Tuesday, April 05, 2005

An Unfortunate Distinction

China led the world in the number of executions last year, according to Amnesty International. Iran came in second, followed by Vietnam, with the United States out of medal competition in fourth place. You can read about it here.

I know there's plenty of support for the death penalty out there. But have a look at stories like this (thank you, Peking Duck) for a different perspective. And here, in the "enlightened" United States:
Amnesty cited the case of Ryan Matthews, who in 2004 became the 115th prisoner in the United States released from death row on the grounds of innocence since 1973.

Matthews had been sentenced to death in Louisiana in 1999 for a murder committed when he was 17.

His death sentence was overturned in April 2004 after an appeal judge found that the prosecution had suppressed evidence at the trial, and also on the basis of DNA evidence that pointed to another person as the murderer.

Oh, China, I want to think better of you. I want you to be better than this. You and your people want to take your place on the world stage, to have this next hundred years be the Chinese Century. This is no way to show your leadership.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

considering the size of the Chinese population, it ain't that bad...

Other Lisa said...

well, tell that to the innocent people who are executed, their families and loved ones...

Like I said, I'm against the death penalty in any case. I believe it increases the level of barbarism in a society, to paraphrase Rupert Murdoch...(yes, he did say that, in a New Yorker interview a number of years ago...)

Anonymous said...

HI, Other Lisa

This comment is nothing about executions. I am an Australian, writing from Paris, where a friend recently recommended your Paper Tiger website. Thanks for a great resource. My brother lives in Hong Kong (married to a Japanese, so they speak three languages in their house ie including Cantonese) and I am moving there to help expand his financial business into Shanghai, so am studying pudonghua, which I once studied at Oxford in England, but only as a one-unit option in a linguistics course. Funnily enough, I find learning the characters rather pleasant and relaxing, as a bit like looking at paintings. Went to the Louvre yesterday, where the Mona Lisa has just been re-hung. They should burn it. Crowds of people march past each day, with no eyes for anything else. Signed, Anthony, ti66 at club-internet.fr

jr said...

I hate to say that but life is so cheap in China. One of the most disgusting thing I remember from over 10 years ago was little girls begging for money in train stations. I was told the gang controlled these homeless children had the girls fingers chopped off so that they could receive more money.
I was also told in the 70s, when life was so harsh, there were often mass sucides committed by hopeless women in the poor village.

Other Lisa said...

Dear Anthony,

Very nice to meet you! I'm still wrapping my head around the notion that someone you know in Paris has recommended my blog to you. That is just way cool. I am hoping to take a course purely on characters and writing this summer - assuming my Chinese teacher has talked the University extension folks into it. I like the idea of studying characters, but I don't do all that well in the execution. So we'll see how that goes.

Best of luck on your new venture, and if you ever feel like sending an update, I'd love to publish it on the site. You'll find that Blogspot is blocked on the mainland (why? who knows?!), but you can generally get through via anonymouse (http://anonymouse.ws/anonwww.html, then type in http://papertigertail.blogspot.com).

Other Lisa said...

Dear JR,

Ugh. That is a really depressing story. I also read somewhere that some kind of criminals - drug dealers? - use pregnant women and women with very small children as their dealers because Chinese law prohibits keeping such women in jail.

Well, I try to hope for improvements. I think one of the stated goals of this last NPC was that quality of life was as important as economic development. I hope they are serious about this. But I truly believe that one way for a society to value life more is to get rid of the death penalty. ESWN published a disturbing story about executions in China a while ago - did you see it? And one of the points it made was how hard this was on the executioners, how it affected them. It's like this war we are fighting here - I think the violence always comes home.

Anonymous said...

I hate to think of China in the same terms as Texas---

Other Lisa said...

few good things come from Texas these days...