China Executes Burmese Drug Lord on Live TV

Naw Kham, the Burmese leader of a major drug trafficking gang in the infamous ‘Golden Triangle’ area in mainland Southeast Asia, was executed through lethal injection in Kunming, China last March 1, 2013. Although he was not well-known before his death, his life instantly became a trending topic in Myanmar after his execution.

A number of Myanmar Facebook users were frustrated to learn that Chinese media networks aired the execution on live TV [viewer discretion advised].

Khin Khin Oo writes[my] her frustration:

Broadcast the execution? What an inhumane thing!

Naw Kham Before Execution

Naw Kham before execution. Screenshot from CCTV News video.

Than Thar Win, a well known local singer, also criticized[my] the live broadcast of the execution:

It's acceptable to punish a criminal. But I think broadcasting the execution process live by some Chinese channels should not have happened.

Khin Zarny Htut added[my]:

Being guilty is being guilty. But as a human being.,I feel a bit sad for such lethal execution.

There are also those who blamed the Myanmar government for not requesting a prisoner swap arrangement with China. La Yeik Cho said[my]:

Our government should ask for criminal transfer. Why did they leave Naw Kham's fate in China's hand?

Another Facebook user, Nay Min Kha, compared[my] the situation of foreign criminals in Myanmar and Myanmar prisoners in other countries:

We have been releasing those (foreigners) who committed crimes in Myanmar easily. I do not hear any similar treatment for Myanmar citizens who are detained abroad. In fact, even if Naw Kham committed crimes, he should be sentenced to death only in Myanmar. […]

Nay Tar Gay thinks[my] Chinese citizens who are found guilty of committing high crimes in Myanmar would be transferred to China:

Regardless of the type of charges, the criminals should be transferred to mother nation and charged against law in one's own country. It is very sure that Myanmar government would transfer him (to China) if he were a Chinese national.

On the other hand, some netizens pointed out that there is no difference between execution in Myanmar and China. Ei Maung posted a short note explaining why the Myanmar government was correct in its decision not to request a prisoner transfer deal in the case of Naw Kham:

It's true that a nation must protect its citizens. And yes, Vienna convention suggested nations to transfer prisoners as showing respect.

But, it's crazy to say Myanmar government should request the transfer of a drug king. Are those people out of their mind? […] Not transferring a mass murderer or drug king is nowhere near disrespecting. They have their “national security” to concern over respect in those cases.[…]

“Don't make ridiculous conclusion” just because you don't like the government. Even if Myanmar government makes such request, China is unlikely to agree and, such rejection would “unnecessarily affect the relationship”. Government is doing the right thing…

Winston Compunuts mentioned that there is no extradition agreement between the Chinese and Myanmar governments:

In order for prisoner exchange or extradition to take effect, there needs to have agreements for it between such nations. Geneva convention only guarantees humane treatment and access to fair representation (even that definition widely varies in different countries). Extradition treaties must first exist before the arrest occurred. As far as I know, there is no such agreement between China and Burma. I think the Burmese government was right NOT to pursue it since it's highly unlikely to be successful and why waste tax dollars on something unwarranted. There are cases when even a superpower like the United States couldn't even save their citizens or bring them home to serve their prison sentence.

Hkam Awng's brief clarification[my] about the status of Naw Kham went viral:

He is someone who became a wanted person in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand after he implemented his drug route from Myanmar to Laos, then to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. […] Finally, it reached over the limit of patience of four countries (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China) after he hijacked a Chinese ship, killed the sailors and threw the dead bodies into the river. […] To be able to cooperate for drug trafficking, such countries signed the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances but Myanmar did it with exception for the article of criminal exchange. That is why Myanmar government never transferred Khun Sa and other ‘Wa‘ leaders who had been charged by US. […] Anyway, I'm also against the capital punishment and death penalty. […]

On March 2, 2013, Myanmar netizens flooded the Facebook page of Chinese Embassy in Myanmar by posting R.I.P messages for Naw Kham.


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