China’s snazzy new death vans aid in organ harvesting

A shiny new fleet of execution vans is sweeping across China. Executioners on Wheels is a one-stop solution for carrying out the icky, messy chore of capital punishment. The spacious, high-tech, fully loaded vans make executing prisoners a snap. The friendly drivers not only kill the prisoner with a lethal injection, they also slice out his organs on the spot for quick and efficient harvesting, before the posion from the injection can sink in (or at least we sure hope so). Executions have never been easier!

China’s critics contend that the transition from firing squads to injections in death vans facilitates an illegal trade in prisoners’ organs.

Injections leave the whole body intact and require participation of doctors. Organs can “be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot,” says Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong. “We have gathered strong evidence suggesting the involvement of (Chinese) police, courts and hospitals in the organ trade.”

Executions in death vans are recorded on video and audio that is played live to local law enforcement authorities — a measure intended to ensure they are carried out legally.

China’s refusal to give outsiders access to the bodies of executed prisoners has added to suspicions about what happens afterward: Corpses are typically driven to a crematorium and burned before relatives or independent witnesses can view them.

Chinese authorities are sensitive to allegations that they are complicit in the organ trade. In March, the Ministry of Health issued regulations explicitly banning the sale of organs and tightening approval standards for transplants.

Even so, Amnesty International said in a report in April that huge profits from the sale of prisoners’ organs might be part of why China refuses to consider doing away with the death penalty.

“Given the high commercial value of organs, it is doubtful the new regulations will have an effect,” Allison says.

Why does Amnesty International always have to be so glum, so cynical? These spiffy vans are emblematic of China’s great and unstoppable rise to superpower status. We should celebrate them, not criticize them. Keep your eye open for the execution van as it visits your neighborhood, and blow the driver a kiss. He represents the new China – modern, efficient, and economical. All hail progress.

Via Danwei.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

Time to paraphrase the “Bring out your dead!” cry from the old Monty Python Holy Grail movie. In China, now they say “Bring out your living!”

June 30, 2006 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

Mark Allison, excuuuse me while I check out if high potassium levels ruin any of the organs you’re hoping to harvest. Inventing a death van and using death cocktail (“like the Americans”) sounds just like stories a read-all believe-all western mind will meekly follow. I have been to Chengdu and saw death notices posted outside the court houses, but have to admit that I have not requested to see the dead bodies. Then I lived in Huntsville, Texas, the capital punishment capital of the world and doubt if they will grant me viewings either. In all, think, the largest part of an organ donation is the life-long immuno-suppressive drugs needed. Who is paying for this regiment? Who is doing the tissue matching, the long term followup? Western donors to the Amnesty International? Like all international trade: the jailer, if they did, made pennies in yen. The shoppers paid thousands in dollars, most of which went to the trans-national establishments. Time to stand up for better payments to the condemned.

July 1, 2006 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Mark Allison, excuuuse me while I check out if high potassium levels ruin any of the organs you’re hoping to harvest. Inventing a death van and using death cocktail (“like the Americans”) sounds just like stories a read-all believe-all western mind will meekly follow. I have been to Chengdu and saw death notices posted outside the court houses, but have to admit that I have not requested to see the dead bodies. Then I lived in Huntsville, Texas, the capital punishment capital of the world and doubt if they will grant me viewings either. In all, think, the largest part of an organ donation is the life-long immuno-suppressive drugs needed. Who is paying for this regiment? Who is doing the tissue matching, the long term followup? Western donors to the Amnesty International? Like all international trade: the jailer, if they did, made pennies in yen. The shoppers paid thousands in dollars, most of which went to the trans-national establishments. Time to stand up for better payments to the condemned.

July 1, 2006 @ 1:19 am | Comment

Bukko, you took the words right out of my mouth.

And remember, in that scene, one guy says:

“Don’t put me on the cart! I’m not dead!”

“Don’t worry, you will be soon.”

July 1, 2006 @ 2:55 am | Comment

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