A grim advent for Akmal Shaikhs family

With only six days to go until his scheduled execution on 29 December, it’s a grim advent calendar counting down the days for the family of Akmal Shaikh, a British man on ‘death row’ in China. You can see an interview with his brother on the Guardian site today.

I blogged about Akmal when he was first sentenced back in October. Despite compelling evidence that he may be mentally ill – much of which can be found on Reprieve’s comprehensive web pages – he was still sentenced to death when 4 kg of heroin were found in his suitcase at Urumqi airport in north-west China. His family insist that he was duped into carrying the bag by criminals seeking to exploit his fragile mental state.

Gordon Brown and David Miliband have both reportedly contacted the Chinese authorities, urging them to stop the execution. We’re doing our utmost to pressure them into doing more. A phone call direct from Gordon Brown to President Hu Jintao, for instance. You can take action here.

Now that China’s Supreme People’s Court has confirmed the death sentence, we are down to last-ditch attempts to save this man’s life. It’s essentially a plea to the Chinese authorities to show compassion, to save the suffering of Akmal’s family.

I’ll be monitoring the case over the Christmas holidays and we’ll keep the website as up-to-date as we can if there are major developments. Hopefully they’ll be positive.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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