Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Illegal Organ Trafficking is World Wide!

EU says Serbs may have been killed for organs during Kosovo war
By Dan Bilefsky and Somini Sengupta
Waterloo Region Record
July 29, 2014
PARIS — A special European Union prosecutor said Tuesday that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army engaged in a campaign of persecution against ethnic Serbs after the 1998-99 Kosovo war, and said evidence suggested that the armed group had targeted a number of individuals after the war to harvest and sell their organs.
[Left: Serbia's war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic]
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008, almost a decade after NATO bombs helped eject the former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic from Kosovo, ending a brutal civil war against the ethnic Albanian majority. But regional reconciliation has been hampered by accusations that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, known by its initials KLA, have not been held fully accountable for suspected war crimes.
A European Union task force was set up in September 2011 under the leadership of Clint Williamson, an American diplomat who served as the war crimes envoy in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The task force was created after a Council of Europe report accused Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, the former commander of the KLA, of having led a mob that smuggled human organs, weapons and heroin during and after the war. Thaci has strenuously rejected those accusations and the Kosovo government at the time called them "despicable."
While refusing to describe whether Kosovo's current political leadership was potentially implicated in war crimes, Williamson said at a news conference Tuesday in Brussels that the suspects included "individuals at the most senior levels of the KLA."
He said senior officials of the guerrilla group had intentionally targeted minority populations with acts of persecution that included "unlawful killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions in camps in Kosovo and Albania, sexual violence, other forms of inhumane treatment, forced displacements of individuals from their homes and communities, and desecration and destruction of churches and other religious sites."
Williamson added that the practice of removing organs for transplant had occurred on a limited scale and that evidence suggested that a "handful" of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs. But he said there was currently insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for the crimes, adding that the investigation had been tainted by witness intimidation in Kosovo.
"If even one person was subjected to such practice, that is a terrible tragedy," he said, referring to the accusations of organ trafficking. "The fact that it occurred on a small scale does not lessen the savagery of the crime."
He said the persecution resulted in the ethnic cleansing of minority Serb and Roma communities from parts of the country. It also targeted ethnic Albanians who were political enemies of KLA leaders, he said.
Williamson's statements are a blow to Kosovo, a poor country that has been struggling to find international legitimacy since it declared independence with the support of the United States and a majority of European Union countries. His conclusions will most likely be welcomed by Serbia, which has long argued that international justice has unfairly focused on Serbs suspected of war crimes at the expense of those who targeted Serbs during the war and its aftermath.
On Tuesday, the Kosovo government said it was determined to co-operate with the investigation. Petrit Selimi, the deputy foreign minister, said Williamson's statements offered no new elements. "Kosovo's war for liberty was a just cause supported by the free world, while individuals who may have allegedly engaged in unlawful behaviour under the umbrella of a guerrilla army must face justice," he said in an emailed statement.
The possible indictment of KLA leaders comes more than a decade after the alleged war crimes occurred. There is no statute of limitations for war crimes under international law, a fact that has fuelled several efforts to document crimes in Syria's continuing war, including seven successive reports by a United Nations commission of inquiry.
Williamson said a special tribunal was expected to be established early next year, with the goal of trying alleged war crimes committed in the immediate aftermath of the Kosovo war. Crimes committed during the war have been tried in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where Williamson was once a prosecutor.
The new court is likely to face challenges. Past investigations of reports of organ trafficking in Kosovo have been undermined by witnesses' fears of testifying in a small country where clan ties run deep and former members of the KLA are still feted as heroes.
Former leaders of the KLA occupy high posts in the government, and the extent to which they will co-operate with investigations remains unclear.
New York Times
Inquiry finds 'indications' of organ harvesting in Kosovo conflict
By By Julia Fioretti
ReutersJuly 29, 2014 http://news.yahoo.com/inquiry-finds-indications-organ-harvesting-kosovo-conflict-141833435.html
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An EU-led inquiry found "compelling indications" that Kosovo Albanian guerrillas extracted body organs from Serb captives during the 1998-99 war and sold them, but the practice was not widespread and there was not enough evidence for a trial, the lead investigator said on Tuesday.

