By Andrew Rock

Last month, Cambodian police shut down an organ trafficking ring that was operating out of a Cambodian military hospital. Nine people were arrested, including the hospital director, the deputy director, three Chinese-Vietnamese nationals, and a Chinese physician and professor who had worked as the group’s consultant.

In China, state-sanctioned organ harvesting is commonplace. Prisoners on death row and prisoners of conscience are frequently killed for their organs. But the most prominent subset of the population killed for the purposes of organ harvesting are those of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline. It is estimated that approximately 60,000 of these individuals were killed between 2000 and 2008. Many claim that China is violating globally established ethical principles by allowing such practices to continue. And now, it looks like such behaviors are spreading to other countries.

Patients visiting the Cambodian facility were mostly Chinese and Vietnamese while donors were usually local Cambodians. The going rate for organs is high despite the meager sums paid to donors. For example, kidneys cost buyers around $35,000 to $40,000, while donors can expect only $5,000 in compensation.

“What’s at stake is that China is undermining ethical standards in other countries,” said Dr. Torsten Trey of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting.

Soon after the investigation concluded, the Cambodian military refused to respond to further inquiries in an attempt to dismiss claims that this was a case of trafficking. Defense Minister Tea Banh maintained that the actions of those involved were completely voluntary.

These claims are largely questioned. “Since it’s a military hospital, not a private medical setting, it must be happening with the approval of the government or certain officials,” Dr. Trey explained.

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