Simone: In our last episode, Ethan Gutmann told me that by 2014, the number of organs harvested from the Falun Gong practitioners were running lower, because some practitioners were persecuted to death, some were aging and others fled China. Also in 2014, the Chinese Communist Party Secretary General Xi Jinping announced a policy called “people’s war on terror”. As part of the policy, the Xinjiang Internment camps, officially called vocational education and training centers that are used to indoctrinate Uyghers and other Muslims started to erect. Also starting from 2015, the Chinese government announced that every Uighur in Xinjiang must have their health checked, mainly their blood tested. By 2017, the internment camps became operational.
The camps have been criticized by the governments of many countries and human rights organizations for alleged human rights abuses, including mistreatment, rape, and torture, with some of them alleging genocide.
These camps constitute the largest-scale arbitrary detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II. As of 2020, it was estimated that 1 to 3 million people, mostly Uyghurs, had been detained in these secretive camps throughout the region.
Ethan Gutmann interviewed 10 people who were from these camps.
Ethan Gutmann: What I can do is try to interview people who’d been inside the camps. What did you see? And I asked them who went missing? Who left the camp? And they said, well, sometimes some, occasionally an old person would leave the camp because they got sick.
And I’m like, okay. And they’d say, but there was a definite group who left the camp and they were usually about 18 years old. And I said, tell me about that. And they said, well, this is young, this is very young people. They’re about 18 and maybe girls, right. And young women. And they would, would’ve be announced at lunch, usually that they were graduating. This is the term they used ‘graduating,’ which meant that they were going to work in a factory out east, in Eastern China.
Yeah. They were not gonna come back. They wouldn’t see their families again. They were just gonna go and work in some factory. Or sometimes they were going to work in a cotton plantation, essentially a place where they pick cotton and grow cotton in Xinjiang; sometimes they were going in Xinjiang. A lot of times out east, whatever. They would announce this. And it was almost like an award.
It was like people were sometimes they even encouraged you to applaud a little bit for these young women who were going away. Well, that was done very openly, but there was one other group. They all said, well, there’s this other group. And this is about, I’m talking about 10 witnesses, which doesn’t seem like much, but we only have 10 witnesses over here in the West. So these are 10 in Kazakhstan.
So I’m doubling the witnesses essentially, which is not easy. And they, what’s the other group? Well, they said, well, these other people would disappear in the middle of the night. I said, well, what were the circumstances that? Well, they say, well, we don’t really know. We except that they, we were all given a blood test. I said, when did you give them the blood test? And you know about a week before. So they’re given this blood test. And then a week later, three or four people, whatever they remember, would leave in the middle, would just be gone the next day. What was their age? 28.
Their age was 28. Usually sometimes 29. Sometimes it was 30 or sometimes 26 or 27. But it was always right around the age of 28. Now 28 is the magic number. It’s when the Chinese prefer to, the Chinese doctors prefer to harvest organs because their organs are completely mature. But your, your health is perfect. It’s as good as it will ever be. And I asked one woman, I said, well, okay, they were given these blood tests and then they were somehow selected. Some people even described them, the people who ended up being gone, were given vests, like a colored vest, pink or orange, some. One case they had described them giving a little bracelet. They didn’t know what it meant, but then they were gone.
You weren’t supposed to talk about them or mention them ever again. One woman was a teacher and she describes how she was a Chinese teacher. So she sort of worked for the camp but she was treated pretty badly too, and because she was Kazakh. And she, they had a kind of faculty lounge, you know, a place where they could kind of hang out a little bit, and they put up the results from the blood tests. And then they put check marks, pink check marks by the blood, certain names. And those people disappeared.
Now I was concerned about this, but I wanted to check out that there wasn’t something else going on. So I asked, this Uighur woman. I said, look, uh, I said, this is an embarrassing question. I’m sorry to ask it. But these three friends of yours or these three people, you knew, these three women who disappeared in the middle of the night, t I said, were they beautiful?
Were they good looking? Were they sexually attractive? And she came back and said, I don’t like to say this about anybody, but no, they were not beautiful. I said, well what do they have in common if anything? And she said they were healthy.
So this is where it ends. I mean, this is about organs. These are people going off to their death. And if you put the figures together, they’re incredibly consistent from camp to camp. Everybody I interviewed was from a different camp. Every single person. And every one of them described disappearances. And some said it was 2.5% of the entire camp that disappeared in the middle of the night. Some said it was 5%. Some said it was 10% but only one or two. Some said it was like 1%. But everybody describes that figures are very, very close. 2.5 to 5%.
