Category Archives: Organ Trade

Organ Trafficking Helps Fund ISIS Terrorist Organization, Claims Doctor

ISIS Trafficking Human Organs From Bodies of Kidnapped Captives, Dead Soldiers and Injured Prisoners, Mosul Doctor Says
iraq kurds yazidis

A Kurdish protester of the Yazidis ethnic minority holds a placard against Islamic State (IS) militants during a demonstration in Frankfurt August 9, 2014. Some 2,000 ethnic Kurds of the Yazidis sect, who practice an ancient faith related to Zoroastrianism, protested in the western German city on Saturday against IS militants, who are surging across northern Iraq near the Kurdistan borders in their drive to eradicate unbelievers such as Christians and Yazidis.

BY SAMUEL SMITH , CP REPORTER

As the Islamic State has risen to become a yearly $2 billion terrorist outfit, it has found various methods to reel in its revenue such as oil production, human trafficking, and drug smuggling. However, it has been revealed that there is yet another lucrative source for ISIS funding: trafficking human organs.

According to a recent Al Monitor report addressing the various revenue sources of the Islamic State, a doctor from Mosul named Siruwan al-Mosuli is claiming that ISIS hired foreign doctors to run an extensive organ trafficking system that has the potential to generate great profits.

Mosuli, who is an ear, nose and throat doctor by trade, said he noticed something fishy when ISIS leaders hired new Arab and foreign doctors to work in their hospitals in Mosul and did not allow the foreign doctors to interact with the local doctors. Mosuli said that soon after, information was leaked to him about organ selling.

According to Mosuli, the Islamic State takes organs from a variety of sources. He said the organs mostly come from dead militants, whose bodies are quickly transported to the hospital. However, Mosuli said that ISIS also takes organs from individuals they kidnap (religious minorities like Christians and Yazidis). According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), ISIS also sells the bodies and organs of the injured individuals under ISIS arrest.

The Islamic State’s organ trafficking system would not be successful without the aid of external expert organ transporters, or as the report calls them “networks specialized in trafficking human organs.” Mosuli further added that the network is a “specialized mafia” dedicated to organ smuggling and nothing else.

Although Mosuli said that organ selling can yield outstanding profit, it absolutely requires coordination between all parties involved, including the cooperation of hospitals and other medical institutions in other countries, because the organs must be transported and implanted in a timely manner. He added that without such coordination, the success of the trade could not be maintained.

As the Assyrian International News Agency points out, it is suspected that most of the organs smuggled out of Syria and Iraq by ISIS are usually being shipped to neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Although ISIS’ biggest revenue gainer is their selling of over $1 million per day in crude oil, which they produce from oil refineries captured in besieged towns, another massive ISIS revenue producer is their human trafficking ring, which the OHCHR estimates has led to over 25,000 religious minority women and children being either imprisoned or sexually assaulted.

But another less-publicized revenue source is ISIS’ drug smuggling ring. Al Monitor report finds that ISIS trafficks Afghan heroin into Europe from the city of Nineveh, which the Russian Federal Drug Control Service says is generating “significant revenues.” The service added that ISIS supplies half of Europe’s total heroin consumption.

“The large-scale movement of Afghan heroin acts as an ongoing financial base aiding the functioning of the Islamic State, which secures huge profits by providing half of the total heroin supplied to Europe via destabilized Iraq and some African heroin, which is sent from Iraq to Europe,” the Russian Federal Drug Control Service issued in a statement.

ISIS also makes money from smuggling families and individuals into other countries. The report highlights one instance when a family paid ISIS over $8,000 per individual to sneak them into Turkey.

ISIS Profits From Organ Trafficking Claims Doctor

 

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The Bangladesh poor selling organs to pay debts

Mr Hossen

Mohammad Moqarram Hossen had a kidney removed and says he can no longer do heavy work

Kalai, like many other villages in Bangladesh, appears a rural idyll at first sight. But several villagers here have resorted to selling organs to pay back microcredit loans that were meant to lift them out of poverty. Journalist Sophie Cousins reports on an alarming consequence of the microfinance revolution.

Green rice paddies surround the dusty, narrow road to the heart of Kalai, a village six hours north of Dhaka, in Bangladesh’s Jotpurhat district. Children play naked, hanging off stringy bits of bamboo that hold up the makeshift hut they live in.

