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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Involuntary Organ Donors

This isn't a brand of economics I hope to cover here regularly, organ donation and sales, but Brad DeLong posted a report from the BBC on the involuntary sale of organs from prisoners in China, so I thought I'd follow up with more from Asia Pundit:

Asia Pundit: enjoy your new kidney: AsiaPundit did not write about recent allegations from the FLG that the Chinese government was maintaining a 6,000 person death camp/organ donation farm in Sujiatun. The reports originated from the Epoch Times and AP is generally skeptical about anything that is in that paper. That's especially true when reports allege such things as 100,000-person concentration camps and mystery night trains for prisoner transport. AP did, however, briefly join in a discussion on the report at the excellent Korea Liberator site.

The Epoch Times report was debunked by US consular staff. While that confirmed AP's original suspicions that the reports were exaggerated, it is not the end of the story. The British Transplantation Society is today alleging that China is killing prisoners so that organs are available on a just-in-time (JIT) basis.:

The British Transplantation Society says an accumulating weight of evidence suggests the organs of thousands of executed prisoners in China are being removed for transplants without consent. Professor Stephen Wigmore, who chairs the society's ethics committee, told the BBC that the speed of matching donors and patients, sometimes as little as a week, implied prisoners were being selected before execution. Chinese officials deny the allegations. Just last week a Chinese health official said publicly that organs from executed prisoners were sometimes used, but only with prior permission and in a very few cases. But widespread allegations have persisted for several years - including from international human rights groups.

AP takes these allegations more seriously than the ones in the Epoch Times. They are from a professional (and presumably apolitical) organization. The organization avoids the wild claims made by the FLG and, most importantly, the photo of the kidney container in the above-linked BBC report looks suspiciously like a Chinese take-away box. That's really creepy given the context.


AP will not, for the moment comment further on the reliability of the Epoch Times and will instead defer to Holidarity, who offers an excellent post on how many journalists view the group.:

They want us to pick up on their stories, but not ask too much about how and where they get them. While no one else in the world has bloody photos of massacres like Shanwei, they do. And their sources for these stories must be so delicate that extreme secrecy can be understood. But not absolute secrecy - because in the end that is only propaganda. And I think with something as big as this alleged organ harvesting in Shenyang, outside confirmation is the only thing that will make people believe it - and believe them. In a lot of ways, the Epoch Times' credibility is on the line with this one.

    Posted by on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 at 09:27 AM in China, Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (1)  Comments (61)


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