Sometime after 4 am this morning the body of 53 year-old Akmal Shaikh was swiftly buried beneath the frozen soil of East Turkestan, following his cold-blooded execution by the occupying Chinese regime. His anguished and traumatised relatives standing in the snow with his few possessions. This man’s tragic plight, and China’s callous indifference to pleas for clemency from the UK Government and human rights organizations, was a chilling reminder that beyond the alluring facade of China’s economic growth (or the glossy distractions of the so-called Show of Peace and the Shanghai World Fair) injustice, totalitarian violence, oppression and state-domination remain. The lethal injection which killed Akmal Shaikh also highlights the political and diplomatic impotency of countries whose China policy is based upon appeasement, and the failed strategy of so-called constructive engagement.
As revealed by the murderous suppression which followed the Tibetan National Uprisings of 2008 and the bloody shootings of Uyghurs during the protests of July 2009, there is no moderation achievable with a blood-soaked regime such as communist China’s. The official UK reaction to the execution, though clear in condemning the injustice of executing a man who was suffering from mental illness, singularly avoided any direct criticism of the Chinese authorities who sanctioned the execution. The UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented:
“I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted. I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken”
While that architect of, relations at any cost with China’, the UK Foreign Office, briefed its Secretary-of-State, David Miliband, to comment:
“I condemn in the strongest terms the execution of the British national Akmal Shaikh. I join the Prime Minister in expressing my deepest condolences to Mr Shaikh’s family and friends. The UK is completely opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. However I also deeply regret the fact that our specific concerns about the individual in this case were not taken into consideration despite repeated calls by the Prime Minister, Ministerial colleagues and me. These included mental health issues, and inadequate professional interpretation during the trial”.
Such noble sentiments, however we can of course expect no less from nations who long ago removed any meaningful human rights objectives from their relations with Communist China and relegate such concerns beneath commercial and political interests. In reading their cynical platitudes, and noting the appeasing silence on the role of the Chinese authority in the killing of Akmal Shaikh, we witness once again the odious demands of realpolitic operating. In which one rule operates for China, and a completely different set applied to other states with a questionable human rights record. Just for one moment imagine if a United Kingdom subject had been treated in a similar fashion by the Iranian Government, denied fair legal representation, refused proper medical treatment and examination, and then brutally executed, Would we expect the UK Government (and its allies in the media) to decline openly criticising the Iranian authority for ignoring appeals for mercy and authorising such an execution?
For the past year or so a campaign, of what looks worryingly similar propaganda and psyop techniques, that preceded the invasion and destruction of Iraq, has been targetted at Iran by both the USA and the UK. Whatever the shortcomings of the Iranian regime, and there are serious concerns in terms of human rights, the political interests and covert agenda of both Britain and the United States should not be discounted easily in examining what is happening currently. Thus we have government figures from both countries posturing about human rights and democratic freedom and condeming the Iranian Government for its treatment of dissenting voices. All very well, yet similar expectations and standards are spectacularly absent in those countries relations with communist China.
This gut-churning hypocrisy is exposed most graphically by a comparison of government reactions to recent unrest in Iran, with the protests which rocked Tibet in 2008.
On December 28 2009 the UK Secretary of State, David Miliband stated:
“The tragic deaths of protesters in Iran are yet another reminder of how the Iranian regime deals with protest. Ashura is a time of religious commemoration and reflection and it is therefore particularly disturbing to hear accounts of the lack of restraint by the security forces. Ordinary Iranian citizens are determined to exercise their right to have their voices heard. They are showing great courage. I call on the Iranian Government to respect the human rights of its own citizens, rights which Iran has promised to respect”. (emphasis added)
Note his willingness to charge the Iranian government with responsibility for the deaths and violence, his open praise of the courage shown by Irianian demonstrators. Now let’s take a look at how the UK Government reacted to Tibetans being shot, tortured and imprisoned during the Uprisings in Tibet 2008.
The UK Prime Minister stated March 14 2008
“We are very concerned about what is happening in Tibet. We have asked for more information about what is going on and we will keep this matter under review.” (emphasis added)
Observe the merciless scepticism, (utterly missing from the UK Government uncritical acceptance of reports of the incident in Tehran December 27 2009) and unwillingness to accept as fact the shootings of Tibetans. The shameless pretence at ignorance of events, all designed to avoid criticising the communist Chinese regime. No responsibility is ascribed to the Chinese authorities for the violence and killings, and the issue is conveniently kicked into the long grass of uncertainty, and marked for review!
David Miliband responded to events in Tibet March 15, 2008 with the following:
“I think there are probably two important messages to go out. One is the need for restraint on all sides, but secondly that substantive dialogue is the only way forward. We obviously see that there are real strains there but they need to be addressed in a way that balances restraint and dialogue.” (emphasis added)
No mention of tragic deaths here, silence on the shootings and torture by Chinese security forces on Tibetan protesters. Nor does the UK Government apportion responsibility for the violence upon the Chinese regime, instead (unlike its recent reactions to the situation in Iran) it chooses to misrepresent events as a conflict, not the result of state violence against legitimate protest. Such selective duplicity reveals that the plight of Tibet does not serve the interests of the United Kingdom government, as much as the political circumstances prevailing inside Iran. Whose regime is condemned without the extenuating terminology and sly circumspection reserved for the communist Chinese regime. Such contemptable posturing exposes the fallacy that the UK Government places human rights, justice and democratic freedoms at the heart of its foreign policy, and explains its shamelessly timorous and tentative criticism of China’s brutal actions.