• The UN Human Rights Council heard on Tuesday that China is engaged in widespread harvesting of human organs from persecuted religious and ethnic minorities.
  • The China Tribunal made the accusation at the council’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. It said Uighur Muslims and the Falun Gong religious group were affected.
  • The China Tribunal is a group backed by an Australian human rights charity that’s investigating the issue.
  • A lawyer for the group said China was “cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people,” describing the situation as an atrocity.
  • China has denied large-scale harvesting of organs. It has acknowledged using executed prisoners’ organs in the past but says it stopped in 2015, according to Reuters.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China was accused on Tuesday of harvesting human organs from persecuted groups in the country.

The China Tribunal, a group that’s investigating the organ harvesting, said at a tense meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council that the Chinese government was taking hearts, kidneys, lungs, and skin from groups including Uighur Muslims and members of the Falun Gong religious group.

The China Tribunal describes itself as an “independent, international people’s tribunal, and was backed by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, an Australian human rights charity made up of lawyers, academics, and medical professionals.

China has denied carrying out mass harvesting of organs in any circumstance.

Addressing UN representatives, a lawyer for the China Tribunal, Hamid Sabi, said the group had proof of the organ harvesting.

Sabi said the group had found that China was committing "crimes against humanity" by harvesting organs from religious minorities like the Uighurs and members of Falun Gong, which has been banned and widely persecuted by the Chinese government.

Read more: A wave of Islamic countries started to stand up to China over its persecution of its Muslim minority. But then they all got spooked.

"Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale," Sabi said in a video published on the China Tribunal website.

Members of Falun Gong spiritual movement meditate

Foto: Members of Falun Gong spiritual movement.sourceJewel Samad / AFP / Getty

Sabi was presenting evidence from the tribunal's final report, published in June, which found that a "very substantial number" of prisoners were "killed to order" by the Chinese government.

They were "cut open while still alive for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale," the report said.

The body parts were then used for medical purposes, it said, citing extremely short wait times for organ transplants in Chinese hospitals as evidence of the practice.

The report was led by Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British lawyer who was the lead prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslavian president.

Read more: Chilling undercover footage taken inside China's most oppressive region shows it's virtually impossible to escape the paranoid police state

Hamid Sabi

Foto: Hamid Sabi, a lawyer for the China Tribunal.sourceScreenshot/The Independent

Sabi told the UN council on Tuesday that China's efforts involved "hundreds of thousands of victims," describing it as "one of the worst mass atrocities of this century."

He did not specify how many organs the China Tribunal believes had been harvested, or the number taken from Uighurs and from Falun Gong members.

"Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century," he said.

"Organ transplantation to save life is a scientific and social triumph, but killing the donor is criminal."

Reuters said China has insisted that it "stopped using organs from executed prisoners in 2015."

The Chinese government did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on Sabi's testimony.

Sabi concluded by saying that it is the duty of international bodies like the UN to investigate the tribunal's findings "not only in regard to the possible charge of genocide, but also in regard to crimes against humanity."