In other words, 25,000 people or 50,000 people are being taken from the camps for organ harvesting every year, 25 to 50,000 people. That’s probably in the middle, there are 32,000, something like that. Now there’s another way of looking at that figure. Let’s look at it in terms of organs for a minute. Let’s say you can take two organs from each person that you can use. That would be 50,000 organs, right? Let’s say you can take, um, let’s say it’s the higher figure, 50,000. And you can take three organs. It’s 150,000 organs. So if China is doing a hundred thousand organ transplants a year, you can see how this can pretty much fill the gap completely, very easily. Right? It’s not a problem.
Simone: They don’t like to waste organs, I mean…
Ethan Gutmann: Well…
Simone: One person’s organ can maybe like…
Ethan Gutmann: You know, it’s funny, you mentioned that because it’s something we’ve argued about – me and Kilgour and Matas – many times – they used to say, oh well you can only take one organ per person. And I’m like, why? Chinese don’t like to waste things. I’m always making that point. And I said, this is a very, it’s a very practical culture. And that’s something I actually find very admirable and appealing about Chinese culture is it’s a culture where you don’t waste, you figure out ways to use things.
And I think what you’re saying is right. However, the logistics of getting, let’s say I have all these perfect organs, and the logistics of getting my organs to all these different people is somewhat complicated. So it could even be less. I mean it could well be the smaller figure, only 25,000 a year, but I will not go below that figure. I would not. I would be misrepresenting the witnesses to go below that figure. This is what they told me. They had no reason to, they didn’t, most of them didn’t even know they were talking about organ harvesting.
I would often tell them after the interview. This is what, why I was asking those particular questions, but I did not lead them on. And I was not interested in people making up exaggerated numbers for me. I had no interest in that at all. And what struck me again, and one of the reasons why I was so relaxed when I was asking the questions, was because at this point I’m very used to it. Everybody says the same thing.
Okay. So to me, there’s no real question in my mind. There’s one last data point. One last piece of evidence that I think I find personally compelling. There are others, but picture a hospital out in a place called Aksu. And this hospital was built for SARS patients back in 2000 or 2001, 2002. This hospital was converted to a hospital for religious dissidents, that is probably extreme Muslims or something.
And then it becomes, it’s renamed again, it’s called the Aksu Infection Hospital and it does transplants. And I know this because … I’m sorry, Gulchehra Hoja of Radio Free Asia actually, called them up and checked in on this and they do do transplants. Okay.
So here’s this transplant hospital. Imagine that they build a labor camp or prison camp for 33,000 people around it. That’s what they did. So it’s facing the road, but around it is 33,000 people, around this hospital. Picture then 900 meters away, less than a kilometer away, is another camp with 16,000 people.
Then to the north is a crematorium. It’s the largest crematorium I’ve ever seen on earth in Google earth. I’ve looked at others. It’s four or five times the usual size. It’s quite extraordinary. It was recently repainted. I’ve talked to people who worked in that area. They all described the smell of burning bone. They all knew it was a crematorium. And it’s not a secret. 20 minutes from that, 20 minute drive, is an airport, Aksu airport. And this has a green lane, which literally says ‘human organ transplant lane’, ‘fast lane’.
It’s a fast lane. Yes, absolutely marked. It has arrows. They’re on the floor and they’re, it’s marked above, ‘human organ transplant lane’. It’s in three different languages.
This is, it’s export only. It’s not to bring organs into Aksu. It’s to take organs out of Aksu. Well, after some, we did some research on that and had a very good researcher who knew, knew about the Chinese medical system. And she found out that hospital, Aksu Infection Hospital, has a big brother hospital on the east coast of China or near the east coast, near Shanghai. And First Hospital has their, in 2017, their kidney transplants went up by a hundred percent and their liver transplants went up by 200%.
This is huge increases. And they were the first hospital, in 2020, in March 2020, when the pandemic was a full swing, they announced that they had done the first double lung transplant of a COVID patient in history. And this was announced not only in Chinese, but in English.
Simone: Oh, I know that hospital. Do you know the name of it?
Ethan Gutmamnn: It’s First Hospital. There’s also another one, which was Wuxi Hospital, which the same day came out and did the same thing. That was under Dr. Chen. Chen Lin or whatever. Cheong Lynn is a very famous guy. He’s very competitive guy. He came out with the same thing on the same day. First Hospital still claims to be first. Yeah, that’s right. I’m sorry, Chen Jingyu.
Yeah. So he, yeah, Chen Jingyu. He’s also the one who created the, the fast lines. He created the green lanes,, the fast lanes in the airport that came from him because he was very upset when China Southern Airlines airplane took off and he was holding organs in organs and boxes that he was going to transplant. The organs died, you know, essentially ran out of time.
Simone: Where did you get that story?
Ethan Gutmann: I don’t know. I don’t know where I read it, but it’s, I mean, it’s just out there. I think he even interviewed and talked about it a long time and said, this is how we ended up with getting these fast lanes. You know, this was a, so he’s a very powerful guy, China Southern airlines said, oh, we’ll do something special. And they even have an ad with banners and green banners. And yeah.
