Observer) Mentally ill Briton faces execution for smuggling heroin
into China By Mark Townsend. October 11, 2009.
A British man is facing execution after being convicted of
smuggling heroin into China. Akmal Shaikh, 53, from north London, was arrested
after a suitcase he was carrying was allegedly found to contain 4kg of the
drug, with a value of £250,000. Shaikh, who is said to be severely mentally
ill, will become the first British citizen to be executed in China; his
lawyers warn that he could be killed imminently by a gunshot to the back of
his head. Foreign Office officials said there were reports last week that his
second appeal had failed, but had yet to receive "official confirmation" or
any news from the Chinese authorities.
Emails seen by the Observer reveal that Shaikh was
recruited in a sting operation involving criminal figures in Poland,
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. His defence was that he was duped by the gang and
had no knowledge of the drugs. Shaikh, who is married to an Englishwoman and
has five children, genuinely believed the gang were his friends and were
grooming him for pop stardom. In fact, say lawyers and friends, he was, and
is, suffering from delusional psychosis.
Despite being given evidence of his mental condition, the
Chinese authorities have refused to conduct a psychological assessment of the
Briton and did not take his mental illness into account. During a court
appearance to plead his innocence, witnesses said that such was the incoherent
nature of his 50-minute speech that those in the courtroom openly laughed.
Shaikh, who is imprisoned in the isolated north-western city
of Urumqi, was the victim of an elaborate ruse to exploit his mental
condition, say his supporters. Yet only five years ago he appeared to have a
stable life, running a successful successful minicab firm in Kentish Town with
his wife. Shaikh's former solicitor said that as recently as 2003 Shaikh was a
"charming and charismatic man". However, his mental state deteriorated sharply
soon afterwards, said the solicitor, and the following year he left London for
Poland, where he planned to set up an airline despite having no financial
means. "By the time he went over to Poland you could not even sit down and
have a conversation with him," said Shaikh's former solicitor.
In Poland Shaikh's mental state worsened after a
relationship with a new girlfriend foundered. Requesting anonymity, she said
Shaikh began to act in a "really silly and crazy way" and cited such incidents
as the time he sent her a fake letter claiming to show he had won £1m. Emails
sent by Shaikh to the British embassy in Warsaw in 2007, when he appears to
have been befriended by Polish heroin traffickers he met in the city of Lublin,
expose his vulnerable state of mind. Among them are claims by Shaikh to have
spoken to the angel Gabriel and how he could have prevented the 7 July
bombings in London had he been allowed to hold a press conference in Lublin.
Typical of the hundreds of emails he sent to embassy staff in Warsaw is one
that states: "Hey old chap u have any marshmallows. i man luvly bonfire u must
roast some marshmellows I mean that's NOrMal." Another reads: "There is no
such thinG as an englishmaN I mean king harold got it smack bang center in the
EYE. its just not cricket anymore."
Some messages were sent to a group of 74 individuals and
organisations including Tony Blair, Sir Paul McCartney, the Fathers 4 Justice
campaign group, Scotland Yard, the BBC programme Top Gear and
President George W Bush, who is referred to as "Bushie". But the emails also
chart how Shaikh met the Polish criminals, in particular a character called
Carlos with whom he claims to have composed a song and who promised Shaikh he
could turn it into a hit record. Carlos told him he had excellent contacts in
the music business and they would help him achieve success. In September 2007
Carlos paid for a flight for Shaikh to Kyrgyzstan.
There, his passport was taken by some unnamed men, although
Shaikh seems unperturbed because at that stage he believed he was on the brink
of international fame and "would not need it".Shaikh's passport was later
returned, along with a flight ticket to China, and he was introduced to a man
called Okole who would escort him to Urumqi. Okole, according to Shaikh, ran a
huge nightclub in China and promised the Briton that he could perform his song
there. They left for China on 8 September 2007, stopping en route in Dushanbe,
Tajikistan. In Dushanbe, Okole informed Shaikh that the British man would have
to travel alone to China because there was only one seat left on the plane.
Okole gave him a suitcase and promised to follow on the next flight. Shaikh
landed in Urumqi airport on 12 September and was arrested after his suitcase
Shaikh is understood to have co-operated fully with the
police, explaining that the suitcase did not belong to him and he had no
knowledge of the heroin. He even organised a "sting" operation, telling
officers to wait for Okole when he arrived from Tajikistan. Okole never turned
up. "It is highly likely that these professional drug smugglers knew that he
was suffering from a mental illness and could be readily manipulated," said
Two months after his arrest Shaikh was sentenced to death.
The British government, however, was not told until almost a year later, in
November 2008. Last May Shaikh's appeal against his sentence at the district
court in Urumqi was rejected, leaving a final appeal in the Supreme People's
Court to save his life, which is now reported to have failed. Prisoners can be
executed "almost immediately" after a second appeal has been rejected.
His brother Akbar said: "Akmal has struggled for many years
with what we now know to be a serious mental illness. We are all very worried
for his safety as we know he is unable to defend himself properly. He will be
extremely disorientated and distressed. We are praying that the Chinese courts
will see that he is not of sound mind and prevent his execution."
Dr Peter Schaapveld, a London-based consultant clinical and
forensic psychologist, said: "If this case occurred in Britain, mental health
issues would be played all the way through the process: Should he be charged?
Should be found guilty at all? Should his condition ameliorate the sentence?"
Schaapveld flew to China five months ago to evaluate Shaikh's mental condition
but the authorities refused to let him see the prisoner. However, foreign
office officials were allowed to spend 15 minutes with Shaikh. From their
description of Shaikh's behaviour, Shaapveld was able to deduce with "99%
certainty" that he was suffering from a mental disorder that could either be
bipolar or schizophrenia.
Observer) China must show mercy By Clifford Stafford
Smith. October 24, 2009.
Given that China doles out 140 death sentences each week, it
is not surprising that every now and then one makes the international news.
Indeed, the cases have been making more headlines than normal of late, with
half a dozen rioters in Urumqi scheduled to die, and another six people
condemned in a crackdown on crime syndicates. However, perhaps the case that
strikes closest to home is the imminent execution of the bipolar British
citizen, Akmal Shaikh.
The case raises stark questions to which there are no
immediate answers. How could a man be edging so close to the death chamber
when he is so patently unwell? Shaikh had a mental breakdown in 2003, went
penniless to Poland to establish an airline, soon became homeless there, then
travelled to China on a promise that he could record his bestselling song that
he believed would establish world peace ¡V with its uniquely compelling lyric,
"come little rabbit, come to me". He denies knowing about the drugs in a
suitcase he was asked to carry, and evidence we have developed at Reprieve
tends to support his claim. But even the cynic must recognise the ancient
principle that mental illness is its own punishment, and should think long and
hard before we execute someone who is so disturbed.
It must be said that China does not have a monopoly on human
fallibility ¡V 138 innocent prisoners have been exonerated from America's death
rows since 1973, and Britain would have executed several innocent Irishmen had
we not already abolished the death penalty. But Shaikh's case should prompt us
to examine the enormity of the death penalty in China.
Precise figures on executions in China are said to be a
state secret (which makes it difficult to understand how anyone can claim much
of a deterrent impact). However, at a conservative estimate, about 2,000
people are executed each year for offences ranging from violent crimes of
murder to property offences. China has two methods of execution ¡V a single
bullet, or lethal injection. Since 1997 the Chinese have employed execution
vans, reminiscent of the mobile electric chair that used to tour certain
American states in the 30s. About 40 converted buses tour the country, each
with a gurney in a windowless chamber at the back, delivering a form of
justice to the far-flung provinces.
Abolition is not an impossible goal. The death penalty was
banned in China during the Tang Dynasty, between 747 and 759, which certainly
put it ahead of any European nation at the time. More recently, a Chinese
official suggested that the end of the death penalty might be inevitable, but
that conditions in the country were not yet right to end it. Even though 2,000
executions a year is an unimaginable number, since 140 death sentences are
passed each week, this means seven out of 10 are escaping the ultimate fate
through some kind of post-trial intervention.
For example, in 2007, the people's supreme court announced
it would review all death sentences. In July of this year, the vice-president
of the court announced a tightening of the rules, which would reduce the
frequency of executions. This appears to have cut the number by a third. China
also has a unique alternative, a two-year "suspended" death sentence. If the
prisoner behaves himself in prison for that time, the sentence is converted to
Justices on the US supreme court have periodically been
heard to complain about the burden that the death penalty imposes on them,
with one capital case coming up for review every few days. The imposition on
the Chinese supreme court under the new system is far greater, with scores of
sentences to review each week. Apparently a justice from the court actually
visits the condemned prisoner, a human touch that no American justice would
It is not clear what Shaikh's prospects are, particularly if
he talks to the justice. He is certainly his own worst enemy since, in common
with many who are mentally ill, he thinks there is nothing wrong with him. My
own father was also bipolar, and was the same way. He would much rather have
been deemed bad than mad.
In theory, Chinese law provides for various ways in which
his bipolar disorder ought to be considered. Under the Chinese criminal code,
mental illness can result in outright acquittal or a reduced sentence, and
China has signed up to an international convention that mandates full access
to a clemency process, though it is not clear to whom one applies for mercy.
Yet nothing can be taken for granted, in part because there
is so little familiarity with the illness in China. There are indications that
bipolar disorder is partially genetic, and the incidence of the illness
appears to be very much lower among ethnic Chinese living in the west than
ethnic Europeans. While it is important for Britain not to denigrate the
Chinese legal system ¡V after all, they have had one for much longer than we
have ¡V it is nevertheless crucial that Shaikh receive solid support.
Stephen Fry has certainly done his part, recording a video
and tweeting the case to his 750,000 correspondents ¡V Reprieve's website
barely withstood the hundreds of hits a second we received in response. The
Foreign Office site did not, and unfortunately crashed, but at least this
served to illustrate the widespread interest in the sad fate of Shaikh. The
British government listened, and Gordon Brown immediately raised the case with
visiting Chinese dignitaries. Let us hope that there are enough people
listening where it matters.
Online) China defends decision to execute drug-smuggling Briton Akmal
Shaikh By Jane Macartney. December 22, 2009.
China vigorously defended its justice system today, a day
after its Supreme Court rejected the final appeal from a Briton who faces the
death penalty on charges of drug-smuggling. The case of Akmal Shaikh, 53, from
London, has prompted several appeals from Gordon Brown to China¡¦s leaders to
exercise clemency towards a man who reportedly suffers from mental health
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said:
"China¡¦s judicial authorities independently handled this case in accordance
with the law. Drug-smuggling is a grave crime in international practice." She
rejected charges from groups supporting Mr Shaikh that the courts had refused
to allow independent assessments of the Briton¡¦s mental health. "During the
entire process, the litigation rights and the relevant rights and interests of
the defendant were fully respected and guaranteed. China has offered prompt
consular information to the UK and arranged consular visits."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that the Chinese
authorities had confirmed the execution would take place on December 29. The
FCO said it was ¡§alarmed and deeply concerned" at the news that the final
appeal had been denied. It also said it regretted that Chinese officials had
not taken Mr Shaikh's mental health into account despite repeated requests by
Mr Brown, government ministers and the European Union. 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, which has
been campaigning on behalf of Mr Shaikh, said he would become the first EU
national to be put to death in China in 50 years. Diplomats have said an
Italian national was executed during the chaotic Cultural Revolution in the
1970s. 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. Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve¡¦s director, said: ¡§I just spoke
to Akmal¡¦s brother about this terrible news, and it is impossible to imagine
what Akmal¡¦s family are going through this holiday season. This is no time for
pride ¡V they beg the Chinese authorities to show compassion and take Akmal¡¦s
mental health problems into account.¡¨
Guardian) Family plead for life of mentally ill Briton facing
execution in China By Vekram Dodd. December 22, 2009.
Akbar Shaikh, at times overcome with emotion as he spoke,
said his family were running out of time to save his only brother: "We as a
family are relying on Gordon Brown to make representations on our behalf. I'm
sure Gordon Brown and David Miliband [the foreign secretary] and other members
of the government are doing all they can to bring to the attention of the
Chinese authorities our plight, our plea for mercy, and that's all we can
ask." Akbar Shaikh said his mother is so ill she cannot be told that her
youngest child faces execution within days. Akbar Shaikh said: "It's very
traumatic ¡K I'm trying my best to keep the family together. If she knows what
the true story about what has happened to my brother, I don't think she will
survive the shock. "Executing him will not serve any purpose. By executing him
not only will they be taking his life, it will have an impact on the rest of
... Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health
charity Sane, called the threatened execution "not only an affront to the
human rights of mentally ill people, but [a display of] apparent ignorance of
the impact that mental illness can have on a person's behaviour". She added:
"This makes them easy prey to criminals such as those who persuaded [Shaikh]
that he could bring about world peace by recording his pop song in a remote
province of China. Why is there not a greater outcry, so that this sick man
receives psychiatric assessment and treatment rather than a bullet to the
China defends case against Briton facing execution December
Reprieve claims Shaikh may be suffering from bipolar
disorder, a severe mental condition characterized by delusional and manic
behavior. The group claims Chinese authorities have refused requests for
Shaikh to be examined by a doctor and for his mental condition to be taken
into account during his trial and sentencing.
"We deeply regret that mental health concerns had no bearing
on the final judgment despite requests by Mr. Shaikh's defense lawyer and
repeated calls by the Prime Minister, Ministers, members of the Opposition, as
well as European Union," the Foreign Office said. A spokesman for China's
Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN in October there was no evidence of
mental illness. "The British Embassy and a British organization proposed to
have a psychological exam but could not offer any proof of mental illness,"
the spokesman said. "The defendant himself said that his family does not have
a history of mental illness."
Death row Briton's daughter says he is 'mentally ill' December 23,
Chinese death penalty expert Professor Christopher Stone
told the BBC the death sentence was "heavily used" in China but the exact
figures were a "state secret".
Prof Stone, of Harvard University, said estimates over the
past five years reached a height of about 10,000 death sentences a year, but a
"genuine reform process" had brought the figures down. He said death sentences
were handed down for various crimes including murder, corruption and drug
trafficking. The death sentence was "hugely popular" in China and had the
support of between 80-95% of the population, he said.
Prof Stone said the authorities would not want to be seen to
make an exception for a foreign man but the issue of mental illness was an
important consideration in Chinese law. "The Chinese law is actually pretty
careful about mental health issues," he said. "They have special
dispensations, special rights, greater right to counsel. In this case, the
issue of mental illness seems not to have been raised until after the trial
was over and the death sentence had been handed down."
Jonathan Fenby, China director at the research service
Trusted Sources, said the chances of a reprieve were "small" and there was a
"whole pattern at the moment" of China playing "things fairly tough". "China
does not react well usually to pressure from outside," he said. "The Chinese
would see this as an interference with their internal affairs, which is the
thing they are most resistant to."
China Signals No Clemency For British Drugs Mule. December 24, 2009.
China looks set to ignore an appeal by Prime Minister Gordon
Brown not to execute a British man convicted of drug smuggling. A spokesman
for the Chinese Embassy in London said on Thursday that Britain's concerns had
been noted, but added Akmal Shaikh had been convicted and sentenced to death
for a serious drug trafficking offence based on "solid evidence." "All cases
of drug trafficking are dealt with according to law, regardless of
nationality," he added in a statement. "Even in the UK, he would be punished
severely for his crime." "The concerns of the British side have been duly
noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities in the
legal process, and Mr. Shaikh's rights and interests under Chinese law are
properly respected and guaranteed," the embassy spokesman said. But drug
trafficking is a "grave crime worldwide" and undermines social stability, he
added. "To apply the death penalty to serious drug trafficking is helpful to
pre-empt and prevent drug trafficking," he said.
