Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A barbarous execution

I strongly believe that cultural and political differences which exist throughout the world should be respected. We cannot expect to impose, unilaterally, a single set of values, defined as ‘western‘, on states with long traditions, and histories, which do not conform to the western European / north American experience.

However, by any standards, the execution of Akmal Shaikh, in China, is a senseless, vindictive and barbaric act.

It would be difficult to deny that Shaikh was convicted of a particularly unpleasant crime and it is known that heroin trafficking in Asia frequently carries the most severe penalties. It is also fair to point out that the involvement of a Briton in the Chinese drug trade is a matter freighted with historical resonance.

If Shaikh’s bipolar condition had been investigated, and deemed irrelevant to the facts, then China’s misdemeanour would be of a different order entirely.

But the court refused even to take into consideration a mental illness, which his family claim made Akmal Shaikh severely delusional. We can only speculate about the precise nature of his disorder and its effect on the executed man’s capacity to assume legal responsibility for his actions. We cannot know for definite whether he really did believe that he was entering China to embark upon a career in popular music, or whether he was aware of his cargo and understood its harmful nature. But any court, and particularly one which had available to it the sanction of death, should have considered in detail the possible repercussions of Shaikh’s illness.

Amnesty International claims that China carried out 1,718 executions in 2008. A tally which corresponds to nearly five each and every day. Because Mr Shaikh is a Briton, his case has attracted substantial coverage. How many more people have been killed in questionable circumstances in the furtherance of China’s idea of justice?


fair_deal said...

Yeah why can't the Chinese just follow the russian example of state executions and contract most of them out to criminals and dubious warlords sorry governors of provinces.

Chekov said...

The last Russian execution was in 1996.

fair_deal said...

Correction contract them all out to criminals and dubious warlords sorry governors of provinces

fair_deal said...

"The bodies of human rights activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik (Umar) Dzhabrailov were found in the boot of a car in August in the Chechen capital Grozny. They had both been shot.

Their murders followed the killing of Natalia Estemirova, one of the leading members of Memorial, on 15 July. She was abducted in Grozny on her way to work. Her body with gunshot wounds was found on the same day in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia.

Natalia Estemirova's work was crucial in documenting human rights violations in the region, such as torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances, since the start of the second Chechnya war in 2000. She also devoted herself to providing assistance to displaced people and other socially disadvantaged groups.

Human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were killed on 19 January in the centre of Moscow in the broad daylight."


Chekov said...

A Dupe quoting Amnesty? Now I've seen it all! ;-)

I'm actually opposed to the strategy in Chechnya which has devolved power to some particularly unpleasant individuals. But a form of tribal justice alleged to be meted out by Kadyrov and his goons is not the same as state execution. There remains a moratorium on capital punishment in Russia. Effectively it is illegal.

fair_deal said...

"A Dupe quoting Amnesty? Now I've seen it all! ;-)"

I must admit I did think twice especially when they jumped on the abortion bandwagon.

However, disagreement with some sections of their programme doesn't negate the truth of what they say on rights that are well established.

On that do you think there is scope for a human rights group that keeps itself to the 'negative' rights focus and not get involved in the 'industry' of churning out evermore new rights? Does sucha group exist? Or has that 'world' just become so infected with such nonsense?

These deaths aren't just happening in Chechnya - they have reached as far as London.

Chekov said...

FD - of course the evidence for Russia's involvement is not there.

I'd say the scope for such a group does exist. Perhaps the closest is certain charities like Oxfam or (dare I say it) certain Christian organisations (Open Doors) which tend to concentrate on infringements.