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Awaken Human Nature and Perceive the Value of Life
July 24, 2013 3:32 PM   Subscribe

For over five years, journalist and TV presenter Ding Yu headed up a  massively popular Chinese TV talk show. Every week, She would sit down with convicted murderers and interview them about their life and crimes, before they were taken out and put to death by either firing squad or lethal injection. The show, "Interviews Before Execution", was taken off the air in March 2012.

The Chinese Government does not publish official statistics on the number of executions carried out each year, and China is thought to execute more people anually than the rest of the world combined. The practice of harvesting organs for transplant from executed criminals still goes on in China, though the Chinese government has pledged to eliminate what some call an "addiction to Death Row organs". In 2011, the Goverment reduced the number of capital crimes from 68 to 55. Thirteen economic crimes were removed, but 31 non-violent crimes remain on the list.

The new laws also allow, in cases of domestic violence ending in homicide, for judges to encourage "social harmony"; if the families of the victim and the defendant meet and come to an agreement (often involving quite large monetary compensation), the death penalty can be stayed for 2 years, and then possibly commuted. The children of the executed are not considered "orphans" and are not cared for by the state, but in orphanages maintained with private money.

"Execution Day in Zhengdou" is a first-person account of a witness to a public firing squad in 1983

Executions, Organ Harvesting, and the Death Penalty in China (CAUTION: graphic execution-related imagery)
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (18 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's a list of capital crimes in China. I saw a photoset a while ago of some women in China about to be executed for smuggling drugs, which just seems crazy to me.

That show sounds... I don't know. Possibly exploitative but possibly also amazing?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:51 PM on July 24, 2013


It would have been a lot more controversial of a show if the courts had allowed the producers to interview inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.

> some women in China about to be executed for smuggling drugs, which just seems crazy to me.

And not just in China. Some governments just need to chill out and light one up.
posted by planetesimal at 4:39 PM on July 24, 2013


Good of Ding Yu to make sure her makeup and hair are right, before she brushes the gay prisoner's outstretched hands with her clean fingertip.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:54 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thirteen other crimes, including VAT fraud, smuggling relics and credit fraud, were only recently removed from the list of capital offences.

Remember the episode of Max Headroom where Carter is framed for credit fraud, and his boss says, "Credit fraud??? That's worse than murder!", and we all said yup, the future can't possibly be that fucked?
posted by disconnect at 5:06 PM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


31 non-violent crimes remain on the list.

I do not support the death penalty and find the stance of the Chinese government in this regard to be deplorable. That said, I think some of the crimes described as "non-violent" are anything but, for instance: the crime of knowingly selling tainted food or drugs resulting in multiple deaths. I really don't see why this is a less serious or less violent crime than the premeditated murder of one person.

While the severity of punishments as a result of the tainted milk scandal were at least in part to deflect attention from the many government failures that contributed, I don't think it was unreasonable to treat like murderers people who manufactured poisonous fake milk and baby formula.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:24 PM on July 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I saw a photoset a while ago of some women in China about to be executed for smuggling drugs, which just seems crazy to me.

In Australia we get regular news stories about people being executed in Asia for smuggling drugs. Travellers often get official warnings about this, and I think there are warnings in the booklet you get with a passport. I thought it was common knowledge that this goes on. If you visit Asia please, please, please don't take drugs, smuggle drugs, or do anything that an unfriendly court might construe as consenting to smuggle drugs. The person selling them to you may be an informant who will turn you in; the backpacker asking you to share a luggage allowance may be trying to recruit you as an unwitting mule. Few people are found innocent in drug courts. The best scenario is that you will spend a year or so in a horrible jail before being discreetly "exchanged" for a prisoner in your home country.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:47 PM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't agree with it but at least I can understand why a country that was brought to its knees by drug smugglers would be so sensitive about it. The U.S. has less of an excuse.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:56 PM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you ever need a desperate organ transplant and you have the cash in hand, few things top Falun Gong viscera in terms of guaranteed cleanliness.
posted by Renoroc at 6:42 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is fascinating, in a "I'm not sure how I feel about this at all" kind of way.

Also, from the BBC article:

Interviews Before Execution was first broadcast on 18 November 2006 on Henan Legal Channel, one of 3,000 state-owned TV stations in China

What? Can that be right?
posted by graphnerd at 7:29 PM on July 24, 2013


Yep, that sounds correct graphnerd. See, e.g, Wikipedia's List of countries by number of television broadcast stations. In China TV stations are typically organized by municipality, rather than the regional model common in the U.S. This results in smaller, but more numerous, TV broadcast stations.
posted by RichardP at 7:48 PM on July 24, 2013


Wikipedia says that over 3,000 channels are available in China, but not all of them are state owned.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:51 PM on July 24, 2013


crime of knowingly selling tainted food or drugs resulting in multiple deaths. I really don't see why this is a less serious or less violent crime than the premeditated murder of one person.

The conduct described is legally know as depraved-heart murder in the U.S. It is murder. I suspect this additional charge is for scapegoating persons. Otherwise, its totally redundant.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:30 PM on July 24, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: Good of Ding Yu to make sure her makeup and hair are right, before she brushes the gay prisoner's outstretched hands with her clean fingertip.

At that very moment, I lost respect for Ding Yu. That scene really got to me; she's using these condemned prisoners to make her livelihood and fame - and, she talks a good game when it comes to psychological insight and detached analysis - but her sheer lack of human-to-human feeling, real feeling, in that scene is something that's detestable. She can't shake the condemned man's hand? She can't help to reassure him when he asks if he's going to heaven? How very sad and pathetic!
posted by Vibrissae at 11:19 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw a documentary like this hosted by Werner Herzog
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:54 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


China is also currently considering making responsibility for major environmental pollution a capital crime ( as the maximum sentence)
posted by Bwithh at 1:23 AM on July 25, 2013


Few people are found innocent in drug courts. The best scenario is that you will spend a year or so in a horrible jail before being discreetly "exchanged" for a prisoner in your home country.

In Singapore, it's all mandatory sentencing; by law, judges cannot consider context, or extenuating circumstances. In which case, your best hope until 2009 would have been that there were some impurities in, say, the cannabis found on you, so that the amount of actual cannabis on you is less than 100 gm. I understand this was changed in 2009; now the total amount even in a diluted fashion is taken into account.

Also, anyone carrying keys to a premises where drugs have been found in quantities larger than those prescribed for punishment is presumed to be trafficking the substance, and is criminally liable. So don't let your roomie do substances while you both are renting the place together.

Yeah, it's all a bit effed up here.
posted by the cydonian at 1:50 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


the cydonian - Yeesh. I'm tempted to come and stash some drugs in the city metro system and get every ticket-holding Singaporean arrested.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:45 AM on July 25, 2013


The conduct described is legally know as depraved-heart murder in the U.S. It is murder. I suspect this additional charge is for scapegoating persons. Otherwise, its totally redundant.

Or it's a separate charge because their basic murder statute isn't as inclusive as ours is (perhaps it requires a strict intent to kill a particular person or something). I'm not familiar with the Chinese legal system but it seems possible that it is not redundant.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:51 AM on July 25, 2013


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