July 28th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: The message from Aston

COVER: Dumped imports threaten Golden Circle

Trade lessons for small countries

Straws in the Wind

Media: New program, same old ABC

ABARE's export figures 'fanciful' (letter)

Issues lost in barley debate (letter)

The good and bad of the US model

Children already have protectors - their parents!

The lessons of T.G.H Strehlow

Rearming school cadets

What Beijing Olympics Supporters Ignored

Adult stem cell research provides ethical genetic therapy

Taiwan wracked by political infighting

Books promotion page

What Beijing Olympics Supporters Ignored

by News Weekly

News Weekly, July 28, 2001
Australian Government and Olympic officials' support for Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games, ignored the crimes routinely committed by the Chinese Government, as this recent testimony shows.

Between 1990 and May this year, at least 18,008 people were executed in China. Last year alone, Amnesty International estimated that 1,077 executions were carried out, nearly three a day. This compares to 736 recorded executions in the rest of the world last year, 98 of them in the US.

Recently, a Chinese military physician gave a first-hand account of the practice of harvesting human organs and tissues from executed prisoners, some still hanging on to life.

Dr Wang Guoqi, a 38-year-old physician with advanced degrees in Surgery and Human Tissue Studies, became a specialist in the burn victims unit at the Paramilitary Police Tianjin General Brigade Hospital in Tifrom.

He left China last year and on June 27 gave testimony on these practices to the US House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights. The following consists of extracts from his testimony.

"My involvement in harvesting the skin from prisoners began while performing research on cadavers at the Beijing People's Liberation Army Surgeons Advanced Studies School, in Beijing's 304th Hospital ...

"In order to secure a corpse from the execution grounds, security officers and court units were given 'red envelopes' with cash amounting to anywhere between 200-500 yuan renminbi per corpse. Then, after execution, the body would be rushed to the autopsy room rather than the crematorium, and we would extract skin, kidneys, livers, bones, and corneas for research and experimental purposes. I learned the process of preserving human skin and tissue for burn victims, and skin was subsequently sold to needy burn victims for 10 yuan renminbi per square centimetre ...

"Each criminal had identification papers in his or her pocket that detailed the executee's name, age, profession, work unit, address, and crime. Nowhere on these papers was there any mention of voluntary organ donation, and clearly the prisoners did not know how their bodies would be used after death.

"We had to work quickly in the crematorium, and 10-20 minutes were generally enough to remove all skin from a corpse. Whatever remained was passed over to the crematorium workers ...

"Huge profits prompted our hospital to urge other departments to design similar programs. The urology department thus began its program of kidney transplant surgeries. The complexity of the surgery called for a price of 120-150,000 yuan renminbi per kidney ...

"Although I performed this procedure nearly a hundred times in the following years, it was an incident in October 1995 that has tortured my conscience no end. We were sent to Hebei Province to extract kidneys and skin. We arrived one day before the execution of a man sentenced to death for robbery and the murder of a would-be witness.

"Before execution, I administered a shot of heparin to prevent blood clotting to the prisoner. A nearby policeman told him it was a tranquilliser to prevent unnecessary suffering during the execution. The criminal responded by giving thanks to the government.

"At the site, the execution commander gave the order, 'Go!,' and the prisoner was shot to the ground. Either because the executioner was nervous, aimed poorly, or intentionally misfired to keep the organs intact, the prisoner had not yet died, but instead lay convulsing on the ground. We were ordered to take him to the ambulance anyway where urologists ... extracted his kidneys quickly and precisely.

"When they finished, the prisoner was still breathing and his heart continued to beat. The execution commander asked if they might fire a second shot to finish him off, to which the county court staff replied, 'Save that shot. With both kidneys out, there is no way he can survive.' The urologists rushed back to the hospital with the kidneys, the county staff and executioner left the scene, and eventually the paramilitary policemen disappeared as well. We burn surgeons remained inside the ambulance to harvest the skin.

"We could hear people outside the ambulance, and fearing it was the victim's family who might force their way inside, we left our job half-done, and the half-dead body was thrown in a plastic bag onto the flatbed of the crematorium truck. As we left in the ambulance, we were pelted by stones from behind.

"After this incident, I have had horrible, recurring nightmares. I have participated in a practice that serves the regime's political and economic goals far more than it benefits the patients.

"I have worked at execution sites over a dozen times, and have taken the skin from over one hundred prisoners in crematoriums. Whatever impact I have made in the lives of burn victims and transplant patients does not excuse the unethical and immoral manner of extracting organs ...

"It is with deep regret and remorse for my actions that I stand here today testifying against the practices of organ and tissue sales from death row prisoners."

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