Are bodies of Chinese prisoners really on show at an exhibition in Sydney?
Are dead bodies of Chinese prisoners on show in Sydney?
That’s what protesters claim is the case with Real Bodies, a show in the Australian city’s Byron Kennedy Hall.
The show features bodies and anatomical specimens that “have been respectfully preserved to explore the complex inner workings of the human form in a refreshing and thought-provoking style,” according to the exhibition’s website.
The protesters – a group of academics and human rights campaigners – are urging the boycott and closure of the exhibition, which is billed as featuring the largest collection of bodies and human specimens ever put on show in Australia.
Tom Zaller, chief executive of Imagine Exhibitions – the company organizing the show – said that the bodies had come from China, a detail that raised flags with human rights activists.
Vaughan Macefield, a professor of physiology at the University of Western Sydney, told the Guardian that “strong evidence supports the bodies and organs being exhibited having come from executed prisoners in China.”
Susie Hughes, executive director of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), asked whether the bodies had been obtained ethically.
The group said that the idea the bodies were “unclaimed corpses” could not be correct, because Chinese hospitals must keep bodies for 30 days before declaring them “unclaimed.” However, the plasticisation process that preserves the bodies for display must take place within 48 hours of death.
Zaller told news.com.au that claims the bodies originated from Chinese political prisoners were “unfounded” and “offensive,” although he admitted that there was “no documentation” to prove their identities or that they had consented to donate their corpses.
In 2016, China came under international fire when reports surfaced that the government was illegally harvesting organs from executed prisoners, despite claiming that it had ended the practice two years earlier.