Times) Diplomacy cannot undo law of the land December
Death penalty is an emotive issue. It has evoked unending
debate over life, justice and righteousness. The controversy over whether
Akmal Shaikh should be executed is further clouded by a number of unrelated
issues between China and the UK.
Akmal Shaikh, a British national, was sentenced to death in
October by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi for drug-trafficking. The
Supreme People's Court upheld the verdict Tuesday.
From the British side, groups trying to save Shaikh's life
line up a range of reasons, from China's human rights record to Shaikh's
mental situation. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stepped in with a
fresh appeal asking the Chinese government for clemency. Even the diplomatic
row between China and the UK over the conclusions of the climate change
conference weighed in.
For the Chinese side, the case is sensitive because it
brings back the black memory of the Opium War started by the British more than
a century ago that dragged the country through a lengthy nightmarish period.
China also has a history of public opinion supporting severe penalties for
If the extraneous reasons are put aside, Shaikh's verdict is
not complicated. He was caught red-handed on Chinese soil for attempting to
traffick 4 kilograms of heroine, valued at 250,000 pound sterling($399,694) ¡V
a crime serious enough to be handed the death sentence. Arguably, Shaikh has a
mental disorder. But, China has its own definition of mental illness, and by
that he is deemed to be mentally sound.
The fact that Shaikh is the first European to be executed in
China in 50 years is sensational enough to stir up public emotion. But viewed
in context, the uniform application of sentencing standards for both the
Chinese and foreigners underscores the progress of China's legal system, which
is steadily building the principle of rule of law. The rule ¡V that you have to
abide by the law of the country you are in ¡V should be respected.
The note of urgency underlying Brown's intervention might
put the Chinese government in a dilemma, in trying to separate a domestic
legal case from diplomatic bickering. Britain scrapped capital punishment in
1998 after much, and prolonged, deliberation. Throughout the world, whether to
retain or repeal death penalty is still debated for its legal as well as moral
pros and cons.
China cannot do away with death penalty at present because
of strong public opinion against repealing it. After all, death penalty acts
as a deterrent to serious crime. But, with the country applying a stricter
review process for death penalty, the number of executions is falling
gradually. Besides, the method of execution has become more humane ¡V with the
use of a lethal injection instead of a firing squad.
The diplomatic contest over the life of Shaikh reflects the
different stages of development of the legal system and legal consciousness in
China and Britain. At a time when China is modernizing its legal framework,
perhaps, it deserves more understanding in the current situation. Muddled
compromise is no solution. The verdict should be based on the law of China.
You Will Be Shot In The Morning. By Stephen White. December 29,
The British dad convicted of smuggling drugs into China was
only told yesterday he was to be shot dead this morning. Frantic eleventh-hour
appeals by UK diplomats and distraught relatives of troubled Akmal Shaikh
appeared to have failed. His execution was scheduled to go ahead at 10.30am in
the Chinese city of Urumqi - 2.30am our time.
One of Shaikh's cousins, Seema Khan, 54, of Chigwell, Essex,
said: "He's not rational and needs medication. A pardon would allow him to get
the help he needs as well as the healing love from his family. "We pray he
will be reprieved. He'd never knowingly be involved in something like this."
Another cousin, Latif Shaikh, 41, also from Chigwell, said
the whole family was "devastated". He said Akmal's mother, who is in her 80s,
and lives in North London, knew he was in prison but was unaware that he faced
the death penalty. He feared the shock could kill her. He added: "This
execution will take two lives without a doubt."
Sun) UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemns China's execution of
British father Akmal Shaikh December 29, 2009.
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed that China
executed a British national today, which he condemned "in the strongest
terms''. Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father of three from London, was sentenced to
death after being arrested in possession of 4kg of heroin in 2007. Chinese
officials had vowed to press on with the execution, scheduled for 10:30 local
time (14:30 AEDT), despite several appeals for clemency from UK Prime Minister
Gordon Brown and direct appeals from the condemned man's family, who said
Shaikh was mentally ill.
His family expressed their grief at his death, and thanked
those who tried to stop the sentence being carried out. "The family express
their grief at the Chinese decision to refuse mercy," they said in a short
statement. They wished to "thank all those who tried hard to bring about a
different result - including Reprieve, the FCO, those who attended the vigil,
and the organisers of the Facebook group who garnered more than 5000 members
in a few short days; and ask the media and public to respect their privacy as
they come to terms with what has happened to someone they loved."
In the minutes before Shaikh was due to be put to death,
members of the Facebook page Stop the Execution of Akmal Shaikh logged on to
send messages of support. "AKMAL SHAIKH's life is in countdown, god bless
him!" wrote Ken Chan, one of the page's 6000 plus members. The number of the
page's supporters increased by about 500 in the final hours before his
Shaikh said goodbye to his two cousins Soohail and Nasir
Shaikh yesterday, when they visited him at a secure hospital cell in the
western Chinese city of Urumqi.
News) Anger after British man executed in China. By David
Williams. December 29, 2009.
The family of the Briton executed in China for drug
smuggling have spoken of their shock at his death as Beijing came under attack
from the UK government.
Gordon Brown offered his condolences to the family of
53-year-old Akmal Shaikh after the Foreign Office confirmed his death by
lethal injection, which is understood to have taken place at 2.30am GMT.
The father-of-three's hopes of a last-minute reprieve were
doomed as China's supreme court approved his death sentence.
Mr Shaikh's family and supporters say he was seriously
mentally ill and was duped into carrying the drugs unknowingly by a gang.
Campaigners said the courts in China failed to commission an assessment of his
medical condition in spite of his obvious mental illness, believed to be
His cousins, brothers Soohail and Nasir Shaikh who visited
him in the hours before his death, said in a statement they were "deeply
saddened, stunned and disappointed".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I condemn the execution
of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that
our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted."
But a statement from the Chinese embassy in London defended
the execution. "During the legal process, Mr Shaikh's rights and interests
were properly respected and guaranteed and the concerns of the British side
were duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial
authorities," it said.
Daily) Internet users back China's decision on UK drug smuggler.
December 29, 2009.
Internet users at the main Chinese portals such as sina.com
and 163.com praised China's decision to approve the death penalty for British
drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh. The news report ranks No.1 on the "top 10 news
stories with most comments" list at sina.com. A large proportion of the views
expressed support for the decision from the Supreme Court of China.
A reader named "River of Justice" said: "Everyone is equal
before the law. No matter who he is, a Chinese or a foreigner, the result is
the death penalty when he commits such a crime." Another reader named "Du
Yunqing" wrote: "In the past, we weren't able to kill a foreigner who commits
a crime (on Chinese land) because you (British) got the consular jurisdiction
using guns and cannons; Nowadays, you stop interfering on our own land where
we have the right to do so."
A reader named "freefool" said: "the supreme court of China
set a good example in maintaining its independence of jurisdiction." Another
unnamed user from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province said: "it's a slap on the face of
those arrogant Europeans."
British web users also commented on the issue which was of
great concern to the British government. "Matthew Turner", a commentator at
timesonline.com, wrote: "Good for China. As an Englishman I respect the
Chinese decision to enforce the laws of their own land..." Another named
"Samuel Allen" wrote: "It's never pleasant to hear of another man's execution,
but the law is the law. If you do the crime, you must do the time."
Experts defend China's execution of British drug smuggler By Miao
Xiaojuan. December 29, 2009.
China has upheld the independence and integrity of
its justice system, as would any other country, in the trial and execution of
British drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh, say legal experts, refuting criticisms of
China's human rights record and lack of clemency.
Shaikh, a 53-year-old British man, was
executed by lethal injection on Tuesday in Urumqi, capital of northwest
China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He had been convicted of carrying up
to 4,030 grams of heroin at Urumqi International Airport from Dushanbe,
capital of Tajikstan, on Sept. 12, 2007.
China's Criminal Law stipulates that the
trafficking of more than 50 grams of heroin is punishable by death. "According
to China's Criminal Law, the death sentence given to him is legitimate and it
has nothing to do with human rights concerns," said Wang Mingliang, professor
of criminal law at Shanghai-based Fudan University. "Some Western countries
also retain capital punishment, and its existence does not equate to a lack of
human rights," Wang said.
Xue Jinzhan, professor of criminal law at the
East China University of Political Science and Law, also in Shanghai, said the
administration of the death penalty related to a country's history, culture
and other conditions. China strictly enforced the law without discrimination
in handling the case, Chinese legal experts told Xinhua. "It's human nature to
plead for a criminal who is from the same country or the same family, but
judicial independence should be fully respected and everyone should be equal
before the law," Xue said.
Wang said it could be understood that British
media ran emotional stories and local people reacted with sorrow or anger as
Britain did not retain the death penalty. "But one country should respect
judicial independence of another country, without any interference in internal
affairs," Wang said. "Shaikh's case serves as a testimony to China's judicial
justice, which deserves full respect from other countries."
Western reports said British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown condemned Shaikh's execution in a statement issued on Tuesday and
that Brown had even personally spoken to a senior Chinese leader about the
case. "It would have interfered with China's judicial authority if the senior
leader had accepted Brown's request. How could a criminal be exempted from the
death penalty only because he was British?" Wang said.
Experts said courts in China had the right to
decide whether a psychiatric assessment was necessary. "The court, based on
available evidence, decided not to do the assessment, and it was strictly in
line with the law," Wang said.
China's Supreme People's Court on Tuesday
issued a statement, saying it had reviewed and approved the death sentence
against Akmal Shaikh and there was no reason to cast doubt on Shaikh's mental
According to the court, the British embassy in
China and a British organization had proposed a psychiatric examination on
Shaikh, but the documents they provided could not prove he had mental disorder
nor did members of his family have history of mental illness. Shaikh himself
had not provided materials regarding a mental illness. His legal rights and
legitimate treatment had been fully granted in custody and trial, the
Shaikh was sentenced to death in the first
instance by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi on Oct. 29, 2008, and
his final verdict came in October this year after two failed appeals.
Drug-related crimes had been recognized as serious criminal offences in most
countries of the world, and China demanded severe punishment for such crimes,
the statement said.
Daily) British drug smuggler executed in China. December 29,
Akmal Shaikh, a British national who was convicted of
smuggling drugs into China, was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday in
Urumqi after approval from China's Supreme People's Court (SPC). The SPC said
Tuesday that it had reviewed and approved the death sentence against Akmal
Shaikh, 53, male, was caught carrying up to 4,030 grams of
heroin at the international airport of Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang
Uygur Autonomous from Dushanbe, capital of Tajikstan, on the morning of
September 12, 2007. Shaikh was sentenced to death in the first instance by the
Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi on October 29, 2008 and his final
verdict came in October after two failed appeals.
The SPC said in a statement that Shaikh had broken China's
Criminal Law by smuggling huge amounts of heroin, and "the evidence was
certain and the facts were clear." His behavior constituted the crime of drug
smuggling and the crime committed was extremely serious, the SPC said.
It said the sentence handed down by the Intermediate
People's Court of Urumqi in accordance with Article 48 and 347 of China's
Criminal Law was appropriate. China's Criminal Law stipulates that people
trafficking more than 50 grams of heroin are punishable by death.
Crimes concerning drugs had been universally recognized as
serious criminal offences and had a severe negative social impact, said the
SPC statement, adding the general public, in China and other countries,
demanded severe punishment for such crimes. China's Criminal Law stipulates
that everyone was equal before the law and no one was permitted to transgress
the law. Criminals should all be punished according to law regardless of their
nationality, SPC said.
Although China retained death penalty, it had exercised
strict control over capital punishment, said the statement. The application of
death penalty for drug smugglers who caused serious social consequences would
serve to deter criminals and prevent drug-related crimes, it said. The SPC
also said that the defendant's litigation rights and legitimate treatment had
been fully granted in custody and trial.
Officials from the British embassy in China and a British
organization had proposed a mental disease examination on Akmal Shaikh, but
the documents they provided could not prove he had mental disorder nor did
members of his family have history of mental disease, the SPC said.
Akmal Shaikh himself did not provide relevant materials
regarding him having a mental disease, according to the SPC. "There is no
reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh's mental status," the SPC said.
Blogs) The execution of Akmal Shaikh demonstrates what China
really thinks about Britain. December 29, 2009.
China¡¦s decision to press ahead with the execution of Akmal
Shaikh shows just how little Beijing cares for maintaining cordial relations
with Britain. Both Gordon Brown and David Miliband made it abundantly clear to
the Chinese authorities that they were totally opposed to the execution of the
mentally-ill former taxi driver. But the Chinese ignored their appeals and
went ahead with the execution in the early hours of this morning. And rather
than seeking to reassure Britain that the affair would not affect relations
between the two countries, Chinese officials have issued a series of
statements condemning Britain¡¦s unwarranted interference in their internal
And that just about sums up China¡¦s attitude not just to
Britain, but to the Western alliance. China¡¦s fundamental approach to the West
is that it is prepared to cooperate only when it is regarded as in Beijing¡¦s
interests to do so. We saw this at the Copenhagen global warming summit, where
the Chinese basically withdrew their cooperation when they realised the
reduction in carbon emissions might damage their own economic growth.
The same applies to their attitude towards law and order.
The Chinese government regards the death penalty as an essential tool to
maintaining law and order in the world¡¦s most populous country, and no amount
of condemnation from the West is going to change their minds.
Prostitute boycotts Chinese on ethical grounds. By George Pitcher.
December 29, 2009.
One of the more touching messages I receive in the run-up to
the outrageous execution of Akmal Shaikh in China this morning is from a
London-based ¡§working girl¡¨, who tells me she is boycotting all Chinese
clients for a year in protest.
Please, spare me any
sanctimonious injunctions about her chosen way of life. She¡¦s doing what she
can. And how many business people have decided today to withdraw their
services from the Chinese? I think, in this context at least, she is acting
with great dignity and self-respect.
Dear Father Pitcher,
I read your article on Akmal Shaikh with
interest. It says the Chinese will face serious consequences if the
execution goes ahead.
I don¡¦t suppose you will
find the following consequences serious, but I know some people who will..
[She then includes a link to her website]
That site is probably not worksafe if anyone
is monitoring your internet usage, but it is my advert on [she includes an
escort directory]. I am an escort. I¡¦m boycotting Chinese passport holders
for a year if the execution goes ahead. I can pick and choose my clients and
I don¡¦t need any from murderous regimes.
I¡¦m in two minds about those from Hong Kong,
but will allow Taiwanese.
[She then signs with what I take to be a real
name, followed by her working name. I include neither here because, at the
time of writing, I don't have her permission.]
