Sunday, July 20, 2008

Public executions ramped up before Olympics

CHINA has reverted to public executions on the eve of the Olympics as part of a massive security operation mounted to protect the Beijing Games from what Communist Party authorities describe as an urgent threat of violence and anti-government protest.

The Washington Post reported at the weekend that three young men were shot shortly after dawn in the city of Yengishahar in Xinjiang - the mainly Muslim region of northwestern China, The Australian reports.

"The local government bused several thousand students and office workers into a public square and lined them up in front of a vocational school," the Post reported.

"As the spectators watched, witnesses said, three prisoners were brought out.

"Then an execution squad fired rifles at the three point-blank, killing them on the spot."

The men were among 17 people convicted in nearby Kashgar of being members of the outlawed East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

They were seized during a raid by the Chinese authorities in January last year on what they said was a terrorist training camp, when 18 others, and a policeman, were killed.

Authorities said they were part of a campaign aimed at disrupting the Beijing Olympics by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Observers have not been aware of public executions in China in recent years, despite no official edict stopping the practice.

The reports at the weekend appear to show public executions had begun again as the ruling party cracks down on any unrest before the Olympics.

"Especially as the Beijing Olympic Games draw near, a range of anti-China forces and hostile forces are striving by any means and redoubling efforts to engage in troublemaking and sabotage," Yang Huanning, a vice-minister of public security and an anti-terrorism specialist, said in a declaration to the Public Security Bureau's newspaper.

Three members of an international drug-trafficking gang, nicknamed "125", were executed - although not in public - last Thursday in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province in southern China.

AAnd six drug dealers were executed last month on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

China's leaders have extended the scope of their concerns in the lead-up to the Games to include peaceful political protests.


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