They, like millions of other rural Bangladeshis, grow up facing a life of hardship. In an attempt to alleviate poverty, countless numbers take on debt with microcredit lenders, only to find themselves in a difficult situation when they are unable to repay the loan.

Some have even turned to selling their organs as a last resort to repay the loans and escape the vicious cycle of poverty.

The idea of selling organs is not new and those in poverty throughout South Asia have resorted to it for years. But what is less known, is that more people are turning to the trade because of feeling under pressure to pay back microcredit lenders.

These lenders were originally set up to help lift people out of poverty by offering small loans to people who do not qualify for traditional banking credit, to encourage entrepreneurship and empower women.

Microcredit in Bangladesh

  • As of December 2011, more than 34 million Bangladeshis had accessed microcredit since 1997, when it began collecting data
  • Of those 34 million, more than 26 million live under the poverty line – on less than $1.25 a day
  • There are currently 20.65 million borrowers in Bangladesh
  • It is estimated the sector constitutes around 3% of GDP

Selling a kidney

Mohammad Akhtar Alam, 33, bears a 15-inch scar on his stomach where he had a kidney removed. The organ removal – which is illegal in Bangladesh unless the organ is being given to a spouse or family member – combined with the inadequate post-operative care he received, has left him partially paralyzed, with only one eye working and unable to do any heavy lifting.

To earn money, he runs a small shop in the village that sells rice, flour and the occasional sweet treat.

A couple of years ago Mr Alam’s income from driving a van was not enough to make the weekly loan repayments he was required to make from up to eight different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which lend microcredit.

“One day [a man] rode in my van and asked me why I was doing this,” he recalls.

“I told him that I was very poor and that I had loans from seven or eight NGOs. I owed about 100,000 taka [$1,442; £900] and I could not return the money to the NGOs. I used to try and sell furniture and things for cooking to try to repay the money.”

Mr Alam had got caught in a web of loans in which he first borrowed money from one NGO and, when he was unable to pay it off, he borrowed from other NGOs.

His passenger worked as a middleman between organ seller and recipient and persuaded him to sell a kidney, promising 400,000 taka ($6,360; £4,000).

Seventeen days later, Mr Alam says he returned home from a private hospital in Dhaka, barely alive and carrying only a fraction of the money he was promised.

“I agreed to sell my kidney because I couldn’t return the money to the NGOs. As we are poor and helpless, that is why we are bound to do this. I regret it,” he says.

Mohammad Moqarram Hossen, also from Kalai, is another victim.

“I took the decision to return the money I borrowed from NGOs,” he says as he reveals the scar he has been left following an operation in India to remove his kidney.

“The doctor told me there was no risk but now I can’t do any heavy work. I can’t work.”

How many loans?

Microcredit, hailed as a saviour for millions, aims to break the cycle of poverty by stimulating income-generating activities through providing collateral-free loans.

Kalai

In an attempt to alleviate poverty, millions of Bangladeshi villagers take out micro-credit loans

But its repayment structure and the apparent inability of microfinance institutions to determine whether borrowers have multiple loans with other institutions rarely come under scrutiny.

Consequently, it can create a vicious cycle in which borrowers borrow money from other NGOs to repay existing loans, leaving many unable to repay and some to take extreme measures such as selling organs to make repayments.

Professor Monir Moniruzzaman from the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University has been researching the organ trade in Bangladesh for 12 years and says some people feel they are left with no choice but to sell a body part.

“A lot of people’s debt from NGOs has spiraled out of control. Because they cannot repay the loans, there is only one way for people to get out and that is to sell their kidney,” he says.

His research into Bangladesh’s organ trade reveals that of the 33 kidney sellers he interviewed, some had sold their organs due to feeling under pressure to repay loans.

He alleges that NGO officials, from organisations such as Grameen Bank and BRAC, among others, pressure people into repaying loans by sitting all day long at the defaulter’s house, verbal harassment and threatening to file a police case.

“One of the sellers mentioned that he left his village for about a year for not being able to face the NGO officials,” Professor Moniruzzaman says.

“The social and economic pressures from NGOs was unbearable so he decided to sell his kidney to pay off his loan.”

Grameen Bank denies harassment or applying any such pressure. It points out that it has never lodged a case against a borrower for failing to pay a loan.

“Our approach does not require that,” Mohammed Shahjahan, the bank’s acting managing director, told the BBC. He says that because Grameen does not impose any penalty for failure to repay debts and because borrowers are free to reschedule their loans at any point there is no pressure.

