Brexit has had many effects – party disunity, family tensions, uncertainty, reputational damage, a weakened Prime Minister and a potential constitutional crisis. But one of its most significant casualties has been the attention of parliament, government and the media to the wider world and the challenges it faces.
Last week, however, there was an exception to that. After hours of Brexit debates and votes, MPs found time to discuss one the most egregious and shocking, yet underreported crimes against humanity of our time: forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. In her speech, the chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Fiona Bruce, described the practice as ‘potentially nothing less than a 21st century genocide.’
For years a handful of researchers have been knocking on the doors of parliamentarians and policy-makers accusing the Chinese regime of the widespread forcible removal of human organs from prisoners of conscience. China is home to a huge and lucrative market in the trade of organs, with transplant tourists travelling to the country from around the world. These researchers have alleged that the Chinese government has been forcibly taking organs from political prisoners both as a means of punishment, and to raise revenue for the state from their sale. Their reports were sometimes taken seriously, but many others dismissed them as unsubstantiated, unproven or far-fetched.
The researchers’ task was made even more difficult by the fact that the atrocity has left no mass graves, few eye-witnesses, few survivors, and evidence that is swept off the floor of the execution ground or operating theatre before anyone has seen it. By definition, the victims of forced organ harvesting are dead, and the witnesses – the doctors, nurses, prison guards and other officials involved – are all complicit and generally unwilling to tell the truth. As Bruce put it, it is ‘almost a perfect crime,’ because ‘no one survives.’
Therefore, to prove its existence several of these researchers – notably David