Backlash grows over gruesome exhibit
PRESSURE is mounting to close a controversial exhibition amid fears it contains the corpses of murdered Chinese prisoners.
Real Bodies: The Exhibition has already been seen by more than 50 million people around the globe.
It features a display of 20 "real, perfectly preserved human bodies" and over 200 anatomical specimens, and has been on display at Byron Kennedy Hall at Sydney's Moore Park since April 14.
But while promoters describe the macabre exhibition as a "stunning display" which allows visitors to "discover the elegance, complexity, and mystery of the human form", critics have raised serious concerns about where the corpses were sourced from, with many claiming the bodies are those of murdered Chinese political prisoners.
Earlier this month, news.com.au spoke with Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) spokeswoman Sophia Bryskine, who said she believed the bodies on display were "either death row prisoners" or "tortured prisoners of conscience", with Falun Gong practitioners the most likely victims.
Falun Gong is a modern Chinese spiritual practice, and since 1999, devotees have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party.
Since the exhibition opened, calls to shut it down have been growing.
A Change.org petition directed at Arts Minister Mitch Fifield calling for the exhibition's closure has attracted 1392 signatures, with signees describing the display as "inhumane and evil" and "an insult to humanity".
And an open letter by the Australian Committee of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has also called for the exhibition to be closed "immediately" by the Australian Government.
The letter, which has been signed by lawyers, academics, ethicists and human rights advocates, also called for a boycott by all schools, universities and other organised groups.
"We are astonished that visas and permits for bringing this exhibition into Australia were issued by the Australian Government, given the lack of documentation demonstrating ethical and legal sourcing of each body," the letter states.
"No motivation for profit or political sensitivities could ever justify such a crass and undignified violation of human rights."
The letter argued against the claim the exhibits were sourced from the unclaimed corpses of people who died in hospital.
"It is not possible the bodies were 'unclaimed', as according to regulations and autopsy rules issued by China's Ministry of Health on February 22, 1979, bodies can only be declared 'unclaimed' after 30 days," the letter states.
" ... the plastination process, which involves the use of silicon, epoxy, and other polymer mixtures to replace the fluid in the human body, must occur within 48 hours of death. "Therefore it is not possible to plastinate a corpse that is 30 days old."
The bodies on display are confirmed to have been sourced from China's Dalian Medical University Biology Plantation.
Despite the growing backlash, the company behind the exhibition, Imagine Exhibitions'
president and chief executive Tom Zaller told news.com.au the company would "absolutely not" be closing the exhibition as a result of the protests.
"It is all fake news based on lies from people attempting to censor Australians from seeing one of the most thought-provoking exhibitions of all time," Mr Zaller said.
"We are legal, respectful and above board. Don't fall for their lies.
"Don't let these people tell Australians what they can and cannot see."
However, Mr Zaller previously told news.com.au there was "no documentation" to prove the identities of the corpses or show they had agreed in life to donate their bodies in death.
Yesterday, a small crowd gathered at Moore Park armed with cardboard signs and slogans to protest against Real Bodies.
News.com.au attempted to contact Arts Minister Mitch Fifield and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for comment, but responses were not received before deadline.