[Left: A Serbian boy walks near the "Missing" monument covered with pictures of missing Serbs, in Gracanica near the capital Pristina April 22, 2014]
After a three-year investigation, the EU-led task force said there was, however enough evidence to prosecute former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for war crimes against the ethnic Serb and Roma populations of Kosovo during the conflict.
The investigation was prompted by a 2011 report by Council of Europe member Dick Marty that accused senior KLA commanders of involvement in the smuggling of Serb prisoners into northern Albania and the removal of their organs for sale.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, himself a former KLA leader who was named in Marty's report, has dismissed the accusations as an attempt to tarnish the Kosovo Albanian fight for independence.
U.S. prosecutor John Clint Williamson, who led the investigation, said there was no evidence of widespread organ harvesting, but that the crime had occurred a number of times.
"There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs," he told journalists.
Other crimes perpetrated by senior KLA members, such as unlawful killings and forced disappearances, amounted to the ethnic cleansing of large portions of the Serb and Roma populations, and there was enough evidence to prosecute, Williamson said.
The task force will file its indictment against former KLA leaders for war crimes once an ad hoc tribunal has been set up by the European Union and Kosovo, something Williamson said would happen next year. He did not name the people likely to be indicted.
Prime Minister Thaci said in a statement the government would continue cooperating with the task force.
"The government of the Republic of Kosovo appreciates the completion of the ambassador Williamson's work, which is an important step to determine potential individual responsibility and gives an end to the claims of the unfounded charges."
Serbia's counter-insurgency campaign of 1998 and 1999 eventually drew in NATO, which bombed for 78 days to drive out Serbian forces behind the killings of Kosovo Albanian civilians. Around 10,000 Albanians and just over 2,000 Serbs are believed to have been killed during and immediately after the war.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but the EU still plays a guiding role in policing and justice, particularly cases of war crimes.
Efforts to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the guerrillas have run up against widespread intimidation in a small country where clan loyalties run deep and former KLA rebels are revered as heroes.
Williamson condemned what he called "active efforts" to undermine the investigation.
"As long as a few powerful people continue to thwart investigations into their own criminality, the people of Kosovo as a whole pay the price as this leaves a dark cloud over the country."
(Additional reporting by Fatos Bytyci in Pristina; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Seven Charged in Kosovo Organ-Trafficking Ring
Published: November 15, 2010
PRAGUE — At least seven people have been charged with participating in an international organ-trafficking network based in Kosovo that sold kidneys and other organs from impoverished victims for up to $200,000 to patients from as far away as Israel and Canada, police and senior European Union officials said Monday.
According to the indictment, the traffickers lured people from slums in Istanbul, Moscow, Moldova and Kazakhstan with promises of up to $20,000 for their organs. Law enforcement officials say many never received a cent. The operations were performed at a private clinic in a run-down neighborhood on the outskirts of Pristina, the Kosovar capital.
While the ring was first discovered two years ago, the global scale of the network and its victims is only now becoming clear.
Officials said the ringleader was a highly regarded surgeon and professor at Pristina University Hospital, Dr. Lutfi Dervishi. The clinic was run by his son, Arban. Also charged was Ilir Rrecaj, a senior official in Kosovo’s Health Ministry when the ring was broken. They and two others are accused of crimes including trafficking in humans and body parts, unlawful medical activity, participating in organized crime, and abuse of office. All were released on bail.
The charges have shaken Kosovo, which has been struggling to integrate with the West since it declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. The case is also a test of the nascent legal institutions and rule of law as Kosovo seeks to overcome a culture of endemic lawlessness and corruption that has reached the highest levels of government.
The trafficking network’s tentacles reached far. Warrants were issued for a Turkish doctor and an Israeli financier, and two other doctors, an Israeli and a Turk, were named as co-conspirators.
The police said the ring had its roots at a medical conference in 2006 in Istanbul, where Dr. Dervishi met the Turkish doctor being sought, Yusuf Sonmez. Law enforcement officials describe Dr. Sonmez as a notorious international organ trafficker.
The Medicus clinic had been founded by a European philanthropist who aided ethnic Albanian doctors during the war in Kosovo in 1999. Dr. Dervishi, police officials said, secretly transformed it into a hub for illegal organ transplants, which were performed by Dr. Sonmez.