I love that equivocation over Hong Kong. On her website,
not yet updated after Mr Shaikh¡¦s execution, she adds:
Incidentally, if you are the holder of a
Chinese passport you had better get your booking in tonight. After Akmal
Shaikh, the mentally ill man, is executed tomorrow ¡V you are on short
rations for a year! In fact, no rations at all. Diu lai no mo hai, far as
Could someone translate that Chinese for me? I reply to her as follows:
Good for you! I think that¡¦s a highly
principled stand ¡V and I think that if everyone similarly did what they
could by way of trade sanctions then we might make some progress with the
Thanks for writing and have a very happy New
And I mean it. The whole exchange is strangely uplifting
and I¡¦m really glad she wrote to me. Bless you, [consider your name here],
China has made a mockery of justice. Clive Stafford Smith. December
In the wake of Akmal Shaikh's horrific execution, it is
perhaps worth discussing the position taken by the Chinese in more depth. Cast
aside for one moment the unassailable case that we made for his mental
illness, and assume that Shaikh was truly guilty, and that the Chinese courts
delivered something other than the mockery of justice that we encountered.
How would we then assess their claim ¡V made officially
through the Chinese embassy on Christmas Eve ¡V that executing Shaikh was
necessary because "150mg of heroin of high degree of purity would be lethal.
The amount of heroin he carried was 4,030g, enough to cause 26,800 deaths." Is
this a sensible approach to the societal scourge of drug abuse, or is it a
faintly ridiculous statement that undermines China's claim to have a rational
The latest available figures suggest that there were 632.3
metric tonnes of heroin produced worldwide in 2004. This is no doubt a low
estimate. As of 2009, heroin production is still going up according to the UN,
and will not fall until demand is reduced.
But let's accept the figure: 632.3 tonnes of the stuff
could, under the Chinese arithmetic, cause 4.2bn deaths each year. This would
be roughly 62% of the entire world population. Given that this is more than
240 times the total number of heroin users worldwide, it is clear that the
Chinese are being hyperbolic, rather than sensible.
Such exaggeration in a matter of life or death speaks
unfavourably of the "cautious approach" that the Chinese claim to be taking on
capital punishment, along with their "careful reforms". If a hurried and
inadequate investigation by Reprieve has exposed these kinds of flaws in
Shaikh's case, what of the other people executed by China without the
slightest hint of public scrutiny? China was responsible for at least 1,718
executions in 2008, more than four each day. How many of them had strong
claims of innocence as well?
It is hardly surprising that the Chinese wish to keep their
judicial system cloaked in secrecy. The Chinese Emperor lives on, it seems,
and he still wears no clothes.
Instead of killing a mentally ill man like Shaikh, the
Chinese might like to follow the advice of the UN, and focus on prevention.
Sadly, if predictably, the Afghan war has dramatically increased heroin
supplies. Whatever else one says about the Taliban, they are credited with
reducing heroin production by 94%, but by 2006 the New York Times reported
that heroin production had reached record levels. So much for the Afghan war
being crucial to our government's goal of protecting people on the streets of
So the Chinese are not the only irrational ones, but they
certainly established a new nadir last night. Until governments start adopting
sensible policies, they are hardly likely to solve society's problems.
blogs) Why denouncing China is hypocritical. Michael White.
December 29, 2009.
I'm sorry too that the Chinese have just executed Akmal
Shaikh, an apparently mentally ill Briton. He was clearly an expendable drugs
mule, cynically exploited by traffickers who are still alive and well today.
But I'm also sorry about the international clamour to denounce China, which
sounds at least as hypocritical and insensitive as the act itself. Can Gordon
Brown and David Cameron ¡V to name but two ¡V hear what they sound like?
Let's start with the basics. Most of us (not all) deplore
the drugs trade ¡V from cultivation to distribution and sale ¡V which is illegal
in most countries (not all) and has spawned a huge and lucrative global
Some think the "cure'' ¡V the worldwide campaign against the
trade ¡V worse than the disease since it underpins major criminal enterprises
on all continents. It has long been the case, though I would personally
hesitate to risk legalising it and hoping for the best.
Different countries tackle the problem in different ways.
China, which has a rising drugs problem as it enters the modern consumer era,
is one of those which takes a tough line. As the Guardian's Q&A points out
today it is one of the few crimes to attract a mandatory death sentence.
Enter poor Akmal Shaikh, who seems to have gone off the
rails in middle age after leading a quiet family life as a north London taxi
driver. Someone who struck acquaintances as very odd after he emigrated to
Poland with grandiose ideas, he falls into bad company which exploits his
So he ends up landing in Urumqi, northern China, in 2007 and
being caught at the airport with 4kg of heroin in his luggage. He told police
he knew nothing about it. It's a tragically familiar story and, in his case,
it's probably true.
In the wake of his execution the Chinese authorities sound
quite angry at criticism of their judicial system. Shaikh had a fair trial,
complete with interpreter, they say. He was deemed fit to plead.
Mental illness? Ah, that's a tricky one. But it's easy to
see how the Chinese might take a very different view of how it is defined. So
do many jurisdictions ¡V as we all know ¡V on this and many other legal issues:
"self defence", "crimes of passion", "third degree homicide", "honour
killings", lots of scope for moral relativism in all of them.
Reprieve and other admirable campaigns which fight for the
rights of prisoners in foreign jurisdictions have the virtue of consistency.
Thus they oppose the death penalty wherever it exists, including the US, where
it was abolished as a "cruel and unnatural punishment'' in 1972 ¡V and restored
in 1976 when the supreme court changed its mind.
Though they are pretty half-hearted about it compared with
China's 1,700 or so known executions (they are reported to sell body parts for
medical use) a year, southern US states are keenest.
As governors both George W Bush and Bill Clinton ¡V whom so
many of us admire ¡V signed off on questionable executions of vulnerable,
marginalised people like Akmal Shaikh. A high proportion of the 3,000 or so
Americans on Death Row ¡V few actually executed ¡V are black. Britain? We last
executed a man called Peter Allen at Walton jail on 13 August 1964 for murder
¡V three years before the final abolition of the death penalty.
Not so long ago really (our last Etonian PM, Sir Alec
Douglas-Home, was in No 10) and, as China's very smart UK ambassador has
probably told Beijing, capital punishment still commands as much enthusiasm
here 40 years later as it does in China, ie lots.
So there's a sovereignty issue. China ¡V like the US ¡V has
the right to pass and implement its own laws and governments,
governments-in-waiting in Cameron's case, should pause before getting too
mouthy. Apparently 27 representations were made to China by Britain over the
past two years ¡V mostly quietly, I assume, which is always the best way.
But the execution took place during the Christmas news lull:
hence the sudden high profile. Thank goodness Ivan Lewis, the junior foreign
office minister put up to talk about it today, said: "I'm not going to make
idle threats" ¡V or we might be starting 2010 going to war with China.
Talking of which, the really toe-curling fact, of which
neither Dr Gordon Brown with his PhD in history, nor David Cameron with his
1st in PPE should be ignorant, is Anglo-Chinese history.
When Europeans started forcing the reclusive China of the
late Ming and Qing dynasty to open its doors to trade in the 16th and 17th
century the visitors wanted more Chinese goods ¡V all that tea, silk and lovely
porcelain ¡V than the Chinese wanted of ours.
Sounds familiar? What the Chinese would accept was silver, a
better bet than the US dollars they now hold in such vast quantities. This was
unsustainable and in the 19th century the British East India Company hit on
the idea of importing Indian opium to China ¡V though it was banned by imperial
I hope you've spotted where I'm heading. If not here's
Wiki's starter kit on the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60 which culminated
in the so-called "unequal treaties" and the eventual overthrow of the Qing in
Result: China was forced to accept the trade with
devastating social consequences. In fairness I should add that the stuff was
legal in Britain at the time ¡V as readers of Victorian novels can confirm. The
Chinese governor Lin Zexu became a hero for opposing the trade ¡V as did young
William Gladstone at Westminster.
All the same, it is a pretty shameful story. Perhaps it
slipped your memory? It certainly hasn't slipped theirs and is still
unravelling: they only got Hong Kong back in 1997 and have never rebuilt the
burned Summer Palace at Beijing ¡V their Windsor.
So, one way or another, poor Akmal Shaikh was the wrong man
in the wrong place. But China is likely to be impervious to lectures from
Europeans on the morality of the drugs trade.
As the world's rising power it's unlikely to be lectured
anyway, but that's another story ¡V one we'll rapidly have to get used to. No
declaration of war this week, please Ivan.
China's execution of Akmal Shaikh enrages British leaders. By Jonathan
Watts and Will Woodward. December 29, 2009.
Gordon Brown and other senior British politicians have
angrily condemned China for executing a British man said to have had mental
problems. Akmal Shaikh, 53, was killed early this morning by lethal injection
after being convicted of drug smuggling.
Despite frantic appeals by the Foreign Office for clemency,
Shaikh was executed at 10.30am local time (2.30am British time) in Urumqi.
Campaigners believe he is the first European in 58 years put to death in
Shaikh, a father of three from Kentish Town, north London,
was found with 4kg of heroin in his suitcase in September 2007. His supporters
say he had suffered a breakdown, was delusional and was tricked into carrying
Britain is not planning any retaliation beyond criticism.
The Chinese ambassador to London, Fu Ying, was summoned to the Foreign Office
to hear first-hand the government's anger. The Foreign Office minister Ivan
Lewis was to protest about the execution and the Chinese government's related
decision to cancel an annual meeting between the two countries, scheduled for
January in Beijing, where they were due to discuss China's human rights
Lewis said: "China cannot expect to receive the respect they
yearn from the international community until they abide by minimum standards
of human rights. Engagement with China is non-negotiable and any alternative
strategy is simply not credible. But by being so clear in our public criticism
of China's handling of this case we are demonstrating that it is not business
British ministers have been struck by the apparent
near-universal support for the execution within China. David Miliband, the
foreign secretary, writing on his blog, said: "We have said many times we
welcome the economic rise of China and believe its integration into the world
system is one of the great opportunities of the 21st century, not just one of
the challenges. Events like those of today will only fuel the argument of
those who say this is an impossible dream and that the value systems are just
"I don't believe that. But it is a reminder of how different
can be our perspective. We need to understand China (and the massive public
support for the execution). They need to understand us."
Shaikh learned only yesterday that he would be killed today.
He was informed by two cousins who had flown to China seeking a reprieve.
"We are deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed at the
news of the execution of our beloved cousin Akmal," said Soohail and Nasir
Shaikh in a statement.
The two men said they were "astonished" that the Chinese
authorities refused to investigate their cousin's mental health on the grounds
that the defendant ought to have provided evidence of his own fragile state of
"We find it ludicrous that any mentally ill person should be
expected to provide this, especially when this was apparently bipolar
disorder, in which we understand the sufferer has a distorted view of the
world, including his own condition."
Amid an angry exchange of words between London and Beijing,
the British prime minister said: "I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in
the strongest terms and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent
requests for clemency have not been granted. I am particularly concerned that
no mental health assessment was undertaken. At this time our thoughts are with
Mr Shaikh's family and friends and I send them our sincere condolences."
Brown had raised the case on several occasions, including
during a meeting with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, at the Copenhagen
summit and in a personal message in the past few days.
While British ministers have been careful not to promise any
retaliation against the Chinese government, their statements demonstrate their
anger at what they regard as Beijing's refusal to recognise Shaikh's basic
In Beijing the Chinese government said it resisted any
interference in its judicial affairs. "We express strong dissatisfaction and
opposition to the British reaction," said Jiang Yu, a foreign ministry
spokeswoman. "We hope the British side will face this case squarely and not
put new obstacles in the way of relations between Britain and China."
Chinese judges and lawyers receive instructions from the
Communist party on their handling of political cases, but Jiang claimed the
country's courts were independent. "China judicial independence brooks no
interference." China treated citizens of all nations as equals in dealing with
drug-related crime, said Jiang.
The Chinese embassy in London insisted "Shaikh's rights and
interests were properly respected and guaranteed" and disputed British claims
about his condition. "The concerns of the British side were duly noted and
taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities.
"Out of humanitarian consideration visas were granted to the
two cousins of Mr Shaikh on Boxing Day and they were given access to meeting
Mr Shaikh in China. As for his possible mental illness which has been much
talked about, there apparently has been no previous medical record."
China executes three times as many people as the rest of the
world's official executions put together ¡V at least 1,718 in 2008 according to
Amnesty International, although the real figure is likely to be much higher.
China has assured British officials that they have gone
further than they do with other countries' prisoners to give advance warning
of the execution, around three or four days, and allow the family access.
Shaikh's cousins were allowed to see him for an hour and a half.
One senior figure closely involved with the case said
China's reluctance to give ground was because many of those executed by the
state were likely to have mental health problems and that Shaikh was "the tip
of the iceberg".
Britain believes China is keen to move on from this case
quickly but senior figures say it will inevitably colour dealings between the
two countries for some time.
Sally Rowen, the legal director of the human rights group
Reprieve, said: "The death of Akmal Shaikh is a sad indictment of today's
world, and particularly of China's legal system. ... We at Reprieve are
sickened by what we have seen during our work on this case."
Lewis told Radio 4's Today programme this morning: "It's a
deeply depressing day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to
justice in Britain and throughout the world."
He said it was "reprehensible" and "entirely unacceptable"
that the execution had gone ahead without any medical assessment. "This
execution makes me personally feel sick to the stomach but I'm not going to
make idle threats.
"This morning is not the time for a kneejerk reaction. It's
true we must continue to engage with China but it needs to be clear as that
country plays a greater role in the world they have to understand their
responsibility to adhere to the most basic standards of human rights. China
will only be fully respected when and if they make the choice to join the
human rights mainstream and incidents like this do not help the international
community's respect or relationship with China."
Lewis said that there had been 27 ministerial
representations to China about Shaikh's case in the last two years. Despite
the increased international dialogue with China "all of those representations
have been in vain and this is a very very different view of what constitutes
universal human rights".
"Clearly Mr Shaikh has mental health problems. And whilst we
differ with China anyway on the issue of the death penalty ... the biggest
single issue here that causes us so much consternation is that they refused to
even do a medical assessment knowing that there was evidence of mental health
problems; that is what is unacceptable.
"In the context of a working relationship, a constructive
positive relationship ... we expect our partners to behave differently and
Chinese media have yet to report the execution, but the
state-run news agency Xinhua carried a statement by the supreme court
defending its judgment. "The evidence was certain and the facts were clear,"
The court defended its decision to refuse UK requests for a
mental examination. "There is no reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh's mental
status," it said.
Legal activists disputed the assertion that the government
could not intervene in the court system. "China's judiciary is not
independent, it is totally controlled by the government," said the civil
rights lawyer Teng Biao.
"This case shows the hardline stance of the government.
China now can ignore pressure from international society and won't compromise
even a little on the issue of human rights."
Shaikh's lawyer for the supreme court review, Zhang Qingsong,
said he was not allowed to meet his client.
Following vocal British criticism of China's stalling
tactics at the Copenhagen climate conference this month, the rhetorical
relations between the two nations have arguably hit a low not seen since the
Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. But experts said the long-term impact would
"The two sides are just posturing for their own citizens,"
said Wu Qiang of Tsinghua University. "Akmal Shaikh is only an isolated case.
Unless the UK raises the issue to the EU level I don't think there will be big
influence on relations."
The execution delighted China's nationalists. Online comment
was overwhelmingingly favourable.
"Well done! The man deserves the death sentence. China has
finally shown it can be tough in front of foreigners," noted a post under a TV
clip about the news.
On the website ifeng.com, Chahu18 wrote: "I can't believe
the British government condemned this action ... Do they support drug
smuggling? Britons, you think it is still 1840 when you could use opium to
harm Chinese people? I am with Chinese government this time!"
