Real-life manikins of deceased human beings are exhibited throughout the world. They come from China and may be connected to organ harvesting.
by Ruth Ingram
Macabre, money making exhibitions parading the corpses of anonymous Chinese prisoners must stop, say UK Lords who have urged the government to call a halt to its complicity in China’s organ harvesting trade once and for all.
Horrified by evidence of the grim traffic in prisoners’ body parts, Lord Philip Hunt hopes his private member’s “Organ Tourism and Cadavers on Display Bill,” which has finally seen the light of day in the Lords, will close all remaining avenues for UK citizens to travel to countries such a China for organ transplantation and ban “the dreadful travelling circus of body exhibitions, which sources deceased bodies from China.”
Sickened by the 2018 “Real Bodies” exhibition in Birmingham that paraded plastinated real-life manikins of deceased human beings, Lord Hunt was appalled to discover that the bodies were none other than “unclaimed bodies” with no identity documents or consent sourced from Dalian Hoffen Biotech in Dalian, China.
The exhibition, flaunting its use of “real human specimens that have been respectfully preserved to explore the complex inner workings of the human form in a refreshing and thought-provoking style”, was none other than a tasteless “carnival of horrors” according to Lord David Alton, who described it as “a final sneering insult to the victims.”
Despite overwhelming evidence of CCP complicity in the organ trade, presented by the China Tribunal in 2019, the UK has been lagging behind with legislation to back up its outrage. Lord Hunt pressed for tightening up the law, citing the testimony of Sayragul Sauytbay during the recent Uyghur Tribunal in London, who had discovered medical files detailing Uyghur detainees’ blood types and results of liver tests while she was working at a Uyghur detention camp.
At the same Tribunal, Ethan Gutmann, senior research fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, presented his recent December 2020 report in which he described the human organ “fast lanes” in the Urumqi and Kashgar airports and the construction of a vast crematorium near one of the camps in particular.
Lord Hunt’s Bill would amend the Human Tissue Act 2004, to ensure that appropriate consent had been given by organ donors for transplantation activities carried out abroad and for the public display of imported cadavers.
David Alton explained how after one of the “Real Bodies” exhibitions, he had written to The Times with Professor Jo Martin, President of the Royal College of Pathologists, and 55 others, demanding reform of legislation. “Lord Hunt’s Bill now seeks to do precisely that and he is to be warmly commended,” he said. He pressed for further action to identify the origins and ethnic identity of the people who were being paraded. “The law did not require the Coroner to determine how the corpses exhibited in Birmingham had died. It should,” he maintained.
Baroness Finlay detailed emails that revealed how some bodies were supplied for plastination in China after key organs had been removed, “suggesting their bodies are the remains from a despicable trade in genocide, organ harvesting and commercial transplantation in China,” she said. “These bodies on display included a woman in advanced pregnancy. Did she give fully informed consent when dying in pregnancy? The evidence of proper consent processes should be open to international scrutiny. It is not.”
Lord Alton deplored UK government inaction over his own freedom of information request to publish its correspondence on organ harvesting with the World Health Organization. “They should press the WHO hard to lead an international campaign for legislation like this to be enacted elsewhere—combatting and ending these criminal practices,” he said, criticizing the WHO’s silence over Beijing’s denials of the accusations.
Lord Mackenzie expressed his “mounting despair” over the arrests, gang rapes, sterilizations and use as organ banks on an industrial scale of China’s minorities such as Falun Gong and the Uyghurs as the world looks on. “It is also clear that we are complicit in this denial of basic human rights in providing a ready market for the high demand for organs forcibly taken, in many cases from living prisoners,” he said. “At last, I am delighted that this House can put its money where its mouth is and is taking legislative action by means of this Bill to make it illegal to be complicit in such organ harvesting and transplant trafficking,” adding “we have a moral duty—and also, hopefully, a legal duty—to do something about it.” He hoped that the UK would join Spain, Italy, Taiwan, Israel, Belgium, Norway, and South Korea who have already taken legislative action to prevent organ tourism by their citizens to China.
The unanimous groundswell of support for the Bill was met with a lukewarm reception from Lord Bethell, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health and Social Care, who claimed there were enough measures in place to answer Lord Hunt’s concerns and the government was reluctant to offer its support. Despite his claims that the UK government had covered all bases in its 2015 Modern Slavery Act, the act itself has been described as toothless and unfit for purpose, and people are still travelling to China for organ transplants.
Lord Hunt said the much-vaunted Human Tissue Act 2004 was purely advisory when it came to importing human tissue. According to the advisory body, NHS Blood and Transplant, between 2010 and July 2020 there were “29 cases on the UK Transplant Registry of patients being followed up in the UK after receiving a transplant in … China.” “British taxpayers’ money will pay for antirejection medication regardless of where the organ was sourced or whether it was forcibly harvested from prisoners of conscience,” he said.
Despite government naysayers, Lord Hunt remained undeterred and stated his determination to press ahead with his Bill.