“Most borrowers have savings in their accounts more than or equivalent to at least 75% of their loan amount. As a result they are not in a ‘distress’ situation at any point for payment of their installments,” he says.

And Mohammad Ariful Hoq, an analyst at BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, says repayments for their clients are “not a very big issue” – their interest rate is 27%; Grameen’s maximum interest rate is 20%.

BRAC denies pressuring borrowers or that there could be any link between microcredit and organ trafficking.

“In our work that doesn’t happen because we don’t create any extra pressure on our borrowers,” Mr Hoq says.

Throughout the microfinance sector, interest is calculated on the declining balance – which means that rather than charging interest on the original loan amount it is charged only on the amount of money that remains in the borrower’s hands as the loan is repaid.

Repayment policies

  • Although repayment policies vary with each lender, a strict repayment structure is common
  • If a BRAC borrower fails to make a repayment within 15 days, a loan officer will determine if the default is willful – and if so they will repeatedly request payment
  • If this fails, management will decide on legal action on a case-by-case basis – figures for this are unavailable
  • If default is not deemed willful, a borrower could eventually see the loan rescheduled and in cases such as natural disaster, written off
  • Grameen’s policy in similar cases is also to reschedule the loan, but many other micro-credit lenders do not
  • Grameen says that if a loan does not get paid on time, it is converted into a “flexible loan” in which 50% of the loan is written off on the last day of the month

Mr Hoq does admit that one-third of their 4.3 million borrowers have multiple loans: “You’ll find people who are taking three loans from different organisations. There is a 30% overlap for micro-finance institutes in Bangladesh.”

However he says there is no systematic way to check if borrowers have loans with other institutions so lenders are unable to determine a borrower’s risk or their level of debt. BRAC says that one method they use is to knock on a neighbour’s door and ask them about their friend’s economic situation. Grameen Bank says that it also has checks to see if borrowers have multiple loans.

But analysts maintain that in practice such checks are very difficult to carry out and it is far from certain that banks are always able to get an accurate assessment of a borrower’s credit history.

Liver removed

And recent research says the industry’s loan repayment structure combined with the infrequent incomes of rural Bangladeshis can cause problems.

The Institute of Developing Economies in Japan showed that some households were taking risky measures such as selling assets and borrowing from loan sharks in order to maintain a clean record of repayment to be assured future access to microcredit.

Mr Alam

Mohammad Akhtar Alam got caught in a web of loans

Research from one body which loans money to microcredit agencies in Bangladesh found in studies between 2006-2007 that only 7% of micro-borrowers were able to rise about the poverty line.

Nevertheless, a study earlier this year by the World Bank found that the benefits of borrowing outweighed the accumulated debt. And the Microcredit Summit Campaign believes microcredit lifted 10 million Bangladeshis out of poverty between 1990 and 2008.

But as the demand for human organs continues to facilitate an illegal black market in Bangladesh, members of poor rural communities will continue to be lured by false promises of a better life.

Mohammad Mehedi Hasan, 24, from Molamgari village, not far from Kalai, didn’t know what a liver was when he was manipulated into believing that removing part of it for 700,000 taka ($9,690; £6,000) would be a “noble act” that would save the life of a Singaporean man.

“I have been left without knowing how much of my liver was taken out,” he says as he explains how he was transported to Dhaka for an underground operation at a private clinic.

“After the operation I raced home and after two days I got the news that the patient had died.

“I thought that I would be OK after I had part of my liver removed but sometimes I have pain in my chest and I have to urinate more than 50 or 60 times a day.”

Mr Hasan received 150,000 taka ($2,046; £1,280) and says he was forced to sell his family home.

Prof Moniruzzaman says the implications of organ trafficking are devastating.

“There is no safeguard as to where the organs are coming from and how safe they are, and on the other hand, the seller’s health deteriorates after the operation. That has a huge impact on their earning capacity because they cannot go back to their old physically demanding jobs.”

There is no doubt that microcredit has empowered millions around the world.

But as the polarization between rich and poor increases, experts say those most impoverished will take on more debt – sometimes resorting to measures as desperate as selling their organs.

The men of Kalai wish they had known better.

 

 

Six-Year-Old Boy has Eyeballs Gouged Out by Suspected Organ Trafficker

How Big is the Illicit Trade?

