“We are begging the Chinese authorities to show compassion…and mercy. Basically I’m here begging for his life to be spared” – Akbar Shaikh, brother of Akmal Shaikh.
A mentally ill man who first showed signs of probable bipolar disorder in 2001 when his marriage broke up and he moved from Britain to Poland, faces execution in China on 29 December.
His family have remained silent until now, in order not to antagonise the Chinese authorities. But Akmal Shaikh lost his appeal on Monday and now the family reckon the only hope lies with a last-minute public campaign.
What seems to have happened is that Polish drug traffickers identified Mr Shaikh as a vulnerable and gullible character who could be easily tricked into unwittingly carrying drugs into China. How they did this is heartbreaking: they told the delusional Mr Shaikh that a song he had written and believed could bring about world peace, ‘Come Little Rabbit’, would be recorded in China and turn Mr Shaikh into an international pop star, as well as ushering in world peace.
When Mr Shaikh arrived at the airport, expecting to be accompanied by his record-production team, a member of the gang gave him a briefcase, saying that there was only one seat available on the plane and that he should fly to China alone, and they would join him later.
He was arrested in September 2007, as he arrived in China.
China has signed the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which states: “Anyone sentenced to death penalty shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.” Nevertheless, the Chinese court has not even carried out an examination of Mr Shaikh’s mental health.
The human rights organisation, Reprieve (which is best known for campaigning on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees) is co-ordinating the campaign to save Mr Shaikh. They emphasise that provocative comments about China would be entirely counterproductive – especially in the aftermath of Copenhagen.
They ask people to contact Gordon Brown (who has issued a statement urging clemency) and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Madam Fu Ying, using the text below:
Dear Prime Minister Bown / Ambassador Fu Ying,
I write to express my deep concern for Akmal Shaikh, who faces execution in China on December 29.
Akmal’s family has pleaded for his life to be spared, and my heart is with them at this terrible time. Akmal’s death, particularly during the holiday season, would destroy his children, his brother and his elderly mother, and tear the family apart.
I know the Chinese people care deeply about family and I would join Akmal’s children in begging for mercy for their father.
This unusual case is not about politics, but about humanity and compassion – values we share with the Chinese people. My plea to the Chinese authorities is based upon the greatest respect for Chinese culture and these shared values.
Akmal Shaik’s song for world peace, ‘Come Little Rabbit’, can be seen and heard on Youtube but for some reason I have been unable to link to it here.