CARTOON: Cultural Revulsion at Public Execution Hearings

CARTOON: Cultural Revulsion at Public Execution Hearings

What you need to know

Public sentencing of death row convicts in China attracts morbid onlookers and recalls public shaming of the Cultural Revolution.

Thousands of people looked on as authorities in Lufeng, a city in the southern province of Guangdong, sentenced 10 death row inmates this week before sending those convicted of drug offenses for immediate execution.

The court used the WeChat social messaging service to invite the public to attend as 12 convicts were sentenced at a local sports stadium before all but two were whisked to the execution ground in open top cars, where they were killed by firing squad, according to a report by the TV station Beijing News.

Conducting hearings in public is unusual in China, but has precedent in Guangdong, which is actively attempting to counter perceptions that Lufeng and the surrounding area is a hotbed of illegal drug production, with crystal meth and ketamine being its primary outputs, the BBC reported.

The event created a firestorm on social media, with commentators debating the ethics of parading victims in the hours before they are executed while recalling the practice of public shaming prevalent during the Cultural Revolution.

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International said that the practice showed “blatant disregard for human life and dignity.” Amnesty has also called attention to the fact that the conviction rate in China’s courts is above 99 percent, and that forced confessions remain widespread, despite measures by the government to counter the practice.

TNL Editor: David Green