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New Yorker Wonders: Is Brother's Body on Display?

By Stephen Gregory
Epoch Times Opinion Editor
Apr 04, 2006

Wanqing Huang (The Epoch Times)

Whenever Wanqing Huang walks down the streets of New York City, he sees posters for Bodies: The Exhibition and wonders about his younger brother, Xiong Huang.

Wanqing last spoke to Xiong on April 19, 2003. Xiong was in Shanghai, where he felt the police had identified him. He knew he had to go immediately or be arrested, and planned on leaving the next day. He would call Wanqing once he arrived at a new place. Wanqing never received that call.

Wanqing has searched for his brother ever since.

Xiong was always a very kind person. Wanqing remembers how as a boy Xiong once went grocery shopping with his grandmother. On the walk home, Xiong complained so strongly about how hard his grandmother had bargained with the peasant for their vegetables that she was forced to return with little Xiong and pay a more.

Like Wanqing, Xiong started practicing Falun Gong in 1996. In 1997, Wanqing came to the U.S. to get his Ph.D. degree, while Xiong stayed in China.

In July 1999, the then paramount Chinese leader Jiang Zemin banned the peaceful meditation practice Falun Gong. In February 2000 Xiong was thrown into a labor camp.

Released one and one-half years later, Xiong found the police constantly harassed him. He had refused to give up the practice of Falun Gong and was under threat of being arrested again.

He began traveling China. Wherever he went, he could not stay long. The police continued to search for him, but Xiong eluded them—until that night in Shanghai.

Since that night Wanqing has not received a single sign of his brother's whereabouts. Here in the U.S. he has appealed to the public for help. In his former home state of Georgia, U.S. Representative John Lindner and Senator Zell Miller wrote on his behalf to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The Embassy then requested information from China's Foreign Ministry. There has been no reply.

Wanqing hired the human rights attorney Mr. Guo Guoting to search for his brother. Guo attempted to interview the police in Shanghai about Xiong. They refused to talk to him. He visited the jails there. No one would admit to knowing anything.

Not long after, Guo was himself arrested. Human rights groups were able to rescue him, and he emigrated to Canada.

Last year, when Wanqing's family inquired again about Xiong, they learned that the Shanghai police had deleted Xiong's ID and records from their database. This is what the Chinese police do after a prisoner is killed.

The police in China will never admit to having tortured to death a Falun Gong practitioner. In case after case in which a practitioner is known to have once been held in a particular labor camp, the camp guards suddenly claim to know nothing about the practitioner. The practitioner simply "disappears."

Practitioners who have survived torture report the same threats being made by the police: "You are a Falun Gong practitioner. We can do anything to you. You can die here today and no one will ever know what happened to you."

If Xiong's body were sold by the Chinese police, as the bodies of so many who are executed in China are, it would be counted as "unidentified."

What Premier Exhibitions Says

Bodies: The Exhibition displays whole corpses or parts of corpses. The skin has been flayed, and all of the body parts have been drained of liquid and filled with liquid silicone rubber to preserve them.

Multiple employees for Premier Exhibitions, the company running the show, have told Epoch Times reporters that the bodies used in this exhibition are obtained "legally" from China and are "unidentified."

The New York Times reports President of Premier Exhibitions Mr. Arnie Geller saying that the bodies "are those of the poor, the unclaimed or the unidentified." ("Cadaver Exhibition Raises Questions Beyond Taste," Nov. 18, 2005).

On Mar. 24 Dr. Roy Glover, the chief medical advisor to the exhibition, provided more details on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation." According to Dr. Glover the bodies were obtained from a medical school in China. That medical school obtained the bodies "through the normal processes." The bodies were "unclaimed" and were obtained "legally."

The 'Normal Processes'

Canadian lawyer and expert on China's legal system Mr. Clive Ainsley was once asked about the rule of law in China. He responded, "That's a good idea. They should try it."

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 about the sale of the bodies of executed criminals for use in organ transplants, Professor of Law Tsuyoshi Awaya stated that the body of the prisoner "belongs to the family of the prisoner not to doctors or the Chinese government.

"There are no laws in China which stipulate that dead bodies of ordinary Chinese people or executed prisoners belong to the Chinese government." As Prof. Awaya made clear, "Chinese doctors are stealing organs!"

While there are no such laws, there are extra-legal secret directives that prescribe how prisoner's bodies should be used. These were first disclosed by Human Rights Watch Asia in its 1994 report on "Organ Procurement and Judicial Execution in China."

These directives explicitly enjoin that no one may release information about the harvesting of prisoners' organs (a silence only officially broken in December 2005 when a deputy health minister acknowledged the practice, although no further transparency has since been introduced into body sales in China beyond that mere statement).

Those directives enjoin that only the organs of prisoners who have given their consent or who are "unclaimed" or "unidentified" may be used.

Former political prisoner and founder of the Laogai Research Foundation Mr. Harry Wu also testified in 1998 before the U.S. House of Representatives. He explained the various ways that a prisoner can be classified as "unclaimed" or "unidentified."

For instance, the police simply do not inform the family of the execution until after it has been carried out. As a result, no family member can show up to claim the body, and the body is then considered to be eligible for use. After the organs are harvested and the remains cremated, the family might be given an execution notice.

In China, there are very few voluntary donations of bodies for transplants or medical research. There remains a strong cultural belief that the body needs to be intact in order for the person to advance to the next life. This is one factor thought originally to have helped driven the harvesting of the organs of executed prisoners, a practice some believe first began in the 1960s.

The Human Rights Watch report notes how doctors are intimately involved in the executions of prisoners. Several media reports note that this is done for money. There is a lot of money to be made in the sale of prisoner's bodies and organs, as Premier Exhibitions surely knows. The New York Times reports Premier paid $25 million for the bodies used in their show.

Doctors become not only assistants in the execution, but middle men in the sale. They receive money for the use of the body, and spread that money through all of the individuals of the security apparatus involved in the executions.

A Brother's Question

In other words, the "normal processes" in China for the acquisition of bodies involve doctors assisting in executions in order to sell the corpses. This extra-legal practice involves designating individuals as "unclaimed" or "unidentified" for the purpose of making this sale possible. And the entire transaction is carried out under a strict official policy of secrecy.

However, even these "normal processes" are thrown out when a Falun Gong practitioner is involved: There is not even the parody of law that regulates the business of stealing the bodies of executed prisoners. Anything can be done to practitioners in China, and is.

A witness to the regime of organ harvesting from which Falun Gong practitioners have suffered described the situation in this way to The Epoch Times : "…based on the latest decisions by the Chinese Communist Party's top level: The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee agreed to treat Falun Gong practitioners as 'class enemies' and to handle them in any economically beneficial manner without having to report to higher authorities. In other words, Falun Gong practitioners, like many actual felons in China, are no longer regarded as human beings, but as raw materials for commercial products. They have become commodities."

Doctors who have visited Bodies: The Exhibition are struck by how young and healthy so many of the corpses appear. Where did so many young, healthy, "unidentified" corpses come from?

When Wanqing Huang sees a poster advertising Bodies: The Exhibition he wonders whose bodies this exhibition is using to make money. He wonders if Xiong may be among them. I do too.

Please see 'BODIES . . . The Exhibit' is Gruesome Show of Unidentified Dead for more information.


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