Chinese Human Rights Activist Raises Serious Questions About Bodies Exhibitions

Activist Harry Wu says the U.S. government should launch an investigation.

ByABC News
February 15, 2008, 10:58 AM

Feb. 15, 2008— -- Click here to read an update on this story.

For some, the exhibits of plastinated human bodies are gruesome; for others, they are educational. But longtime human rights advocate Harry Wu is outraged that an American company displays "unclaimed" Chinese bodies around the country.

"This is totally wrong," said Wu, who heads the Laogai Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that researches human rights abuses in China.

Wu has raised serious questions about where the bodies in Premier Exhibition's "Bodies…the Exhibition" come from and said the United States government should launch an investigation.

"China executes more prisoners than any other country," said Wu, adding that the most frustrating obstacles in his research is how little information is available about the numbers of executions that take place in China. "We never know exactly how many [were executed]."

Amnesty International (AI) estimates that 1,010 people were executed and 2,790 sentenced to death during 2006 based on public reports. The true figures, however, are believed to be much higher, according to AI.

Viewer Discretion Advised: Photos of Executions in China

Premier CEO Arnie Geller told ABC News that all of the "unclaimed" bodies displayed come from people who died of natural causes and strongly denied his company uses the bodies of executed prisoners.

"These are all legitimate, unclaimed bodies that have gone through Dalian Medical University into the plastination laboratory, and that's where we received them from," said Geller.

Geller said that if there was ever any proof that any of the bodies on display were from executed prisoners, he would remove them immediately and terminate his relationship with the supplier of bodies in China.

Wu said he hopes raising questions about the show will in turn raise awareness about human rights abuses in China, including executions of prisoners, forced abortions and persecution of minority groups.