The indictment was first reported by The Associated Press. In it, a European Union prosecutor, Jonathan Ratel, said that in 2008, 20 foreign nationals living in "extreme poverty or acute financial distress" were "recruited with the false promises of payments."
The police said they broke the ring in November of that year, when a young Turkish man, Yilman Altun, was found at the Pristina airport, weak and frail. Mr. Altun told the police that his kidney had been stolen. When the police raided the Medicus clinic, they discovered an elderly Israeli man who had received Mr. Altun’s kidney.
European Union officials said that the indictment in the case had been filed in district court in Kosovo and that a preliminary hearing was expected by the end of the year. If a judge confirms the charges, a trial will follow.
The European Union has a large law enforcement mission in Kosovo to combat crime and corruption. But that fight has proved difficult, with suspicions of bribes, money laundering, organized crime, fraud and now organ trafficking, ensnaring high-level government officials.
Several countries are examining the Kosovo ring, with police investigators combing through the phone records, computer hard drives and bank transfers of those charged. European Union officials said the recipients paid for the kidneys by bank transfers, helping lead the police to the main suspects.
Western law enforcement officials said they suspected the ring might be part of a larger criminal network whose nexus was in Israel. In September, five doctors from South Africa were charged with participating in an international kidney-trading syndicate in which dozens of poor Brazilians and Romanians were paid for kidneys for wealthy Israelis. Analysts said the organ-trafficking case was part of a disturbing global trend in which unscrupulous traffickers take advantage of the growing waiting lists of desperate patients and the vulnerability of poor people further buffeted by the international financial crisis.
In the United States, more than 109,000 people are on the waiting list for organ transplants, mostly kidneys, and 18 die each day, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the American transplant system.
European Union probes the Balkan human-organ trade, disappearance of kidnapped Kosovo Serbs
Associated Press, FileIn this photo taken on Feb. 9, 2009, Kosovo Serb Budimir Maslar shows photo of his sister, missing during 1998-1999 Kosovo war, in front of the "Wall of crying", a wall covered with photos of missing Serbs, inside the office of union of families of missing Kosovo Serbs, in Belgrade. Maslar is among the Serbs who fear a loved one may have been killed for a kidney. Europe's top human rights watchdog is launching a probe into a bone-chilling allegation: That ethnic Albanian guerrillas may have kidnapped Serb civilians at the end of Kosovo's 1998-99 war, removed their organs and sold the body parts on the black market.
RRIPE, Albania -- Europe's top human rights watchdog is launching a probe into a bone-chilling allegation: That ethnic Albanian guerrillas may have kidnapped Serb civilians at the end of Kosovo's 1998-99 war, removed their organs and sold the body parts on the black market.
Petitions to Investigate and Condemn Organ Harvesting in China Gain Momentum
Damian Robin
Epoch Times Staff
December 27, 2012
166,461 signatures from 36 countries backing the Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) petition calling on the U.N. to investigate and condemn forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. They wait in the Wagner Room of the Metropole Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, to be taken to the U.N. Office of the High Commission for Human Rights after the panel on Organ Trafficking in China, on Dec. 17 2012. (Tanghong/The Epoch Times)
All over the world, human rights advocates have petitioned governments to investigate and condemn forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.
More than 160,000 people supported the call for a United Nations investigation. The signatures came from 36 countries—mainly from Europe, Australia, India, and Israel—and were delivered to the U.N. Committee on Human Rights in Geneva on Dec. 18.
The signatures were gathered between Oct. 6 and Nov. 22 from a wide range of people, including members of national and European parliaments and mayors.
In the United States, more than 24,000 people have signed their support since Dec. 2, asking President Barack Obama to take a stand against forced organ harvesting. The petition, on the ‘We, the People’ part of the White House website, needs to reach 25,000 signatures by Dec. 31 to require a public response by the Obama Administration.
The U.N. petition was initiated by Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH). It was delivered by David Matas, an international human rights lawyer and co-author of two books on organ harvesting in China.
The many thousands of white A4 sheets full of signatures, tied in neat bundles and clearly labelled by country in large sans serif letters, were wheeled towards the building on the shelves of a blue trolley.
