilled to put those organs, a liver, and two kidneys, inside a bizarre-looking box. They then instructed the crew to return to the hospital and to keep in mind that nothing happened today.”
The first comprehensive investigations exposing the Chinese government’s organ harvesting programs, “Bloody Harvest” and “The Slaughter,” by former Canadian MP David Kilgour, human rights attorney David Matas, and writer Ethan Gutmann, were made possible in significant part by Tohti’s disclosures. According to the studies, targets included Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, and Christians in addition to Uyghur inmates. The researchers noticed differences between China’s reported donated organs and the number of transplants documented at the national level when they first started their analyses.
During their testimony before Rep. Smith’s hearing on forced organ harvesting in May, Gutmann and Tohti confirmed that there is evidence to suggest the technique is still being used today.