Lawmakers Want Info on Organs

Over 100 U.S. lawmakers have called on the State Department to release information it may have about organ transplant abuses in China, including any documents obtained from an ex-powerful Chinese police chief who sought refuge at a U.S. consulate.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, 106 members of Congress said the information could help stop such abuses in China, where organs have been extracted from both living prisoners and executed convicts, according to experts.

“Medical doctors in the United States and around the world are growing increasingly concerned about alleged unethical organ procurement practices and abuses of transplant medicine abroad,” the letter said.

“This is no truer than in China, where serious allegations suggest unimaginable abuses have occurred,” it said.  

'Personally involved'

The letter specifically requested the release of any information that may have been provided by Wang Lijun, the former police chief and deputy mayor of the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing whose 24-hour consulate visit in February is believed to have tipped off China’s biggest political scandal in decades.

“It is claimed by some that Wang Lijun may have been personally involved in these horrific organ harvesting practices on living prisoners,” the letter said.

The lawmakers referred to claims that Wang, who was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison for his attempted “defection” and other charges, may have revealed information about organs harvested from still-living practitioners of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement.

Wang, who was the right-hand man of fallen political star Bo Xilai, was also convicted for covering up the confessed murder of a British businessman by Bo’s wife Gu Kailai in a trial that rights groups said lacked transparency.

According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, a New York-based Falun Gong group, Wang has publicly admitted to being present at thousands of organ transplant procedures performed on prisoners, describing the experience as “soul-stirring.”

Congressional hearing

The lawmakers’ letter followed a congressional hearing on organ transplant practices in China in September, when medical experts and human rights researchers gave accounts of doctors in China taking organs from live prisoners.

Reports have implicated Chinese hospitals and doctors in the practice of forced organ harvesting from prisoners, including living practitioners of the Falun Gong movement, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and House Christians.

Beijing admits it relies on executed inmates for organ transplants but strongly denies that it deliberately executes prisoners to harvest organs.

Chinese state media have reported that two-thirds of transplant organs in the country come from prisoners.

The health ministry said in March that it plans to abolish organ harvesting from death-row inmates within the next five years.

Reported by Rachel Vandenbrink.