Reprieve said it had medical evidence that Shaikh believed
he was going to China in 2007 to record a hit single that would usher in world
peace. It said he was duped into carrying a suitcase packed with heroin on a
flight from Tajikistan to Urumqi.
Reprieve said the last European to be executed in China was
an Italian, Antonio Riva, who was shot by a firing squad in 1951, along with a
Japanese man, Ruichi Yamaguchi, after being convicted of involvement in what
China alleged was an American plot to assassinate Mao Zedong and other
high-ranking Communist officials.
Shaikh's family thanked Brown, Miliband and other British
ministers for their efforts and asked the media for "space to grieve".
China couldn't care less about Akmal Skaikh's 'bipolar disorder'. It's not
keen on the mentally ill By Tim Collard. December 29, 2009.
So poor old Akmal Shaikh has been executed after all. One jab
of a syringe, job done, that¡¦ll be five yuan for the chemicals, please. None
of this twenty-years-on-death-row stuff for the Chinese. But, beyond the
obvious horrors of the modern death penalty, what does this sad story tell
Firstly, the death penalty itself. China is
apparently responsible for 72 per cent of the executions taking place in the
world today. That, of course, only counts executions imposed by some sort of
judicial process; it does not include all those people who are simply
murdered by regimes and their thugs. Not that that doesn¡¦t happen in China
too: but on the whole the Communist Party prefers to kill people out in the
open, which one may or may not regard as preferable.
It is usually estimated that a referendum among the
British people would show around 70 per cent support for the death penalty,
at least for certain types of murder. In China I suspect that figure would
be in the high nineties; there is no sympathy for the person who steps far
outside the norms of society. Social and group ethics trump the individual
every time; the sort of characters Camus or Dostoyevsky wrote about would
strike no chord in the Middle Kingdom.
The fact that Mr Sheikh was a British citizen might have
been expected to help him; it didn¡¦t. This may partly have been a
demonstration that Britain has no leverage over China these days; and
somewhere below the surface the idea of a Briton smuggling drugs into China
may have wakened latent resentments deriving from the humiliation of the
Opium Wars. More probably, I would guess, the idea of a man called Akmal
Shaikh being British just did not compute in the Chinese official mind.
Lastly, we hoped that the clear evidence of Mr Shaikh¡¦s
mental illness might have aided the case for clemency. His story ¡V that he
had naively allowed himself to be used by unscrupulous traffickers ¡V
certainly rings true to Western ears. But I never thought that this defence
would fly in China, and it didn¡¦t. Sadly, the revelation of the severity of
his mental problems made his execution more rather than less likely.
¡§What is the point of such a person?¡¨ the Chinese will
have asked themselves. Provided that the mentally ill keep to themselves,
are cared for and controlled by their families, and are not a burden on
society, well and good; but if they get involved, however innocently, in
things like drug smuggling, they¡¦re better out of the way. The Chinese would
have no problem with the sort of eugenics implemented by the Nazis (and, to
be fair, supported between the wars by many eminent and respected Western
Europeans, including Churchill at one point). Just one more way in which
East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.
Online) Chinese ambassador summoned over execution of Briton Akmal
Shaikh By Jane Macartney and Sophie Yu. December 29, 2009.
China¡¦s Ambassador in London was summoned to the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office today to hear Britain¡¦s ¡§strong condemnation¡¨ of her
country¡¦s execution of Akmal Shaikh.
Mr Shaikh, a convicted British drug smuggler who is believed
to have suffered from bipolar disorder, was killed by lethal injection early
today, despite the personal intervention of Gordon Brown in a telephone call
to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier.
The execution was condemned by the Prime Minister and David
Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, with the Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis
declaring that it made him feel ¡§sick to the stomach¡¨.
Mr Lewis met Ambassador Fu Ying to express the Government¡¦s
¡§deep regret¡¨ that Beijing refused to examine appeals for clemency. ¡§I had a
difficult conversation with the Chinese ambassador today,¡¨ he said. ¡§I made
clear that the execution of Mr Shaikh was totally unacceptable and that China
had failed in its basic human rights responsibilities in this case, in
particular that China¡¦s court had not considered the representations made
about Mr Shaikh¡¦s mental condition."
Mr Shaikh¡¦s family said that they were ¡§deeply saddened,
stunned and disappointed¡¨ by the execution. Mental health campaigners deplored
his killing, with one charity describing it as ¡§medieval rough justice¡¨.
The criticism sparked irritation in China, with the Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu telling a press briefing in Beijing: ¡§No
one has the right to comment on China¡¦s judicial sovereignty. It is the common
wish of people around the world to strike against the crime of drug
trafficking. We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the
British Government¡¦s unreasonable criticism of the case. We urge the British
to correct their mistake in order to avoid harming China-UK relations.¡¨
The Chinese Embassy in London issued a statement insisting
that Shaikh had ¡§no previous medical record¡¨ of mental illness and that his
rights and interests had been properly respected.
Mr Shaikh, 53, a former taxi service manager from Kentish
Town, North London, was arrested in Urumqi in northwest China in September
2007 and was convicted of smuggling 4kg (9lb) of heroin into the country.
The execution of Mr Shaikh was the first in China of a
citizen of a European nation for half a century, according to Reprieve, a
British prisoners' rights charity.
Mr Shaikh was executed at 10.30am today (0230 GMT), the
British Government announced.
The family Mr Shaikh, a father of three, issued a statement
in London saying: ¡§The family express their grief at the Chinese decision to
After news of the execution came through his two cousins,
who had visited him in prison, added: "We are deeply saddened, stunned and
disappointed at the news of the execution of our beloved cousin, Akmal. This
was carried out this morning despite repeated requests for clemency and a
proper appraisal of Akmal¡¦s mental state. We are astonished at suggestions
that Akmal himself should have provided evidence of his own fragile state of
mind. We find it ludicrous that any mentally ill person should be expected to
provide this, especially when this was apparently bipolar disorder, in which
we understand the sufferer has a distorted view of the world, including his
own condition. That this was regarded as sufficient grounds for refusal by the
judicial authorities to order any mental health assessment is shocking to us.
Despite our own and other pleas, the Chinese authorities have maintained their
refusal to investigate Akmal¡¦s mental health."
Chinese practice is to hand over the body of a prisoner to
the family as soon as possible for cremation or burial. Mr Shaikh was expected
to be buried before sundown in a Muslim cemetery in Urumqi in accordance with
Mr Shaikh was arrested in 2007 when he arrived in Urumqi
from Tajikistan in possession of heroin. He was convicted after a half-hour
trial last year and his final appeal was rejected last week by the Supreme
Family, supporters and the Government all appealed for
clemency on the grounds he was mentally imbalanced. Mr Shaikh believed he was
travelling to China to record a hit single that would be a singing sensation
and usher in world peace. He had been living homeless in Poland when he was
approached by two men who duped him into taking the drugs into China,
Mr Brown at once criticised China for going ahead with the
execution. "I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms,
and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency
have not been granted," he said. He added: "I am particularly concerned that
no mental health assessment was undertaken."
The Supreme Court said that the death sentence was the
correct judgment in the case and evidence of mental illness was insufficient.
Justifying its decision, the Supreme Court said in a statement: "To use the
death penalty for extremely threatening and serious crimes involving drugs is
beneficial to instilling fear and preventing drug crimes." It said no
documents provided by the British Embassy or by other organisations as well as
by Mr Shaikh himself could prove that he had a mental disorder. "There is no
reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh¡¦s mental status.¡¨
Sally Rowen, legal director of Reprieve's death penalty
team, said: "The death of Akmal Shaikh is a sad indictment of today's world,
and particularly of China's legal system. "Akmal was a gentle man who suffered
from a tormenting illness. He slipped through the cracks of society and was
betrayed and deliberately killed by one of the most powerful nations on earth.
We at Reprieve are sickened by what we have seen during our work on this
The last European citizen known to have been executed in
China was an Italian pilot shot by firing squad in 1951.
Online) Chinese show little sympathy for Akmal Shaikh
By Jane Macartney. December 30, 2009.
Few Chinese were even aware of the execution of Akmal Shaikh
yesterday. Reports of executions are commonplace, particularly in recent
months after bloody anti-Chinese riots in the far west and a high-profile gang
trial in a sprawling central metropolis. But news of foreigners being put to
death is less common.
The few who have been executed have usually been found
guilty of drug trafficking ¡X as was the case with Shaikh ¡X and this is a crime
that elicits scant sympathy.
Some debate emerged on the internet, the only free medium
for discussion in China, with most comments questioning why a convicted drug
smuggler should receive mercy just because he was foreign.
Some referred to the 19th-century opium wars, when British
gunboats forced open several Chinese ports to enable merchants to flood the
Chinese market with opium from India. Those events more than a century ago
still evoke bitter memories among Chinese.
One comment read: ¡§The UK should respect Chinese law and it
is not China that should respect these appeals.¡¨
Another referred to the last dynasty that ruled China, at
the time of the opium wars. ¡§China is not Qing any more; we decide what to do
on our land.¡¨
Another wrote: ¡§Britain is looking for excuses. They should
have said those who sold opium to China were all mentally imbalanced.¡¨ But
such comments were few and the death of Shaikh will pass with barely a murmur
The type of case that usually provokes debate and public
outrage is where an ordinary worker is pitted against the State. There was the
manicurist who stabbed to death a local Communist Party official when he tried
to rape her. Such was the public anger that the girl was soon released and
sent home on the ground of diminished responsibility. A young man in Shanghai
got into a row with police and stabbed six officers to death after he was
taken to a local police station. His arrest stirred a storm of debate, with
many people saying that the police all too often took advantage of their
almost unrestrained powers to oppress the weak. He was executed.
A few weeks ago a woman set herself on fire in protest when
local officials tried to demolish her home because it had not been legally
constructed. The public outcry was such that the Government is now considering
changing the law to reduce the powers of officials to enforce such
Independent) Insults fly as UK hits out at China execution.
By Clifford Coonan. December 30, 2009.
Beijing hit back furiously yesterday at
Britain's condemnation of the execution of a mentally ill Londoner who
relatives say was duped into smuggling heroin into China.
After 27 separate appeals and days of
conciliatory words aimed at persuading China of Akmal Shaikh's case, Gordon
Brown yesterday changed gear to strongly criticise the execution.
When it emerged that last-minute
entreaties at a tense Foreign Office meeting with the Chinese ambassador had
failed to stop Mr Shaikh's death by lethal injection yesterday morning, Mr
Brown said he was "appalled and disappointed" at China's conduct, and
particularly at the failure to allow a medical assessment of the Briton.
But a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
later slammed Britain for meddling in Beijing's affairs, and insisted that
normal legal procedures had been followed. "Nobody has the right to speak ill
of China's judicial sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
"We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the
groundless British accusations."
The Chinese ambassador, Fu Ying, was
summoned to the Foreign Office yesterday for a dressing-down over the
execution. Afterwards, Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis, who admitted that
the meeting had been "difficult", said he had told her: "China has failed in
its basic human rights responsibilities." He had made a final attempt to
change Beijing's stance at a tense meeting with Ms Fu on Monday night.
The British government realised that
attempts to persuade China to show mercy were doomed two days before Mr
Shaikh's death. As London stepped up the diplomatic pressure, ministers sensed
that Chinese officials were becoming increasingly hostile to their pleas for
Mr Brown repeatedly raised the case with
China's Premier Wen Jiabao, once during the Copenhagen summit on climate
change earlier this month. He also wrote several times to President Hu Jintao,
most recently at the beginning of this week.
The decision to brush off calls for
clemency is the latest sign of China flexing its diplomatic and political
muscle, after the jailing of top dissident Liu Xiaobo on Christmas Day and a
tough line on negotiations at the Copenhagen talks, where critics including
British Climate Secretary Ed Miliband roused Beijing's anger by accusing China
of blocking a deal on CO2 emissions.
Yesterday Mr Lewis said he felt "sick to
the stomach" about Mr Shaikh's death and added, "It is a deeply distressing
day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to justice, in
Britain and throughout the world."
The episode has cast a pall over UK-China
relations, which London believed had been improving in recent years.
Last night British sources told The
Independent that China was a "hugely significant country with which we have to
continue to engage". He pointed to shared interests in tackling climate
change, preventing nuclear proliferation and building closer economic links.
But the sources admitted human rights
issues "affected the environment within which we are operating with the
Chinese". If the bitter diplomatic row continues, it could also cause further
resentment against the West in China. Extreme nationalists have latched onto
the case as a demonstration that China is becoming a strong international
player. One commentator described the execution as "a slap in the face for
those arrogant Europeans".
But Mr Shaikh's family expressed their
horror at the execution of the man who they said had entered China with
delusional hopes of becoming a pop star. Relatives, including his brother,
Akbar, held a candle-lit vigil outside the Chinese embassy in London. Cousins
Soohail and Nasir Shaikh, who had made a last-minute visit to China to appeal
for clemency, said they were "deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed" by
the execution. "We are astonished at suggestions Akmal himself should have
provided evidence of his own fragile state of mind," they added. "We find it
ludicrous that any mentally ill person should be expected to provide this."
The rights group Reprieve, which had tried
to stop Mr Shaikh's execution, said his death was "a sad indictment of today's
world, and particularly of China's legal system".
Britain is fighting the wrong battle with China. December 29, 2009.
In the world of diplomacy, it is generally a good idea to
take great care when picking a quarrel with a rival power, particularly one as
dominant as China. There are many issues that Britain could choose to dispute
with China, from its unconvincing commitment to tackle global warming to its
steadfast refusal to address its massive trade deficit with the West. However,
Gordon Brown's decision to denounce China over the execution of a convicted
British drug smuggler has sparked a diplomatic row that the British Government
has no chance of winning.
By publicly stating that he was "appalled" by Beijing's
decision to proceed with the execution of Akmal Shaikh, a Pakistani-born taxi
driver from north London who was caught smuggling 4 kilos of heroin into
China, Mr Brown risks pandering to the sensitivities of human rights activists
rather than adopting a position that demonstrably promotes our national
interests, as opposed to our liberal values. Others have been even more
forthright: Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office Minister, declared that the
execution had made him "sick to the stomach", and that Beijing's action was
"reprehensible" and "entirely unacceptable". No doubt the Government's
condemnation of the Chinese authorities reflects concern that Mr Shaikh's
apparent poor mental health was not properly accounted for in the judicial
process; it is also true that many aspects of Chinese life and culture
continue to offend western progressive sensibilities.
Nevertheless, in summoning Fu Ying, China's ambassador to
London, to the Foreign Office, the Government has unnecessarily gone out on a
limb ¡V which will no doubt have come as a surprise to Beijing, since the Prime
Minister has previously avoided raising difficult human rights issues with his
Chinese counterparts; he even declined to meet the Dalai Lama at Downing
Street in order not to antagonise China over the thorny matter of its
occupation of Tibet.
Given that China's uncompromising approach to drug smuggling
is well known, the Government should have confined its involvement in the
Shaikh case simply to making representations that clemency might be granted.
Anyone ill-advised enough to attempt to smuggle drugs into a country where the
offence is punishable by death must be ready to face the consequences. Yet,
rather than taking a more tactfully persuasive approach, Mr Brown has risked
turning this affair into a major diplomatic incident that threatens to cause
serious damage to our relations with China, a development that does not bode
well for our long-term interests in the region.
