‘The scalpel cut into the chest and blood gushed out,” recalled an unnamed policeman in Shenyang, China. “At that time, we had been interrogating and severely torturing her for about a week. She already had countless wounds on her body. We used electrical batons to torture her.”
The policemen described how a secretive government office had sent over two men: one a military surgeon, the other a graduate from a medical university. “No anaesthetics were used. They cut her chest with a knife without shaking hands,” he said.
When the woman, who belonged to the banned Falun Gong movement, shouted out in defiance, the surgeon hesitated. But after a nod from his superior, he continued. “It was extremely horrible,” the policeman said. “I can imitate her scream for you. It sounded like something was being ripped apart.”
Those words rolled across the screen just after the credits at the end of a new film, The Bleeding Edge, to a stunned audience of MPs at Speaker’s House, Westminster, this month. They expose the gruesome practice of forced organ harvesting in China, which the movie depicts. The film features the Chinese-born Canadian actress and Miss World contestant Anastasia Lin, who is leading a global campaign against the practice.
Today in China thousands of prisoners of conscience – potentially including unregistered “house church” Christians – are strapped to operating tables and cut apart by force. Their vital organs are then extracted and sold for use as transplants. In China, surgeons’ scalpels have become weapons of murder and those who wield them have become accomplices to a barbaric trade.
A new report published in June claims that forced organ harvesting is now occurring on a scale far larger than previously imagined. The researchers conducted a meticulous forensic inquiry into the public records of 712 hospitals in China carrying out liver and kidney transplants. They concluded that between 60,000 to 100,000 organs are transplanted each year in Chinese hospitals.
One hospital alone, the Oriental Organ Transplant Centre at the Tianjin First Central Hospital, is performing more than 6,000 transplants a year. China officially claims 10,000 organ transplants per annum, but the authors contend that this is “easily surpassed by just a few hospitals”. The evidence points to what human rights lawyer David Matas called the “mass killing of innocents” in his testimony to the US Congress.
The screening of The Bleeding Edge, hosted by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, was a significant step forward in an international campaign to bring this evidence to the attention of policy-makers. Earlier this year Anastasia Lin and the journalist Ethan Gutmann testified at hearings held by the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, along with Dr Enver Tohti, an Uighur surgeon who admits to having conducted one operation to forcibly remove organs from a prisoner. “In China, the government does not treat people as human beings,” he said.
The US Congress and the European Parliament have passed resolutions condemning forced organ harvesting in China. On October 11 there will be a debate in the House of Commons. Soon after that the MP Fiona Bruce will table an early day motion calling on the United Nations to conduct an inquiry, and urging Britain to ban citizens from travelling to China for organ transplants (research indicates that some Britons have travelled to China for this purpose). Campaigners are also urging the Government to gather statistics and ensure transparency around so-called “organ tourism”. They want Britain to consider a travel ban on medical personnel and government officials in China who are directly engaged in organ harvesting.
The Bleeding Edge won an award earlier this year from the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals, which praised the film for its “artistic achievement” and said it “enriches with a true vision of humanity”. Pope Francis has described the organ trade as “immoral and a crime against humanity”. Catholics in Britain should watch the film and join the campaign to urge our Government to work with others to end this horrific crime.
This article first appeared in the September 23 2016 issue of The Catholic Herald. To read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, go here.