Blue and yellow are colors associated with the spiritual meditation practice of Falun Gong which is known to have the largest number of prisoners of conscience in China.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, initially received prizes and accolades from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when it was introduced to the public in 1992. It was banned in 1999 by then CCP leader Jiang Zemin due to his chagrin that the movement had grown bigger than the CCP.
Matas and the co-author of his book Bloody Harvest: Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour, were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. They provided evidence that Chinese state institutions are complicit in the killing of Falun Gong prisoners for their organs.
"No independent study has contradicted our result," Matas wrote in his remarks for a panel on Organ Trafficking in China at the Metropole Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, the day before delivering the petition to the United Nations. "The only disagreement we see is Chinese Communist Party propaganda."
Matas also co-edited State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China with Dr. Torsten Trey.
Dr. Arthur Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, was one of the three authors of the U.S. Petition. In an interview with The Epoch Times on Dec. 5, Caplan urged people to sign: "I urge them to sign it. I urge them to send it to their friends and organizations they’re involved in, to circulate it widely. It’s an important petition because they can make a difference.
"They would be sending a message that Americans find the practice of killing for parts repugnant, they don’t want it to go on, they think China can do better, and they think the promises of change should be fulfilled."
When asked about the risk of losing trade benefits with China, Caplan said, "the outrage of the practice doesn’t permit a tradeoff here. I think you can’t stay quiet about killing for organs. It’s too heinous. It’s just too wrong. It violates all ideas of human rights. It violates American policy about how to get organs. It’s just too important to not call attention to for fear of souring relations."
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S. Korean Police Arrest Illicit Organ Brokers with China Link
By Gisela Sommer & Quincy Yu
Epoch Times Staff
December 5, 2011
South Korean police in Busan have cracked an illegal organ trade case and arrested four brokers for allegedly introducing South Korean patients to China to undergo organ transplantation.
According to the Nov. 21 police investigation report, the brokers provided the South Korean patients with falsified Chinese IDs to check into a Chinese hospital because China has banned foreigners from receiving organ transplants since 2007, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) TV said in a Nov. 23 report.
According to a report by Radio Free Asia, each liver transplant patient paid 80 million to 150 million South Korean won (US$69,440 to $130,200), which included a 20 percent brokerage fee.
Police said that since 2006, the brokers introduced at least 94 Koreans to China to receive organ transplants. Most of the organs were said to be from death-row inmates. Four transplant patients with advanced cancer died after the surgery. The leader of the broker group is still at large, and the case is still under investigation.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported in 2004 that the majority of Chinese hospitals obtained organs through illegal and unethical channels, and had higher rates of transplant rejection and complications after surgery than South Korean hospitals. However, due to extreme difficulty of finding matching organs in the country, many Korean patients have gone to China for transplants.
"China is the world’s leading source of organ transplants, after the United States, transplanting at a rate of 10,000 organs a year," David Matas, an international human rights lawyer, said in a May 11 talk at the University of San Diego. "Moreover, China is unique in the world for its short waiting times."
But Chinese people have a cultural aversion to donating their organs; there are basically no organ donations in China. According to Huang Jiefu, Chinese deputy minister of Health, most organs for transplants come from executed prisoners.
However, the numbers don’t add up, Matas said. "China would need over 30,000 executions a year to sustain 10,000 transplants sourced solely from prisoners sentenced to death."
Matas, together with David Kilgour, a former Canadian MP and Secretary of State, are authors of the book "Bloody Harvest." They say their investigation has convinced them that the main source of Chinese organ transplants since 2000 have been, and still are, Falun Gong practitioners who are detained in large numbers as prisoners of conscience in Chinese prisons and labor camps.
Some Falun Gong practitioners who were imprisoned in China and lucky enough to escape to the West, have said that they had to submit to extensive health checks of their vital organs, including having large amounts of blood drawn, that other inmates were not subjected to.
Feng Juang, a former research assistant at Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said he was illegally kidnapped by Chinese authorities and held for 20 months for refusing to give up practicing Falun Gong.
Feng told NTD that he believes it’s true that captive Falun Gong practitioners are being used for organ harvesting in China. He said after police took him into custody, he was sent to a hospital where he was given a very thorough examination.
"It was so thorough that it was abnormal. They checked my heart and other organs again and again," he said.
Feng added that "fortunately" his health declined rapidly in the harsh environment, and he was released when he was on the brink of death.