China stands firm by its principles despite a British outcry
By Malcolm Moore. December 29, 2009
From the Chinese point of view, the case was
straightforward. If Mr Shaikh had been caught with 50g of heroin, he would
have merited the death penalty. With four kilograms of the drug in his bag,
his fate was sealed.
The official view reflects this straightforward logic. "As
for his possible mental illness which has been much talked about, there
apparently has been no previous medical record," the Chinese embassy in London
said. But article 18 of the 1997 Chinese Criminal Code states that a mental
patient who is "unable to recognise or control his own misconduct does not
bear criminal responsibility".
Chinese courts have been lenient on mentally-ill foreigners
in the past, notably granting one paranoid-schizophrenic American man a
reduced sentence for murdering his Chinese wife. However, the court is not
obliged to carry out a mental evaluation and the size of the drugs haul in
this case would have put pressure on the judges not to look too hard for
Even 170 years after the first Opium War, when Britain used
its gunboats to ensure widespread addiction to opium in China, the Chinese
remain incredibly sensitive to drug offences. "China has the bitter memory of
drug problems, and is still facing severe situations which undermine the
social stability," said the embassy, before calculating that Mr Shaikh's
luggage contained enough heroin to "kill 26,800 people".
On the internet, there was overwhelming support for Mr
Shaikh's execution and dismay at Britain's attempt at interference. For the
Chinese, the case was simply a matter of applying the law while in the UK, Mr
Shaikh's case became a test of diplomacy. "In the last six months the UK has
raised the case on ten occasions both at Prime Ministerial and Ministerial
level," said a spokesman for the Embassy in Beijing. Gordon Brown discussed
the case with Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, at Pittsburgh and then again
with Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, in Copenhagen. Ivan Lewis, a Foreign
office minister, said that officials had discussed Mr Shaikh with the Chinese
on 27 occasions since he was first arrested in 2007.
But in a demonstration of Britain's waning influence on the
global stage, China not only ignored the attempt to plead for clemency but
rebuked the government for interference. China's "strong dissatisfaction" over
British criticism mirrors the increasing confidence and nationalism within the
country. In this case, as in others, China knows it cannot be pushed around.
Akmal Shaikh's final hours. By Jonathan Watts. December 29, 2009.
Correctly applied, the lethal concoction injected into the
veins of Akmal Shaikh, the convicted drug smuggler from Kentish Town, north
London, would have taken less than a minute to stop his heart and seal his
unfortunate place as the first European to be executed in China in more than
half a century.
A video was recorded of the killing, but there were no
family members or UK consular officials present to witness his final hours
because they were refused permission by the Chinese authorities.
The only official confirmation of Shaikh's death was a brief
fax from the press office in Urumqi, where the execution was carried out, and
a story in the state-run Xinhua news agency that reported he was killed by
Yet it is possible to sketch a partial picture of what
happened in his final 24 hours based on records of previous executions in
China and reports from family members, lawyers and human rights organisations.
Shaikh had been incarcerated in Urumqi, the centre of the
heroin trade in China owing to its proximity to Afghanistan and Pakistan,
since September 2007, when he was caught at the local airport with 4kg of
heroin in his suitcase, which he brought from Kyrgyzstan via Tajikistan. His
family and supporters say he suffered from a bipolar disorder that diminished
his criminal responsibility, but it has never been recognised by the
authorities and the courts denied requests for a mental examination.
A day before his execution, Shaikh was in a high security
hospital, though not ¡V according to the authorities ¡V because of his state of
mind. He had been moved out of the detention centre in August, ostensibly to
treat his high blood pressure.
That may have been a concession to the requests for clemency
from Gordon Brown and other UK ministers. The hospital would be more
comfortable than the death row experience of most of the 1,700 to 10,000
people executed each year in China. The exact number is unknown. Even by the
most conservative estimates, China accounts for seven out of every 10
executions in the world.
On Monday morning, Shaikh was unaware he had less than 24
hours to live, though he had been present at three previous trials and appeals
in which his death sentence was handed down.
The news was broken to him by two of his cousins ¡V Soohail
and Nasir Shaikh ¡V who had flown to Urumqi to make a last-gasp appeal for a
reprieve. They were allowed to visit with two UK consular officials. It was to
be the Shaikh's last chance to spend time with his family.
The two cousins, who emerged from the hospital carrying
their relative's belongings in a plastic bag, said Shaikh appeared to have
lost weight and his mental condition had deteriorated from when he was in
England running a minicab firm.
"It was apparent to us that he was suffering from a mental
illness. The things he was saying were not the things you'd expect a normal
person facing the death sentence to say," they said. "He was a little tearful
at the end. He said he appreciated us being there. We had to be strong for
him. We said we had not given up hope."
Far from Urumqi, supporters held a vigil outside the Chinese
embassy in London, and more than 1,000 signed up to a Facebook campaign to
stop the execution.
By the evening, Shaikh had been moved from the hospital to
the grimly utilitarian Urumqi Public Security Bureau detention centre. Even if
he was not in solitary detention, there may have been nobody who spoke
English. Even at his trials, the courts failed to provide interpretation.
When the lights were turned out soon after 10pm, darkness
fell on a bitterly cold, snowy night in Urumqi.
Although each province has different customs, he is likely
to have been woken ¡V if he was able to sleep, of course ¡V at 6.30am and given
an hour and a quarter to wash, brush his teeth, tidy his belongings and eat a
breakfast of gruel or buns.
If the execution followed the pattern of other reported
cases, the chief prosecutor would have arrived soon after, with an escort of
paramilitary guards and a notification of imminent execution.
Guards would have unlocked his handcuffs and manacles to
allow him to change into a fresh tunic before being led out to the execution
area. He may have been allowed to take a photograph of his three children
along with him.
In the past, China took prisoners condemned to death into a
field or yard, forced them to kneel and then shot them once at short range
with a rifle in the back of the head, often in front of a crowd of spectators.
In recent years, however, China has made increasing use of lethal injection,
which is considered more humane and discreet. The supreme court supplies the
same lethal cocktail used in the US: sodium thiopental to induce loss of
consciousness, pancuronium bromide to halt breathing and potassium chloride to
still the heart.
Before 10am, he would have been led to an execution chamber
or mobile "death van". Four straps would hold his body in place on a
horizontal gurney. Sensors would have been attached to his head and chest
along with other clasps to keep both arms outstretched. On one side, the
sleeve would be rolled up and a syringe inserted and connected to an electric
pump. He would see little to distract his mind.
Legs tied together and arms outstretched, he would probably
have heard unintelligible voices in Chinese and perhaps the beeps and
mechanical clicks of the cardiograms and brain scanning equipment before they
flat-lined between 30 seconds and a minute after the drugs entered his
And then, if the authorities were as good as their word, his
body would have been buried within hours ¡V according to his wishes and Muslim
traditions ¡V in white robes or sheets.
However, like almost every other aspect of China's murky
death penalty system, this was hard to confirm and, despite the massive public
outcry, Shaikh's burial was as veiled in secrecy as his death.
Online) Before preaching, remember the opium wars. By George
Walden. December 30, 2009.
Collecting calligraphy in China during the Cultural
Revolution, I found some by Commissioner Lin Zexu, governor of Canton in the
early 19th century when Britain and others were booting the country about.
A cultivated man with a bold and vigorous script, he remains
a hero to the Chinese to this day, one of the few incorruptible civil servants
in a period when his country was in a state of political dissolution and moral
meltdown, not least through the soaring consumption of opium.
After tipping our opium stocks in Canton into the Pearl
River (that we pushed drugs in China partly to pay for imports of their tea
gives this a nice Bostonian touch) the commissioner went straight to the
source of the problem.
A letter he sent to Queen Victoria read: ¡§It is said that
the smoking of opium is forbidden in your country, the proof that you are
clearly aware of its harm. Since you do not permit opium to harm your own
country you should not allow it to be passed on to other countries, certainly
not to the Central States [China].
¡§Of all the products that the Central States exports ...
there is not a single item that is not beneficial to the people ... Has any
article from the Central States done any harm to foreign countries?¡¨
Certainly not the tea, silk and porcelain that Her Majesty
consumed in some quantities. Such a pity our moralising Queen does not appear
to have seen the letter.
It wasn¡¦t just the lower classes that Lin was worried about:
opium helped to stupefy the minds and to dissipate the energies of an already
decadent elite, weakening China further in the face of the foreign challenge.
So the merciless treatment of Akmal Shaikh, the British citizen executed
yesterday for smuggling 4kg of heroin, is rather more than another instance of
China¡¦s lack of delicate feeling towards criminals, home- grown or foreign.
Few in China have forgotten the past. A statement issued by
the Chinese Embassy yesterday said that the ¡§strong resentment¡¨ felt by the
Chinese public against drug traffickers was the product of ¡§the bitter memory
of history¡¨. Paranoid as it seems, many a Chinese official still believes
that, after ransacking the country in the imperialist age, the West today will
stoop to anything to impede it from finally taking its rightful place as a ¡X
or, as they hope, the ¡X global power.
Nonetheless, my hunch is that Shaikh might have been
reprieved if we had kept the pressure intense but out of sight. Democracies
don¡¦t work that way, however, so China found itself on the spot over a subject
where historical memories could hardly be more poisoned, or more vivid.
What should we do now? For the people who seriously
suggested that we station a nuclear submarine off Hong Kong to keep British
the colony that we acquired through the Opium Wars, there¡¦s no problem. When
it comes to post-imperialist posturing our latter-day Palmerstons have a thing
about China and the Chinese, just as the Victorians did:
John Chinaman a rogue is born The laws of truth he holds in
scorn About as great a brute as can Encumber the Earth is John Chinaman.
So wrote Punch at about the time we were foisting
drugs on the Chinese brutes, and sending gunboats if they resisted.
What we should do is make our disgust known vigorously,
bilaterally and in international forums, while keeping our part in China¡¦s
history in mind, on the assumption that we want to understand a power that
already touches all our lives, and will affect them more. We should also keep
a keen eye on China¡¦s overall direction ¡X of which the fate of a heroin mule
is not necessarily a symbol.
¡§Of course we want to build socialist democracy,¡¨ the
regime¡¦s spiritual guru, Deng Xiaoping, said during the Tiananmen uprising.
¡§But we can¡¦t possibly do it in a hurry, and still less do we want that
Since then, human rights in China have improved vastly from
a low base. In recent years the gruesome toll of executions has diminished:
each sentence must be confirmed by the Supreme Court and lethal injections are
replacing firing squads (a sign of sensitivity to international opinion,
believe it or not).
Although it is hard to verify the truth, the execution of
what sounds like a mentally distressed person is another reminder that China
can be a harsh society, in the throes of evolution. But ¡§nothing can be done
in a hurry¡¨, and an economic hurricane has slowed reform. A subterranean
struggle is permanently under way about the perils of liberalisation, which
expose the young to ¡§that Western-style stuff¡¨ ¡X pornography, drugs and Aids.
The struggle seems to have sharpened, so we get the vicious
11-year sentence passed on Liu Xiaobo, a particularly impressive dissident,
last week and the execution of Shaikh. Some will say that this signals a
general onslaught on human rights, but I doubt it.
You cannot give the leeway that the Chinese have to the free
exchange of goods and services without a freer exchange of ideas and
information. Unless the Chinese want to close their doors and their markets,
they are stuck with it. Witness the number of visitors to China, the huge
growth of Chinese tourism abroad, and that there are now more internet users
in China than anywhere else. Of course there is censorship, and an element of
¡§two steps forward and one step back¡¨, but this does not preclude more steps
The issue for us is not so much if a British citizen
deserves to be executed for his part in heroin smuggling: sovereign states
have that right, and China is not alone in claiming it. It is that if we wish
to influence China on capital punishment, the treatment of mentally unstable
people or anything else, a little historical humility may be in order.
Not that modern generations should flagellate themselves for
the misdemeanours of their forebears every time a post-colonial country
behaves brutally, but while we fulminate against China, we could spare a
little moral opprobrium for the people who ruin young Chinese lives by running
Commissioner Lin¡¦s magnificent admonition received no reply
from the British. At the time we could afford to ignore China¡¦s complaints.
The Chinese have now given their reply to us. As well as condemning the
execution, we should think about why they did it, and how we can best persuade
them from doing it again.
Independent) Leading article: What this execution doesn't say
about China and Britain. December 30, 2009.
There was a dreadful inevitability about
the execution of Akmal Shaikh in China, for all the 11th-hour visit by his
cousins and last-minute intercessions by the British Government. But that
inevitability does not detract from the abhorrence that we and many in Britain
will feel about the application of the death penalty ¡V either in general or in
this case in particular. From what has become public, Shaikh appears to have
been mentally unstable; an individual worthy of sympathy rather than the
ultimate punishment, whose pleas in mitigation might have succeeded in many
Any hope of clemency, though, was always
going to be faint in China, where more than 1,700 were executed last year
alone. China has a rougher justice than we do. That Shaikh was apprehended in
Urumqi, in the troubled western region of Xinjiang, cannot have helped
matters. Nor is China alone in Asia in imposing the death penalty for
drug-smuggling, which is regarded there as one of the most heinous crimes.
For all these reasons it would have been
an extraordinary gesture of humanity or diplomatic goodwill had the Chinese
authorities overruled the court to commute the sentence. That they permitted
two of Shaikh's cousins to pay a farewell visit was itself unusual and
suggested that Beijing might not be completely deaf to the pleas from many
miles away. In executing the first citizen of a European country for half a
century, China surely understood the various messages that would send.
Summarised, these would be, first, that
China, as a sovereign country, has the right to set its own laws and
punishments. Second, that China will not look more kindly on foreigners who
break the law than on its own citizens. And thirdly, Shaikh's fate will serve
as a graphic reminder to visitors of what awaits them if ¡V even perhaps
inadvertently ¡V they violate Chinese law.
From outside the country we are entitled
to denounce the principle of capital punishment, as we do with those American
states, chief among them Texas, that keep the death penalty on their books,
and apply it. We are also within our rights to condemn China for its easy
resort to execution. It cannot be that there are no miscarriages of justice;
that no innocent people lose their lives.
But there are two conclusions that cannot,
and should not, be drawn from Akmal Shaikh's case. The first is that China can
be pressured into changing its policies to suit us. We have no better chance
of persuading the Beijing authorities to abandon capital punishment than of
persuading Texas or another US state to do the same. We can lobby when our own
citizens are caught in the system, but we cannot demand that another
jurisdiction bring its laws into line with ours. It is hypocritical to
belabour China for its use of the death penalty while seeming to turn a blind
eye to its use elsewhere.
The second false conclusion would be to
treat Shaikh's execution as evidence of China's growing arrogance. To be sure,
British ministers might have been in a stronger diplomatic position to plead
for his life had they not so recently blamed China for blocking agreement at
the Copenhagen climate summit. But there is nothing demeaning about making ¡V
even failed ¡V representations on behalf of a citizen facing death abroad.
Equally, no one should be surprised by Beijing's response. China guards its
sovereignty jealously, not least because it was violated so relatively
recently. This was less the arrogance of a rising power than evidence that
China is still feeling its way in the wider world.
Mail) Gordon Brown leads furious outcry as China executes
British drugs mule by lethal injection. By Peter Simpson and David
Williams. December 30, 2009.
An ¡¥appalled and disappointed¡¦ Gordon Brown led condemnation
of the Chinese execution of British drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh.
