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Keep up censorship fight, urges acclaimed Chinese filmmaker
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 02, 2013

China prisoners paraded on live TV before execution
Beijing (AFP) March 1, 2013 - Four gang members from Southeast Asian countries were executed in China Friday for the murder of 13 sailors on the Mekong river, after being paraded on live state television.

Naw Kham, a Myanmar drug gang leader, and three of his accomplices faced lethal injection with a mixture of defiance and fear in the broadcast on CCTV which showed them being taken from prison to the execution cite.

The four, along with two other accused, admitted intentional homicide, drug trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking at their trial last year, state news agency Xinhua said, over a raid on two Chinese riverboats in October 2011.

Xinhua described Naw Kham as "the boss of the largest armed drug trafficking gang" on the river which flows through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, adding that he was nicknamed "the Godfather".

The incident sparked outrage in China, where photographs of the gagged and blindfolded victims circulated online, and the progress of the case has been given prominent coverage in state media.

In the broadcast Naw Kham, 43, smiled slightly before grimacing as a restraining rope was tied around him in the prison in Kunming, in the southern province of Yunnan.

He then emerged into bright sunlight and a bank of television cameras, before being put into a van and driven away.

His fellow inmates, named by state media as Hsang Kham, 61 from Thailand, Yi Lai, 55, stateless, and Zha Xika, 28, from Laos, followed. The two older men looked grim-faced, while the younger convict's features crumpled.

CCTV cut to interviews with police officials outside the prison before returning to a studio discussion on the case. "He's eaten well, he's slept well, he's looking better than when he was arrested," said one of the panel.

Before the conclusion of the programme, which ran for almost two hours, a statement on the Yunnan provincial security bureau's website said all four had been executed.

Interviewed by CCTV earlier this week, Naw Kham said: "I miss my mother. Good people will turn bad in the Golden Triangle, you can't resist the temptation.

"I hope my children will not follow my example. I wish them a good future and hope they will study hard."

Shown a picture of the families of the dead, he said: "I have sent money to the relatives of the victims. Their pains are just like mine, I have children, I want to be with them when I get old.

"I want to live, I don't want to die."

Recent reports in Chinese state media said that officials considered killing him with a drone strike in Myanmar during the hunt but instead decided to capture him alive. In the event he was arrested in Laos and flown to China.

Chinese filmmakers must fight censorship even if it means removing their name from their own work, one-time banned Chinese director Lou Ye told AFP in an interview ahead of this month's Asian Film Awards in which his crime thriller "Mystery" has been nominated in six categories.

Banned in 2006 from filming in China for five years, Lou's latest picture tackles the subject of a new breed of wealthy and middle income men in post-socialist China for whom taking a mistress is the norm, in a practice that harks back to imperial China.

With nominations including best film, best director and best actress for Hao Lei's portrayal of a betrayed wife, "Mystery" begins with a violent death and tells the story of one man's double life.

"The film is about a very small group of people. It is about what happens between two women, the double life that this man leads, but through this I get to talk about things that happen in wider society," he said in Paris where the film was shown as part of a China programme at the city's Forum des Images in February.

"What is important to me is the way in which we see that all the protagonists are linked to the death of this young girl, the way that no-one can say this has nothing to do with me," he said.

According to Lou, having a mistress is now commonplace in China for anyone with sufficient means.

"Currently we see this way of life in particular among people who have money," he said adding that it was seen as a status symbol for men while a woman acting in the same way would be stigmatised.

The film is his second since the end of the ban imposed after he took his love story "Summer Palace", set around the taboo subject of the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests, to Cannes without official approval.

Lou responded by continuing to work, filming his next feature "Spring Fever" in secret using a handheld camera as well as "Love and Bruises" which came out after the ban expired.

Although now able to film in China again, Lou remains the subject of unwanted attention from censors.

After submitting the script for "Mystery", Lou waited for five months for a response.

Authorisation was given but demands for last minute changes followed.

Although described as "minimal" by Lou, he still regards them as unacceptable.

"I used social networks in China to tell everyone that they were demanding modifications and I entered into a dialogue with the censors and in the end came up with something that was satisfactory," he said.

"The very existence of censors is a worry for all film directors. In China it is a reality," he said.

Lou urges all filmmakers to play their part in ensuring an end to the power of the censor.

"All directors have a responsibility for the fact that censorship continues today in China," he said, adding that there had been some progress in recent years "considering the situation before".

In the meantime, his next film is an adaptation of a novel by Bi Feiyu about blind masseurs which he hopes to finish this year.

"I hope that for my next film my name will be on the screen," he said.


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