So the point is that, we can, looking at that, we can say, you know, as much as we had a tremendous amount of information about Falun Gong organ harvesting, we’ve never actually had something quite like this before. Where it’s all in the same spot and you can sort of see it physically how this evolves and how it moves. And that is partly because there aren’t that many differences between Falun Gong organ harvesting and Uiguhr organ harvesting.
It is really very the same program. There’s a lot of consistency. And the one big difference is that they have put it into a discrete area. Xinjiang. An area where no one can go. Journalists cannot go there. Politicians don’t go there. Look at the UN, right.
Michelle Bachelet was just there and she wouldn’t go, actually go into Xinjiang. No one could look at it. And because of that, we have this … that means that the World Health Organization or the Transplantation Society can pretend, if they want to, that nothing’s going on. They’ll even say that; they’ll even say, well, I visited some hospitals in China. It’s like, what does that have to do with it? East coast hospitals, aren’t doing, aren’t cutting people open anymore. They’re just receiving organs and transplanting them. That’s not the same thing.
Simone: What’s the difference between the Falun Gong era and the Uighur era in terms of transplanting?
Ethan Gutmann: Really just what I’ve, the difference between the Falun Gong era and the Uighur era is, is simply one of, kind of locational. And… one of the reasons that can happen is because we have this system, ECMO, which can keep organs alive, even in a dead body at times. It oxygenates the organs. It keeps them going and you can use it for live organ harvesting, and you can do it with a dead patient to where you can keep a kidney, for example, alive. You can, if a doctor wants to – it’s the middle of the night and you’re gonna transplant this kidney, but you’re all tired.
A doctor can just say, you know what, we’re all going home for the night, get some sleep, come back in the morning. You know, and eight hours later, they start up again and they take the organ out and transplant it.
Simone: From the dead person’s body.
Ethan Gutmann: Yes. And that’s because of ECMO because it’s keeping this oxygenation is essentially keeping the organ alive, almost like a flower and water. Okay. The flower is still alive. It hasn’t wilted. And if you were to put it back in the ground, somehow with new roots, it would grow again as if nothing had ever happened.
Simone: In terms of the number of transplants what’s the difference? Which one is bigger?
Ethan Gutmann: I think they’re, I think it’s almost exactly the same. This is one of the strangest questions I get is that, you know, every group assumes that it’s gotta be bigger or smaller. But it isn’t because China has reached its peak. It’s reached where it wants to be in terms of…
Simone: What do you mean, reach what peak?
Ethan Gutmann: Well, it’s reached the point where it’s got the customers. It’s not an industry I see that’s building anymore. It’s mature. What we call a mature industry. And it became a mature industry really under Falun Gong. We know that the curve with Falun Gong was almost like this. In other words, it went up and then it leveled. Okay.
So by the time we put out a report in 2016, it was a level curve. It wasn’t going up. We never claimed it was. It was clearly like this. And then what happened when the Uighurs came in, is maybe you got a little jump or something, but not much of one. And then it hits level because China is where it wants to be with this. I believe that many people in the Chinese medical system would love to stop doing organ harvesting.
And many of them would like for China to make its money from the industry that always should have made its money from which was pharmaceuticals. This is the pillar industry. This is China’s destiny. Its future is to make great medicines. Right.
And, and try them out on their poor people. But, you know, whatever. But, you know, I mean, seriously, I don’t mean it that way, but I, I do mean that that is, it’s an inventive medical culture. Maybe they take a little too many risks sometimes. We’ve just seen that with COVID that hasn’t been so great for the world. I think they took too many risks.
I think it probably did get out of a lab, but I don’t know for sure. But what I would say is that, you know, at the same time, there’s a certain genius within the Chinese medical culture, which is not being realized by organ harvesting. Organ harvesting is holding the entire country back, their future…
The future lies in pharmaceuticals and to sell pharmaceuticals globally. That’s where the profits are. You must have the confidence of the populations in the world. And nobody has confidence in Sinovac in the Chinese vaccine that they came up with. Nobody has confidence in a medical system that would butcher its own people. Nobody will ever have confidence that the transplant game is anything but a dirty filthy business, because that’s what it is.
And that’s why they will never get the voluntary donations that they talk about. Because the ordinary person knows that it’s a dirty business. And if they’re gonna give up their organs, they ought to be paid a hell of a lot of money for it because they know those surgeons are making a hell of a lot of dirty filthy money. That is the problem here.
This is a dead end for everybody. But so it’s beyond just the simple tragedy – it’s beyond the tragedy of those lives lost. It is beyond that. It is a tragedy for Chinese culture. It’s a tragedy for Chinese science. Okay. And it’s a cancer in the world.
