Statement: The case of drug trafficker Akmal Shaikh and the just stance of the People’s Republic of China

[Issued jointly by Hands off China and the CPGB-ML]

Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen, was found guilty by the highest Chinese Court, the Supreme People’s Court, of smuggling just over 4 kilograms of heroin into China. It is generally well known that this offence carries the death penalty in China. In its crackdown on drug-related crimes, China treats criminals of all nationalities exactly the same. In the case of Mr Shaikh, China’s Criminal Code and court procedures were immaculately followed – in word and in spirit. Following his failed appeal, Mr Shaikh was executed by a lethal injection.

In response to this, the imperialist media and the political spokesmen of imperialism went into overdrive denouncing the execution of Mr Shaikh as inhuman and a violation of human rights. The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, condemned the execution “in the strongest terms”, stating that he was “appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted”.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, too, expressed “deep regret” over “the fact that our specific concerns about the individual in this case were not taken into consideration,” adding that there had been “inadequate professional interpretation” provided to Mr Shaikh during the trial.

It has even been suggested by the imperialist media and imperialism’s political representatives that Mr Shaikh was somehow mentally impaired, without any substantial evidence to back this claim. The Chinese state media have refuted this assertion, quoting China’s Supreme People’s Court as saying that although officials from the British Embassy and Reprieve, a human rights group, had asked for a mental health examination of Mr Shaikh, “the documents they provided could not prove he had a mental health disorder nor did members of his family have a history of mental disease”. The Supreme People’s Court stated: “There is no reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh’s mental status”. There is no evidence whatsoever of Mr Shaikh consulting any doctor concerning his mental health during his 53 years of life.

In the light of this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, quite correctly said: “We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British accusation”. She advised “the British side” to face this case squarely and not create new obstacles for China-Britain relations.

Ms Jiang was absolutely right, for the response to Mr Shaikh’s execution is yet another example of the continuing anti-China activities undertaken by imperialism to undermine the People’s Republic of China and its efforts to build a powerful and prosperous China which does not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs. Imperialism is out to create trouble for China, be it on the question of Tibet, the environment, the Beijing Olympics, or Xinjiang.

Mr Shaikh took his unwanted wares to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where Muslims account for over 40% of the population. Over the past few years, there have been disturbances in this region fanned by counter-revolutionary agents of imperialism. It is not entirely out of the question, although there is no proof at the moment, that Mr Shaikh went to Xinjiang on a mission directly or indirectly organised by an imperialist agency. History knows only too well that the smuggling of drugs and literature inciting religious hatred is among the tools of imperialist penetration. This method was well practised by various imperialist countries against the erstwhile Soviet Union and the former socialist countries. It is now being practised against the People’s Republic of China. Imperialism leaves no stone unturned in inciting religious and ethnic divisions – all for the purpose of destabilising the People’s Republic of China. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that this methodology is resorted to.

The Chinese people are naturally very sensitive to such dirty tricks. Before liberation in 1949, when, in the words of Comrade Mao Zedong, “the Chinese people stood up”, China had been subjected to national humiliation and oppression through colonialist and imperialist brigandage. Britain waged three Opium Wars to force the trade in, and addiction to, opium on the Chinese people. Hong Kong was occupied by Britain as a station for smuggling narcotics into China. Quite rightly the Chinese people do not wish to return to those days and treat with the utmost of severity those who, whatever their religion, nationality or race, want to purvey the scourge of drug addiction.

Britain’s record the world over, including in China, is shameful. There is very little in it that decent working people could be proud of. One must thus marvel at the suggestion in 2005 by Gordon Brown that it was time that “we” stopped apologising for the British empire and started celebrating a past which had generated values of tolerance, liberty and civic duty. This is not the view of the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Ireland, all of whom were subjected to massacres, torture, genocide, arbitrary executions, dispossession, super-exploitation and domination. This is not a view shared by the Chinese people, who underwent tortures, large-scale massacres, expropriation, deprivation of liberty and forced drug addiction at the hands of imperialism. Instead of lecturing China about human rights and the value of human life, the present-day representatives of imperialism should offer profuse apologies for their crimes against the Chinese as well as other peoples. At the very least they should stop interfering in their internal affairs.

The imperialists’ pretended concern for human rights, those of Mr Shaikh included, is particularly inappropriate when the United States and Britain, along with their satellites, have killed over a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children and forced 5 million Iraqis to become refugees in their own country or abroad and are well on their way to achieving the same effect in Afghanistan – all in pursuit of predatory imperialist wars aimed at domination and the extraction of maximum profit.

If the British and American governments are really concerned about human rights of individuals, specially those who belong to the Muslim faith, they should stop torturing detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and dozens of other rendition centres to which illegally abducted individuals are routinely sent to be tortured. The British government should stop its persecution of the Muslim community in Britain and put an end to the arbitrary incarceration of hundreds of Muslim youth. The US and Britain, if they are truly concerned about human rights, democracy and the rule of law, should immediately withdraw their aggressor troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they should stop supporting the continuing Zionist genocide against the Palestinian people, 1.5 million of whom, living in the Gaza Strip, are subject to a vicious and fascistic siege designed ethnically to cleanse the region of its population.

In the light of the foregoing, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and Hands Off China! issue this Joint Statement to condemn in the strongest terms the attempts of the British and US governments, as well as these countries’ media, to portray China in the darkest of colours over the case of Mr Shaikh. At the same time, we express our full support for, and solidarity with, the Chinese people, their government, their legal system, as well as the Communist Party of China, for correctly handling the case of Mr Shaikh and standing up to the bullying attempts of imperialism to make China bend its legal system to unreasonable demands made on them by those who are historically used to interfering in other people’s affairs and to obtain obedience by force.

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