Ma Xiaoming, a former news reporter for Shanxi Province TV, told The Epoch Times for an Oct. 21 Chinese language report that when he was serving a forced labor term in Xian in 2005, a fellow inmate, who was responsible for raising pigs, told him that he personally witnessed a live organ harvesting on an inmate said to be a Falun Gong practitioner.
Ma recalled the fellow inmate telling him: "They put him near the pigsty and smashed his head in with an iron tool like a gunstock. His brain oozed out from the heavy blow. Several police then quickly carried him to a nearby car. A doctor wearing a white gown immediately cut open his abdomen and harvested his organs. The pigs and dogs ate the brain matter and blood that was spattered on the ground."
Former Uighur Surgeon Discloses Live Organ Harvesting in China
20 December 2011
A Uighur refugee and former surgeon, Enver Tohti, spoke with NTD about how he harvested organs from Uighur prisoners who were still alive. Tohti is the first surgeon to admit to personally performing live organ harvesting—a practice that is believed to be used on prisoners of conscience in China.
At a recent rally in England, Tohti recounted what took place 16 years ago when he was asked to remove organs from an executed prisoner.[Enver Tohti, Former Uighur Surgeon]:"At that time, my first instinct was that the person was still alive. Although he was executed, the bullet hit the right side of the chest. They did not shoot the left, where the heart is, but targeted the right, so the person would remain alive until after we remove the organs."Author and rights advocate Ethan Gutmann featured Enver Tohti and several other Uighurs in a report titled "The Xinjiang Procedure," published in The Weekly Standard earlier this month. It’s the latest report on the systematic live harvesting of organs by the Chinese regime, which Gutmann says began as early as 1991.
According to Gutmann and others, like Canadian rights advocates David Kilgour and David Matas, the practice continues today on other groups as well. Kilgour and Matas published a report alleging that the Chinese regime is harvesting organs from live Falun Gong practitioners—a spiritual group the Chinese regime has been persecuting since 1999. Gutmann, who has also investigated the allegations, estimates about 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been victims of live organ harvesting.
For Enver Tohti, these allegations are a reminder of a past he’d rather forget.[Enver Tohti, Former Uighur Surgeon]:"After learning about the Communist Party’s live organ harvesting, I realized that’s exactly what I had taken part in, and I feel extremely guilty. I personally performed these surgeries to remove livers and kidneys… I hope to forget this ever happened, and I often pray that I would be forgiven. I knew nothing at the time when I carried out these foolish acts. I seek forgiveness, there’s nothing else I can say."
China's organ transplant industry has expanded rapidly since around 2001. The regime openly admits to using organs from executed prisoners, but does not disclose the number of executions it carries out each year.
Somali girl smuggled into United Kingdom for organ harvesting
By Catholic Online
25 July 2014
There has been a noticeable uptick of cases of human trafficking in the United Kingdom. In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for transplant. Child protection charities warn that this case was unlikely to be an isolated incident. It was likely the result of a well-coordinated group of smuggling children into the country for harvesting.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Criminal gangs have been attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain
"Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It's unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group," Bharti Patel, the chief executive of EPACT U.K., the child protection charity, said
As many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.
The process involves a number of people, which includes a recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.
There has been a noticeable rise in the number of adults trafficked to the U.K., with the number of women rising by 12 percent to 786 and the number of men by almost a third to 400.
Details of the scale of human trafficking in Britain arrives at a time when prosecutors vow to give these modern day slave drivers a maximum sentence.
Offenders who already have a conviction for a serious sexual or violent offence will receive an automatic life sentence, under new proposals. The current maximum custodial sentence for trafficking is 14 years.
"Modern slavery is an appalling evil in our midst," James Brokenshire, crime and security minister, said. "All this is a good start, but we need everyone to play a part - government, law enforcement, business, charities - if we are to consign slavery to the history books where it belongs.
The Bill, which will be published this year in draft form for pre-legislative scrutiny, will pull together into a single act the offenses used to prosecute slave drivers.
It will also introduce Trafficking Prevention Orders to restrict the activity and movement of convicted traffickers and stop them from committing further offenses.

Also See:
Illegal Organ Trafficking is Big Business!
03 July 2012