The Chinese authorities killed the 53-year-old father of
five by lethal injection early yesterday, ignoring last minute pleas from his
family and the British Government.
There was cross-party anger at the execution of Mr Shaikh,
who had mental problems.
Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis declared that it made him
feel ¡¥sick to the stomach¡¦, while Conservative leader David Cameron said: ¡¥I
deplore and deeply regret the fact that the Chinese authorities did not heed
the pleas for clemency.¡¦
In a statement, Mr Brown said: ¡¥I condemn the execution of
Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that our
persistent requests for clemency have not been granted. I am particularly
concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken.¡¦
Mr Shaikh, from Kentish Town, North London, was arrested in
Urumqi, North-West China, in September 2007, and convicted of smuggling 4kg
(8lb 13oz) of heroin into the country.
His family say he suffered from bipolar disorder. They claim
he had been delusional and was duped into carrying a suitcase that did not
belong to him into China. His daughter has said that drug smugglers in Poland
convinced him they would make him a pop star in China. Mr Shaikh, who used to
manage a cab firm in Kentish Town, had denied any wrongdoing. His family said
they were ¡¥deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed¡¦ by the execution, which
was carried out in Urumqi.
Mr Shaikh was the first EU national to be executed in China
since 1951. The row culminated last night in a ¡¥difficult¡¦ meeting between Mr
Lewis and China¡¦s ambassador, Fu Ying. She was summoned to the Foreign Office
to explain her country¡¦s action after the Chinese Embassy in London issued a
statement insisting Mr Shaikh¡¦s rights and interests had been ¡¥properly
Emerging from the meeting, Mr Lewis said: ¡¥I made clear that
the execution of Mr Shaikh was totally unacceptable and that China had failed
in its basic human rights responsibilities in this case, in particular that
China¡¦s court had not considered the representations made about Mr Shaikh¡¦s
Mr Lewis, who made a last ditch appeal for clemency on
Monday night, said 27 representations had been made at ministerial level on Mr
Shaikh¡¦s behalf to the Chinese authorities. He said: ¡¥It is a deeply
distressing day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to
justice in Britain and throughout the world. It is true he was found guilty of
a serious crime, but it is equally clear that he had serious mental health
problems and the unwillingness of the Chinese courts to take account of this
and request a proper medical assessment is reprehensible.¡¦ Mr Lewis said
Britain has an ¡¥important relationship¡¦ with China. But he added: ¡¥China needs
to understand it will only ever achieve full respect around the world when it
subscribes to basic standards of human rights.¡¦
Clearly angered by the stinging criticisms, however, Chinese
foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu hit back: ¡¥No one has the right to comment
on China¡¦s judicial sovereignty. It is the common wish of people around the
world to strike against the crime of drug trafficking. We express our strong
dissatisfaction and opposition to the British Government¡¦s unreasonable
criticism of the case. We urge the British to correct their mistake in order
to avoid harming China-UK relations.¡¦
The Chinese Embassy in London said: ¡¥The amount of heroin he
[Mr Shaikh] brought into China was enough to cause 26,800 deaths, threatening
numerous families.¡¦ It also insisted that Mr Shaikh had ¡¥no previous medical
record¡¦ of mental illness.
The Chinese insist the use of the death penalty in their war
on drugs is working and that drug use is falling as a result. Last year alone
more than 200 people involved in the drug trade were executed.
Mr Shaikh¡¦s cousins, brothers Suhail and Nasir Shaikh, had
travelled to China to see him in prison and to make a final plea for his life.
In a statement, they said : ¡¥We are astonished at
suggestions that Akmal himself should have provided evidence of his own
fragile state of mind. We find it ludicrous that any mentally ill person
should be expected to provide this, especially when this was apparently
bipolar disorder, in which we understand the sufferer has a distorted view of
the world, including his own condition.¡¦
Reprieve's legal director Sally Rowen had described Mr
Shaikh as a 'gentle man who suffering from a tormenting illness. 'He fell
through the cracks... as many people with mental illness do,' she added. Mr
Shaikh's case attracted support from mental health campaigners as well as
those opposed to the death penalty. 'At this time our thoughts are with Mr
Shaikh's family and friends and I send them our sincere condolences.'
Robert Westhead, spokesman for MDF, the Bipolar Organisation,
described the execution as 'medieval rough justice' and an 'absolute tragedy'.
'How a society treats people affected by mental illness is always a good
indicator of how civilised it is. The way the Chinese authorities have
stubbornly failed to take account of this poor man's severe mental illness
shows that China is still stuck in the dark ages. This execution is medieval
rough justice gone badly wrong.'
Mr Shaikh's cousins visited him in jail for the last time
yesterday. Speaking exclusively to the Mail, Suhail said: ¡¥Akmal had lost some
weight but he was in high spirits when we first met him because he still
believed he could appeal one more time and have his sentence overturned and be
saved. He did not know a date had been set for his execution, and he said he
was still waiting for an imminent change of heart from the Chinese who would
overturn his death sentence and pardon him. We had to break the news to him
and tell him that he was to be executed within 24 hours. He did not seem to
believe us but we told him the final decision had been passed, and that we had
done all we could as a tight-knit, heartbroken family to save him. It was
apparent to us that he was suffering from a mental illness. The things he was
saying were not the things you¡¦d expect a normal person facing the death
sentence to say. He was a little tearful at the end. He said he appreciated us
being there. We had to be strong for him. We said we had not given up hope.¡¦
The brothers looked solemn as they emerged from the prison hospital into
falling snow. They were carrying Mr Shaikh's personal effects in a plastic
As night fell in London, supporters held a candlelit vigil
outside the Chinese embassy.
Tom Scott, a freelance theatre director from Catford, said
he had become aware of the case through a Facebook group called Stop the
Execution of Akmal Shaikh. He said: 'I am appalled by this case. I am against
the death penalty any way in all circumstances but I think this is a
particularly bad case - where a man who from all reports, clearly is mentally
ill and suffers from delusions was duped by a drugs gang into taking a case
which contained heroin into China.
Maya Farr, an 18-year-old customer services representative
was also present at the vigil. She said 1,600 people had signalled their
support for the Facebook campaign. 'I am personally against the death penalty,
but there are so many aspects to this case which we are really opposed to. His
mental history has not been assessed.'
Reprieve said new witnesses had emerged following publicity
about the case who backed up the defence claim about his mental illness. Mr
Shaikh was obsessed with recording a song that would usher in world peace, the
Two British men, Paul Newberry and Gareth Saunders, both
quoted by the organisation, said they had helped Mr Shaikh record a song in
Poland and that it was clear that he was mentally ill. Mr Newberry, a British
national who lives in Poland, told Reprieve that Mr Shaikh was a 'very, very
ill' person. He said in a statement issued by the organisation: 'I was
probably one of the last people who saw Akmal before he left Poland in August
2007. I met Akmal in spring 2007 when he started hanging around the tent city
that protesting nurses had set up outside the Polish prime minister's offices
in Warsaw. The protest attracted a range of 'colourful' characters and he was
one of them. As I was British and was with a British friend, Akmal latched on
to us. Immediately it was clear that he was mentally ill, although he was a
very likeable person, friendly and very open. However, he was clearly
suffering from delusions and it seemed to me he was a particularly severe case
of manic depressive. I told him a number of times that he should see a doctor,
that he was ill, but he just laughed. Any person would have been offended had
he been a normal person not in the middle of a psychosis.'
He said Mr Shaikh had shown them lyrics to the song 'Run
Little Rabbit' written on a paper napkin and tried to convince them it would
be a hit. He said: 'For a few weeks he pestered us until finally we agreed to
record it with him. I have no idea who paid for the recording studio but I
think he used his charm and persistence to persuade the owner to let him
record the song. I can't imagine anyone singing worse than he did on that
recording and we told him so, but he was on such a high, convinced that he
would have a huge hit. We told him that he was crazy, that it was the worst
thing we had ever heard, but he just laughed in our face and repeated that it
would be huge.'
China, where you can be shot for tax evasion
China executes four times as many people as the rest of the
world put together, writes GEOFFREY WANSELL.
The exact toll is a closely-guarded 'state secret', but
estimates range from more than 1,700 to as high as 10,000 a year. At least 60
per cent of public executions are carried out with a single gunshot to the
back of the head.
No fewer than 68 crimes are punishable by death in China,
including tax evasion, fraud and bribery.
An estimated 90 per cent of the Chinese population support
the death penalty, despite the brutality involved.
Authorities also go to great lengths to ensure the killing
goes smoothly, with no danger of a doomed prisoner suddenly haranguing the
crowd about the unfairness of his trial.
One female prisoner is known to have had her vocal cords cut
before she was led out to be killed. But the horror of a Chinese execution
does not end with death.
The relatives of the victim may well be offered the bullet
that killed their loved one, and then charged the 30p it cost.
They will be also refused access to the corpse. The gruesome
explanation for this is that many execution victims have their organs
'harvested' by hospital staff on the orders of police and judges supervising
The Chinese Government insists officially that such
harvesting is entirely illegal, but it is still big business. A heart or liver
can fetch as much as £30,000 on the black market.
There are also persistent reports that high-ranking
officials who may be in need of an organ transplant make their needs known to
the executing officials in their area, who make sure their demands are
It is one reason why the Chinese still prefer to use a
gunshot to the head ¡V for the damage to the body is far less than it would be
from a conventional firing squad. Indeed China's refusal to give outsiders
access to the bodies of executed prisoners has increased the suspicion that
this is why they are not given to the relatives.
After the 'harvesting', the corpses are usually driven to a
crematorium and burned before anyone can view them.
Amnesty International said in a report in 2006 that the huge
profits from the sale of prisoners' organs could be part of the reason China
refuses to consider doing away with the death penalty.
But author and China expert Jonathan Mirsky says: 'The
Chinese do not like to be told what to do by anyone in the outside world. They
don't like outside interference ¡V and they show that by not yielding to
international pressure, no matter how intense'.
Amnesty also told the Daily Mail yesterday: 'We have serious
concerns about whether anyone who has been convicted and sentenced to death
has had a fair trial.'
What is not in doubt is that there is a brutal tradition of
execution in China ¡V notably in the notorious 'death by a thousand cuts', a
form of torture that was finally outlawed only in 1905.
The condemned person was killed by using a knife to
methodically remove parts of the body over an extended period. The horrific
process sometimes began with the gouging of the eyes ¡V so the victim could not
see what would happen next.
and Mail) Divine right of China. By Garth M. Evans.
December 31, 2009.
China's execution of British citizen Akmal Shaikh for
importing four kilograms of heroin into the country is remarkable. Not because
it was a brutal act against a man who may have been innocent and may have been
mentally ill but because it was carried out despite 21 formal pleas for
clemency from the British government (China Brushes Aside British Rage Over
Execution - Dec. 30).
For the past 200 years, Europeans have enjoyed special
rights in China. Until 1949, they were exempt from Chinese law and could
insist on being dealt with under their own legal system. Since the People's
Republic of China was founded in 1949, the special treatment has been
informal, but Westerners generally have been exempt from harsh Chinese laws.
One way or another, their governments were almost always able to secure their
release. China did not want to offend foreign governments for fear of
Now China is telling the world there will be no more special
deals. If foreigners want to come to China, they'll be treated the same as
ordinary Chinese. China is telling the world it has regained its world power
status and will now insist on being treated the same as any other world power.
Imagine how the U.S. would react if Britain tried to interfere with its
criminal justice system. Why should China be any different?
Blogs) Akmal Shaikh, Gary McKinnon and the opium war the British
can't win. By Josephine McDermott. December 30, 2009.
It seems, the execution of Akmal Shaikh here yesterday
surprised no-one but the British government and its liberal lawyer cronies.
You see, if you are in China and you break the law, you are punished. It¡¦s
pretty straightforward. And it¡¦s the reason why many of China¡¦s big cities
like Shanghai are so safe.
Here, the fact that Akmal Shaikh smuggled 4kg of heroin is
what has been focused on. In the UK, the supposition that he had a previously
un-diagnosed medical condition is what¡¦s being trumpeted.
Here, the concern has been the damage the 4kg of heroin
could have caused the population at large. The drug was enough to kill 26,800
people, the authorities say. There, the concern is the damage to the convict¡¦s
Here, headlines call him a ¡§heroin fiend¡¨, there he¡¦s a
Here, evidence of a medical condition cannot be taken into
mitigation unless there is prior, certified medical evidence of that
condition. There, spurious medical evidence can be introduced at any time that
suits the suspect.
Take Gary McKinnon, the Briton who hacked into the
Pentagon¡¦s IT system. His lawyers claim that extraditing him would violate
his human rights and that he is suffering from ¡§very severe depression¡¨. The
prospect of a 60-year sentence can do that to you I suppose. In Britain¡¦s
eyes, anyone with a sob story and a good lawyer can be protected from justice
in the country where they committed their crime.
It¡¦s the ultimate clash of ideologies. China¡¦s changed the
economic world order and now it¡¦s giving the liberal West a moral shot in the
arm too. While China defends the rights of its people to be protected from
class A drugs, Britain would sooner release a drug smuggler into the community
than deprive him his right to commit crime.
There¡¦s a colonial undertone too. The UK expected China to
yield to the might of Great Britain, like it did in 1839, the first time it
defended the smuggling of heroin into China. But China refused, insisting on
the independence of its judicial system. The days of British sabre-rattling
So now it¡¦s time for Gordon Brown to stop embarrassing the
UK, realise that spin can¡¦t affect change beyond his pitiful dominion and look
at the bigger picture. Making China lose face on an international scale won¡¦t
do the economy or the country, any favours.
How not to handle China. By Jonathan Fenby. December 30, 2009.
What is becoming ever more clear as this year rattles to an
end is that the west has no idea how to handle China. Since the relationship
of the People's Republic will be a key factor in the year (and many more
years) ahead, that makes this a core question for the Obama administration and
Europe ¡V and, closer to the mainland, for India and Japan as well. But there
still seems to be an almost childish reluctance in the west to accept China
for what it is, whatever one may think of what it is.
It might be nice if China was more like us, but it isn't
going to be. Expecting it to fit into the paradigm set by the west is not only
futile but positively dangerous. The sooner governments start to work out a
meaningful China policy rather than depending on wishful thinking, the better.
It would make a good New year's resolution. But I'm not holding my breath.
The sad case of Akmal Shaikh, the London man executed in
China on drug smuggling charges provides the latest example of how little the
conventional approach to China on decent humanitarian grounds yields, just as
concern abroad about the fate of Charter 08 dissident Liu Xiaobo did nothing
to prevent him being sentenced to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day. China has
reacted indignantly to the protests about Shaikh. The argument that China has
made a mockery of justice has been made on Cif by Clive Stafford Smith. Less
convincingly, we have had the descant of a reminder of the opium wars, as if
Shaikh was a reincarnation of the East India Company, and relativists trotting
out the tired old fallacy that human rights abuses in the west and executions
in the US disbar us from protesting at the way the trial was conducted.
Behind this froth, what is plain is that China has once
again asserted its determination to protect its own sovereignty whatever the
issue, and is intent on doing things its way. Given its economic progress in
the past three decades and the immediate effect of its huge pump-priming over
the past 12 months in restoring growth (even if the second half of next year
may prove more problematic), the leadership and the population feel pretty
good about themselves. They are in no mood to take lessons, moral or
otherwise, from the west.
