The Canadian House of Commons on Monday last week voted 266-0 to declare Beijing’s ongoing persecution of its Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including Uighurs, to be genocide within the 1948 Genocide Convention. The motion also called on the Canadian government to push for relocation of the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing if this crime against humanity does not cease.
Chinese “President-for-life” Xi Jinping (習近平) is attempting to change the narrative by asserting that his government has eliminated extreme poverty. However, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in May said that “there are over 600 million people whose monthly income is barely 1,000 yuan [US$155], not enough to rent a room.”
The Dutch parliament was the first European body to declare the persecution genocide; other democracies should do likewise. US President Joe Biden’s administration has already accepted former US president Donald Trump’s genocide designation for what is happening in Xinjiang.
Mass slaughter of a minority community is the most common feature of a genocide, such as Rwanda in 1994, but murdering large numbers of specified groups to sell their organs should also qualify. China is unique among about 200 independent countries today in that its organ transplant commerce system is government-run rather than a criminal offense by unscrupulous surgeons.
Enver Tohti, a Uighur, has detailed how in 1995, as a surgeon in a Urumqi hospital in Xinjiang, he was sent to an execution ground to remove the kidneys and liver from a living prisoner. In 2019, Tohti publicized a photograph of the “Human Organ Transportation Green-Path” at Urumqi Airport, which expedites the transport of organs to global recipients.
Radio Free Asia reported that a hospital for infectious diseases in Aksu City was transformed into an internment camp with a large crematorium nearby and a “green corridor” for expedited organs at nearby Aksu Airport.
In 2014, Ethan Gutmann, in his book The Slaughter, placed the persecution of the Falun Gong, Uighur, Tibetan and Christian communities in context. He explained his “best estimate” that organs of 65,000 Falun Gong, and 2,000 to 4,000 Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians were pillaged from 2000 to 2008.
In 2017, Beijing began erecting a “re-education” gulag for Muslim communities similar to that established for Falun Gong practitioners after mid-1999. Both networks receive inmates arrested by police without a hearing, trial or appeal — a totalitarian practice invented in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Encircled by barbed wire, surveillance cameras and armed guards are labor camps where Turkic minorities work for little or no pay.
Recent news items have had a major effect on international opinion. Uighur women now living as refugees outside China describe inhuman rapes and torture they and other victims experienced in concentration camps.
Xinjiang refugees describe DNA and blood tests during their internment.
Gutmann has said the tests are “indisputably for tissue typing,” adding that as organ tourists often pay much higher prices than most Chinese citizens, each prisoner could be worth about US$750,000 for their vital organs.
Maya Mitalipova, director of the Human Stem Cell Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agreed, saying that “entire population of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims ... [has] been forcefully health checked and ... blood samples ... withdrawn... These procedures were performed only [on the] Muslim population.”
All governments should join the countries that ban “organ tourism” to China for transplant surgery. Any bilateral or multilateral agreement with Beijing must insist that this barbaric practice stop immediately, coupled with a mechanism whereby the termination is verifiable.
Responsible governments and businesses worldwide should join the US and Australia in boycotting anyone doing business in Xinjiang. Forced labor in its internment camps is poisoning the supply chain of numerous well-known companies from democracies.
On Sept. 22 last year, the US House of Representatives passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which states that unless the US Customs and Border Patrol can verify that goods are not produced using forced labor, they cannot enter the country.
The UK-based Independent People’s Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting, under chair Sir Geoffrey Nice, concluded that Falun Gong members were the primary victims of the harvest, but since 2017, a comprehensive DNA collection of everyone from Xinjiang’s Uighur community has created a large pool of potential donors from which evidence of harvesting might emerge.
All nations with Magnitsky laws should apply targeted sanctions against any Chinese government official known to be involved in organ harvesting. If democracies, including Muslim-majority ones, show more commitment to their values, the despicable commerce might soon end.
David Kilgour is a former Canadian federal lawmaker from Alberta and Cabinet minister.
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