Simone: So although not many people in the world are talking about this forced organ harvesting, but the trust in China’s medical system is gone.
Ethan Gutmann: I think it’s gone. I don’t know. I mean, anything could be rebuilt; but the terrifying thing to me is that you have Western doctors who want to rebuild trust in China’s medical system before they have even reformed it. Okay. Just because they say a few nice things about reform, and that even if they were to reform it, that they wanna do it without ANY accountability to the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong and now at least a hundred thousand Uiguhrs, at least that have gone under the knife in this country.
And they want to do it without any accountability, without any talking, without any victim restitution, without any attempt to regain that DNA, or match it, which is actually quite doable. You could match these things. This was something that was impossible during the Holocaust. We didn’t have the technology to do it. People just disappeared. They were gassed. They were gone. This isn’t true today. Evidence is there.
Simone: That’s, I mean, you have all this evidence, that from the Falun Gong era to the Uighur era, things really didn’t change in China.
Ethan Gutmann: No.
Ethan Gutmann: It’s not even an era. It’s not like the two eras have gone. I mean, that’s another thing I’d like to add the, you know, I didn’t have time to say this in the conference yesterday, but the point is that’s because we were under such a short amount of time, but the fact is two of my witnesses in Kazakhstan said they saw Falun Gong in their camps.
Simone: They moved Falun Gong practitioners to Xinjiang. What percentage?
Ethan Gutmann: Yeah, it was, it was just a couple, I mean, it wasn’t a lot of people, but it was a few,. But both, the two of them mentioned it. I mean, so that’s 10% of my witnesses right there. Okay. And we’re saying…
Simone: Two from two different camps?
Ethan Gutmann: Yes. Two from two different camps. And I said, what happened to them? They didn’t know. They just weren’t, they weren’t, particularly – I mean, people aren’t aware of everything going on in their camp.
Simone: Do you think the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese current regime, will exhaust the Uiguhr population for transplant and possibly move on to another ethnic group or other group of people?
Ethan Gutmann: That’s a really good question. And I actually, haven’t tried to calculate it, but I will. Okay. I’ll try to figure that out.
Simone: Because I mean, for Falun Gong, the age and stuff, that’s a different scenario with the Uighurs.
Ethan Gutmann: Yes, it is. Yeah.
Simone: But with Uighurs they try to not let them reproduce, right? They want to…
Ethan Gutmann: Yeah. There’s a basic attempt to sterilize the women. Okay, so that’s a difference. This is an interesting point you just hit, because, you know, there were times when I’ve looked at the Uighur population and said, well, this is very different than Falun Gong because it’s more of an economic enterprise. Falun Gong it was a, you know…
It was, they considered a direct threat to the Chinese state. The Uiguhr, the business, oh, well, they’re a direct threat to the Chinese state. It’s kind of an exaggeration. It’s kind of make believe. It’s like, well, they’re terrorists. So they’re potentially this great threat, but they aren’t. They aren’t a great threat. So in fact, I would say that’s a huge difference.
In a sense, Falun Gong really was a threat to the Chinese state because it was a different, had a different vision of China. The Uighurs don’t offer that they offer a vision of a maybe their own state, you know, independent of China. That’s not the same thing. So that difference is significant. But it’s also significant that the Uighurs were an economic enterprise. They have become that. They’re forced labor. They’re used as slave labor.
Now, Falun Gong were also used for slave labor, but it was the petty things. It was the usual things they do in labor camps, where they make you do all kinds of stupid work. This is much more systematic. It’s like, you’re gonna pick all the cotton. You’re going to work at the factories, certain factories for Western companies at really dirty jobs that are very dangerous, and you’re gonna live in a completely different dorm, and there’s gonna be guns there.
And you’re not gonna mate an all this stuff. The interesting thing is you go back to the old south in America, the plantation system, and, you know, the plantation owner was happy, okay, if the slaves were mating. Because it was like growing your population. It was like growing your resources. It’s like getting a new car. Okay.
And maybe it was, you know, you had to take care of that car, but it was like getting another car. And it’s resources. And the truth is the Chinese, I think, and this is what really does make it racial in a way, that they really don’t want that. I believe they’re almost torn between this instinct to just wipe these people out. I mean by Chinese standards, you know, 20 million people or 13 million people is not that many people. It’s very small population, they’re deemed to be troublesome. So be it.
On the other hand, maybe they, you know, the Uighurs have proved themselves to be sort of valuable in this forced labor area.
The problem we have in organ harvesting in particular is that any human being, really most human beings are not worth half a million dollars. But on the open market, these organs being sold to foreign organ tourists are worth at least half a million dollars. So the equation doesn’t work well anymore. They’re worth more dead than alive.
And I do believe that’s going to continue for a long time. But your question about how long and how much excess their population there is, is a really good one and something I’ll put in my mind to try to solve if possible.