Tag Archives: Amnesty International

Lawyer gets threats for defending gays

Yaounde – Cameroon lawyer Alice Nkom, who is known for defending gays and lesbians in a country where homosexuality is outlawed, said on Tuesday that she has been receiving death threats from anonymous callers over her stance.

“Since October 18, I have become the victim of anonymous death threats,” she said, adding that she has been warned to stop defending homosexuals.

“In the beginning, there were calls at 04:00 in the morning. Now they are sending SMSes,” she said, adding that she received the latest text message at 03:00 on Tuesday.

She said one such SMS read: “Lesbian whore, it’s your turn to suffer. Watch your back well as your security is very weak. We will give you a demonstration when the moment comes. No respite for gays in our country.”

Nkom said that the threats also targeted her children, but she vowed that they “cannot discourage me from my fight”.



Ambam – Two women on trial in Cameroon for homosexuality pleaded not guilty on Thursday as their lawyers sought an annulment of the trial over alleged rights abuses.

“Not guilty”, said Esther, 29, and Martine, 26, whose full names are being withheld to protect them in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

The two are charged with “having intercourse with a person of the same sex”.

Their lawyer, gay activist Alice Nkom, asked the court in Ambam in south Cameroon to annul the case as investigators had failed to inform her clients of their right to legal counsel or to remain silent.

“Since this case began, we have been the laughing stock of our town. We are being treated as witches,” Esther told AFP on leaving the courtroom, which was packed with curious onlookers and supporters

“I do not see what they did wrong to deserve this,” onlooker Fabrice Ngningha told AFP.

But another passerby, who refused to give her name, said: “It is not normal that two women sleep together. They must be condemned, as an example to their children.”

Martine has two children and Esther one.


Liberia’s senate to consider anti-gay bill

2012-02-24 07:50

Monrovia – Liberia’s senate will consider a bill to strengthen the nation’s existing anti-gay laws, a senator said, as another West African nation, Cameroon, announced the arrest of 10 women suspected of being lesbians.

Cameroon Radio Television reported on Thursday that the 10 women are being detained in Ambam, about 300km south of the capital of Yaounde, until they go to trial.

Consensual same-gender sex is considered criminal in Cameroon and punishable by a jail sentence from six months to five years and a fine. Gay rights defender and founder of the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals, Alice Nkom, says detainees in Cameroon are frequently tortured in police stations to force them confess.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill last week that would prohibit same-sex marriage and make homosexuality a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“We are only strengthening the existing law,” she said. “Some media are reporting that I said anyone found guilty of involvement in same sex should face the death penalty, I did not say so, I am calling for a law that will make it a first degree felony,” she told the Associated Press.

The current law considers gay relationships a first-degree misdemeanour, which carries a punishment of up to a year in prison.

We are looking at it critically” and will put it before the entire Senate “during our next sitting on Thursday”, Senator Joseph Nagbe, chairperson of the Judicial Committee, told The Associated Press.

Wave of intense homophobia

If passed by the Senate, the strengthened bill would then go the House and then the president.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said she will not sign any such bill into law.

“Liberia is a member of the global community and therefore cannot kick against the rights of others to do what they choose to do,” said Archie Ponpon, chairperson of the newly-formed gay rights advocacy group the Movement for the Defence of Gays and Lesbians in Liberia.

Ponpon and his family have already faced hostility because of his fight for gay rights in Liberia. Weeks ago, his mother’s house was set on fire and he and another advocate, Abraham Kamara, were mobbed by angry students while campaigning at the University of Liberia.

“We will not relent,” he said. “People will come to the realisation that in this day and age, individuals should be free to practice what they wish.”

A wave of intense homophobia has been washing across Africa in the past few years, where homosexuality is already illegal in many countries.

“It’s getting worse,” Cameroon gay rights defender Nkom said of homophobia.

People accused of homosexuality are put in jail straight away” she told reporters in November after three men were each sentenced to five years in prison for homosexual acts.

Death threats

International rights groups, including Amnesty International, have frequently lambasted Cameroon’s homosexuality law, demanding its abolition.

But the authorities have turned a deaf ear to such requests. Last year, the government demanded and successfully obtained the withdrawal of grants allocated the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals by the European Union.

Nkom said she has received numerous death threats from fellow lawyers and Cameroonians, as well as a threat from the Ministry of Justice to dismiss her from the country’s roster of legal practitioners.

Contempt for homosexuals has led to anti-gay legal measures elsewhere in Africa. Last year, Nigeria’s Senate voted in favor of a bill that would criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection. Two years ago, Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has yet to become law.

In January, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said African nations should stop treating gays as “second-class citizens, or even criminals”. Ban told African leaders that discrimination based on sexual orientation “had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long”.


Uganda raids gay rights workshop

2012-02-15 07:53

Kampala – A Ugandan minister on Tuesday raided and shut down a workshop run by homosexual rights activists in Entebbe, Amnesty International reported, days after a draconian anti-gay bill was reintroduced.

The London-based rights watchdog said in a statement that Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo, also a priest, raided the workshop flanked by police and expelled its participants from the Entebbe hotel where it was being held.

This is an outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda,” Amnesty International said.

Ugandan police spokesperson Asuman Mugenyi said: “Gay activities are illegal activities under our law and our law has not been amended.”

Homosexuality is already punishable by life imprisonment in Uganda but a recently reintroduced bill proposes to toughen the law, notably by criminalising acts aiding or abetting homosexuality.

The bill, which enjoys wide support in the east African country’s parliament, initially envisioned making certain homosexual acts punishable by death.

But the bill’s author, MP David Bahati, said last week after an international outcry that he wanted to drop the death sentence clauses.

Gambia president will cut off gay’s head

2012-02-14 22:34

Banjul – Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday reiterated his stance that he would never accept homosexuality in his country, after recent pressure from abroad on African states to respect gay rights.

“We know what human rights are. Human beings of the same sex cannot marry or date,” Jammeh said while swearing in 15 ministers of his new government.

“If you think it is human rights to destroy our culture, you are making a great mistake because if you are in the Gambia, you are in the wrong place then,” he added.

In 2008, Jammeh gave an ultimatum to homosexuals to leave the country and vowed to “cut off the head” of any homosexual found in the Gambia.

In the west African nation homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, for men and women. Jammeh has threatened to introduce even stricter laws.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently told leaders at an African Union summit they must respect gay rights.

“If we Africans are to build our societies based on outside dictates and structure, our cultures based on alien cultures, we will be the losers,” said Jammeh.

Executions,Organ Harvesting And The Death Penalty In China( advisory: harsh details)

Executions are carried out by hanging, shooting in the back of the head or lethal injection. In many years there are several times more reported executions in China than the rest of the world combined. Even then according to Amnesty International: “Only a fraction of death sentences and executions carried out in China are publicly reported.” The annual toll is not released and is treated as a state secret.

These days many executions are carried out with a lethal injection as opposed to gunshots. Executions generally take place in specialized chambers or vans, away from public view. In 2009, the city of Beijing began using lethal injections in the execution of condemned prisoners instead of shooting them. In January 2008, the Chinese government announced it would expand the use of lethal execution and phase out executions by gunshot.

Severe punishments have traditionally been regarded as a warning, summed by the old Chinese saying “killing a chicken to scare the monkeys.” During the Cultural Revolution executions were often performed in public, and Chinese citizens were often forced to watch as “a form of solidarity with the people against the people’s enemies.”

On August 30, 1983, 30 convicted criminals were executed in a sports stadium before a cheering crowd of 60,000 people. In the 1970s some executions were broadcast on prime time television. Even today there are mass sentencing rallies and public executions.

There have been cases of innocent people being executed. Defendants who face the death penalty are often denied their rights. In one case involved a migrant worker who killed four people the ruling on his appeal was done by the same judge who made the initial ruling.

A suspended death sentence is usually commuted to life imprisonment after two years if the person shows good behavior. This can later be reduced to 20 years or less with good behavior. In 2007 prisoners that received these “death penalties with reprieves” outnumbered prisoners that were executed.

Studies seem to indicate that the threat of capital punishment does little to deter crime. The official position in China is that someday China will abolish the death penalty but that “conditions aren’t right” to do so now.

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980

Websites and Resources

Good Websites and Sources: Wikipedia article on the Death Penalty in China Wikipedia ; Execution Buses news.sky.com/skynews ; Execution Day in Zhengzhou http://www.connexions.org ; Wikipedia articles on Prisons in China Wikipedia ; 2009 Article in Asia Times atimes.com ; Site on Chinese Prisons laogai.org

Justice System: China Law Blog chinalawblog ; Internet Chinese Legal Research Center ls.wustl.edu ; Asian Law Center Links on China law.unimelb.edu ; Basic Info on China’s Legal System asnic.utexas.edu ; China.org, official Chinese government source on Constitution and Legal System china.org.cn ; China.org, on People’s Courts china.org.cn ; China’s Criminal Justice System lectlaw.com ; China’s Legal System lawinfochina.com ; faculty.cua.edu ; Book: Bird in a Cage, Legal Reform in Chinese and Mao by Stanley B. Lubman (Stanford, 2001)

Links in this Website: CRIME IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; TRIADS AND ORGANIZED CRIME IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; POLICE IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; JUSTICE SYSTEM IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; EXECUTIONS AND PRISONS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; DISSIDENTS, POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AND POLITICAL PRISONERS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; TERRORISM AND BOMBINGS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; GOVERNMENT IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; POLITICS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; COMMUNIST PARTY IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; RIOTS AND DEMONSTRATIONS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; CORRUPTION IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980

Execution Numbers in China

China executes more people than the rest of the world combined. According to Amnesty International of the 2,400 execution performed in 2008, 1,700 were in China. Hong-Kong-based activist group Dui Hua estimates that 5,000 executions were carried in China in 2009, down from 7,000 in 2007 and 10,000 a year in the 1990s. As many as 6,000 people put to death in 2010. By comparison, according to Amnesty, the country with the next-highest recorded rate of executions in 2010 was Iran, with 252, followed by North Korea with 60, Yemen with 53 and the United States with 46.

Death penalty numbers are derived from press reports. Many human rights believe the real number of executions is much higher. Information on executions is a carefully guarded state secret. Dui Hua’s Joshua Rosenzweig told AFP, “There are a number of problems and uncertainties in the way the death penalty process is carried out. One of the major problems is that it is a very untransparent system.” In March 2010, Amnesty International slammed the Chinese government for not revealing the true number of people executed each year.

John Kamm, founder of the Dui Hua Foundation wrote Washington Post: “Ten years ago, China was executing more than 10,000 prisoners a year. The human rights group I direct estimates the annual rate to be less than 5,000 now, a reduction due in part to President Hu Jintao’s effort to develop a “harmonious society” When Hu took office as Communist Party chairman in 2002, the country was executing as many as 12,000 convicted criminals a year. The annual number of executions could be down to roughly 2,000 by the time Hu leaves office at the end of 2012. Opponents of the death penalty will argue, passionately and correctly, that that number is still a human rights violation of the most serious kind. But the sharp drop in executions is a positive step toward the government’s goal of ensuring that only “the most vile and serious crimes” are punishable by death — and its stated goal of eventually abolishing the death penalty in China. [Source: John Kamm, Washington Post, August 16, 2010]

According to Amnesty International there were 470 executions in China in 2007, the most of any country in the world but way down from previous years. Many see the drop as temporary and a result of new rules on judicial reviews and teh fact that China wants to look good with the Olympics coming up. China has cut back on executions and execution are no longer carried out as swiftly as they were before since China’s highest court was given authority to review death penalty cases in early 2007. According to one human rights group the number of executions in China has dropped 40 percent since Beijing was awarded the Olympics in 2001.

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980 Amnesty International estimated there were at least 1,770 executions in 2005, 80 percent of the world’s total that year. Many believe the true figure is much higher, perhaps around 8,000 or even 10,000. The Chinese don’t release any statistics on executions. Amnesty International comes up with its number from publicized cases. An internal document quoted in a book about the Chinese leadership reported about 15,000 executions a year between 1998 and 2001.

In 2003, according to Amnesty International, at least 5,000 people were executed, or 90 percent of all the world’s executions that year. In 2002, there were 1,060 documented executions in China. In 2001, a total of 2,468 of the 3,048 documented executions worldwide were in China, 139 were in Iran, 79 were in Saudi Arabia and 66 were in the United States. These four countries accounted for 90 percent of all executions, with China accounting for 80 percent.

During one three-month period in 2001, in the midst of an aggressive “Strike Hard” anti-crime campaign, 1,781 people were executed. Amnesty International described the campaign as “nothing short of an execution frenzy” and said, “More people were executed in China in three months than in the rest of the world for the last three years.”

In 1996, a year in another “Strike Hard” ant-crime campaign was aggressively carried out, there were 4,367 (a dozen a day) confirmed executions. More than 1,000 people were executed in the first two months alone and 222 people were executed in a massive one-day crackdown on drug trafficking. On World Anti-Drugs Day on June 26, 769 of the 1,725 people sentenced on drugs charges were given the death penalty.

In 1997, 2,700 people executed; 2,050 were executed in 1994, 1,411 were executed in 1993 and 1,079 were executed in 1992. Between 1983 and 1986, the early years of the Deng reforms, some 10,000 people were executed. In 1995, according to Amnesty International the were 2,190 executions in China, compared to 192 in Saudi Arabia, 95 in Nigeria, 56 in the United States, 50 in Singapore, 47 in Iran, 41 in Yemen, 28 in Russia, 19 in South Korea, 16 in Taiwan and 12 in Jordan.

The majority of executions are for murder, robbery, intentional injury and drug trafficking.

China to Reduce Executions

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980 In August 2009, China’s Supreme Court said the death penalty needed to be used more sparingly and should be reserved for only the most serious cases. In February 2010, China’s top court issued instructions to lower courts to limit the use of the death penalty to a small number of “extremely serious” cases.

In July 2009 Zhang Jun, vice-president of the supreme people’s court, said it would tighten restrictions on the use of capital punishment. But he stressed that the country would not abandon the death penalty, saying it was ‘impossible’ to do so under current conditions. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, July 29, 2009]

Zhang said the death penalty should be applied to ‘an extremely small number’ of serious offenders. He said the highest court was extremely cautious in imposing the sentence on those who killed relatives or neighbors in disputes. People who pleaded guilty, compensated their victims’ relatives, or were pardoned by the latter also tended to receive more lenient punishments. “Judicial departments should use the least number of death sentences possible, and death penalties should not be given to those having a reason for not being executed,” Zhang said. [Ibid]

In 2008, China’s most senior judge said only ‘extremely vile criminals’ were executed in 2007 as a result of ‘kill fewer, kill carefully’ reforms that gave the supreme court the right to overturn capital sentences handed down by lower courts. The China Daily said the supreme people’s court overturned 15 percent of death sentences handed down in 2007 and 10 percent in 2008. Independent analysts suggested the policy had caused a drop in executions of as much as 30 percent year-on-year. [Ibid]

In September 2007. China’s top court order judges to use the death penalty more sparingly and show more mercy to criminals that cooperate with authorities. A law that went into effect on January 1, 2007 gave China’ highest court—the Supreme People’ Court—the authority to review the death penalty. Before then the final say was in the hands of provincial courts. The law was enacted in part because of complaints about arbitrary decisions and miscarriages of justice involving capital punishment on the local level.

In the early 2000s, high courts were ordered to review all death-penalty cases before the executions were carried out. Before only a small number of cases were reviewed by the high courts. Most were only reviewed by local courts. Some cases have been overturned, including that of a farmer in Anhui who was sentenced to death for the murder of another farmer based on confessions the farmer said was acquired through torture.

In 2004, there was a discussion of reforming the justice system to reduce the number of death sentences given out. The reforms were supported by many in the central government and justice system but opposed by many local officials and police. The issue was addressed partly as a result of growing discontent with the judicial system and law enforcement, which had increasingly been viewed as corrupt, unfair and overly harsh. The reforms were seen by some as a way for the central government to address concerns by ordinary Chinese without relinquishing their control of the courts.

Crimes Punishable by Death in China

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980 According to Amnesty International there are 68 crimes punishable by death in China, or about a forth of all criminal offenses in China, are punishable by death, up from 32 in 1980. Among those that face the death penalty are pimps, embezzlers, livestock rustlers, tax receipts forgers, drunk drivers, credit card thieves, bicycle thieves, bribe takers, arsonists, drug dealers, spies, thieves, prostitutes, cultural relic traders, dike saboteurs and organizers of secret religious groups. In recent years, the group, says people in China has been put to death for tax fraud, stealing VAT receipts, damaging electric power facilities, selling counterfeit medicine, embezzlement, accepting bribes and drug offenses.

Of the 68 crimes, 44 do not involve violence. People have been executed for tax fraud, embezzling money and even petty theft. In December 2004, two Hong Kong men were sentenced to death for smuggling digital player components into southern China. In April 2006, death sentences were given to cooking oil smugglers that bribed customs officials and evaded $300 million in tariffs.

In 1992 a merchant was executed for trademark for infringement because he labeled ordinary moonshine as Maotai, a powerful and popular Chinese liquor. In 1996, a peasant was executed for selling the head for a Buddha statue he found on the ground for $36. In 1997, two peasants in Yunnan were executed for stealing runway lights from the airport in Kunming. In 2001, a 19-year-old was executed for stealing the 60 yuan ($7) and another man was executed for stealing ball point pens and badminton rackets.

Death sentences are arbitrarily meted out with the rules often varying from place to place. Sometimes people are executed for things like prostitution and smuggling, which are largely tolerated in most places in China.

Death Penalty for Corruption, See Corruption

Reducing the Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

In July 2010, the National People’s Congress began considering amending the criminal code. Reforms were said to include reducing from 68 the number of crimes punishable by death, as well as the age at which convicted criminals can be executed. If such reforms are enacted, nonviolent crimes in China will, for the most part, be exempted from the death penalty. The proposals are part of a movement aimed at reining in the indiscriminate use of the death penalty.

In the mid 2000s, the Chinese government was considering scraping the death penalty for some non-violent crimes so that corrupt officials that had fled abroad could be more easily extradited. As its stands now many foreign governments refuse to extradite suspects to China out of concerns their human rights will be denied and they will be executed.

In August 2010, the Chinese government said it was considering dropping the death penalty for 13 “economic-related, nonviolent offenses” from the list of 68 crimes punishable by execution. Among the offenses that were considered were are carrying out fraudulent activities with financial bills and letters of credit, forging and selling invoices to avoid paying taxes, and smuggling cultural relics and precious metals out of the country. There has also been discussion of ending the death penalty for elderly convicts 70 or over. [Source: AP]

In 2007, 15 percent of death sentences handed out by lower courts were overturned by higher courts, citing poor evidence and procedural errors. In late July 2010 the Chinese Supreme Court tightened rules on introducing evidence obtained by torture, particularly in death penalty cases. A number of death the sentences handed down in corruption trials are often said to be politically motivated

New Death Penalty Rules in China

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980 Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, “Legal changes that went into effect in May 2011 reduced the number of crimes punishable by death from 68 to 55. The crimes removed were mostly economic-related and nonviolent, such as smuggling cultural relics and robbing graves.” [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 25 2011]

Most significantly, the new rules give provincial courts the option of suspending an execution for two years. If the condemned prisoner behaves well during those two years, his or her sentence can then be commuted to life, which in China usually means 25 years. The Supreme People’s Court said in its 2010 report, released in May, that says lower-level courts should “ensure the death penalty only applies to a very small number of criminals who have committed extremely serious crimes.” It adds that the lower courts “should try their best not to sentence the death penalty with immediate execution.”

The legal experts said the government’s changing attitude toward capital punishment may reflect sensitivity to international criticism — and in this case, unlike criticism of its politics or economic policies, in an area that does not touch on the core ideology of the ruling Communist Party.

The first to benefit under the suspension rule was Hou Qinzhi, a fruit vendor in Nanjing who had his scale seized in August by a city government inspector. The vendor wrestled with the inspector and ended up stabbing him with his fruit knife. He was sentenced to death, but last month the execution was suspended for two years.

But in another high-profile case, public opinion has taken the opposite view. Xia Junfeng was a laid-off worker who sold kebabs from a cart in Shenyang, in China’s northeast. He was convicted of killing two city security guards in 2009 when they confronted him over his unlicensed cart; Xia asserts he acted in self-defense, when the city officials began to beat him. Xia has attracted enormous sympathy around the country as a poor man set upon by local officials. He was sentenced to death, but his lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to spare his life, and the final decision is pending.

Public Executions in China

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980 Often the biggest event during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s was when a criminal was executed. Often the whole town would become as lively as festival time. The writer Yu Hua told the New York Times he remembers the executions as the most thrilling scenes of his childhood, seeing the criminal kneeling on the ground, a soldier aiming a rifle at the back of his head and firing. [Source: Pankaj Mishra, New York Times, January 23, 2009]

Public executions still occur. The Washington Post reported that after the attacks before th Olympics in 2008 the local government inYengishahar county in Xinjiang bused several thousand students and office workers into a public square and lined them up in front of a vocational school to watch the execution of three prisoners, who been convicted on terrorist charges in connections with a plot by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement to disrupt the Olympics.

In August 1983 as part of a “Strike Hard” campaign against crime the authority to execute people was transferred from the Supreme Court in Beijing to provincial officials. Thousands were executed by the next spring festival, six months on. Such spectacles remained commonplace, however, especially in the countryside, prompting Beijing to issue regulations against public executions in 1986. Rumors of executions in sports stadiums plagued China’s bid for the 2000 Olympics, and when bidding for the 2008 Games, Beijing made clear that public executions were not permitted.[Source: John Kamm, Washington Post, August 16, 2010]

Recalling what he witnessed while traveling through the countryside outside Guangzhou in the summer of 1983, John Kamm wrote Washington Post: “As I passed through a small town, a man and his two sons, each tilting forward from the weight of the large white boards strapped to their backs, were driven past, en route to an execution ground. The boards proclaimed their death sentences; the men’s arms were tied behind them. I remember the elder screaming his innocence as a throng of feral youth rushed ahead to get in position to witness the shootings. Farther up the road I encountered another execution scene, this time in a sports stadium with a throng of enthusiastic onlookers.

Wang Shouxin Execution Photos

In the late 2000s there was an Internet fascination with a series of photos from 1980 chronicling the execution of Wang Shouxin, a corrupt female government official from Heilongjiang province and the subject of Liu Binyan’s reportage “People or Monsters.” According to Xinhua she and others were arrested in April 1979 for the crimes of sharing illegal profits and then hiding and covering up the loot. She was sentenced to death on February 28, 1980, paraded in a public meeting and taken in a truck to a field and shot as a crowd looked on.

Wang reportedly embezzled several hundred thousand RMB. According to the People’s Daily: “You can call her a ‘corrupt official’ but she is a merely a manager of a combustible fuel company. Nobody knows what the rank might be in the hierarchy of officialdom but it is probably the lowest possible.” In the late 2000s, the process of her execution was published by the photographer at the scene and then broadly circulated on the Internet. Within a few days after being posted on Sohu.com. they had been seen by 1.132 million persons. Another series of photos entitled Mao Zedong Personally Signed the Approval to Execute Seven Criminals has also been popular on the Internet recently.

