Executions in China

China executes more people than any other country on Earth.  Women are regularly executed as China does not distinguish between sexes.  The international community has accused China of executing criminals to order so that their organs may be used for profitable transplants.  This might explain why times on death row vary from days to over a year.  The condemned are paraded before the public wearing a banner indicating their crime.  They are executed individually and in frot of each other.  The condemned is led forward from the group, made to kneel and dispatched with a pistol shot through the back and through their heart or, more usually, to the back of the head.  The woman being executed in the picture (source: The Guardian (UK) March 1998) was shot through the back of the head - this is more usual as it is traditional and spares the internal organs for transplant.

Amnesty International unconditionally opposes the death penalty on the
grounds that it constitutes the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and
degrading punishment and is a violation of the right to life as proclaimed
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights
The death penalty is used extensively in China. In 1995 Amnesty
International recorded 3,610 death sentences and 2,535 executions in China.
These figures, based mainly on monitoring published reports, are believed
to fall far short of the reality. But, even on the basis of these
incomplete figures, every year more people are executed in China than in
the rest of the world put together. Currently in China at least 69 offences
are punishable by death. This is the highest figure in any country in the
world, and includes many non-violent crimes and a range of economic crimes.
The increasing use of the death penalty for such crimes, has led to a
corresponding increase in the proportion of women sentenced to death.
The gender of victims of the death penalty is not always apparent from
published reports, but it would appear that women constitute only a small
proportion of those sentenced to death with immediate effect .
[As an example]
Fang Guolan (f, 29) a farmer from Guizhou province was charged
with murder and executed on 13 May 1996.
Rises in reported death sentences and executions often occur during
anti-crime campaigns when judicial organs are encouraged to use all means
necessary to crack down heavily on a targeted group. Amnesty International
believes that this political interference critically hampers the
independence of the judiciary and results in many death sentences and
executions for offences which at other times would be dealt with more
In the first two months of the Strike Hard nationwide anti-crime campaign
launched on 28 April 1996, Amnesty International recorded from published
accounts over 1,000 death sentences, most of which were executed. These
figures are believed to represent only a fraction of the actual number of
death sentences and executions within the 115,759 sentences imposed since
April 1996. Severe and speedy punishment under the law is a major slogan
for the campaign, and refers to legislation which has been in force since
it was passed for a very similar nationwide anti-crime campaign in 1983.
The 1983 legislation speeds up procedures for trial, appeal and approval of
death sentences for offenders who seriously endanger public security .
Under it, defendants can be tried without warning, without being given a
copy of the indictment in advance and without notification of the trial
being given to all parties concerned. As a result defendants have faced
summary justice, some being executed only days after the crime was
allegedly committed.  Women who have been executed during this
campaign include:
Chen Yanfang from Wuhua County, Guangdong Province, executed on 9 May 1996
for stealing three cars valued at 670,000 Yuan (@ 80,000US$).
Wang Liwen, 34, charged with robbery, for allegedly using sexual enticement
assisting with robbery. Sentenced to death and deprivation of political
rights for life on 10 May 1996 by Harbin Intermediate Court, Heilongjiang
province, and executed some days later.
Du Youyu, Jiangsu Province, sentenced for intentional wounding, leading to
the death of her boyfriend and his mother on 10 January 1996, four days
after an abortion which they had insisted she have. (Jiangsu Legal Daily, 7
May 1996.)
Another campaign which has resulted in the execution of many women is the
Anti-Drugs Campaign initiated in June 1991 with the stated aim of
eliminating drug trafficking and abuse within three years. An official
Chinese newspaper Health Daily has claimed that from 1991 to 1995 as many
as 7,300 people were executed for drug trafficking out of 35,000 tried.
(Quoted by Agence France Presse, 27 June 1996. During the same period,
published reports monitored by AI only revealed 3,098 death sentences.) In
1991 the Supreme People's Court specifically devolved its powers of final
approval of death sentences for drug offences in Yunnan province to the
provincial High People s Court. Similarly, in 1993 it devolved this power
in some drug offences to Guangdong Province High People s Court. Reports
monitored since that time appear to indicate that in these two provinces in
particular, death sentences have been used as one of the principal means of
dealing with drug trafficking.
During this campaign, women of all ages, and of all ethnic backgrounds have
been sentenced to death for drug trafficking. None of the cases recorded
indicate the quantity of drugs allegedly involved or whether the defendant
herself was a drug addict. Examples include an 81-year old peasant woman
sentenced to death in March 1993 in Inner Mongolia; Tao Jing, aged 21,
sentenced to death in late 1993 in Kunming, Yunnan province; Zhu Chenghui,
executed after her sentence was announced at a rally on 7 November 1995 in
Chongqing, Sichuan province, and many unnamed women whose death sentences
have been announced at mass rallies, after which prisoners are taken
directly to the execution ground.
For several years, the Chinese authorities have used such rallies to mark
26 June, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
declared by the UN. 26 June 1996 also coincided with the national Strike
Hard campaign, and at least 230 people accused of drug trafficking were
reportedly executed on the day itself. A further 769 were sentenced to
death or to life imprisonment, and 956 to other prison terms. Rallies at
which the sentences were announced were reportedly attended by 1. 75
million spectators.
Numerous mass rallies and public meetings variously described as public
arrests open trials or meetings to pronounce judgement have been held
during the Strike Hard campaign. Reports in newspapers and on television
showed condemned prisoners paraded with their hands tied behind their
backs, with rope also tied around their arms and neck. Some are seen
kneeling or crouching with heads bowed, with placards detailing their names
and alleged crimes. Many are shackled in this way whilst being transported
to sentencing rallies and execution grounds in open trucks. Amnesty
International believes that the public humiliation of prisoners at mass
rallies and the shackling of prisoners are forms of cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment, prohibited under the UN Convention against Torture and
other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which China
became a party in 1988.
Reports of the execution of several women in late 1995, which appear to
have been witnessed by large crowds, give some indication of the cruelty of
the execution procedure. Wen Yana (19), and Xie Xiuyun (23), were among a
group of 13 people executed for highway robbery and murder in Shenzhen,
Guangdong Province on 15 December 1995. The women were accused of luring
the victims, and unsuccessful appeals were made against their sentences
based on their secondary roles in the crimes. One of the women reportedly
survived two bullets during the execution and pleaded to be shot dead
before the third bullet killed her.
Similarly, Shao Miaomiao (20) and Rong Fenbo (26), both hotel workers, were
among four executed on 24 November 1995 in Dongguan County, Guangdong
Province for their involvement in the kidnap and murder of a Hong Kong
businessman and his secretary. A Hong Kong reporter was among those who
witnessed the execution of the four and 12 other prisoners from a distance
and obtained photographs. As is common, the prisoners were shackled as
described above, made to kneel, and had long planks pushed between their
shackled hands and backs. The reporter claimed they were shot in the back,
at chest height. A photograph shows Shao Miaomiao clearly wounded but still
kneeling upright, whilst at least fifty armed police talk amongst
themselves, their backs turned to the shot prisoners. According to the
reporter she was among ten who were shot a second time before being
pronounced dead.
Former prisoners from many localities have reported that the treatment in
detention of prisoners sentenced to death and awaiting appeal or execution
is particularly cruel. Testimony given to Amnesty International indicates
that they are shackled hand and foot for long periods. Reports of the use
of the shackle board suggest that its use may have been commonplace for
such prisoners.

Miscellaneous recent (-1996) executions of women: