Monday, July 21, 2008
There has been considerable discussion - in this blog's comments section, on Chinalaw, on the Washington Post's web site, and elsewhere - on the accuracy of a report in the July 19th Washington Post about three executions being carried out in front of an audience of thousands in Xinjiang. I blogged about it here. Instead of adding yet another update, I thought a new blog post was in order.
I contacted the author of the WP article, Edward Cody, to ask him about his sources. His response, which I post with his permission, is below. In brief, four witnesses told him in separate interviews that they had actually seen the executions. This does not unassailably establish the proposition that they really did see them, but it seems at least to establish that Cody was very careful in reporting what he did and cannot fairly be accused of sloppiness.
Here's his response (very, very slightly edited since he wrote in haste):
"I talked with four people in Yingishahar, in separate interviews, who said they saw the executions. As far as I know, they did not belong to any group or otherwise have an agenda, other than being Uighurs. I made something of a point of asking them whether they saw the executions because I, too, had seen the RFA report and was departing from the premise that two people were executed. All four said No, three people were executed. When I asked whether they had seen it, they said yes. When I put my hand to my throat in a hanging gesture, one or two said No, the executions were carried out by rifle. I suppose there is always a possibility that my interviewees - all four - extrapolated having witnessed the public trial in the square with having witnessed what they knew came afterward, but that seems a stretch, particularly since I asked them specifically about seeing the executions."