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980

Execution Trials in China

Death penalty justice can be very quick. In November 2004, a 21-year-old man was caught after he broke into a high school dormitory and stabbed nine Chinese boys to death in the city of Fuzhou in the central province of Henan. Within two months he was tried, sentenced to death and executed. By contrast prisoners on death row in the United States wait for years before they are executed. In Japan the wait can be more than ten years.

Some courts sentence people to death within only a few days after they are arrested. Amnesty International reported one case that began with three men allegedly stealing a car filled with banknotes on May 21. On May 24, they were arrested; on May 27 they were sentenced to death; On May 28 their appeal was rejected; on May 31 they were executed. In another case a man was executed for murder six days after he committed the crime.

Verdicts are usually foreordained. Victims are sometimes sentenced in public rallies or paraded through the streets on the back of flatbed trucks after sentence. Sometimes tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of people gather in town squares and stadiums and cheer the verdicts at “mass sentencing rallies,” which are also commonly shown on the television news. The executions themselves are not usually viewed by the public. Prisoners are often lead away to vacant fields and executed in neat rows when the rally is over.

Photographs of prisoners who have received the death penalty are posted at railroad stations and post offices. After they have been executed a red mark is placed next to the prisoner’s name.

Executions often take place immediately after the final appeal. If a suspect receives a death sentence and then is given a two year reprieve that usually means their sentence will commuted to life in prison.

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980

Typical Execution in China

Prisoners scheduled to be executed are photographed on the night before their execution and the keys to their handcuffs and leg shackles are tested to make sure they can be easily removed after death. On the morning of the execution, prisoners sometimes eat a meal of steamed cornbread and hard boiled eggs with their executioners, who sometimes, before the execution, place a cord around the prisoners’ neck to keep them from shouting anti-government slogans. “They’re trussed up just like pigs before slaughter,” one witness told the Washington Post. [Source: Lena H. Sun, the Washington Post]

The prisoners are rarely blindfolded but sometimes they are granted a final request, such as washing or praying. A 19-year-old soldier executed in 1985 was allowed to eat a large bowl of dumplings. At the execution site the prisoners are forced to their knees, their heads are forced down, and often their pant legs are tied together in case they shit in their pants. [Source: Lena H. Sun, the Washington Post]

When a whistle is blown a soldier fires a bullet from a carbine rifle—selected for its large bullets—into the back of the skull where spinal cord joins the brain. Even though the soldiers fire from point blank range, they sometimes miss. If this occurs another bullet is fired. Both women and men are executed in this fashion.

Many executions are performed at the Beijing Supreme People’s Court 86, located on an arid hill overlooking the capital. “Under an open sky,” Lena H. Sun wrote in the Washington Post, “the prisoners, arms tied behind their backs, their legs in shackles, kneel on the black earth. At the signal, a paramilitary soldier fires a single rifle shot. It is usually to the back of the head”.

“The prisoner topples into the dirt. Death is almost always immediate. Sometimes the corpses are immediately put into a waiting ambulance to be whisked to the hospital ..In some cases, the prisoners family is even billed for the bullet—the equivalent of about 6 cents.” Another frequently-used execution site is near Route 302 in Jiangxi Province, The bodies are often dumped by the side of the road. [Source: Lena H. Sun, the Washington Post]

Wang Shouxin Execution in 1980

Online Mob Demands Death Penalty

Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, A 21-year-old music student named Yao Jiaxin was executed this month for a particularly grievous crime: After accidentally hitting a female bicyclist with his car, Yao saw she was still alive, so he stopped, got out and stabbed her eight times to make sure she was dead and could not identify him…The fact that Yao was sentenced to death was not uncommon. At least on the Internet, his crime was widely denounced, with citizens demanding Yao’s death. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 25 2011]

What was unusual was the intense public soul-searching the case also unleashed. Many legal professionals and others openly questioned whether justice was served by executing a young man who voluntarily turned himself in and confessed, and whose family offered to pay compensation. His crime touched a nerve here — a young man of privilege who killed a poor woman on a bicycle — but many blamed an online mob mentality for forcing a supposedly dispassionate court into imposing a death sentence.

When Yao was on trial, several lawyers declared publicly that he should be spared the death penalty. Li Fenfei, a law professor at Remnin University, wrote a blog post arguing that Yao had turned himself in, that he had acted in the heat of the moment and had not planned to kill the bicyclist. Also, Li said, “he’s quite young, in his 20s. In China, we believe young people can make a mistake.” But after his blog post appeared, Li was bombarded with rude and threatening comments. “You mean that if you have money you have the right to kill? So where do you live?” one anonymous commenter wrote.

“Yao’s case had a big influence on society,” said Xu Zhiyong, a legal scholar and member of a small group called China Against the Death Penalty. “A lot of people felt shocked. They felt shocked by the process. Some people thought the netizens pushed the court into giving Yao the death penalty.”

Opposition to the Death Penalty in China

Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, “The voices arguing for fewer executions seem to be limited to legal scholars, the urban elite and some newspaper and online commentaries. A majority appears to back executions, particularly in cases involving corrupt officials or those perceived to be members of the elite. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 25 2011] Abolitionists acknowledge that the majority of Chinese still back capital punishment. “I feel the number of people against the death penalty has grown very dramatically” in just the past year, said He Weifang, a law professor at Beijing University who has always opposed capital punishment. “In the last 15 years, only two or three people in this country were trying to abolish the death penalty.” Now, he said, the abolitionists are gathering strength so fast that “you can call it a movement.”

Drug Executions in China

execution People found guilty of trafficking amphetamines or caught smuggling more than 50 grams of heroin and/or 1,000 grams of opium face the death penalty. Some of those are spared the death penalty are sent to re-education camps or given long prison sentences.

Drug traffickers are routinely executed. International Anti-Drugs Day on June 26 is popular time to execute people for drug-related crimes. In 2001 and 2002, 43 and 64 people respectively were executed in anti-drug day rallies on that day. IIn 1995, 22 drug traffickers were shot to death in a single public execution in Mangshi, near the Myanmar border.

In 1994, courts ordered 466 executions for 6,000 drug-related arrests. On International Anti-Drugs Day in 1996 1,725 people were convicted on drugs charges. Of these 769 were sentenced to death. In the first six months of 2001, 1,457 people were executed on drug charges.

Global anti-drug day in June 2009 was marked with the execution of at least 20 people, the condemnation of around the same number and putting hundreds on trial. Among those executed was a Nigerian man caught with six kilograms of heroin and a Chinese man caught smuggling 197 grams of methamphetamines from North Korea. In Xinjiang authorities destroyed six tons if heroin, opium and cannabis smuggled in from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Foreign nationals caught with drugs in China are not spared. In 2004, a Japanese man in his 60s was caught trying to smuggle 1.25 kilograms of stimulant drugs out of China into Japan. He was caught at Shenyang’s airport as he prepared to board a plane to Osaka. He pleaded not guilty but was sentenced to death in 2006. Two other Japanese convicted drug smuggling have been given death sentences.

The widow of an executed man who occasionally smoked heroin in cigarettes and later was recruited to carry heroin told the New York Times, “Our family was always poor and a guy from the Fujian province said to my husband that he would give him a lot of money if he would transport drugs. Our daughter was very sick and we needed money badly.” His last words were “take care of our daughter and try to avoid heavy work in the fields.”

The executions haven’t been much of a deterrent. Many dealers can bribe their way out of trouble if they get caught or purchase protection from Communist Party officials, PLA soldiers or the police. The execution and crackdowns have also had little effect on the drug trade.

Foreigners Executed for Drugs in China

executed girls In December 2009, a British man, Akmal Shaikh, was executed on drugs charges. The first European citizen to be executed China in more than half a century, he was arrested in 2007 for carrying in suitcase with almost four kilograms of heroin on a flight from Tajikistan to China. He told police he did not know about the drugs and the suitcase was not his according to Reprieve, a London-based prisoner advocacy group.

