Shaikh relatives say Britain abandoned him

Akmal Shaikhoriginally published:
30th December 2009

Relatives of Akmal Shaikh have made their first public criticism of the British government’s failed efforts to prevent his execution by China yesterday.

They protested that the execution demonstrated Britain’s “powerlessness in the world” and criticised the approach employed by ministers, the media and campaigners.

In a letter to the Guardian, Amina Shaikh and Ridwan Shaikh, who are among Akmal’s cousins, said Britain had failed to take action against the Beijing government because “China is a powerful country economically”. They were “deeply angered and disgusted” by Akmal’s death.

Shaikh, 53, from Kentish Town, north London, was executed by lethal injection in Urumqi province. His family insist he had clear and demonstrable mental problems and had been duped into carrying 4kg of heroin into China by men promising to help him launch a singing career.

Yesterday two other cousins, Soohail and Nasir Shaikh, who visited Akmal briefly in the days before he was executed, issued a statement on behalf of the family praising the efforts of Gordon Brown, ministers and the human rights group Reprieve for their efforts. But today’s letter shows that opinion within the Shaikh family is divided.

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