In this context, the Shaikh case fits into a string of
scratchy non-meetings of mind between China and the west over the last couple
First there has been the long-running issue of the
under-valuation of the Chinese currency. The case for appreciation of the yuan
is undeniable. Equally undeniable is that Beijing is going to do no such thing
until its exports rise back to their pre-crisis levels. Even then it has large
amount of excess capacity to keep employed, and tens of millions of workers to
provide jobs for when the current infrastructure programme starts to come to
an end in the second half of 2010. So, however well-founded the arguments put
it by the treasury department in Washington or the European Central Bank, the
leadership stands firm.
Then we had the spectacle of Obama's visit to China, during
which his "town hall" meeting in Shanghai was transmitted only by one local
television station, and during which the Chinese arranged a programme for him
that was heavy on tourism. Yes, it ended with a lengthy list of general
agreements to co-operate and assurances that the basis was being laid for
long-term relationship. But the beef was missing, and US briefings that the
two sides had reached meaningful agreement on climate change were swiftly
blown apart by the fiasco of Copenhagen.
That conference showed just how western leaders are for
understanding how China really works. The idea that, by crashing the meeting
of major emerging economies, Obama could reach a last-minute deal with the
Chinese prime minister to save the planet would have been laughable if it had
not been tragic. Did the US president really think Wen Jiabao had any wriggle
room to succumb to his charm and reason? Did he imagine that the prime
minister would suddenly jettison 60 years of suspicion of the outside world to
allow independent monitoring?
Mark Lynas's much-remarked piece in the Guardian puts the
blame squarely on Beijing, but takes no account of how the Chinese system
actually operates, seemingly imagining it runs on western lines. The Chinese
position would have been set out in advance and approved by the standing
committee of the politburo. Wen could not deviate from that, even if he had
been minded to do so. He may be prime minister but he ranks third in the
standing committee and moves carefully. On such a crucial issue, he would be
able to do absolutely nothing that might be seen as jeopardising the domestic
economy; China accords importance to the environment but a good deal more to
In addition, several key Chinese leaders were out of Beijing
at the time and this is a leadership that likes to have everybody in the room
when decisions are made and doesn't believe in long-range teleconferences. So
it is safe to assume that China was not in negotiating mode, and that, unless
Beijing was being set up as the fall guy, Obama, Brown, Miliband et al should
have know this, and negotiated accordingly. The same goes for the currency,
human rights and, unfortunately for him, for Shaikh. It is also likely to be
the case if trade disputes swell next year, as one must anticipate.
That leads to an underlying element which, again, seems
insufficiently appreciated by western governments. General Secretary Hu and
Wen operate by consensus. They are careful bureaucrats who do not command an
automatic majority in the nine-man standing committee. Gone are the days of
Mao getting out of bed one afternoon and deciding on a major policy initiative
or of Deng Xiaoping imposing himself on those who nominally held positions
superior to him. That is, in a way, healthy, but it means inflexibility at the
top. Hu and Wen have to deal with factions, lobbies and powerful state
companies. For all the liberation of the goods market, the economy is still
tightly controlled in key input areas, buttressing the power of entrenched
interests. The Communist party knows it needs to reform itself but is
terrified of the effect of doing so.
All that is a recipe for caution. Not for the kind of
reasoned flexibility and give-and-take which the west likes to make the basis
for relationships between nations (however fallible this proves in practice).
Repeating mantras about the need to revalue the yuan, respect human rights,
join in independent monitoring or accept emission targets which would threaten
the growth that provides the regime's prime legitimacy may be necessary for
the west's own self-respect and defence of its own values. But the chances of
getting results is razor-thin until a new policy context is evolved.
British drug smuggler Akmal Shaihk died by lethal injection
on December 29, 2009 in Urumqi for carrying more than 4 kilograms of heroin.
Before his sentence was carried out, his defense lawyer and the British
government pleaded for mercy on the grounds that "Akmal Shaikh suffered from
mental illness." But the Chinese judiciary ultimately decided that Akmal
Shaikh did not suffer from mental illness. On December 30, a
Beijing-based criminal law expert gave a detailed explanation.
Chinese Academy of Society Sciences Criminal Law Research
Centre director Qu Xuewu said that there are two standards for determining
whether the suspect/defendant has mental illness. The first is a
psychological standard by which the principal is determined to be unable to
comprehend the nature of his/her own actions. The second is a medical
standard which includes serious psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia.
"The Chinese court judiciary has its own standards for
determining mental illness. What ordinary people call personality
disorders, abnormal personality, paranoia and other irregular behaviors do not
qualify under those standards. Thus, the suspect cannot be excused of
the appropriate criminal responsibility as a result of those conditions."
Qu Xuewu said.
Before Akmal Shaikh was executed, his defense lawyer
appealed on the grounds that he suffered from mental delusions such that he
was tricked by a crime organization into bringing drugs into China. The
Supreme People's Court noted in its public notice on the decision for the
final appeal that British government officials and a certain Reprieve
organization made the request through the lawyer to have a psychiatric
examination done for Akmal Shaikh. But the material provided by the
British side was insufficient to show that Akmal Shaikh had mental illness or
that his family members have mental illness. Akhal Shaikj did not offer
any relevant material himself either.
The public notice from the Supreme People's Court also noted
that the a defendant cannot apply for a psychiatric examination
unconditionally. Instead the appellant must provide a basis that the
defendant may be suffering from mental illness. The court can then
evaluate and decide whether and examination needs to be made. In the
case of Akmal Shaikh, the court determined that there was no reason to doubt
his mental state. Therefore, the application for a psychiatric
examination failed to meet the conditions for approval.
Qu Xuewu explained that the conditionality required for a
psychiatric examination is based upon practical considerations. At
present, a large number of suspects (especially those suspects who are facing
execution) are requesting psychiatric examinations. Clearly, people want
to pretend to have mental illness in order to evade legal responsibility.
Therefore, the courts cannot approve all requests for psychiatric examination
"The public notice from the Chinese judiciary noted that the
basic conditions for suspecting whether Akmal Shaikh were not met in order to
conduct a psychiatric examination, not to say a reprieve on the grounds of
mental illness. Therefore, the condemnations of the British government
about the lack of a psychiatric examination for Akmal Shaikh are completely
unfounded." Qu Xuewu said.
We feel sorry for the loss of any life, even those who
deserve to be executed for their crimes. And the death of Akmal Shaikh, a
British national who was executed on Tuesday, is no exception. Mourning his
death, however, does not mean we disagree with his execution. Nor does it mean
we agree with the appeals for his clemency by British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown and his family.
Brown's appeal was based on the claim of Shaikh's family
that he had had a history of mental illness. The prime minister has condemned
the execution in very strong terms, and even said he is "appalled" that the
Chinese court did not grant Shaikh clemency. But the British authorities could
not provide any evidence to prove that Shaikh had a long history of mental
However serious a person's crime, his or her family members
will never want their loved one to undergo capital punishment. The same is the
case with Shaikh's family. And that is understandable.
According to Article 18 of China's Criminal Law, an
intellectually challenged person can be pardoned for a crime if it is
committed when he or she had no control over his/her action. If his/her mental
illness is of an intermittent nature, he/she shall be held guilty if the crime
is committed when he/she was in a normal state of mind.
Shaikh's mental state was perfectly sound when he was
arrested with 4 kg of heroin upon reaching Urumqi airport in the Xinjiang
Uygur autonomous region on Sep 12, 2007.
Intellectually challenged people do a lot of inexplicable
things when they lose control of their action. They can turn violent,
vandalize property, kill someone or even commit suicide. But seldom have we
heard of a mentally ill person hiding as much as 4 kg of heroin in his
That the plaintiff himself reportedly ruled out the
possibility of (or any of his family members) having a history of mental
disorder contradicts the account of his family. More importantly, Chinese
courts deliver the death sentence in extreme cases, and they are extra
cautious when a foreigner goes on trial for his crime. In Shaikh's case, the
court had no reason not to consider the plaintiff's alleged mental illness if
he showed any signs of suffering from it while he was in jail.
Some foreign organizations and media outlets are using the
"first execution of a European in China in more than 50 years" to fan
passions. Ironically, they have succeeded only in exposing European
chauvinism, for they have conveniently forgotten the principle purportedly
very close to the heart: All men are created equal and everyone should be
equal before the law.
China's Criminal Law applies to anyone who commits a crime
in this country. The death penalty is handed down to people guilty of
committing the most heinous crimes. Had the court shown leniency toward Shaikh
simply because he was a British citizen it would have violated the spirit of
Briton executed by China thought he was a July 7 bomber, says daughter
By Rebecca Lefort. January 2, 2010.
In an exclusive interview his eldest child, Leilla Horsnell,
said that at that moment they thought his mental illness had plummeted to a
new low. But they learnt they were wrong in September 2007 when he was
arrested in China on drug-smuggling charges, leading to a cross-continent
battle for justice which ended only last week when the 53-year-old was
executed by lethal injection.
Now Mr Shaikh's body lies in an unmarked grave in an icy
Muslim cemetery not far from the Xishan Detention Centre in Urumqi, in the
northwest of the country, where he was put to death on Tuesday.
Speaking at length for the first time since his execution,
Mrs Horsnell told The Sunday Telegraph that she was devastated and
appalled that the Chinese authorities had refused to conduct a psychological
assessment of her father, despite overwhelming evidence that he suffered from
severe bipolar disorder.
"If it made any sense it would be easier," said the
31-year-old. "But I simply can't understand why the Chinese refused to carry
out the assessment. I'm still in shock. I still can't believe it because there
was so much evidence he was unwell. The whole case is like watching a film or
reading a book, there is nothing about it that sounds normal."
Growing up in north London, Mr Shaikh's three children by
his first marriage, Leilla, Abdul Jabar and Imran, became accustomed to their
father's erratic and irrational behaviour.
But it was not until July 2005 when he sent text messages
falsely claiming responsibility for the London attacks - claims which prompted
a police investigation - that they finally cut all contact with him, unable,
as a Muslim family, to excuse his actions.
"As a child I remember him joking, laughing, smiling and
being confident," said Mrs Horsnell, who now lives in Essex. "But he wasn't
mature enough to cope with a family at times. He was very childlike, he would
fritter in and out of being there mentally. When I last saw him he had very
strange ideas, he thought he could set up an airline and just wasn't thinking
rationally. But he was clean shaven and very charming, and when I saw the
pictures of him recently looking dishevelled it was a shock to see what he had
Mr Shaikh's conviction for smuggling 4kg of heroin - hidden
in the suitcase of someone he hardly knew - into China turned his family's
world upside down, but even before they received the unbelievable call from
the Foreign Office the former cab driver had repeatedly caused them deep
He was constantly in financial difficulties, was taken to an
employment tribunal for sexually harassing a female employee, and eventually
left his first wife - who refused to have her name connected with him during
the fight to save his life - for his Polish secretary, with whom he has two
young children, and moved to Poland.
"He wasn't perfect and it was difficult for us, but he
clearly was mentally ill," said Mrs Horsnell, a GP contracts manager. "He
could be very charming, and lots of people have written to me to tell me of
their fond memories of him. We'll think of him as he was when he was fun and
smiling. I'm so sad he didn't feel able to get help for his problems."
Mrs Horsnell said she and many members of her family found
they were able to forgive Mr Shaikh for his actions after they realised the
true extent of his mental illness - but the Chinese Government refused to show
any such clemency.
China's Supreme People's Court insisted it had not been
provided with any documentation proving Mr Shaikh had a mental disorder, and
rejected bids to allow experts to examine him during his time in Chinese
"Why didn't they just give a psychologist access to him, why
were they so adamant?" is the question Mrs Horsnell keeps asking, fearing the
reason is that China did not care about the outcome and simply wanted to make
an example of Mr Shaikh. No other citizen of a country that is now within the
EU has been executed in China since 1951, when an Italian was shot for
involvement in an alleged plot to assassinate Mao Tse-Tung.
"I want to say to them, 'Please tell me how you can say he
doesn't have a mental illness'. It is scary for anyone with mental health
problems in China if they really don't believe a man who thought he was going
to be a pop star and had produced a song about rabbits was mentally ill. He
was duped into smuggling the drugs because he was told he'd be made a star.
Even if they had said he was mentally unwell but that was tough and they were
going to execute him anyway, I could understand it more."
Mrs Horsnell said her lack of understanding is what haunts
her about her father's death and has made her determined to fight to make sure
the injustice does not happen again.
She also fears that that she will regret for ever her
decision not to visit him while he awaited his fate in a foreign country. "I
was worried I wouldn't recognise him as the man I knew," she explained. "I'm
sad that he was on his own, but a lot of the time he was in his own world and
he didn't understand what was happening. I'm not sure if not going was the
right decision, and it is something I will always be thinking about."
The Chinese, meanwhile, appear to have no second thoughts
about their decision. After British politicians, including Gordon Brown and
David Cameron, condemned the execution China hit back forcibly, saying,
"Nobody has the right to speak ill of China's judicial sovereignty." Officials
pointed out that many Chinese citizens had suffered the death penalty for
offences involving far smaller quantities of the drug, and said such
punishments were necessary as a deterrent.
Mrs Horsnell said she still had no words to describe China's
action but she praised the UK's stance and was grateful that behind the scenes
the Government, including the Prime Minister, lobbied hard for clemency for
more than a year. She also praised the legal charity Reprieve for launching a
campaign, during which Polish friends and colleagues of Mr Shaikh came forward
to offer more evidence of his mental instability.
Its founder, Clive Stafford Smith, said: "For nine months,
since April, the Chinese would first acquiesce to our request that Akmal
Shaikh to be evaluated by mental health experts, and then renege. What did
they have to lose from fairness?
"Today he is dead, yet the People's Supreme Court has not
yet deigned to provide us with its reasons for rejecting his appeal more than
a week ago. We filed petitions with all the relevant authorities seeking
clemency, and we have received no reasoning from anyone. Why do they feel
unable to justify their decision?"
It is the question to which his devastated family will
continue to seek an answer, so they can finally get some sense of justice for
their imperfect but much-loved Akmal Shaikh.
Independent) Western cant at China beggars belief. By Eilis
O'Hanlon. January 3, 2010.
AKMAL Shaikh is -- or rather, was -- the first European
citizen to be executed in China in 50 years. During that time, the Chinese
authorities have done to death tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of their
own citizens without provoking a fraction of the same outrage which the death
by lethal injection of this 53- year-old father of five, convicted two years
ago of smuggling heroin into the country and finally executed last week,
brought in its wake.
Actually, that's not fair. Human rights organisations such
as Amnesty International have long been critical of the record of the People's
Republic of China. It is the media which has largely chosen to ignore Chinese
abuses, while emoting loudly every time the switch is pulled on some serial
murderer in an electric chair in Huntsville, Texas. As a result, the general
public could be forgiven for thinking that it is America which does away with
the most prisoners each year, when in fact our Yankee cousins are, in per
capita terms, in the halfpenny place in that particular department, trailing
well behind their Muslim counterparts in Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as
other Asian countries such as North Korea.
That kind of whataboutery isn't very productive, admittedly.
Nothing would ever be said or done if, every time someone raised an important
issue about human rights, someone else instantly shot back: "Yeah, but what
about X?" (insert your own random hobby horse).
