Under Orders, Surgeon Killed Uyghur Man for Organs

An image from the film 'Hard to Believe' of former surgeon Enver Tohti, an ethnic Uyghur from far western China. Tohti said he performed live organ harvesting in 1995. (Image: Swoop Films)
An image from the film 'Hard to Believe' of former surgeon Enver Tohti, an ethnic Uyghur from far western China. Tohti said he performed live organ harvesting in 1995. (Image: Swoop Films)

Former surgeon Enver Tohti knows about organ harvesting firsthand. He performed it at an execution ground in China’s far west in 1995.

“After gunshots were heard, we rushed in,” Tohti told an official Irish government committee in Dublin earlier this month.

“An armed officer directed us to a far right corner where I could see a civilian-clothed man lying on the ground with a single bullet wound to his right chest,” Tohti said in the video further below posted by The Journal.

“My chief surgeons then ordered and guided me to extract the liver and two kidneys,” he said before clarifying that the shot man was still alive.

Tohti didn’t know if the man was a political prisoner or a criminal.

“He tried to resist my scalpel cut, but [he was] too weak to avoid my action. There was bleeding,” said Tohti, who is an ethnic Uyghur.

“He was still alive, but I didn’t feel guilty. In fact, I didn’t feel anything but like a full-programmed robot doing its task. I thought I was carrying [out] my duty in eliminating an enemy of the state,” Tohti said about an act he now regrets, and which currently drives him to campaign against China’s state-sanctioned organ harvesting.

The extraction of the organs killed the dying man.

“After this operation, the chief surgeon took these organs and [put them into] these two strange looking boxes and told me to take my team back to hospital and to remember that ‘nothing happened,’ and I followed [the order]. We never talked about it,” he said.

Watch more of Tohti’s testimony in this video posted by The Journal:

Alarm bells

During his testimony to Irish officials, Tohti also raised alarm bells about recent reports of mass compulsory health checks of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region.

“We suspect the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is building a national organ data base for organ trade,” he said.

RFA reported in May this year that 90 percent of Xinjiang’s 17.5 million residents were given mandatory health examinations that included DNA collection.

In his book The Slaughter, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann wrote that China’s Communist Party conducted its first organ harvesting from death row prisoners in Xinjiang during the mid-1990s.

Gutmann wrote that Xinjiang was the Party’s testing ground for organ harvesting, which became industrial in scale and operation following the persecution of millions of Falun Gong practitioners beginning in 1999.

Now, an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 transplants are performed each year in China, according to the findings of a report that Gutmann coauthored with human rights lawyer David Matas and Canada’s former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour titled Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update published last year.

The main target for organ harvesting, the report said, is Chinese who practice Falun Gong. To a lesser extent, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians have also been killed in order to obtain organs for transplants, the report says.

For more on the Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update report, watch this video from The International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China:

Campaign to end forced organ harvesting

Tohti worked for 13 years as a surgical oncologist at the railway Central Hospital in Xinjiang. After helping a foreign film crew make a documentary about high cancer rates among Uyghurs that were linked to nuclear tests, he fled China in 1999. He successfully sought asylum and now lives in the UK.

Tohti was one of several experts who gave testimonies to Irish officials from a joint committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defense on July 6.

According to The Journal, the committee also heard evidence from Gutmann and Matas, two men who have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work investigating organ harvesting in China.

They recommended that Ireland follows the examples of Israel, Taiwan, Italy and Spain in putting in place legislation that bans their citizens from traveling overseas to acquire organs.

Tohti has similarly testified about his experiences at parliamentary hearings in the UK, Japan and the U.S.

Along with Matas, Kilgour and Gutmann, he also featured in the award-winning organ harvesting documentary Hard to Believe. The 56-minute film can now be viewed via Vimeo. Watch the trailer by Swoop Films below:

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