A SIX-YEAR-OLD Chinese boy has had his eyeballs gouged out by a woman suspected of trying to steal his corneas to sell on the black market. The shocking attack has drawn attention to the dark underworld of illegal organ harvesting. Here’s what you need to know about the illicit trade:

What happened in China? The little boy, named locally as Binbin, was playing outside his home in Linfen, a city in the southern Shanxi province, when he was approached by a woman who told him: “Don’t cry and I won’t gouge out your eyes.” He was drugged and taken to a field where he lost consciousness. At this point she removed his eyeballs – using either her fingers or a crude mechanical device – leaving him covered in blood and screaming in pain, reports The Independent. He was found hours later by his parents. Investigators reportedly retrieved his eyeballs nearby, the corneas hadn’t been removed. Local media suggest the attacker might have been working for a larger criminal network specialising in the sale of stolen organs. A 100,000 yuan ($16,000) reward has been offered for the woman’s capture.

How does organ trafficking operate? The number of legitimate organs available for transplant worldwide has fallen, partly due to better road safety – fewer healthy young adults are dying in traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the number of people waiting for transplants has increased. As a result, organised criminals can make a fortune from unethical clinics who will buy organs for wealthy patients. Some victims are kidnapped and forced to give up an organ, while others are duped into believing they need an operation and the organ is removed without their knowledge. Some people sell their organs out of financial desperation, often seeing just a fraction of the profit, if anything at all, and placing their health at great risk.

How big is the problem? International organ trafficking is a growing trade. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around one in ten organ transplants involve trafficked human organs, which amounts to around 10,000 each year. Kidneys are the most commonly traded organ.  A report by Global Financial Integrity estimates that the illegal organ trade generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion in profits a year. Patients might pay anything from $200,000 for a kidney to $1m for a heart.

Who is at risk? The United Nations says that people of all ages could become targets but migrants, homeless people and those who cannot read are particularly vulnerable. Children are often targeted, especially those from poorer backgrounds or those with disabilities.

Where does it happen? Donor countries include impoverished nations in South America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, according to a Harvard College study, while recipient countries include the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Japan. Trafficking involves a whole host of offenders, from recruiters who identify the victims to transporters and hospital or clinic staff. Last year the Salvation Army revealed it had rescued a woman brought to the UK to have her organs harvested – which was thought to be the first case of its kind in this country.

Guatemala Children Stolen for Illegal Adoption, Organ Trafficking

Guatemalan couple whose baby was stolen and later found.

Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office has received 22 reports of stolen children in seven months, indicating that the trade in illegal adoptions continues to flourish despite regulations, and also highlighting an even more disturbing phenomenon — the use of children for organ trafficking.

According to children’s prosecutor Erick Cardenas, the majority of stolen babies are sold for irregular adoptions or for their organs. Cardenas said that hospital workers including doctors and midwives are themselves often involved in the illegal business, helping criminal networks get false birth certificates for newborns, reported Prensa Libre.

In one reported case, an intruder dressed as a nurse is believed to have administered a sleeping pill to a new mother before taking her baby. The baby, who was later found abandoned, had apparently been stolen by a couple who wanted to be parents.

Nonetheless, the case led to the investigation of nurses on duty at the time of the incident. Meanwhile, reviews of one hospital center found that staff fail to use electronic bracelets with an “intelligent chip” to identify the mother and child, even though the bracelet was introduced as a preventive measure against infant theft in 2012.

InSight Crime Analysis

Illegal adoption is a crime that has plagued Guatemala for decades. Despite measures taken in recent years, in June, the director of a Guatemalan child welfare center reported a resurgence in the sale of children. High levels of impunity for illegal adoption cases, coupled with a complex process for legal adoptions, contribute greatly to the perpetuation of the crime.

Prior to 2007, when the country ratified an international convention on child trafficking, Guatemala was the second most common country of origin for adoptions in the world, with the vast majority of children sent to the United States. In 2008, Guatemala halted international adoptions due to growing concerns over child trafficking, though the measure has created serious complications for parents who were already in the process of adopting legally.

The number of cases reported by the Attorney General’s Office for 2013 shows that the trade in illegal adoptions is still alive, while Cardenas’ comments suggest that child snatching is not limited to adoptions but also has even more sinister purposes — organ trafficking, which is a rising phenomenon in Latin America, though one more commonly associated with adults.

Chinese Red Cross Involved in Organ-for-Cash Scandal

china-organ-traders-april-2013.jpgMen charged with organ trading are taken to court in Zhejiang province, April 23, 2013.