There's nothing necessarily wrong either with being more
concerned with the fate of one's own fellow citizens than with anonymous
strangers, however unjustly treated, on the other side of the world. It's
human nature to care more about those to whom one can put a name, face and
story. The case against Akmal Shaikh also had more holes in it than a Swiss
Even so, the hypocrisy on this side of the world in response
to his tragic death has been staggering. The fact that China executes
thousands of people every year in similarly dubious circumstances, harvesting
their organs for transplants in the process and then burying them in secret,
didn't stop us from going along wholeheartedly with the festival of fun that
was the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
That year, Amnesty International estimates that China killed
approximately 1,700 people, out of a worldwide total number of executions of
2,390. The true figures are believed to be much higher, since the statistics
are a state secret.
This was well down on other years, when the number of
executions has topped 10,000, but then China was putting on its best face to a
world which had come to Beijing to party, not to have the mood spoiled by the
sound of gravedigging. And if it's not cultural appeasement, then it's the
economy, stupid, as Western governments keep quiet about Chinese human rights
abuses in order not to frighten away all those precious yuan.
We're just as bad. President McAleese troops around the
world, waffling about Ireland's deep concern for moral values, but who cares
how many hands or heads they chop off as long as the Arabs love our beef?
Trade is all. Which is why Irish female politicians cover themselves up and
sit quietly, speaking only when spoken to, like good little girls, on economic
delegations to Saudi Arabia; and why China was Brian Cowen's first overseas
trade mission on becoming Taoiseach, when the closest he came to criticising
his hosts on human rights was admitting that "our angles of vision are
different". That's telling 'em.
But, suddenly, we're supposed to be outraged at the
execution of Akmal Shaikh? It's bizarre. Turn on Morning Ireland to hear that
another drug dealer has been shot dead in a feud in north inner city Dublin,
and the response of most listeners is a shrug of indifference, because who
cares if drug dealers kill one another, right?
And if the garda heavy gang duffed up some ne'er-do-well in
the line of duty, there'd be private congratulations at another scumbag taken
off the streets. But when the Chinese courts put an end to the life of a drug
smuggler, we're meant to find it uniquely shocking and start sending letters
of protest. His supporters insisted that Akmal Shaikh deserved special
treatment because he was suffering from bipolar disorder -- or manic
depression, as it used to be called. The fact that the British government, who
took the lead in this case because the former taxi driver grew up in the UK,
failed to provide medical evidence for this alleged illness was, conveniently,
overlooked. Also, being bipolar doesn't turn a law-abiding man into a drug
Nor was Shaikh's story of being the innocent dupe of Asian
drug smugglers who had lured him to the People's Republic in the hope of
becoming a pop star exactly convincing. Though what else can you say when
you're caught at the airport with four kilos of heroin in hidden compartments
in your suitcase? There are plenty of prisoners in European jails who tried
that one too. They're not facing execution for it, but then that just brings
us back again to square one, which is that China's record of executing those
found guilty of breaking its laws may be many things, but earth-shattering
news isn't one of them.
The country may have flirted with limited human-rights
reforms in recent years, but its overall record on the ruthless suppression of
religious and ethnic minorities and political dissenters easily makes the
People's Republic the murderous totalitarian equivalent of Nazi Germany and
Soviet Russia. It's only cultural cringe which stops self-hating Western
liberal intellectuals from subjecting the Chinese to the same standards which
they demand closer to home.
Akmal Shaikh picked the wrong place to be caught with a bag
full of heroin, but also the wrong place to be caught in an international spat
about human rights.
The row will simmer for a while, but, between them, the
money men and the sneaking regarders will make sure his name vanishes faster
than the phrase "Falun Gong" from a Chinese search engine.
Still, at least the butchers of Bejing aren't hypocrites.
Official Chinese communist ideology states openly that the rights of the
individual are expendable in the services of the "harmonious society". They
practise what they preach. What's our excuse?
ENOUGH of screaming from
outraged politicians condemning China for executing a drug-smuggling Brit with
The same goes for the obligatory all-night vigil outside the
Chinese Embassy in London by protesters in woolly hats, banging on about the
barbarism of taking a human life.
All very predictable stuff. But forgive me if I refuse to
join the protests.
Because what I care about is what they're saying in the
drug-ravaged housing schemes across the country.
Or in the homes where parents have watched their children
swallowed up by heroin and who live in fear of the midnight knock to tell them
their son or daughter has been found dead in some drug den.
I think if you listen closely, you'll hear the collective
applause from communities who will greet the execution of a heroin smuggler
with undisguised approval.
You won't find any sympathy in this column for a heroin
smuggler - whether he's bumped off by a dealer or executed in a foreign land.
I'm sorry if that offends deep sensibilities on the sanctity
of human life. But the true story of heroin smuggling is a short one, with no
happy ending. Not for drug mules like 53-year-old Akmal Shaikh, above,
who always end up dead one way or another, or for the emaciated prostitute who
dies because of a bad batch of heroin.
It's ironic that Shaikh was killed by a lethal injection -
the way so many junkies die when heroin is cut by the kind of pond life he was
smuggling for. But that is the grim reality of what he was caught up in -
whether you believe he was mentally ill or not.
If politicians would take their heads out of their backsides
long enough to stop trying to score points, they might appreciate what the
rest of us think.
Because apart from a minority of protesters, nobody really
gives a stuff about the human rights of a drug smuggler, whether he's in this
country or on death row in some far flung land.
And frankly, while manic depression is a serious illness,
we're all getting a bit fed up of the bipolar card that gets played every time
somebody wants to justify a crime - or as an excuse for making an idiot of
Whether Shaikh was bipolar and delusional we'll never know.
What happened to him when he left Poland is anybody's guess, but he says he
was duped into carrying the 4kg of heroin into China.
But do bipolar people not know right from wrong? Would they
know not to carry a suitcase onto a plane unless they were sure what it
And in any case, the Chinese don't do bipolar. In a
regime where they execute people for tax evasion, telling them you're bipolar
or pre-menstrual when you commit a crime isn't going stop them shooting you.
China, in every aspect of human rights, is as brutal and
barbaric as they come. They execute 1,718 people every year for a variety of
68 crimes including rape and corruption.
It's not humane, but it's effective.
In China crime is low - there's a fear factor for anyone
thinking about smuggling heroin.
Perhaps Shaikh was duped. But isn't that what they all say?
We've seen Brits weeping in hellhole jails from Thailand to
Turkey, claiming they were conned into carrying drugs. Invariably they get
pardoned after politicians intervene.
But this is the China syndrome. Diplomacy doesn't work
Of course regimes like that can't teach us about human
rights. But look how WE treat drug smugglers.
We give them a cushy life in jail with satellite telly and
home visits, while they continue to run their empire from behind bars - and
sue for compensation if their shirt isn't ironed properly.
Is that how we should reward them?
In the boarded-up housing schemes where you have to pick
your feet through the discarded needles, you won't find any sympathy for the
likes of Akmal Shaikh.
Out in the real world, people are wondering: If you can
execute one heroin smuggler, then why not all of them?
Mirror) China has a point on dealing with crime. By Tony
Parsons. January 2, 2010.
Crime is a bit different in
Old people aren¡¦t afraid to go to the shops. You don¡¦t see
mobs of drunks reeling around or gangs of teenagers hanging about the parks.
And women can walk around big cities like
Beijing at any time of the day or night
without fear of molestation.
The People¡¦s Republic of
China is, in a word, safe.
Yes, it has the death penalty for 68 offences and no doubt
that has something to do with it. In
China, breaking the law is no
small thing, because getting caught means getting punished.
And punishment will not be a fine, an Asbo or community
So while I regret the execution of Akmal Shaikh, the British
man caught with a suitcase containing £250,000 worth of heroin, I think the
reaction of the British Government is shrill beyond belief.
I would have liked to see the state of Akmal Shaikh¡¦s mental
health established beyond all doubt.
But the Chinese did not believe that this man was mentally
disabled. And you can see their point. He ran a business for years in the
UK ¡V how mentally disabled can he
It is no good wheeling Akmal Shaikh¡¦s terrible pop song out
as evidence that he was bi-polar. It was no worse than the stuff we laugh
about at every audition of
Britain¡¦s Got Talent.
The Chinese could have shown compassion by setting him free.
But, ultimately, such softness is not in them. They remind us that amount of
heroin could kill 28,000 people.
I saw some expert on the BBC doubting the Chinese statistic
that over 90% of their people support the death penalty. I doubt it, too. I
think the real figure is much higher.
They do things differently over there. And do you think the
Chinese envy our drug-raddled, crime-infested, gang-banged cities?
I promise they do not. And I ask you ¡V who are the real
All Politics is Local. By Isaac Stone Fish. January 4, 2010.
Most people forgot that China's autocratic leaders receive a
mandate to rule from their citizens, even if it's implicit. If the Communist
Party keeps its country safe, strong, and prosperous, Chinese citizens will
limit dissent and tolerate repression. If not, file under Iran, circa January
2010. Seen in this light, China¡¦s execution last week of British citizen Akmal
Shaikh for smuggling more than eight pounds of heroin into China in 2007 was
not the international diplomatic fiasco the press made it out to be; it was
stroke of domestic political genius. At a time when Chinese law enforcement is
looking especially feeble, Shaikh allowed them a little bit of swagger.
The Dec. 29 execution by lethal injection caused an uproar
in Britain, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Shaikh's family, and other British
government ministers had called on China to show clemency because of
Pakistani-born Shaikh's history of mental illness. But the Chinese said Shaikh
lacked proof of mental illness and declined to do their own tests. And the
truth is that they didn't need to know; this execution was good for China.
Afterward, to demonstrate it had no regrets, Chinese police arrested two
Afghan and two more Pakistani heroin smugglers and said they might also get
the most extreme penalty.
That's because, in the last six weeks, cases of deranged
murderers have been all over the Chinese news. Police arrested a migrant
worker suspected of hacking and burning to death at least 11 family members in
Hunan province; a county government spokesperson said he had a history of
mental illness, though many of his surviving relatives denied that allegation.
The suspect for a stabbing spree that left six dead in Inner Mongolia
committed suicide. A man in Hebei province killed seven of his relatives with
a blunt instrument in order to take revenge for a family dispute; he then
jumped off a building. Police captured a man suspected of murdering his
parents after escaping from a mental hospital. A man allegedly killed five
people at a New Year's party on the outskirts of Beijing; witnesses say they
included his girlfriend and a pregnant woman.
In a country that likes to project a sense of omniscience to
its citizens, these rampages¡Xcoming in on top of the other¡Xhave shaken Chinese
confidence. Shaikh may in fact, as his family claimed, have been tricked into
becoming a mule by drug dealers promising him a recording contract for his
song "Come Little Rabbit," which he wrote to promote world peace. But by
killing him, China is telling its citizens it's going to protect them the best
way it knows how from the mentally unstable, whether they are carrying
machetes or suitcases full of drugs.
At the same time, Beijing was able to cast Shaikh as more
than just a lunatic. Because of his British family¡Xand British agitation for
his release¡Xhe also played into Chinese anxieties about imperialism and opiate
smuggling. Referred to as a "national disgrace," every Chinese schoolchild
learns that the Opium Wars of the mid-19th century were an embarrassing
military defeat for China, leading to the cession of Hong Kong to Britain,
widespread opium addiction, and British immunity in Chinese courts. This
immunity, known as extraterritoriality, was especially galling because it
essentially meant the Chinese legal system wasn't good enough for the British.
Authorities today still find ways to keep the memory of
those outrages fresh.
Enter Shaikh. The Chinese Embassy in Britain said that, "In
China, given the bitter memory of history and the current situations, the
public has a particular and strong resentment towards [drug trafficking]."
Chinese netizens have called this execution part of "the modern Opium Wars,"
and one lamented that "170 years later, Britain is again picking at China's
wounds." The blog site Global Voices quoted another saying, "Today when the
British drug dealer violated the law on our land, we can openly and rightfully
punish him without any mercy. We don't need to follow the order of others
Which is why, in addition to being a law-and-order case,
Shaikh's execution (the first of a European citizen in more than 50 years) is
also a statement of Chinese judicial independence¡Xnot from the Communist Party
but from the system of extraterritoriality in which Westerners disdained
Chinese courts. Today, China's foreign-ministry spokesperson insisted, in the
face of British protests, that China's judicial independence brooks no
interference from the outside. On the Web site of the patriotic newspaper
Global Times, a poll showed that 97 percent of more than 15,000 respondents
supported the execution. Strained relations with Britain are a small price to
pay to vindicate the national identity.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder,
manic depressive psychosis, manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, is
a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by
the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood clinically
referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. Individuals who experience
manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or
mixed episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present at
the same time. These episodes are usually separated by periods of "normal"
mood, but in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate,
known as rapid cycling. Extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to psychotic
symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
Diagnosis is based on the self-reported experiences of an
individual as well as abnormalities in behavior reported by family members,
friends or co-workers, followed by secondary signs observed by a psychiatrist,
nurse, social worker, clinical psychologist or other clinician in a clinical
assessment ... there are no biological tests which confirm bipolar disorder
[ ] Some individuals noticed that their mood
and/or energy levels shift drastically from time to time.
[ ] These individuals notice that, at times, they are moody and/or energy
level is very low , and at other times, and very high.
[ ] During their " low" phases, these individuals often feel a lack of
energy, a need to stay in bed or get extra sleep, and little or no
motivation to do things they need to do.
[ ] They often put on weight during these periods.
[ ] During their low phases, these individuals often feel "blue," sad all
the time, or depressed.
[ ] Sometimes, during the low phases, they feel helpless or even suicidal.
[ ] Their ability to function at work or socially is impaired.
[ ] Typically, the low phases last for a few weeks, but sometimes they last
only a few days.
[ ] Individuals with this type of pattern may experience a period of
"normal" mood in between mood swings, during which their mood and energy
level feels "right" and their ability to function is not disturbed.
[ ] They may then noticed they marked shift or "switch" in the way they
[ ] Their energy increases above what is normal for them, and they often get
many things done they would not ordinarily be able to do.
[ ] Sometimes during those "high" periods, these individuals feel as if they
had too much energy or feel "hyper".
[ ] Some individuals, during these high periods, may feel irritable, "on
edge," or aggressive .
[ ] Some individuals, during the high periods, take on too many activities
[ ] During the high periods, some individuals may spend money in ways that
cause them trouble.
[ ] They may be more talkative, outgoing or sexual during these periods.
[ ] Sometimes, their behavior during the high periods seems strange or
annoying to others.
[ ] Sometimes, these individuals get into difficulty with co-workers or
police during these high periods.
[ ] Sometimes, they increase their alcohol or nonprescription drug use
during the high periods.
After you read the above, please decide which of the
following is most accurate:
this story fits me very well, or almost
this story fits me fairly well
this story fits me to some degree, but not
in most respects
this story doesn't really describe me at
Out of the 19 sentences, how many accurately describes
you. Then add
6 points if 'this story fits me very well,
or almost perfectly'
4 points if 'this story fits me fairly
2 points if 'this story fits me to some
degree, but not in most respects'
0 points if 'this story doesn't really
describe me at all'
Your highest possible score is 19+6 = 25 and your lowest
possible score is 0.
You are "highly likely to have bipolar spectrum disorder"
if you score 19 or higher
You have "moderate probability of bipolar spectrum disorder" if you score
between 11 and 18
You have "low probability of bipolar spectrum disorder" if you score between
6 and 10
You are "highly unlikely to have bipolar spectrum disorder" if you score
less than 6