Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Execution row escalates as China dismisses UK criticism.

The Chinese government have been quick to dismiss British criticisms of their decision to go ahead and execute Akmal Shaikh, giving one the distinct impression that relations between the two country's is seriously undermined.

In a "difficult" meeting at the Foreign Office, the UK minister Ivan Lewis told the Chinese ambassador Fu Ying that her government had failed in its basic human rights responsibilities by ignoring representations about Shaikh's mental health. "It's a deeply depressing day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to justice," Lewis said.

The response from the Chinese government was swift and dismissive. An annual meeting between the two countries, scheduled for January in Beijing to discuss human rights, was cancelled.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a press briefing in Beijing: "No one has the right to comment on China's judicial sovereignty. It is the common wish of people around the world to strike against the crime of drug trafficking. We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British government's unreasonable criticism of the case. We urge the British to correct their mistake in order to avoid harming China-UK relations."

So, the Chinese are now insisting that commenting on their judicial process may harm China-UK relations.

Anyone who protests over the fact that they have killed an innocent man, duped into carrying drugs due to his bipolar condition, is undermining relations between the two country's.

We are beginning to get a taste of how China will behave when she is the most powerful nation in the world.

It doesn't fill one with any degree of confidence.

Lewis went on:
"China cannot expect to receive the respect they yearn [for] from the international community until they abide by minimum standards of human rights. Engagement with China is non-negotiable and any alternative strategy is simply not credible. But by being so clear in our public criticism of China's handling of this case we are demonstrating that it is not business as usual."
Nevertheless, there will be no price for China to pay. No diplomats will be expelled for instance. We will merely have our annoyance noted, although the Chinese appear to consider even the fact that we have expressed an opinion as somehow an interference into their judicial process.

The Chinese are continuing to insist that there has been no miscarriage of justice here.

The Chinese embassy in London said Shaikh, who used to run a minicab firm in Kentish Town, north London, had no previous medical record of mental illness and that his rights and interests had been properly respected.

But campaigners said his mental health was never assessed while he was in prison and that the Chinese authorities repeatedly refused access to a forensic psychologist who offered to conduct a free assessment.

The legal charity Reprieve, which took on Shaikh's case, said today that China ignored evidence from six witnesses who came forward on Monday with tales of his vulnerability. These included a nun and a priest who worked at a centre for asylum seekers in Warsaw, where Shaikh moved five years ago as his mental state declined.

China are insisting that they showed their humanitarian side by allowing two of Shaikh's cousins to visit him and break the news to him that he was about to be executed.

It's hardly what the rest of us would consider an act of humanitarianism.

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