Reported by Shi Shan and Wen Jian for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie

Allegations that the Chinese Red Cross has been involved in trading transplant organs for cash have highlighted a booming underground business in vital body parts, lawyers said this week.

State media reports recently alleged that hospitals in the two provinces of Jiangsu and Guangdong had been approached by local branches of the Red Cross Society of China for payments of 100,000 yuan (U.S. $16,300) for each successful organ donation.

The reports prompted the Shenzhen branch of the Red Cross to release a statement this week saying that it has worked on 25 cases with the General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Area Command and admitting that the hospital had contributed 150,000 yuan (U.S. $24,400) to promote organ donation.

But the branch denied the 25 cases were linked to organ procurement.

“The branch has provided detailed expense statements to the hospital,” the statement said, adding: “There is no 100,000 yuan-per-organ arrangement, and donation usage is always disclosed to hospitals on a regular basis.”

The reports aren’t the first to cause a stir over organ trading.

Last month, a report on the popular social media site Tencent that an 18-year-old student from the western province of Gansu had sold a kidney to pay off a video-gaming debt sparked shock and concern among netizens, highlighting a growing trade in organs that is often brokered through specialist websites.

The student, identified only by his surname Zhang, was matched up with an organ dealer online, traveled to the central city of Shijiazhuang and signed a waiver agreement, and had one kidney removed in return for just U.S. $6,510, compared with a going rate of around U.S. $47,000, Tencent reported.

Typical sources

But such reports still only scratch the surface of the illicit trade, which takes place behind closed doors, and often attracts the poorest and most desperate people in China.

Beijing-based rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said Chinese transplant organs are typically sourced either from relatives or from executed prisoners.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party admits the harvesting of organs from consenting, dead prisoners, and has vowed to diminish dependence on such organs in future.

Liu said the rise of lethal injections over firing squad executions would eventually make such organs scarce.

“I heard that a lot of organs from prisoners executed by lethal injection are unusable,” he said. “So all of this is bound to have an impact on the rampant underground market in transplant organs.”

Liu said clear and well-enforced legislation on organ transplants was the only way forward.

“The government lacks the manpower and the resources to make a serious strike at the underground organs trade,” he said. “There are so many people waiting for kidneys, with a serious shortage available through normal channels.”

“Of course the underground market is booming.”

An open secret

Organ transplantation in China has long been criticized as opaque, profit-driven, and unethical. Critics argue death row inmates may feel pressured to become donors, violating personal, religious, or cultural beliefs.

China has also been extracting organs from living prisoners in addition to its much publicized and criticized practice of taking vital body parts from executed convicts, experts told a U.S. congressional hearing last year.

The illegal organ trade has become an open secret in today’s China, with advertisements clearly visible on the Internet for people wishing to sell kidneys or livers.

“We see a lot of media reports saying that the fees for a kidney transplant are extremely high,” Henan lawyer Niu Yuliang said in a recent interview. “But what fee is that, exactly? Is it the fee for surgery, or the fee paid to acquire the kidney?”

“If the organ is donated, then why do people need to buy them? Obviously, there are a lot of questions over this,” Niu said. “It’s unclear right now in this country what processes must be gone through to donate an organ, and who collects the donated funds for organs.”

“People will only have peace of mind when this all becomes transparent and open.”

Prisoners targeted

Rights groups have charged Beijing with a deliberate policy of linking the criminal justice system and local hospitals in an attempt to meet the growing demand for transplants after Chinese hospitals became proficient at performing them in the early 1990s.

They also accuse the authorities of skipping over the question of consent, either with coerced agreements before the prisoner is executed, or simply by cremating the bodies of those executed so no evidence remains.

Two-thirds of transplant organs in China come from prisoners, according to researcher Ethan Gutman, who has conducted interviews with Chinese medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, and over 50 former prisoners of China’s laogai labor-camp system since 2006.

Gutman said he believes that the practice of taking organs from Chinese prisoners began in the remote Xinjiang region—where ethnic Uyghurs say they are discriminated against by Han Chinese—in the 1990s and had expanded nationwide by 2001.

Though at first the victims of this practice were executed prisoners, he said, doctors began to take organs from living prisoners as well, he told the Oversight and Investigation and Human Rights Subcommittees of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Beijing strongly denies that it deliberately kills prisoners to harvest organs, pointing to the Red Cross’ fledgling Transplant Organ Response System set up in April 2011.