Number of Chinese executions soars : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Number of Chinese executions soars

By CRAIG S. SMITH - The New York Times Date: 09/08/01 22:15

HEFEI, China -- Liu Minghe paused in a hospital room to let a nurse take his blood pressure, which had surged dangerously in the few minutes since he began talking about how he had won his freedom from China's death row.

After the nurse left, he begged off recounting in greater detail the torture that he said had led him to confess to a murder he did not commit.

"Let's just say it was forced interrogation and confession under duress," Liu said.

Liu has been recuperating in a hospital since winning his release last month. He had been sentenced to die in 1996 in one of China's "strike hard" campaigns, a frenzied national effort to purge the land of lawbreakers.

China routinely executes more people than all other countries combined. This year, however, has been far from routine. Without much notice at home or abroad, the government has begun sending unknown thousands to execution grounds, often after they have been tortured into confessing crimes that to foreigners seem minor.

China is in the midst of its third great wave of executions in the last quarter-century, a campaign in which as many as 191 persons have been executed in a single day, according to the state news media. Since President Jiang Zemin announced the crackdown in April, at least 3,000 people have been executed, and double or even triple that number have been sentenced to death. The pace of executions shows no sign of abating.

These periodic nationwide crackdowns, in response to rising crime and concerns about weakening social order, place huge pressures on local police to solve crimes quickly, which they often do by extorting confessions through torture.

In Hunan province, newspapers recently reported that the police solved 3,000 cases in two days in April. Police in Sichuan province reported that they had solved 6,704 cases, including 691 murders, robberies or bombings, in six days that same month.

The campaigns also pressure the courts to try the accused quickly, record the maximum possible number of convictions and show little mercy in sentencing.

Convictions are sometimes handed down within days of arrests. Appeals are processed briskly, and executions are normally carried out within an hour after a sentence is confirmed. Usually only a few months pass between arrest and execution, occasionally only weeks.

The monthly tally of death sentences has become a kind of grim scorecard showing how each province is doing. But the real numbers remain a closely guarded secret. They are thought to be far higher than the confirmed tally, which has been compiled from press reports by people like Catherine Baber, a researcher at Amnesty International based in Hong Kong, or a Western diplomat in Beijing who did not want to be named.

Both agree that this year's total will probably exceed 5,000. Some observers say the number could be as high as 10,000.

Many have been ordered to die for crimes, such as bribery, which would bring only brief prison terms in the West. But several wrongful convictions, like Liu's, suggest that many among the condemned are not guilty at all.

Liu, 63, married and a former associate professor at a technical institute in Wuhu, Anhui province, was arrested in 1996 and charged with the murder of Tao Ziyu, who was reputed to be his lover.

Her body was found floating in a shallow lotus pond not far from his campus residence. She had been strangled by someone's left hand, the police concluded.

An elderly woman reported seeing a woman arguing with a man near the pond shortly after Tao was last seen alive, visiting a friend who lived nearby. Liu, who is right-handed, protested his innocence and said he could account for his whereabouts at the time.

But just before the end of the three-month period that police are allowed to hold suspects, Liu says, they plunged him into brutal, around-the-clock interrogations.

On the third day Liu broke. In the videotaped confession, which his wife has seen, interrogators did most of the talking while a dispirited Liu answered "yes" to the scenario they presented.

Despite the lack of physical evidence and Liu's alibis, the Wuhu Intermediate People's Court found him guilty of murdering Tao based on his videotaped confession. On Dec. 30, 1996, he was sentenced to death.

Liu appealed his conviction, and his family enlisted the help of a legal expert from Beijing who focused on, among other inconsistencies in the prosecution's case, Liu's alibi and the coroner's estimate of the time Tao died.

A higher provincial court sent Liu's case back for a retrial in Wuhu, which found Liu guilty a second time but reduced his sentence to life in prison.

There is no limit in China to how many times a case can be retried, and Liu appealed his case twice more before the provincial court overturned his conviction.

With increasing frequency prisoners are formally arrested or sentenced at public rallies. Nearly 2 million people attended such rallies in Shaanxi province in April and May. On June 25 more than 5,000 people attended a rally in Hubei province, at which 13 persons were sentenced to death, and eight of them were executed immediately.

The condemned are normally paraded through town on the beds of open trucks, before being driven to the execution ground, often trailed by a caravan of onlookers.

Usually, at an open field outside town, the prisoners are made to kneel and are then shot at point-blank range in the back of the head. Their organs are sometimes removed on the spot by medical staff and rushed to nearby hospitals for transplant operations.

The condemned are not allowed to see their families before they die. Once they are picked up for questioning, they never speak to relatives again.

Often the family does not even learn of the final sentence until the execution is over and they are notified to collect the prisoner's ashes from a crematory.,local/3accf566.908,.html

-- Martin Thompson (, September 09, 2001


Supposedly this is to be a shocking story so the human rights fundamentalists can start pounding there drums demanding reprisals or whatever. However the truth is, when there is infinite humanity, human life isn't so precious anymore. You know the old saying, you can march a column of Chinese into the ocean for ever and you would never run out which is essentially true.

However for comparison purposes, Mao killed millions of Chinese in the 50s and 60s because he transferred them from the fields to the factories to manufacture steel, a pet project of his. Literally millions, and one estimate was 30 million chinese starved to death because of the moronic, totalitarian rules he imposed. People slowly starved to agonizing deaths suffering edema and all sorts of other ailments along the way. Anybody want to sell your children for money to pay for food? Despite this calamity and others some of which were much worse, don't cry for China. It still has 1.1 billion people and is growing rapidly.

-- Guy Daley (, September 09, 2001.

So if an earthquake kills 100,000 people somewhere, then my life is now .00068732% more valuable? China might still have lots of people, that doesn't mean it's ho-hum when their government kills a bunch of them.

-- number six (, September 09, 2001.

WHAT A CALOUS RESPONSE FROM GOOFBALL UP ABOVE. ONE OF THOSE KNOW IT ALL GOOFBALLS. One day a man was walking along a beach, which was covered with thousands of starfish that the tide had left stranded there to die. He came upon a fellow that was picking the starfish up one by one and slinging them back into the water. He then said to this man, "Hey buddie, you are wasting your time! Their are so many here that it could not possibly make a difference, throwing them back." The helpful man smiled, tossed in another starfish and said, "Well, it made a difference to that one."

-- jimmie the weed (, September 09, 2001.

who cares?

-- the little bastard (, September 11, 2001.

If you think the answer above is callous, then so is the unthinking act of having more than two children per couple. Think about it. Think about how precious life is going to be when we have 8 billion, then 10 billion, then 12 billion people on the face of this earth. Is it no wonder that we read in the papers more and more often how somebody went berserk and killed off there whole family?

Its not my fault you are too blind or too lazy to read the clues.

-- Guy Daley (, September 11, 2001.

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