There tends to be a general understanding among the public that China is rather bad at coming up with human rights policy, especially when it comes to the treatment of prisoners. But this latest viral video takes the cake when locals took video footage of a public execution in Guizhou province.
In only 20 seconds, from 2:35 to 2:55, a man brought out onto a hillside, placed on his knees, a gun is raised, and a bullet blown through his skull. Although the video is shaky, low quality, and taken from a distance, it's nearly impossible not to be rattled when you see the man's body crumple following a distant pop.
The chilling video is below [warning: footage is graphic]:
This Chinese police execution has been viewed by millions on China's online network, and has interestingly received no government censorship. This may be due to the fact that the person who posted the clip on China's microblogging site Sina did not provide any additional details on the event. This has been accompanied by claims that the footage was falsified, especially since it follows a recent scandal where China's state-run media recently published photos from a fetish-porn movie but reported it was a real execution by lethal injection. However, the Wall Street Journal discovered that the villagers heard in the video were speaking a local dialect and confirmed the validity of the footage. Either way, the audience in the video has little reaction to the harsh turn of events. Some can even be heard laughing in the background.
This WSJ column kick-started a debate on China's capital punishment practices, which human rights advocates globally consider to be the world's most aggressive, secretive and inhumane. A report from Amnesty International stated that its information "strongly indicates that China carries out more executions than the rest of the world put together," or roughly around 3,000 a year.
Regardless of debate, be it left, right, or center, the hopes of human interests groups all remain the same: that the viral nature of the video will not only inspire political action in a politically restrictive nation, but place enough international pressure on the country that it can begin to lean towards more socially-just laws.
Unfortunately, the citizens of China themselves are either terrorized by these events, remain unaware of the issue in an information restricted society, unable to be politically vocal on a hot-button issue, or simply accept the executions as a normal and accepted part of daily life. Either way, China cannot expect to improve its quality of social policies if it continues with harshly-implemented death penalty charges. This, compounded with extreme government control, will eventually affect the economic growth of China on the international stage.