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article imageVideo: China parades 'Mekong killers' on TV before execution

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 2, 2013 in World
Beijing - On Friday, the Chinese authorities aired on state TV four men convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong river in 2011. The two-hour special aired from Yunnan province on the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) began at 1:30 p.m.local time.
It included interviews and a closing footage showing them walking to execution.
Reuters reports the first convict was Naw Kham a citizen of Myanmar. The Guardian reports that state media identified the other three men as Hsang Kham from Thailand, Zha Xika from Laos and Yi Lai of "unknown origin."
The men were sentenced to death after they were found guilty of intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking.
According to The Telegraph, they were members of a Golden Triangle gang of drug traffickers and pirates who make a living from operating protection rackets on the river.
AP reports they were accused of ambushing two Chinese cargo ships on the Mekong River on Oct. 5, 2011, in Myanmar waters and killing the sailors because they refused to pay protection money on a stretch of the river they controlled. The Chinese sailors were reportedly transporting fuel oil, apples and garlic along the Mekong.
The Mekong River is an important transportation route that flows through the notorious Golden Triangle region where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.
According to Reuters, the "execution parade" caused mixed reactions, with many saying it was unnecessary while others who were angered by the murders felt it was justified.
The Guardian reports the 44-year-old Burmese drug-lord was shown chained to a chair during an interview with a Chinese TV reporter: "I haven't been able to sleep for two days. I have been thinking too much. I miss my mum. I don't want my children to be like me."
According to the Global Post, the program also featured interviews with Chinese analysts some of whom argued that the case demonstrated the determination of the authorities to protect citizens within and outside the country.
According to The Guardian, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said: "I think [the broadcast] is compatible with what the government wants– to show the Chinese people that the government is serious about protecting them within the country and outside."
The men were shown being led to execution by lethal injection, bound in ropes and chains. The execution as not shown.
The extent of the coverage came as surprise to many observers. The Chinese authorities have in recent times abandoned the practice of public parades prior to executions. Most executions in China now take place away from public view, although recently a Chinese reality TV program "Interview Before Execution," became a national hit.
Reuters reports that the parade sparked disapproving responses on social media sites:
A comment on Sina Weibo microblog, said: "They tied him in ropes and paraded him in front of 1.3 billion Chinese -- is this what the human rights the government always stresses is really all about?"
Another said: "I know they killed 13 Chinese people and it was a terrible thing, but it's really not appropriate to live broadcast the execution process like this and it goes against Supreme Court rules."
Human Rights Watch's senior Asia researcher Nicholas Bequelin, said on Twitter:
#China just wiped away any perception that it was making progress on the death penalty issue.
— Nicholas Bequelin 林伟 (@Bequelin) March 1, 2013
Bequelin said that parading the men would raise questions about executions in China. He said: "It's predatory, voyeuristic and exploitative and defeats the very purpose of having a legal system."
A prominent human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, said: "Using two hours to broadcast live the process for these criminals facing the death penalty is a violation of Article 252 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China. This provision says that criminals facing the death penalty cannot be put on public display."
Liu also said the parade also violated a law by the Supreme People's Court that a "person's dignity should never be insulted."
Human rights groups say China executes more prisoners every year than any country in the world. Estimates of execution in China range from from 1,700 to 6,000. The executions are difficult to confirm because the authorities treat them as state secret.
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