Wednesday, June 18, 2008

China's execution orphans

Behind glitz of Beijing Olympics China hides a shameful secret.. thousands of children robbed of parents by their brutal regime


(...)On August 8 the eyes of the world will be on China as it glories in celebrating the pinnacle of human achievement in the 29th Olympiad. But behind that ?2 billion spectacle lurks the hidden shame of man’s most callous inhumanity to man.

For China imposes the death penalty on more people than any other nation on earth—and then leaves the innocent victims left behind to rot.

A News of the World investigation has uncovered chilling evidence at Dhong Zou orphanage, 60 miles from the booming city of Xian, but a world away from all the hoohah of the Beijing games.

In the dusty courtyard, six-year-old Xieguntao digs his tiny fingers into the dry, grey earth as if trying to bury himself. Manic and restless, his hair matted and lice-infested, he rocks back and forward on his haunches.

Quietly, orphanage director Gou Gian Hou spells out the tragedy that brought the lad to this, revealing: “His father was caught felling timber on the land of a wealthy and influential businessman and was executed.

“His mother disappeared and the boy has been alone since he was three. Children are often just left behind at home when their parents are arrested. In remote areas they must fend for themselves. (...)

“There’s such a stigma attached to the children of the condemned that they’re IGNORED by entire communities. Some die, others migrate to the city and are abused or become enslaved in child labour.(...)

“But they’re forever branded with the curse of their parents’ crimes and execution. Often BOTH parents. They can never get good jobs or go to college. We have to fight to get them an education. In China you need papers and documents and it’s impossible to escape your past.”

And if their future is bleak, the brutal manner of their parents’ death means their past is tainted too.(...)

“It’s common for the relatives NOT to be told when their loved ones are executed. They’re given no last visit, they just turn up at the prison and find it’s all over. We fear this will be the case with Hou’s mum, but what can we do to prepare the child?

“She asks to visit her every week. Her father is long gone and her future is bleak. Nobody will offer a job to the daughter of an executed woman.”

Here in the Xian orphanage there are 40 other cursed children like Hou, with parents either executed or damned on death row. It’s a picture repeated across the country thousands of times over.

And unless the rest of the world forces the Beijing government to clean up its act on human rights the numbers will continue to grow.

China still has the death penalty for SIXTY-EIGHT different crimes—from the heavy-duty murder and rape right down to VAT receipt fiddles, habitual theft, porn publishing, dealing in counterfeit money, backhanders, profiteering and killing pandas.

During our investigation we discovered men and women on death row for an unbelievable range of minor offences including communications workers selling private phone numbers to businessmen and minor thefts in street markets.

According to Amnesty International an estimated 374 people will be executed in China DURING this summer’s Olympics.

Official statistics claim a total of 470 were put to death here last year. But many campaigners are convinced the true figure is as high as 10,000.

Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said: “In this Olympic year China gets the gold medal for global executions.”(...)

Sitting apart from the rest, Li Na clutches a tear-jerking photo, the main picture on these pages. It was taken only moments before her father, a robber, was dragged off by the Chinese authorities to be killed. The picture shows Li Na and her brother clutching onto their dad’s arm in desperation. But the defeat clearly visible in Li Na’s face shows knowledge beyond her 13 years.

“This is the last thing I saw of my father,” she tells us. “He had his head shaved and he smelled funny. He was sobbing like a child and could barely lift his head.

“Some of the children here don’t know what’s happened to their parents. I’d prefer if that was the case with me, too. My dad fought them as we left the room, he tried to get to us through the glass. This is the memory I have to bear.”

As she talks, Li Na walks to the window and points to the fence surrounding the orphanage.

“That’s to stop the local villagers from getting to us,” she says sadly. “They see us as cursed and evil.

“But our parents’ lives are NOT ours. I don’t understand why they shout through the fence and spit at us as in the street. It makes me realise we all have no hope.”(...)

Human rights activists fear the increase in lethal injections, which is inevitably followed by the harvesting of the victim’s organs, is boosting the country’s growing market for transplants. It is known that Chinese prison authorities have been trading in the organs of executed prisoners for two decades. So the mobile death vans can only fuel the grisly market, ensuring fresher tissue and more sterile facilities.(...)

Back at the orphanage Hou Yu Li Hang, 13 recalls how his mother suffered a similar fate. “I can’t remember my dad,” he says. “He left when I was young.

“My mother was executed for robbery but I remember how she used to buy me presents. She once got me a kite and I think of her watching me play with it in the street outside our house.”(...)

“I WILL go to Beijing and become an actor. And I’ll become the first child of an executed mother to be famous, to rise to the top and make people realise we CAN have a life after what happened to us.”

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