Monday, December 28, 2009

Final hours for Briton on China's death row.

First we had the sabotaging of the Copenhagen climate change talks, quickly followed by the sentencing of Liu Xiaobo to 11 years for daring to question state authority, and now we hear that Akmal Shaikh, despite pleas for clemency from the British government, is to face the death penalty.

The Chinese spent fortunes on the Olympics, determined to announce their arrival as major players on the world stage, and one felt as if they were keen to show themselves in a kinder light than they had previously been held.

But all of that appears in recent weeks to have gone out of the window.

Akmal Shaikh, a 53-year-old father of five who has been accused of smuggling four kilos of heroin into China's western Xinjiang province in 2007, could become the first Briton to be executed in China in modern times, and the first EU national to face the death penalty there in 50 years. But he has not been informed that his execution by a bullet to the neck has been scheduled for 10.30 tomorrow morning. The Chinese government says the information is being withheld on "humanitarian grounds".

Mr Shaikh's friends and family say he suffers from bipolar disorder and was too ill to stand trial. His cousins Soohail and Nasir Shaikh have travelled to China to try and deliver pleas for mercy to President Hu Jintao. But so far those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

The China which spent millions trying to dazzle us at The Bird's Nest, no longer appears to care what the world thinks of it.

They now sound like members of the American Republican party, insisting that "Chinese interests" must come before the good of the planet, even if doing so makes the rest of the world hostile towards them.

"I like to think the Chinese will show compassion but I don't know," Mr Stafford Smith said yesterday. "I think on one level China is aggravated by what happened at Copenhagen, but I hope it won't hold that against him."

China executes more people than all other countries put together but rarely executes Westerners. The Foreign Office says it has pressed hard for his release. Over the last six months, the UK has forcibly raised the case with senior Chinese officials 10 times to no effect. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the actor Stephen Fry are among many who have tried to intercede.

I would hope that the Chinese will now show clemency towards a man who many say is mentally ill, but after Copenhagen and the incarceration of Xiaobo, I have lost faith that China cares what the rest of the world thinks of them at all.

Click here for full article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

remember to check your bags before travelling to China.

tell your friends also,, just in case.