When you’re relaxing over Christmas – spare a thought for Akmal Shaikh (pictured above). Akmal is a 53 year old father of three from London.
Akmal is due to be executed by the Chinese next Tuesday December 29th for allegedly smuggling drugs. He was arrested in September 2007 on arrival in Urumqi, the capital of the far western Xinjiang region, in possession of four kg (8.8lb) of heroin. Campaigners said that he was duped into carrying the drugs for a criminal gang.
The Times Online reports that if the death penalty is carried out, Mr Shaikh would become the first national from a European Union country to be executed in China in decades.
The British prisoners’ rights charity, Reprieve said it has medical evidence that Mr Shaikh, who is married with three children, suffered from a delusion that he was going to China to record a hit single that would usher in world peace. However, he was duped by a criminal gang into unwittingly carrying drugs for them into China, Reprieve alleged, saying that his strange behaviour was “influenced or caused by” his mental illness.
In what could be the last week of Akmal Shaikh’s life, his children Leilla Horsnell, Abdul Jabar Shaikh and Imran Shaikh plead for their father’s life issuing a heartrending plea for mercy from the Chinese Government. Having not previously publicly commented on the case out of respect for the Chinese legal process, they now feel the situation is too desperate to remain silent:
“We are horribly shocked and upset that our father’s final appeal has been denied and an execution date set. We wish to make a personal and desperate plea to the Chinese Government to spare his life. Our father has been seriously ill for much of his life and we would be devastated to lose him in these circumstances. We respectfully hope that particularly during this holiday season the Chinese people will show their great capacity for compassion and humanity and grant him a reprieve.”
Wikipedia states that China currently uses two methods of execution. The most common is execution by firearms which uses an assault rifle to fire a single shot of an expanding hollow point bullet to the head.
Lethal Injection was introduced in 1997. It differs from its application in the U.S. in that it is carried out in fixed locations as well as in specially modified mobile execution vans. As lethal injection becomes more common, debate has intensified over the fairness of relying on lethal injection to execute high officials convicted of corruption while ordinary criminals get executed by firearms. It is public opinion in China that lethal injection is an easier way for the condemned to die.
Members of the People’s Armed Police carry out an execution of a convicted female double murderer with a rifle shot to the back of her head (Image from the 1980’s) China leads the world in executions.
It’s now up to Gordon Brown and the rest of our government to stop China from killing this man. You can help by checking out the Reprieve website – see www.reprieve.org.uk or look at the blood curdling statistics over on Amnesty International.