Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quietly, nine Xinjiang protesters are executed in China

Report from the Guardian:

"The worst ethnic unrest in decades began on 5 July when minority Uighurs attacked Han people, who make up China's dominant ethnicity, only to face retaliatory attacks two days later. Many Uighurs resent Beijing's heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, the traditional homeland of their Turkic Muslim ethnicity.

Four months later Xinjiang remains smothered in heavy security, with internet access cut and direct overseas phone calls blocked.

The official China News Service has reported that the nine were executed after a final review of the verdicts by the supreme people's court as required by law. It gave no specific date or other details. Earlier reports had identified those condemned as eight Uighurs and one Han.

The executions did not come especially quickly for China, which puts more people to death than any other country. Politically sensitive cases are often decided in weeks, especially when they involve major unrest.

The nine had been convicted of murder and other crimes committed during the riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. China blames the rioting on overseas-based groups agitating for broader rights for Uighurs in Xinjiang."

However, I wanted to see the story from the China side, so I went to the China Daily international website. Surprisingly, I could find no mention of the executions.

Personally I am opposed to the death penalty anyway, so any report of state executions in any country make unpleasant reading but there is something especially disturbing about this story, specifically how little information is released.

You would think that for a court to convict these people and sentence them to death there must be some pretty damning evidence against them. For example, if a murderer is sentenced to death in the United States, the minute details of the case will have been reported for weeks or even months previously. Anyone following the case will be usually well informed on precisely what the alleged offender is meant to have done and what evidence there was to support the charges.

In the case of these executed prisoners, the Guardian says hardly details of what they did, how they did it, or when they did it have been released. Earlier government statements had said some of the accused had been charged with murder but besides the accusation, virtually nothing else is known. Apparently even the date they were executed has not been disclosed.

Every country has a right to maintain law and order but this amount of darkness and secrecy surrounding executions is wrong, in my opinion. Letting the public know what these people did and the evidence against them would only add legitimacy to China's actions. So why the secrecy?

Story: The Guardian
Story: The Himalayan Times


Kwok said...

I love your second to last sentence, and I think it sums up the situation well.

"Letting the public know what these people did and the evidence against them would only add legitimacy to China's actions."

In my opinion, trials behind closed doors hold no legitimacy whatsoever. If the pubic aren't allowed to know the evidence against a defendant, then how can we know justice is being done? It seems even the identities are being kept secret in this case.

Madam Miaow said...

Yes, I share your worry over this. I'm also opposed to the death penalty but this furtiveness makes a bad situation even worse.

Zub said...

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Anonymous said...

I agree with you, its sad what has happened there :(