Skinless Cadavers Exhibited in Birmingham Pose Questions about Ethics, Human Rights and Human Dignity
Article 16-1-1, alinéa 2, of the French Civil code asks for the remains of deceased persons to be treated with respect, dignity and decency: an exhibition of cadavers aiming at making money doesn’t respect this requirement. French Appeal Judges noted that using these dead bodies to make money was one of the objectives.
So why is Britain not taking the same action?
Why is Britain allowing the bodies of unknown Chinese citizens – who may have been victims of torure, human rights violations, persecution or organ theft – to be tunred into a travelling circus?
August 2nd 2018 – Letter to The Times
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER, OPPOSITION LEADER, THE FOREIGN SECRETARY AND THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH
20 JULY 2018
Dear Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn, Foreign Secretary Hunt and Secretary of State Hancock,
We, the undersigned believe the Real Bodies: The Exhibition showing at Birmingham’s NEC should be shut down immediately and thoroughly investigated for the following reasons: 1. The exhibition presenters, Imagine Exhibitions have confirmed that the display, consisting of 20 whole human cadavers and over 200 human organs, human foetuses and body parts, are sourced from China and are presented without any consent documents and identification papers to confirm the origins of the deceased. The CEO of Imagine admitted there is ‘no documentation’ to prove their identities or that they agreed to donate their bodies after death1.
- The non-consensual display of human remains is in violation of the Human Tissue Act (2004), as well as the spirit in which it was created. The Human Tissue Authority’s Guidance for Professionals states that ‘Removing, storing or using human tissue for Scheduled Purposes without appropriate consent’ is an offence under the Human Tissue Act (2004)2. Schedule 1 of the Act also clearly states that the ‘Purposes Requiring Consent‘ includes both ‘displays‘ (Sch. 1 para. 5), and ‘Education or training relating to human health‘ (Sch. 1 para. 9)3
Commercial operations that Import human remains should also be required to abide by these standards to ensure that trafficked human bodies are not permitted to enter, and be displayed, in the UK.
- Using human organs and tissues without consent for financial profit is the antithesis of ethical and legal practice as set out in the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplantation and the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs.
- The public display of the deceased, including foetuses of varying gestation times, without confirmed consent is a gross violation of human rights, dignity and ethics, which should not be permitted on the grounds of ‘art’ or ‘education.’
- The bodies and organs reportedly come from Dalian, China and were sourced from the Dalian Public Security Bureau/Police, according to the CEO of Imagine Exhibitions4.
- This trade in human bodies is not only facilitated by the Chinese Communist regime’s extensive use of the death penalty but also by the incarceration of other ‘unwanted’ prisoners in Chinese detention facilities.
- Investigative reports5 have concluded that bodies sourced from Dalian and used in plastination exhibits include prisoners of conscience detained in the vast prison/ labour camp compounds within close proximity to the Dalian plastination facility. The prisoners of conscience are primarily, but not only, practitioners of the spiritually based set of exercises Falun Gong. Dalian is an epicentre of organ transplant activity, plastination and repression of Falun Gong6. Page 2 of 3
- Plastinated body exhibitions from China have been banned in a growing number of places around the world, including in Israel7, France8, Hawaii9and various cities in the US. The Czech Republic10 changed its laws on 7th July 2017, meaning such an exhibition would no longer be allowed to enter its country without written proof consent from the deceased.
- 9. Commercial profit should not outweigh the gross violation of basic human dignity present in this exhibition.
We believe that this exhibition encroaches on our UK values and law and should be stopped. DNA tests should also be carried out so the family identifications can be made in the future.11 We also urge the Government to ensure that appropriate legislations are in place so that such exhibits cannot be freely imported into the UK.
4 Premier Exhibitions – Disclaimer
5 Bodies at an Exhibition by Ethan Gutmann, An Investigative Report on the Source of Human Cadavers Used
in the Plastination Industry in China by WOIPFG, and Der Spiegel: “Händler des Todes”
A Prague Leader Tries to Bury a Bodies Exhibition, Once and for All
Written Questions: July 24th 2018
Lord Alton of Liverpool asked:
whether they have caused inquiries to be made about the origins of the 20 unidentified skinless human bodies in an exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre and the circumstances in which these people died; what assurance they have that they are not cadavers of disappeared Chinese political and religious prisoners; and whether they are arranging for the bodies to be examined to see whether there is any remaining evidence of the removal of organs.
Monday 23 July 2018
Date due for answer
Monday 6 August 2018
what contact they have had, if any, with the Birmingham Coroner to establish what is known about the origins of the 20 skinless human bodies being exhibited at the National Exhibition Centre; and whether inquests will be opened to establish the facts involved in their deaths.
Monday 23 July 2018
Date due for answer
Monday 6 August 2018
This exhibition raises some very serious ethical questions, particularly given the persistent reports of forced organ harvesting and other unethical treatment of prisoners of conscience in China today. It would be macabre in the extreme if it was found that the bodies displayed in an exhibition in Birmingham were in fact those of Chinese prisoners. I hope this will be fully investigated and that the very highest ethical standards are applied.
