Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the closing of Bodies: The Exhibition—which controversially uses plastinated human bodies—by Oct. 9. Activists welcomed the decision, but wished the court had ordered an immediate closure, and done so sooner.
Bodies: The Exhibition has been harshly criticized by human rights activists who say the plastinated bodies likely came from people who were killed by the Chinese regime. But the exhibition was also criticized on other grounds.
“There is no disagreement that the kind of conduct we see in front of us violates human dignity, including the dignity of the dead,” the Israeli judges wrote last week, according to NTD Television.
Protesters in front of the Tel Aviv exhibition, which started in May and was originally scheduled to run through Oct.21, said they wanted it closed down immediately.
Michael Ben Ari, a member of the Israeli Parliament, said during the protest that the court acted too late.
“They closed it just [a] few days before its original ending date. It should say clearly: This exhibition is an abomination,” he was quoted by NTD as saying. “These bodies have to be buried respectfully and eliminate this terrible phenomenon, trading people, trading bodies as we can see here.”
Screen shot of disclaimer posted on the website of one of the plastination companies, Premier Exhibitions. (The Epoch Times)
Bodies: The Exhibition is staged by U.S.-based Premier Exhibitions. On its website is a disclaimer that says in part: “With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.”
In the process of plastination, the bodies’ fluids are replaced by polymers for the purpose of turning them into an exhibition object.
Moshe Feiglin, a human rights activist in Israel and head of the Jewish Leadership movement in Israel, said these bodies “are being treated like a piece of meat in the market” and noted “It is not surprising at all that these people … came from a communist country.”
Israeli Lawyer David Schonberg, who helped with the Supreme Court appeal, told the broadcaster that the decision “is a real victory, even though I would like to see the exhibition closed today.”
A source knowledgeable about the plastination of bodies in Dalian City earlier this year told The Epoch Times that many of the bodies treated in plastination factories were from murdered Falun Gong practitioners. The Epoch Times has no information as to whether Premier Exhibitions knowingly used such bodies.
Previous reporting by The Epoch Times has linked the selling of bodies to Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who was once the mayor of Dalian. Dalian is the home of several plastination factories.
If Chinese police declare the body of a prisoner unclaimed, the police are free to dispose of the body at their discretion, making possible their selling the bodies to plastination factories for a profit.
Practitioners of Falun Gong—a traditional spiritual practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999—are especially vulnerable to being designated as “unclaimed.” In order to protect their families from persecution, practitioners often do not reveal their names, and their families do not know their whereabouts, leaving the police with a free hand in disposing of their bodies.
“We assume that everything will be done, including by the Customs authorities, so that this same situation does not happen again,” the Israeli Supreme Court said in its Sept. 23 decision.
In mid-August, the Chinese Internet was filled with comments about the origins of plastinated bodies.
“When it comes to selling their own people’s corpses for money, even fascists have never done it before,” one netizen wrote.
Another netizen, “Brilliant Career,” noted that many of the bodies belong to pregnant women.
“In China, pregnant women are never given the death penalty. In addition, how is it possible coincidentally that so many pregnant women have died in prison? Even the structure of the fetus is complete?!!! This is simply scary,” the netizen wrote.
*Republished under agreement with The Epoch Times.
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