Birmingham Body Exhibit May Star Executed Chinese Prisoners

By Gary Cutlack on at

A doctor has warned that those visiting the Real Bodies exhibition that's currently in Birmingham ought to feel a little more queasy than expected when viewing the collection of plasticised bodies, as questions over the identities of those who are on display have been raised.

Consultant neurologist Dr David Nicholl is leading the quest to have the pasts of the exhibits investigated and made known, as he believes that the bodies, provided by China's Dalian Medical University, could perhaps have been sourced from nearby labour camps, and may even have once belonged to executed prisoners who presumably were not asked for consent to be preserved and put on display.

The fact that most of the bodies are young males is a big clue, Nicholl says, as young male people don't tend to die by themselves that much. He explained: "I have huge questions about why all these unclaimed bodies come from Dalian in sizeable numbers and how many bodies Imagine Exhibitions have actually got ... They are all young men – none of them are elderly, which I have to say is pretty suspicious given that there are a number of labour camps within a matter of hours' drive of Dalian."

The show has been touring the world for years, and raises similar concerns wherever it turns up. US journalist Ethan Gutmann is pressing for DNA tests to be carried out, so that families might be traced and asked if they have missing relatives that were imprisoned during one of China's religious purges. [Guardian]