For years, the controversial Body Worlds anatomical exhibit, showcasing human cadavers preserved through a process known as plastination, has toured many countries worldwide. The most alarming specimen in the exhibit is a reclining pregnant woman and her 8-month-old fetus. Who was she?
Were the cadaver of this pregnant woman and the other corpses featured in the Body Worlds exhibit legitimately acquired?
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Ethan Gutman, renowned UK-based investigative writer and researcher, wrote his observations in the Weekly Standard: “What’s bugging me is that some of the bodies, the female ones in particular, have unusually short legs. And there’s something about those legs, combined with the small, refined skulls and the slight frames, that looks Chinese.”
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The brainchild of the plastination technique and the Body Worlds exhibit—German anatomist, Gunther von Hagen, claimed the human specimens were from willing donors.
However, according to NPR, Hans Martin Sass—a philosophy professor with expertise in Ethics—did not find any paperwork that paired up to a specific finished plastinate, after matching over 200 donation forms to death certificates.
Furthermore, the identity of each plastinated cadaver is hidden to protect its privacy.
©Getty Images | Christopher Furlong
Hence, nobody will know exactly where these bodies came from, “in a worst-case scenario, dissidents killed in a Chinese prison,” the NPR article stated.
Other similar exhibition, known as BODIES released a disclaimer that read, “This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents, which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons.”
The corpses in BODIES: The Exhibition were provided by von Hagens’ student, Sui Hongjin—the founder of Dalian Hoffen Bio Technique Company. “They’re unclaimed,” said Roy Glover, spokesman for BODIES.
Due to influence from traditional Chinese culture, Chinese people are reluctant to donate their organs, not to say donating bodies for displaying purpose.
Author Chen Lan wrote in her Weibo, “China has an extremely low body-donation rate, so low that all medical schools are in dire need of cadavers.”
And according to the “Regulations on Dissection of Corpses” issued by the Ministry of Health of China in February 1979, only corpse unclaimed for at least a month is labeled as “unclaimed.” But, such bodies aren’t suitable for plastination which demands fresh, preservative-free cadavers.
So, where did these unclaimed bodies come from?
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Back in August 1999, Gunther von Hagens invested 15 million dollars to establish Von Hagens Plastination Ltd. in Dalian Hi-tech Zone, after receiving approval from Dalian municipal government—while fallen Chinese Communist official, Bo Xilai, was the then Dalian mayor.
Von Hagens told the New York Times in 2006 that he set up his factory in Dalian due to the abundant sources of bodies, cheap labor, and few government restrictions.
“When I came here, [Sui Hongjin] said we’ll have no problem with Chinese bodies… He said we can use unclaimed bodies. Now it’s difficult, but then it was no problem at all,” von Hagens said.
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Coincidentally, Chinese Communist Party launched a brutal persecution against Falun Gong on Jul. 20, 1999, just a month prior the establishment of Von Hagens Plastination Ltd.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient mind-body cultivation practice based upon the principles—Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. With an estimated 70 to 100 million adherents in China by 1999, the Chinese regime perceived Falun Gong’s presence as a threat to its authoritarian rule.
Bo Xilai was actively involved in the persecution of Falun Gong.
©The Epoch Times | Benjamin Chasteen
Von Hagens’ plastination factory was situated in close proximity to the three prison camps—Masanjia, Longshan, and Shenxin—which are home to political detainees and Falun Gong practitioners.
“Around von Hagens’ corpse factory in Dalian, there were already three labor camps and prisons,” a 2001 feature story published in the German newspaper Der Spiegel. “In the notorious ‘[Dalian] Yaojia Detention Center,’ political prisoners are detained, among them adherents of the spiritual movement Falun Gong.”
As per US State Department’s 2009 Human Rights report, some observers estimate as much as half of the inmates in China’s labor camps were Falun Gong practitioners, who were subject to torture and abuse.
With the aforementioned information, one can easily deduce the source of cadavers supplied to the plastination factory were obtained via the three labor camps—and that they were mostly Falun Gong practitioners.
Moreover, these Falun Gong practitioners were easy targets because they refused to disclose their names in order to protect their families. “The result was a large Falun Gong prison population whose identities the authorities did not know…,” wrote former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia Pacific) David Kilgour and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas in their book about China’s state-run forced organ harvesting program.
In addition, former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin issued a directive in 1999 that “if a Falun Gong practitioner is beaten to death, it is counted as a suicide.” This also means the Chinese Communist authorities can do whatever they want with the bodies, like selling them to plastination companies for profits—after removal of organs.
“In Vienna I’m noticing that the liver and kidneys appear to be missing from some of the plastinated bodies on display. Is it conceivable that there were dual-use bodies, the organs harvested before plastination?” wrote Gutmann.
Allegations of forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong adherents by the Chinese Communist Party first surfaced in 2006. Gutmann said an estimated 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been secretly killed for organ transplantation.
Gutmann alluded to an intercepted email from Sui Hongjin to von Hagens in 2001 to substantiate the allegations. “This morning, two fresh, top quality corpses arrived at the factory. The livers were removed only a few hours ago,” the email read, Der Spiegel reported.
In fact, investigations by World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) strongly suggests that the main source of the “fresh cadavers” may be Falun Gong practitioners who were arrested and refused to reveal their identities. “In mainland China, the thriving ‘human body plastination’ industry may have relied on the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong,” WOIPFG asserted.
On Sept. 18, 2012, a WOIPFG investigator, disguised as the secretary of Xia Deren—the deputy secretariat of Liaoning’s Provincial Party Committee, phoned Sun Guangtian, former head of Dalian Public Security Bureau. (Download recording：MP3）
“Many things have happened, and no matter what, you cannot disclose that Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is involved in selling the corpses of Falun Gong practitioners…,” the investigator told Sun Guangtian. “Secretariat Xia would like you to pass on the message to relevant insiders who worked at Dalian Public Security Bureau at the time that they need to be careful not to leak this information.”
Sun replied, “Please tell Secretariat Xia that he can trust me to carry this out.”
©Getty Images, AFP | Wang Zhao
As Radio Free Asia reported, a single plastinated body can fetch US$1 million. Given the astronomical profits derived from the sales of cadavers, it’s conceivable that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—known for its oppressive cruelty for a long time—could commit such heinous deed.
From organ harvesting to the plastination of human bodies, CCP’s crimes are more inhumane than what Hitler did. When the truth is finally revealed one day, the perpetrators of this atrocity shall be brought to justice.