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China the Execution of Akmal Shaikh by the Chinese Authorities

Updated on December 7, 2012

Failed pleas for clemency


  • Akmal Shaikh was executed today, 29th December 2009, in China. He was a 53 year old father of three, from London.
  • Mr Shaikh had been caught carrying 4kg of heroin in China in 2007.
  • He is the first national of the European Union to be executed in China for 50 years
  • He was only told by his family, that he was to be executed, on 28th December 2009.
  • He was to have his hands and feet bound and be shot in the back of the neck.
  • However ,it is believed that he was given a lethal injection.
  • His body will not be returned to the UK
  • Mr Shaikh was a Muslim and will be buried within 24 hours of his death, in China.



The execution of Mr Shaikh provokes such a mixture of emotions for me.

On face value smuggling 4kg of Heroin is a heinous crime. Such an amount of drugs has the power to inflict so much suffering to so many people.

However, in the UK such a crime might warrant a hefty jail term, hopefully, but not death. Still when in Rome. Committing crimes in foreign lands is a dangerous occupation. China in particular has such a terrible human rights record that, even minor offences will attract severe punishment.

There are however some strange aspects to this case.

The family of Mr Shaikh claim that he was bipolar. It is also claimed that Mr Shaikh was duped into carrying the case which held the heroine. Mr Shaikh held wild dreams of becoming a pop star and it is believed that Polish smugglers played on his delusions. He became convinced that smuggling these drugs would make him a pop star in China.

All of this may sound silly to you but it would be easily possible for someone who is bipolar to believe all of this.The Chinese authorities refute the fact that Mr Shaikh had any mental illness. In fact they have stated that no evidence of mental illness was provided at the trial.

Pleas for clemency, from the UK Prime Minister and others, went unheeded. As for being tried in China, the Chinese have made it plain that this is no different to the treatment of Chinese offenders in the UK. However the UK judicial system is more lenient and in my opinion much fairer.

The facts about China's record on executions is shocking

  • It is believed that China carries out more executions each year than the rest of the world combined.
  • The yearly figure is decreasing
  • Secrecy shrouds the true figures.
  • Amnesty International has no presence in China.
  • China issues the death sentence for crimes such as tax evasion,
  • Tens of thousands of people have been executed in China.
  • Some executions in China take place in specially converted vans.
  • The van with the prisoner is taken to the area where the crime was committed, to deter others.
  • Chinese officials claim that this proves they execute people humanely, as death in these vans comes by way of a lethal injection.
  • However, it is believed that the main change from execution by a bullet, to a lethal injection, is cost.
  • The doctors who administer the lethal injection, after death remove various body parts for transplant. They cannot use the heart due to the poison from the injection.
  • Most of these organs go to wealthy patients.
  • Details of these vans and their purpose are so reminiscent of the Nazis. Yes, I know that their victims were innocent but I guess many of these people were also.

Let's face China has come a long way, I guess, in the last hundred years:-

"China has traditionally always taken a ruthless, unemotional view of crime and punishment. Before injections and bullets, the most chilling sentence was death by Ling Chi - which was death by a thousand cuts. This practice was abolished only in 1905.

The condemned man was strapped to a table and then, in what was also known as 'slow slicing', his eyes were gouged out.

This was designed to heighten the terror of not being able to see what part of his body would suffer next. Using a sharp knife, the executioner sliced at the condemned's body - chopping off the ears, fingers, nose and toes, before starting to cut off whole limbs.

Traditionalists insisted that exactly 3,600 slices were made"

I will make no comment as none is necessary, I know.

My Thoughts.

I abhor drug smuggling and its smugglers. However, I abhor injustice also. As adult readers you will all have your own opinions on this case and the death penalty. Of course the "Mr Big" behind Akmal's crime will be safe and well somewhere in the World.

I do not write this hub in an attempt to change your views. This hub is created to make readers aware of some of what goes on in China and to mark the passing of Mr Shaikh.

RIP Akmal Shaikh

Akmal on YouTube


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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I guess a lot depends Mike on the justice

    • MikeNV profile image


      8 years ago from Henderson, NV

      Communist have no regard for human life. The only beneficiaries are the Godless people running the system.

      Yet America is in love with China. Screwed up priorities.

      I do not condone the death, nor do I condone the crime.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I am with you Tony. So many deaths and the like around the world are caused by god fearing people

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for sharing this horrible story. Any state which imposes the death penalty is brutalising its people. I'm not sure that I agree with einron about the morality of so-called Christian countries. There are many, many Christians who still support the death penalty and war, in spite of the clear teachings of Jesus. Not sure that leftists are without morality either. As one who regards himself as on the left (whatever that means these days - I mean the labels are becoming less and less useful) I don't think I am immoral. To the contrary, in fact.

      Anyway thanks for sharing and highlighting yet another human rights abuse.

      Love and peace


    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      That's good to hear manly man.

    • Manly Man profile image

      Manly Man 

      8 years ago

      Texas is a close second behind China for executions per capita.

      suzicat7, a growing number of Americans oppose the death penalty. I recall that 14? states have joined Michigan in banning capital punishment.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      einron I do hope that you are not horrified by my opinion. I wanted to mark the passing of this man and draw attention to the execution vans. I know that China is still a communist country and many of its citizens will be horrified at our UK culture. However, for me there are just too many senseless deaths around the world.

      Thanks for the visit girls and let's hope China moves into the present soon

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Too sad - I'm one of the few U.S. citizens that oppose the death penalty.

    • einron profile image


      8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      I am horrified by what you wrote. You must remember that China is still a communist country, and communists are leftists. Communists do not believe in Christianity and therefore, their morals are much lower than those of Christian countries.

      I come from a non-denomination, indigenious Christian Chinese Church which had its roots in Beijing (1917). It was supposed to be the third largest Chinese Christian Church in China according to Encyclopedia Britannica (1973). Since they took over China during the 2 World War, there is no news from the Church. It is now the 21st century, and the Chinese in China have not diminished their hold on Christianity.

      Communists are ruthless people and I do not know when they will stop. However, I see that they are a little more civilized right now.


    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I agree hello but I find it sad in this day and age that people are executed for fraud and tax evasion, for example.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      It should be the drug barons who should be rounded up and executed. The suffering they cause. Apparently the police know them all but surely there could be something done to get them. I read an article about a certain city with a street where they all live and the police know them. So why isn't something done. I am not talking about Akmal Shaikh because I don't nothing about it. I do agree with China and some other countries when drugs are involved. It certainly would cut down the trade and with that the crime which are on the street. Drugs no matter which way; there is so much heartache for the families and it should be stopped with all the power there is.


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