On the not-so-light side


A not-so-light topic has been on my mind recently. Two death-penalty cases around the world have been in the news recently. The first is the case of Mr Zheng, the Chinese drug administration official who was executed earlier this month for taking bribes – contributing to the lack of safety in Chinese products.
Once again, the media’s coverage of this case has amazed me. The media’s focus, at least here in Australia, and from what I can tell, elsewhere as well, has been on the fact that the drug administration in China is corrupt, and that as a result, several Chinese products are considered unsafe. Not one journalist I have heard (please let me know if you find one) has commented on the fact that a high ranking official in China was EXECUTED for taking BRIBES. The barbarous attitude of the country that we are all flocking to eagerly next year for the Beijing Olympics has not been mentioned once. To me, that is the most significant part of the case: taking bribes warrants the death penalty in this country. Surely this is something we would at least want to comment upon?
The other death penalty case that has been on my mind has occurred in Saudi Arabia. It is by no means the only death penalty case there, but this one involves a young (17-year old) Sri Lankan maid who may well be decapitated for allegedly strangling her infant charge. She has at this stage been tried, found guilty, and currently sits on death row.
There are two things that astonish me about this case – one is the lack of media attention it is receiving. I found the article far down on the front page of The Times website. Cynics will probably ask me why I’m surprised: the West does not want to antagonize a country such as Saudi when it controls so much of the world’s oil supply. I’m not so sure that is the only reason. I wonder if we are just so tired of down-and-out stories that does not directly touch ‘one of our own’ that we just cannot be bothered worrying about her.
The second thing that strikes me about this case is how little the world knows about the trafficking in human persons that goes on in a region like the Middle East – and countless others for that matter. The United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Human Persons Report 2007 makes for some shocking and disturbing reading.
Anyway, I’m sorry to give you such a somber post in preparation for your weekend. I’m off to Azeroth to think about more pleasant things – like killing little gnomes. Maybe I’ll have something more fun to talk about after that!

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