Shaikh was a 53-year-old father of three. His family said he suffered from a bipolar disorder. The protested the execution, , saying Shaikh was mentally unstable and lured into the crime by men taking advantage of his dream to record a pop song about world peace. His trial lasted only half an hour. During his appeal the judges reportedly laughed at his rambling remarks. The incident strained relations between Britain and China. British Prime Minister Gordon voiced his outrage over the execution. [Source: AP]

In December 2009, four foreigners were arrested along with five Chinese in connection with the seizure of 144.5 kilograms of heroin found in 289 bags hidden in bales of cotton in Shenzhen. The drugs had come from Pakistan and were found with the help of a tip and tracker dogs. The four foreigners might face execution.

In April 2010, four Japanese men convicted of drug smuggling charges in China were executed. All four men were caught trying to smuggle or sell more than one kilogram of illegal drugs–in most cases, amphetamines. They included 65-year-old Mitsunobu Akano who was caught with 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine as he tried to board a plane to Japan at China’s Dalian airport in September 2006. In China, people caught smuggling over one kilogram of drugs are often executed.

The executions marked the first time that Japanese nationals were executed in Japan since China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations in 1972. The Chinese government went somewhat out of its way to make sure the executions did not harm Japan – China relations. Akano was allowed to meet with his family before he was executed, which normally is not done. All the Japanese are believed to have been killed by lethal injection.

After the Execution and Organs in China

China executes British drug smuggler After the execution the body is photographed. If no organs are to be removed the body is taken away to a crematoria. The family of the prisoner is not allowed to see the corpse but they do have to pay the costs of cremation and transport to the crematoria. Recently execution sites have been moved to remote locations partly because too many prisoners were yelling anti-government slogans before they were killed. According to a 1986 regulation: “Execution grounds are not allowed to be set up near busy sections of town, near key roads or near tourist sites.”

Organs, corneas and skin used in transplant operations are often taken from executed prisoners. Sometimes the organs are removed in the ambulance two or three minutes after an execution take place. It is not uncommon for prisoners to receive and anti-coagulant hours before the execution to make organs transplants easier. Afterwards the body is taken to crematoria where skin and corneas are removed and the body is quickly cremated, which destroys any evidence that the organs had been removed.

According to some sources most organs used in transplant operations are harvested from prisoners sentenced to death. The use of bullet to the back of the head is ideal for transplants because the bullet does not contaminate the organs with poisonous chemicals as lethal chemicals do and does not directly affected the circulatory system as a bullet through the heart does. “If they want the [corneas] they shoot in the chest,” one official told Sun. “If they want the internal organs, they shoot in the head.” When lethal injection was introduced in the 1990s chemicals were chosen that were suitable to organ harvesting [Source: Lena H. Sun, the Washington Post]

The reliance on prisoners for organs is the result of a scarcity of donors partly resulting from the deep-seated cultural taboo against damaging the integrity of the body. Chinese rarely give doctors permission to take organs from deceased family members. Executed prisoners are treated with different standard. The organs are usually removed without the prior consent of the prisoners or their families. Permission from family members for organs taken from executed prisoners is rarely asked for or given.

Chinese Government, Prisoners, Organs and Transplants

organ harvesting Organ harvesting from executed prisoners has been going on for some time. In 1991, according to the People’s Daily, 2,900 kidneys from executed criminals were transplanted into patients. Hong Kong patients who need kidneys were referred to a medical center run by Guangzhou University if they had enough money. One physician there said he welcomed criminal activity and an increased number of execution to supply the transplant market.

An official report obtained by Human Rights WatchAsia read: “the use of the corpses or organs of executed criminals must be kept strictly secret. Attention must be paid to [avoiding negative] repercussions.” Other countries harvest organs from executed prisoners. Taiwan does but reportedly does so with the consent of the prisoners.

Beijing said on several occasions that allegations that organs were harvested from prisoners were “vicious slander” and “sensational lies.” Finally in 2005, the Chinese government fessed up and admitted for the first that organs were harvested from executed criminals and said it would regulate the trade. Before then the only laws on the books was a 1984 draft document that stipulated that operations for harvesting organs can only take place with the consent of the prisoner’s family or if the body has not been claimed.

The Chinese government insists that organ harvesting is done only with prior consent of the prisoners or their family. Huang Jiefu, the Vice Minster of Health said in November 2006, “Apart from a small portion of traffic victims, most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners. The relevant authorities strongly require the informed consent from prisoners or their families for the donation of organs.” A spokesman of the Health Ministry admitted that poor government supervision has led to a number of “improper” organ transplants.”

In July 2006 a law went into affect that specifically bans the sale of human organs. The law requires that donors give written permission for their organs to be transplanted and restricts transplant surgery to top-ranked institutions that must verify that organs are from legal sources and that surgery is safe and justified.

An August 2009 Ministry of Health statement acknowledged that 65 percent of the 10,000 transplants in China involved organs from executed prisoners.

David Matas, an award-winning Canadian human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, a former Canadian secretary of state (Asia/Pacific) and crown attorney, co-authored a report on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China. The pair estimate that in the six-year period 2000—2005, 60,000 transplantation operations were done in China and Falun Gong practitioners were the likely source for the organs for 41,500 operations. CQ Global Researcher, a leading global affairs journal, quotes Kilgour and Matas and Gutmann as independently estimating over 62,000 practitioners have been killed for their organs in the period 2000—2008. [Source: Matthew Robertson, The Epoch Times, February 15, 2012]

Organ Harvesting Methods

Matthew Robertson wrote in The Epoch Times: Researchers investigating China’s organ transplantation practices were troubled by the remarks and what they implied. “The so called ‘research scene’ that Wang Lijun refers to is either an outright execution site with medical vans, or possibly a medical ward, where peoples’ organs are surgically removed,” said Ethan Gutmann, who has published extensively on organ harvesting from Chinese prisoners of conscience. He added that the injections that the award refers to are probably “anti-coagulants and experimental medications that lower the chance of immune-system rejection as the organ is passed between one living body—heart still beating, soon to expire from the trauma—to another.” Gutmann added that this is “normal medical practice” in China, where hospitals, military hospitals, and public security bureaus intersect.[Source: Matthew Robertson, The Epoch Times, February 15, 2012]

“There is zero guarantee that consent was involved,” Gutmann said. “Ample evidence has come to light that the victims could well have been Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, ‘Eastern Lightning’ Christians or—exponentially more likely—Falun Gong practitioners. In other words, Wang Lijun received an award for, at best, barbarism.” It is not possible to know what proportion of victims Wang referred to in his remark about “thousands” of on-site transplants were criminal prisoners and how many were political prisoners or prisoners of conscience, such as Falun Gong practitioners. Further, in China there is a range of nonviolent crimes that can be punished with the death penalty, but the communist state does not publish statistics detailing the numbers of people executed and their crimes.

In the eyes of experts, a significant question left worryingly open in Wang’s remarks is whether the prisoners actually died before their organs were taken from their bodies. Given the reference to drug injections, it is highly possible that the hearts of the victims were still beating when their organs were removed, these experts say.

“It used to be that China would shoot for execution, then they shifted from shooting to using injections,” says Matas. “In effect they’re not killing by injection, but paralyzing by injection, and taking the organs out while the body is still alive.” When an organ is removed from a still-live body, it is fresher and rejection rates are lower. “It’s possible to source an organ immediately after the victim is brain dead, but much more complicated,” says Matas. “The organ deterioration is more marked once they are brain dead, but if you keep the body alive through drugs you can harvest organs over a longer period of time.”

Wang’s conversations with the U.S. consular officials in Chengdu might shed light on such details as the function of the drugs he used in transplantation operations in Liaoning Province. In any case Wang’s visit to the consulate provides the best opportunity to date of confirmation from a Chinese official of the ongoing practice of forced organ harvesting in China. At a press conference on Monday in Washington, D.C., Falun Gong spokesperson Dr. Tsuwei Huang called on the U.S. government to release the contents of Wang Lijun’s conversations.

