Monday, December 28, 2009

Briton faces imminent execution in China

While Britain country sleeps at 02.30 GMT on Tuesday, Akmal Shaikh, a British subject will be taken from his Chinese prison cell in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions of the world. In freezing temperatures he will be taken outside and pushed to his knees to await execution. Shaikh will be ordered to open his mouth before a bullet is fired through his head.

Akmal Shaikh has been convicted by a Chinese court of smuggling 4kg of heroin worth £250,000 into the country. His supporters say he was duped and his family say the 53 year old suffers from a bipolar disorder, a mental condition that likely resulted in his becoming involved with unscrupulous drug dealers.

In 2007 Shaikh was arrested after he arrived in China. He claims he had travelled there in order to record a pop song, duped by a Polish man who left the Pakistani born Sheikh to travel alone with the excuse his 'friend' would follow on the next flight.

One of the key pieces of evidence in favour of the argument that Shaikh is a sadly deluded figure, is a pop song he recorded called "Come Little Rabbit" [YouTube]. Reprieve released the song in the hope that it would help convince the Chinese judiciary of his fragile mental state and halt his execution. Before he left for China, Akmal Shaikh recorded the song, which he was convinced would bring peace to the world.

Among other possibly delusional moves, he wrote emails to US and British officials calling himself a millionaire and a messiah. He moved to Poland several years ago, where he intended to set up an airline, which he was in no position to do. While in Warsaw, he wrote the song with a man named Carlos, who said he knew a producer in Kyrgyzstan who could help.

Shaikh had no experience of singing in public before he headed to China, and campaigners say he was tricked into carrying the suitcase in Kyrgyzstan by the "producer", who was working for a criminal gang for whom he unwittingly carried drugs.

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Philip Alston, has condemned Beijing's stance. Insisting that there are "strong indications" Shaikh suffers from mental illness, he called the prospective death penalty "a major step backwards for China".

He was tried and convicted and even British authorities did not learn of his arrest until more than a year later. He was sentenced to death by the People's Intermediate Court of Urumqiand it was only six months after after Shaikh's first appeal was rejected in May 2008 that the British Government learned of the man's plight. 

A preliminary medical report carried out by clinical psychologist Dr Peter Schaapveld on behalf of Reprieve, the UK organisation that fights for prisoners' human rights, suggests that the odd decisions taken by Akmal Shaikh in the run-up to his arrest were probably caused by some form of delusional psychosis. But Chinese authorities have steadfastly refused to conduct a psychological assessment of the Briton, and refuse to take his illness into account.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written to the Chinese authorities pleading for the sentence to be set aside. This weekend British Foreign Office officials from Beijing travelled to Urumqi, where Shaikh is being held, to make the case for a reprieve. Two of Akmal's cousins have also arrived in China from London in the hope of a final meeting with him on China's death row. They also plan to appeal to the Chinese president for a pardon.

All pleas are likely to remain unanswered or ignored. This is a country which takes little notice of outside pressures or criticism, referring to such actions as meddling in China's own internal affairs. It seems clear that Akmal Shaikh's fate is that of at least 1,700 people who die at the hands of the state every year. His organs are likely to be harvested and the remains will be discarded. He will not receive a proper burial and, as is the case with all executed prisoners, his remains will never be returned to his family [BBC].

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

1 comment:

phil said...

with time running out for this unfortunate and obviously disabled man, my heart breaks that he is about to be MURDERED by the sick bastards with little heart and respect for human life, God help this wretched country and the one that fires that bullet into an innocent man.
I sit here in deep remorse for the man ,his family and human life in general.
May the authoritys see fit to STOP this murder in the last hour.
pj in London