cnews: WINNIPEG - A prominent Winnipeg human rights lawyer says a touring exhibit of dead bodies should be legally prohibited from putting cadavers on display in the city beginning next month.
David Matas is speaking out against Bodies ...The Exhibition, a renowned exhibit of preserved human remains that illustrates the workings and complexity of organs, tissues, muscles and other physiological parts.
He alleged Friday that the cadavers and partial remains used in the exhibit are the bodies of people executed in China, which he said "kills prisoners in the tens of thousands so they can sell their organs for transplant."
It takes very little imagination, he said, to understand that the communist country - whose human rights record has long been under fire around the world - could profit in other, similar ways.
"If they're killing prisoners for organs, the likelihood strikes me as pretty high that they're also killing people so they can put their bodies on display for money," Matas told QMI Agency. "It seems likely that these bodies are from the same source as the organs."
Even if the official government in China isn't directly involved in such sales in that country, he charged, it "knows about it, accepts it and tolerates it."
The five-year-old touring show is being brought to Winnipeg by the management of MTS Centre and will open Sept. 17 for an approximately 3 1/2-month run at a renovated, two-storey building. Promoters of Bodies ...The Exhibition say it has pulled in more than 15 million customers around the world since opening in the U.S. in 2005.
The exhibit's organizers have denied that the specimens are those of executed prisoners.
Matas, who is outspoken on human rights issues in China, is echoing some of the charges of many critics across North America who have slammed Bodies for various reasons - bio-ethics and religion also among them.
Along with the criticism, noted Matas, the exhibit has been hit hard in other ways. He points out that such commercial displays of cadavers are banned in Seattle, following a vote by that city's council last month.
"The city should do the same here," he said of Winnipeg. "And if they don't, absolutely, people here should boycott it."
A spokesman for Mayor Sam Katz did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.
Asked for a more general perspective on Bodies, Matas didn't pull punches.
"I think the whole thing is ghoulish," he said. "But that's a separate issue."
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