Description of Organ Harvesting in China

organ harvesting One medical official told The Times of London that hospitals contact local police and make requests for organs. Later, the police notify them if donors are available. Doctors then travel to execution grounds in specially equipped ambulances with a team of nurses to harvest the organs as quickly after death as possible.

An exiled Chinese doctor, Dr. Wang Guoqi, described the harvesting of organs from prisoners before a U.S. Congressional Committee. He said he participated in the removing of skin and corneas from 100 execution victims, including one who was still alive, at the Tianjin Paramilitary Police General Brigade Hospital.

Dr. Wang told the Washington Post, security officials are paid $37 a corpse to tip off the hospital that executions were imminent. Removing the skin, he said, took 20 minutes or less. “A circumferential cut was made around the wrist, the neck and the shoulder joint as deep as the subcutaneous fat layer or the layer above the muscles. A longitudinal cut was made on the inner side of the upper limb linking both circumferential cuts, either from top to bottom or in the opposite direction.”

“After all extractable tissues and organs were taken, what remained was an ugly heap of muscles, the blood vessels still bleeding, all viscera exposed.” The skin was processed and chilled for transplants recipients, mostly burn victims, who are charged about $12 for 10 square centimeters of skin.

Wang said he was told to work on a man who was not killed by the bullet to the head and was convulsing on the ground. Doctors were ordered to extract the organs and remove the skin and told the removal of the organs would kill him.

Transplant Operations with Organs from Prisoners in China

selling prisoner organs Wealthy Thais, Filipinos, Russians, Indians, Indonesians, Malaysians and Taiwanese with serious kidneys aliments sometimes travel to China to receive transplanted kidneys taken from executed prisoners. According to AFP the desperate patients pay up to $40,000 for operations performed by unscrupulous and in many cases unqualified doctors. Agents who arrange the operations make huge profits while the patents only have about a 40 percent chance of survival.

The prisoners are often killed in batched. In some cases patients are told in advance when batches of prisoners are going to be killed and waiting in hospitals in anticipation of organs being made available. Potential recipients are often told to be ready around the Chinese Lunar New Year because many executions tale place around that time.

On man from Taiwan told U.S. News and World Report, “We were lucky that there happened to be an execution of a convict…whose blood type marched my dad’s.” A satisfied Israeli customer told The Times of London, “If I had never had my kidney transplant in China. I would already be dead. A Chinese sentenced to death saved my life.”

A Malaysian man who underwent a kidney transplant in a hospital in Guangzhou told the International Herald Tribune:, “They just tell you it was a convict. They don’t tell you what he did.” But often they were “young men” who commit “serious,” “violent” crimes.

Image Sources: 1) Reuters; 2) Wang Shouxin Execution photos from Liu Binyan’s reportage “People or Monsters” ; YouTube

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2012

You Can't Prove A Man Innocent If You Have Killed Them Already


Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime

MACEDONIA (former Yugoslav Republic)
MICRONESIA (Federated States)


Countries whose laws provide for the death penalty only for exceptional crimes such as crimes under military law or crimes committed in exceptional circumstances

Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder but can be considered abolitionist in practice in that they have not executed anyone during the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. The list also includes countries which have made an international commitment not to use the death penalty
CONGO (Republic)



Countries which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes
CONGO (Democratic Republic)
KOREA (North)

1976 PORTUGAL abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1978 DENMARK abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1979 LUXEMBOURG, NICARAGUA and NORWAY abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BRAZIL, FIJI and PERU abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1981 FRANCE and CAPE VERDE abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1982 The NETHERLANDS abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1983 CYPRUS and EL SALVADOR abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1984 ARGENTINA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1985 AUSTRALIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1987 HAITI, LIECHTENSTEIN and the GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC1 abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1989 CAMBODIA, NEW ZEALAND, ROMANIA and SLOVENIA2 abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1992 ANGOLA, PARAGUAY and SWITZERLAND abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1993 GUINEA-BISSAU, HONG KONG4 and SEYCHELLES abolished the death penalty for all crimes. GREECE abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1994 ITALY abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1995 DJIBOUTI, MAURITIUS, MOLDOVA and SPAIN abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1996 BELGIUM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1997 GEORGIA, NEPAL, POLAND and SOUTH AFRICA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BOLIVIA and BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
1998 AZERBAIJAN, BULGARIA, CANADA, ESTONIA, LITHUANIA and the UNITED KINGDOM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
1999 EAST TIMOR, TURKMENISTAN and UKRAINE abolished the death penalty for all crimes. LATVIA5 abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2000 COTE D’IVOIRE and MALTA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. ALBANIA6 abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2001 BOSNIA-HEZEGOVINA 7 abolished the death penalty for all crimes. CHILE abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
2002 TURKEY abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes. The FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (now two states SERBIA and MONTENEGRO 9 ) and CYPRUS abolished the death penalty for all crimes
ARMENIA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes
BHUTAN, SAMOA, SENEGAL and TURKEY abolished the death penalty for all crimes
LIBERIA 8 and MEXICO abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
PHILIPPINES abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
ALBANIA6 abolished the death penalty for all crimes. and RWANDA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. KYRGYZSTAN abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
UZBEKISTAN, CHILE and ARGENTINA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
2009 BURUNDI and TOGO abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
2010 GABON removed the death penalty from its legislation.
2012 LATVIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1. In 1990 the German Democratic Republic became unified with the Federal Republic of Germany, where the death penalty had been abolished in 1949.
2. Slovenia and Croatia abolished the death penalty while they were still republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The two republics became independent in 1991.
3. In 1993 the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic divided into two states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
4. In 1997 Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule as a special administrative region of China. Amnesty International understands that Hong Kong will remain abolitionist.
5. In 1999 the Latvian parliament voted to ratify Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty for peacetime offenses.
6. In 2007 Albania ratified Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances. In 2000 it had ratified Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty for peacetime offences.
7. In 2001 Bosnia-Herzegovina ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.
8. In 2005 Liberia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty for all crimes.
9. Montenegro had already abolished the death penalty in 2002 when it was part of a state union with Serbia. It became an independent member state of the United Nations on 28 June 2006. Its ratification of Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances, came into effect on 6 June 2006.



Amnesty International Promotes Anti-Semitism Among Children


March 24, 2010 | From eurasiareview.com

Everything began when Israel’s embassy in Madrid, Spain started receiving letters written by 9-year old children and filled with anti-Semitic content. In their lines, the minors accused Israelis of military crimes and torture. The children’s letters included phrases such as “Jews kill for money,” “Leave the country to the Palestinians,” or “Go somewhere else where they accept you.” Israel presented a formal complaint to Spain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv since the letters had as senders different schools belonging to the Spanish public education network. Although the letters came from an array of schools throughout Spain, the ones written by elementary school children at El Castell School (in Almoines, Valencia) were the ones distilling a much deeper hatred for Israel. The school’s principal indicated that he knew nothing about this initiative.

Where did it all start? El Castell School belongs to the Amnesty International (AI) school network whose purpose – according to the organization’s webpage – is to carry out “some (or all!) mobilization proposals” organized by AI for its members. AI has created a network of indoctrination and political proselytism in schools and institutes throughout Spain, in which it organizes activities and distributes materials. To join the AI school network, it’s enough that one teacher of that school wants to join. AI offers the possibility of belonging to its network of political activism without regard for the opinions of parents and its adhesion forms don’t need to get the green light from the principal’s office for the children to be indoctrinated.

Through some teachers, Amnesty International organizes school visits and campaigns; its activists arrange lectures and distribute material among schoolchildren. One of their campaigns is to propose children to start a letter-writing campaign denouncing Israeli authorities.

This sort of campaign means to engage 10-year old minors in activism, following the mobilization scheme that Amnesty International uses with its associates. To this end, the organization drafted a two-part document with elementary school children in mind. In the first part, AI accuses Israelis of military crimes, of murdering innocent people, hindering the investigations, and manipulating the facts. In the second part, Amnesty International exhorts children to write a letter to the Israeli ambassador in Spain and even provides the children with the address (Velazquez St.) so that they can denounce Israel.

