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His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10
August 3, 2015
Re: Joint open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to help end forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China
Dear High Commissioner,
In your opening statement at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 15, 2015, you addressed the responsibilities of the Council:
“Mr. President, distinguished delegates, this Council is charged with delivering the opposite message—forcefully, consistently, unabashedly. Let the message go out that we will defend the victim and the voiceless, the minority and the migrant, the blogger and the human rights defender. Let the world know that we will do so without fear or favour, and regardless of the name of the victim or the profile of the perpetrator.”
The Charter of the United Nations speaks of the dignity and worth of the human person, to practice tolerance and live together in peace, and promotes respect for human rights, ethical principles to which all democratic institutions adhere.
Ten days after your opening statement and only two days short of the 70th anniversary of the Charter, a panel discussion on the subject of trafficking in human organs and forced organ harvesting took place in the Palais des Nations in Geneva on June 24, 2015.
The panel discussion was a joint event of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), the Swiss branches of the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) and the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM).
As organizations committed to preserving human rights, we are deeply concerned about forced organ harvesting – organ procurement without free, voluntary consent – from prisoners of conscience in China, which is a crime against humanity and violates the core values of the United Nations Charter. Our panelists in Geneva discussed the topic from different angles and found consensus in urging the United Nations to take immediate action and call upon China to end this abhorrent violation of morality and medical ethics.
The data we have to date suggests that torture victims in China are the most likely to undergo forced organ harvesting. In his 2006 report, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, observed that 66% of all alleged torture victims in China were Falun Gong, followed by the ethnic minorities Uighurs (11%) and Tibetans (7%). Similarly, the Kilgour & Matas investigative report Bloody Harvest (2006) presents significant evidence that Falun Gong are far more frequently subject to medical exams and blood testing than those of other groups.
The estimated tens of thousands of forced organ harvesting cases, the entirety of investigative findings over the past nine years, and the steady influx of new evidence, including the unexplained and widespread costly medical exams among tortured Falun Gong practitioners demand international investigations. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting has been circulating a petition addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to confront the crime of forced organ harvesting. Our initial petition collected over two million signatures from 2012 to 2014. The United Nations might not consider a public petition such as ours legitimate cause for action, yet, we believe there is a moral obligation to respond to the global community, who has made clear that these crimes against humanity must end now.
We call upon you to act according to the Charter of the United Nations, to call upon China to tolerate the peaceful practice of Falun Gong and to end the unjust persecution, to respect the lives of Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience and to immediately end forced organ harvesting, including any and all persecution that leads to forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, and any vulnerable persons.
In addition, we propose to initiate an office or working group within the United Nations that is in the position to overview and control global efforts to stop the various forms of abuse of transplantation medicine, such as transplant tourism and forced organ harvesting from victims who do not provide free, voluntary consent or are being killed in the process of organ procurement.
We believe that the United Nations has the mission to protect human rights. The systematic, widespread use of forced organ harvesting in China violates
(I) the Charter of the United Nations;
(II) the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948, as manifested in the persecution and attempted extermination of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong; and
(III) the Convention against Torture from 1984.
Your Excellency, you reminded us of the global imperative of ensuring human freedoms, as set forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):
“States owe their people justice, equality and dignity, under the rule of law. If they do not ensure this, and regulate the apparatus of government so that it serves the interest of a limited few and represses all others, the people may be – and I quote from the UDHR – “compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression”.”
And on July 30 of this year, on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, you duly noted that “the exploitation of human beings through trafficking is one of the gravest violations of human dignity that exist.” We believe that the exploitation of human beings by trafficking their organs is not only a violation of their human dignity, but in many cases a real threat to their lives.
The “victims and the voiceless,” who are killed for their organs in a country whose government has ratified the Charter of the United Nations, are hoping to see the light of the next day. On behalf of the innocent who cannot speak out for themselves and the two million people who petitioned the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the past three years, we express our hope that you are committed to the words spoken in your opening statement at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council and that you will move from words to deeds and actions.
United Nations representative
Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT)
Torsten Trey, MD, PhD
Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH)
Society for Threatened Peoples, Swiss (GfbV)
International Society for Human Rights, Swiss Section (IGFM)
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