Our bodies are sacred vessels and even in death should be treated with respect and human dignity.
I think back to the outrage rightly caused by the Alder Hey body parts scandal and by the use of aborted human remains being used to promote fashion and jewellery and the backlash this created.
We are made Imago Dei – in God’s image – and at the lowest level human remains should be treated with decency and respect and never used for the purposes of entertainment.
But this goes even further than previous unacceptable practices and historic necromancy and body snatching.
I recently attended a hearing in Parliament where we heard accounts of forced and fatal removal of organs of Chinese political and religious dissidents.
The doctors who have called for the Coroner to investigate the origins and cause of death of these twenty skinless bodies are right to do so.
In their open letter to Birmingham’s coroner, Dr. Louise Hunt asks the Coroner to investigate the bodies placed on show at the NEC and I too have today tabled Questions to the Government asking what they are doing to establish how these poor people died.
In this article, Dr David Nicholl, Consultant Neurologist & Honorary Senior Lecturer
City Hospital, Birmingham, poses the central argument that “The basis of consent is fundamental as to whether these exhibitions are ethical or not”. Undoubtedly, that remains the central question:
The Body Exhibition NEC says that the bodies are of Chinese origin.
And a further article in the Daily Mail reports the chief executive of Imagine Exhibitions admitting that there is no documentation to verify identities or consent to donate their bodies after death.
Due to the unethical nature of this type of exhibition, both France and Israel have banned these exhibitions;
Many believe that
1) No direct consent, either by themselves nor their immediate families, has ever been given;
2) The bodies being used may well be from people of conscience in China who have been persecuted for their beliefs – including House Christians, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, and the Uyghur Muslim group in Xinjiang; and
3) The use of these bodies in such a manner is wholly unethical, immoral and frankly disturbing.
Lord Keen of Elie, the Ministry of Justice, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL9758):
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what contact they have had, if any, with the Birmingham Coroner to establish what is known about the origins of the 20 skinless human bodies being exhibited at the National Exhibition Centre; and whether inquests will be opened to establish the facts involved in their deaths. (HL9758)
Tabled on: 23 July 2018
Lord Keen of Elie:
Coroners are independent judicial office holders and as such it would be inappropriate for Ministers to intervene in or comment upon the decisions of the Birmingham and Solihull Senior Coroner.
The exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre has been licenced by the Human Tissue Authority in line with the provisions of the Human Tissue Act 2004. Responsibility for hosting the exhibition and maintaining ethical standards lies with the National Exhibition Centre.
Date and time of answer: 03 Aug 2018 at 13:07.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL9756):
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have caused inquiries to be made about the origins of the 20 unidentified skinless human bodies in an exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre and the circumstances in which these people died; what assurance they have that they are not cadavers of disappeared Chinese political and religious prisoners; and whether they are arranging for the bodies to be examined to see whether there is any remaining evidence of the removal of organs. (HL9756)
Tabled on: 23 July 2018
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
We have no evidence to suggest that the ‘Real Bodies’ exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre contains cadavers of Chinese political or religious prisoners. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not been approached by any UK government department to make formal representations to the Chinese authorities.
Date and time of answer: 03 Aug 2018 at 13:01.
Letter To the Coroner: August 4th 2018
Dear Louise Hunt,
Dr.David Nicholl has kindly drawn your email to him to my attention.
I would be grateful if you would clarify whether it is your intention to seek to establish the identity of these anonymous people and how you have been able to establish that they were not dissidents, political prisoners, Tibetans, unregistered Christians, Uighhurs, Falun Gong, disappeared lawyers etc ? and whether you have made any formal request for DNA so that their identification might one day be established by relatives; and whether you looked for any evidence of the cause of death?
Could you also confirm whether you have been in touch with your French counterparts to establish on what grounds the French Courts refused to allow this exhibition of cadavers to be staged there?
I am copying this to the two Government Ministers who answered parliamentary questions about this earlier this week.
——– Original Message ——–
From: Lynne Boyle
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2018, 09:50
To: “NICHOLL, David
Subject: Your email of 15 July 2018
The Senior Coroner has responded to your email as follows:
Further to your request for me to open inquests into the deaths of the bodies currently exhibited at the NEC, I confirm I have carried preliminary enquiries pursuant to S1(7) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to enable me to determine if there is any need for me to carry out an investigation under S1. I can confirm that following my preliminary investigation, which included an external examination of each body at the NEC by a forensic pathologist, I am satisfied that my duty to investigate does not arise and accordingly I will be taking no further action in respect of this matter.
HM Senior Coroner
Birmingham & Solihull Districts
The Coroner’s Court
50 Newton Street
Interview with the the anatomist Roy Glover (behind Bodies Revealed) the audio file is here
ABCs 20/20 did this very good piece
See the BMJ
And the Mail on Sunday
The UK clearly need legislative change to prohibit exhibitions that dont have consent for bodies who have died less than 100 years.
France and Czech republic have managed to block these exhibitions. Why is the UK so disgracefully indifferent?