It all resulted in many letters sent to Israel’s embassy in Madrid conveying in every detail the ideas and arguments that AI expresses about Israelis. The letters include phrases such as: “Mr. Ambassador… You should think twice (or more) before killing women and children.” In some letters, Israel is accused of killing for money while in others children demand that the Jews leave their country behind. These letters are signed by 9-year olds.

This scandal involving Amnesty International has some aspects. The first one has to do with AI’s indoctrination campaign of Spanish children. The organization has created a network of teachers with access to children of all ages: from seniors in high school, to middle school, to even elementary school.

AI recreates the campaigns directed to its members and applies them to children in an exercise of child indoctrination. Besides, it performs this activity using the Spanish public school network, paid for with taxpayers’ money, to impart lessons and distribute printed works and audiovisual materials. This takes place during school hours without parental input or knowledge and oftentimes without the school principal’s knowledge. In the case of El Castell School, the principal declared that he found out about the scandal in the newspapers and that everything started with AI’s campaign in his school. .

The second aspect has to do with the specific case of this anti-Jewish campaign. Amnesty International indoctrinates children in hatred of Jews and Israelis, manipulating them ideologically and feeding 9-year olds with information they cannot discern. Firstly, AI’s campaign in the schools tells the children that Israel shoots against women and children, that it commits war crimes, that it tortures and murders its Palestinian victims. Secondly, the children draw the conclusion that Israelis are murderers without scruples, that they kill children, that they kill for money and that they don’t let the people in Gaza live in peace. In addition, Amnesty International goes a step further and urges schoolchildren to participate in campaigns against Israel by sending their letters to Israel’s embassy. AI manipulates children and turns them into anti-Israel political activists behind their parents’ backs.


Draft U.N. arms trade treaty full of holes, activists say


(Reuters) – The first draft of a U.N. treaty to regulate the $60 billion global arms trade was slammed on Tuesday by activists as having “more holes than a leaky bucket” as negotiators scramble to reach a consensus by Friday.

One person every minute dies from armed violence around the world, and arms control activists say a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fuelling wars and atrocities. Conflicts in Syria and elsewhere show a treaty is necessary, they add.
“Our concern with this text is that at the moment it has more holes than a leaky bucket,” Anna Macdonald, head of arms control at Oxfam, told reporters. “And if these holes are not closed we won’t end up with a treaty that saves lives.”

After losing the first week of the month-long negotiations to procedural wrangling, delegations from around the world now only have three days left to work on the delayed draft text before a possible vote. The treaty must be approved unanimously, so any one country can effectively veto a deal.

But if a consensus cannot be reached, the treaty may not be doomed. Activists have said nations supporting a stronger pact could then bring a treaty to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly and adopt it with a two-thirds majority vote.

“The text that leaves this conference must not be the text with these loopholes. It’s got to be a decent text even if it goes back to the General Assembly,” said Brian Wood, arms control and human rights manager at Amnesty International.

The draft treaty currently says that it would only come into effect after it has been ratified by 65 countries, which some activists say could take up to 10 years. Arms control campaigners say only 30 ratifications should be needed.

“Every major element … has major loopholes,” said Peter Herby, head of the International Committee for the Red Cross arms unit. “There is a very high risk this treaty will simply ratify the status quo, rather than changing the status quo.”

“Rather than producing the highest possible international standards for the transfer of all conventional weapons, it would allow many countries to simply continue doing what they’re doing,” Herby said.


While most U.N. member states favour a strong treaty, activists said they were at times being drowned out in negotiations by objections and disruptions from a minority of states including Syria, North Korea, Iran, Egypt and Algeria.

There are divisions on key issues, such as whether human rights should be a mandatory criterion for determining whether governments should permit weapons exports to specific countries.

Herby said the draft references to humanitarian law were “unlikely to make a great deal of difference in practice.”

Macdonald listed several criticisms. He said the range of weapons in the draft treaty needed to be expanded, particularly to include ammunition; the rules governing risk assessments that countries must do before authorizing an arms sale needed to be tightened; and the whole treaty needed to be broadened to cover the entire global arms trade and not just illicit transactions.

The Conflict Awareness Project said that when it came to regulating arms brokers the draft treaty was “so weak and watered down it will give comfort to illicit gun runners.”

“The feeble treaty language means business as usual for traffickers who are filling the arsenals of the world’s worst human rights abusers,” said Kathi Lynn Austin of the Conflict Awareness Project.

The negotiations on the treaty in New York were delayed for the first week by a dispute over Palestinian participation, which was eventually resolved by allowing the delegation to sit at the front of the negotiating hall but without the right to participate as states with voting rights.

Such procedural bickering was typical of the arms trade talks, diplomats say, as countries that would prefer not to have a strong treaty tried to prevent the negotiations from moving forward. In February, preparatory talks on the rules nearly collapsed due to procedural wrangling and other disagreements.

One of the reasons this month’s negotiations are taking place is that the United States, the world’s biggest arms trader accounting for over 40 percent of global conventional arms transfers, reversed U.S. policy on the issue after Barack Obama became president and decided in 2009 to support a treaty.

But U.S. officials say Washington insisted in February on having the ability to veto a weak treaty.

“We have been making clear throughout our red lines (limits), including that we will not accept any treaty that infringes on Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” a U.S. official who did not want to be identified said on Tuesday, referring to U.S. domestic rights to bear arms — a sensitive issue in the United States.

The other five top arms suppliers are Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.


Amnesty International's latest arms trade campaign is colonialism with a kindly face


The Telegraph :If you needed any further proof that Amnesty International is to the 21st century what rum-swigging bearers of the White Man’s Burden were to the 19th, look no further than its current campaign for a global arms trade treaty. Amnesty is basically agitating for the West, which it considers civilised and responsible, to prevent the rest, or what Amnesty euphemistically refers to as the “wrong” people, from getting their hands on guns and bombs. It is a call for a colonial-style carve-up of the world, between those judged decent and grown-up enough not only to own guns but also to determine who else may own them (us), and those judged too infantile and brutal to be let anywhere near a gun lest they unleash “the worst kind of atrocities” (them).

Given that America has used its vast armoury to cause more destruction around the world than any other nation over the past 10 years, it is bizarre that Amnesty should be pleading with it to lead the way on restricting the flow of guns to the “wrong” countries. Amnesty wants Washington to give its blessing to a treaty that would restrict the global sale of weapons if there is a “substantial risk” that those weapons will be “used to commit serious human rights violations”. (I’m not being funny, but what else would the weapons be use for? To tickle people?) Amnesty says Washington should “demonstrate true leadership” on the issue of arms trading and “send a clear message to other world leaders” that it will not tolerate weapons falling into “the hands of human rights violators”.

This is a bit like asking Rose West to look after runaway girls and ensure they come to no harm. Why ask a nation that has committed numerous “atrocities” and “human rights violations” to authorise a treaty that will allegedly prevent those kind of things from happening elsewhere by taking guns out of the “wrong hands”? It is because, like its moral forebears in the colonial movements of the nineteenth century, Amnesty believes that the fundamentally decent West, whose wars are but an aberration of its normal character, has a moral responsibility to disarm and pacify and by extension to civilise the gun-toting hordes over there, whose wars are an expression of their innate warped character.

The demand for a treaty that would prevent Western countries from selling their guns to basket-case nations overseas sounds radical, a bit like Amnesty activists are sticking it to the arms industry and denting their profits a bit. But in truth, what Amnesty is calling for is the concentration of weaponry in the hands of powerful, allegedly trustworthy nations, and also for those nations to play the role of global governors of war and peace by granting the flow of weapons to some nations but not to others. There’s nothing remotely radical in begging Washington and its mates in the West to decide who may and may not fight wars.

