‘Execution Parade’ of Four behind Mekong Murders Angers Chinese

Burmese drug lord Naw Kham, convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River in 2011, leaves the detention center for execution in Kunming, Yunnan Province on March 1, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

BEIJING — An “execution parade” on China’s state television of four foreign men sentenced to death for killing 13 sailors on the Mekong River caused anger in China on Friday, with many people saying it was an unnecessary display of vengeance.

The 2011 murder of the Chinese sailors was one of the deadliest assaults on Chinese nationals overseas in modern times and prompted the government to send gunboat patrols to the region downstream from its border.

Chief suspect Naw Kham, extradited to China by Lao officials in May, was found guilty of the killings of the sailors last year in the “Golden Triangle” region known for drug smuggling, where the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand meet.

Naw Kham, from Burma, and the three others were executed by lethal injection in the Chinese city of Kunming, but not before being paraded live on state television, trussed with ropes and shackled in chains, as police led them from the jail to a bus taking them to the place of execution.

The actual execution was not shown.

“Using two hours to broadcast live the process for these criminals facing the death penalty is a violation of Article 252 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China,” said prominent human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan.

“This provision says that criminals facing the death penalty cannot be put on public display.”

The broadcast by China Central Television also violated a law by the Supreme People’s Court that a “person’s dignity should never be insulted,” Liu said.

Chinese television used to show such scenes regularly but largely stopped almost two decades ago, though they still crop up occasionally on provincial channels.

The return to this practice sparked outrage from many on social media sites.

“They tied him in ropes and paraded him in front of 1.3 billion Chinese—is this what the human rights the government always stresses is really all about?” wrote on user on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog.

“I know they killed 13 Chinese people and it was a terrible thing, but it’s really not appropriate to live broadcast the execution process like this and it goes against Supreme Court rules,” wrote another.

The hunt for Naw Kham got heavy play in Chinese media, with some newspapers trumpeting his capture as akin to the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US forces.

The widely read tabloid the Global Times said that China had even considered conducting its first drone strikes to kill Naw Kham, but authorities decided they wanted to take him alive and put him on trial.

One of the other three executed men was Thai, one was Lao and the other was stateless, Chinese media said.

China is believed to execute thousands of people annually—the exact number is a state secret—and there is widespread support for the death penalty, though the number of crimes that carry it has been reduced in recent years.

But the parading of the for convicted of the Mekong murders would raise questions for Chinese people about the use of executions, said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group.

“It’s predatory, voyeuristic and exploitative and that defeats the very purpose of having a legal system,” he said.

10 Responses to ‘Execution Parade’ of Four behind Mekong Murders Angers Chinese

  1. I think China wanted to send out a big warning to the underworld operating along the Mekong that no more criminal activities will ever be tolerated and that might be a good thing to enable trade and tourism via the river to flourish in the (GMS) Greater Mekong Subregion.

  2. where is humanity for him , We think that is human abuse about him, that is terrible.

  3. Paraded the men about to be dead just tarnished the image of China very very badly. The Images of civilized China upgraded by the expensive Olympic games and other International events have been replaced by the Barbaric Red Guards, reminding the World that China is not yet tamed, still there are many many Wilderness.

    • Just think of the 13 innocent sailors who were murdered, and their families.
      The Mekong will be like the US/Mexico border if this problem is not nipped in the bud.
      I compliment the Chinese for bringing these four criminals to China for trial and execution instead of just executing them in the Mekong (which would have be easier).
      This event does not tarnish image of China, on the contrary it enhances and bring in
      respect. It is a message to the criminals: The Chinese meant business; Don’t mess around with their citizens !

  4. Barbaric China.

  5. Well! Naw Khan’s Burmese! If he get Kill by Burmese Law in Burma! Not at China!
    I Thought Chinese Government Want to show up their Power!
    I Really Don’t Like Chinese Government The Broken Human right!
    One days China is Like Russia The Will be Break and Peace of the State!
    Peace Out,Jet

  6. Chinese government just want to send the message to the Burmese people that Chiniese government can do anything to any Burmese at anywhere and anytime. It is so sad to see this as a Burmese. Than Shwe and his fellows already sold Burma to China. Now, all Burmeses are owened by Chinese government. The most dangerous people in the world are Chineses, not North Korean or Iranians or Parkistanians or Talibans or Palestinians or Syrians. The most dangerous country in the world is CHINA. Remember that!!

  7. If he died innocent as he uttered till his last minute that he didn’t involve in the killing 13 chinese men, may Lord punish those who decide, cooperate, commit the extreme violating human right and all..I pray for them to die slowly with blood coming out from their mouths with the image they kill a normal man of less power.

  8. Friday’s live broadcast was unusual because it was justice without borders and the perpetrators were not CHINESE; having said this – it is now open season. China has no voice, if a CHINESE commits a crime which involves a life in another country; it will be lethal…no repatriation.

  9. I absolutely agree with Jupiter that China wanted to send out a VERY strong message as a warning to keep the Mekong safe for trade and tourism that benefit at least 6 Greater Mekong countries.

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