Probably the most patronising thing about Amnesty’s campaign is its belief that simply by removing weapons from chaotic warzones around the world, we might stop war. Amnesty says the cause of global conflict today is the fact that we live in “a world awash in weapons and military hardware that are too easily obtained”. From this moralistic viewpoint, weapons themselves cause wars; guns are the actual drivers of conflict Over There; the “wrong” people see that these weapons are pretty easy to buy and so they buy them and kill people with them – for a thrill, presumably. In truth, the wars being fought in Africa and elsewhere are fundamentally political or territorial; they’re struggles for power or resources, just as Western governments’ wars are. War is the pursuit of politics by other means over there just as much as it is over here. By depicting these conflicts as a product of the arms trade itself, Amnesty further robs foreign peoples of their status as adult actors, as creatures of politics and power, and reduces them instead to overgrown kids playing with dangerous toys simply because they can.

Political conflicts need political solutions, not white-skinned do-gooders in Gap jackets decreeing which Johnny Foreigners may be armed and which may not. It is more than a hundred years since Kipling, in his poem The White Man’s Burden, described certain foreign peoples as “half devil and half child”. How depressing that groups like Amnesty still cleave to such an outlook.


UK is assisting USA in death row executions despite the EU ban!

By Emma Marris

A shortage of a drug used in executions in the United States has sent U.S. states scrambling to find supplies, or alternative drugs. Among the 35 states in which capital punishment is legal, some–including Arizona and California–had been sourcing a key execution drug, sodium thiopental, through a company in London–until UK government officials put a stop to its export. The only U.S. company making the drug, which sought to move its manufacturing base to Italy, has now given up producing sodium thiopental because it cannot assure Italian officials that it won’t be used for executions.

The situation demonstrates that although pharmaceutical supply chains are global, the morals and mores of drug use are decidedly local. Will U.S. states be forced to stop executing their death-row inmates by a drug embargo? And who decides which drugs are used to inject prisoners condemned to die? Nature explores an ethical dilemma.

How common is lethal injection?

Lethal injection is a common mode of execution in the United States. Of 1,238 executions since 1976 there, 1,064 have been by injection of lethal drugs. Outside the country, China is executing more prisoners given the death sentence by injection and fewer by firing squad. Officials there have called it “cleaner, safer and more convenient,” according to a report by human-rights organization Amnesty International.

How was the U.S. protocol devised?

A standard three-drug sequence is used in the United States to execute prisoners condemned to death. It was not developed by any scientific panel of pharmacologists or ever published in a peer-reviewed forum. Rather, it was invented by one man in 1977: then Oklahoma chief medical examiner Jay Chapman. Chapman was interested in devising a more humane alternative to the electric chair or firing squad. He chose three drugs, to be administered in sequence: sodium thiopental to render the condemned unconscious; pancuronium bromide, to paralyze the body and lungs; and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

Experts have challenged the protocol as administered as cruel. One study suggested that some dying prisoners are aware and suffering as their lungs and heart stop.

Chapman’s home-made recipe caught on, however. It is the standard for most of the US states that execute prisoners by lethal injection.

Why is there a shortage of sodium thiopental?

In recent years, sodium thiopental has been used less and less often for anesthesia, as newer drugs have gained favor. For some time, all the sodium thiopental in the United States has come from a drug company called Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Ill. In the summer of 2009, Hospira had to suspend production of the drug. The company that made the active ingredient–which Hospira would not name, but US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records identify as Abbott Laboratories–stopped making it. Hospira began looking for a replacement source and was planning to move production of vials of the drug for all its markets to a plant in Liscate, near Milan, Italy.

Near the beginning of this year, the Italian government demanded that Hospira assure that none of the drug would be used for executions. Unable to control who buys their products and what they use them for, Hospira decided to stop making sodium thiopental on 21 January. “We cannot take the risk that we will be held liable by the Italian authorities if the product is diverted for use in capital punishment,” the company said in a statement. “Exposing our employees or facilities to liability is not a risk we are prepared to take.”

Hospira dropped the drug “with regret”, according to spokesman Daniel Rosenberg, who says that it still has a legitimate medical use, although it currently accounts for less than a quarter of a percent of Hospira’s sales. The decision will, however, end the company’s qualms about the use of its product by prisons, which is something the company has long opposed. “We’ve been regularly reaching out to every state in the country to tell them that we don’t approve of this use,” says Rosenberg.

Has the shortage stopped any executions?

It delayed some. States had to work hard to find unexpired vials of the drug, and California and Arizona among others ended up importing some from a UK-based concern called Dream Pharma, based in west London, according to the London-based prisoner-rights group Reprieve. But on 30 November, the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills banned all export of sodium thiopental to the United States. “Our government is completely against capital punishment,” says a spokesperson for the department. “The only trade we were doing on this drug was for capital punishment.”

The UK government is now considering whether there is enough legitimate trade in the two other drugs that are used in the U.S. execution protocol to warrant keeping their export uncontrolled. (Pancuronium bromide, for instance, is used as a muscle relaxant.) Meanwhile, companies and government officials in Germany have come together against supplying the United States with any sodium thiopental for executions, according to the Associated Press.

Did the FDA “help” states obtain sodium thiopental?

Not according to a spokesperson–but they didn’t hinder the states either. They did not interfere with the importation of the drug from the United Kingdom, despite knowing where the drug was headed. A spokesperson says: “In 2009 and 2010, FDA permitted the importation of several shipments of sodium thiopental to state Departments of Correction. In doing so, FDA deferred to law enforcement in the use of substances for lethal injection, which is consistent with the agency’s long-standing policy. The agency did not conduct any review of these products for safety, effectiveness or quality.”

Now that Hospira has stopped making the drug and the United Kingdom has controlled export, will a lack of sodium thiopental end lethal injection in the United States?

Unlikely. States may be able to source the drug from countries less squeamish about its end use. Or, more likely, they will follow the lead of Oklahoma, which has recently switched to using pentobarbital in place of sodium thiopental. Pentobarbital is made by only one company in the United States, Lundbeck, based in Deerfield, Illinois, and owned by Copenhagen-based company H. Lundbeck.

A spokeswoman for Lundbeck, Sally Young, seemed horrified on Wednesday that her company’s product had almost surely been used as part of the process to execute three prisoners in Oklahoma. She only learned of the use from reporters. “We do not in any way promote any off-label use of the product,” she says. “The use of our product to end lives contradicts everything we are in business to do.”

With both its active ingredient supplier and wholesale manufacturer in the United States, Lundbeck may not face any disruptions of its supply chain on moral grounds, as Hospira did.

Young says Lundbeck has sent a letter to the state of Oklahoma formally objecting to the use of pentobarbital in executions, but “from a legal perspective, we can’t control that”.

If the FDA won’t and the manufacturer can’t stop a drug from being used in executions, who in the United States can?

A manufacturer can stop a drug being used for executions by ceasing to make it, although this will also affect any patients using the drug medicinally. Manufacturers sell to wholesalers, or sometimes direct to pharmacies. Then drugs are prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist, and it is these two professionals who ultimately bear the onus of deciding whether the use of a drug is appropriate. The American Medical Association has forbidden its members from participating in executions, so any medical professionals who order drugs for executions do so at the risk of their professional reputations (see “Will medics’ qualms kill the death penalty?”).

Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman Jerry Massie says that they obtained pentobarbital from “a private pharmacist” who is being kept anonymous for fear that he will be a target for attacks. The transaction is apparently in cash, and no receipt is filed. “He just obtains it and we pick it up from him,” says Massie. “No prescription or anything.”

Phil Woodward, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, says that according to the Oklahoma Pharmacy Practice Act, “a pharmacist would need a prescription from a physician” before dispensing the drugs. “So somewhere within the DOC, a physician would still have to submit an order for this product.” As to whether the anonymous pharmacist acted ethically, Woodward says, “Our association has never taken a stand one way or the other on this matter.” Source

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