Saturday, September 18, 2021

No, this photo does not show 26 corrupt government officials sentenced to death in China

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A photo has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter which claim it shows 26 corrupt government officials who were sentenced to death in China. The claim is misleading; the photo is actually a 2004 AFP image of a sentencing rally in the east Chinese city of Wenzhou after which 11 people were executed; none of those executed were corrupt officials, according to Chinese-language media reports at the time.

The photo was uploaded in this Facebook post on May 26, 2019 where it has been shared more than 11,000 times.

Below is a screenshot of the post:

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post

The Tagalog language caption translates to English as: “Our congressmen and senators could not make the law that will kill them”.

The Tagalog text on the photo translates to English as: “26 corrupt gov’t officials sentenced to death in China! The Philippines will thrive if this is also the punishment for the corrupt!”

The Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006. This government act published on June 24, 2006 includes details of the law.

In 2017, the Philippines’ House of Representatives passed this bill seeking the restoration of death penalty in the country. It was subsequently transmitted to the Senate, where it remains pending.

The same photo was also shared on Facebook here and on Twitter here with a similar claim.

The claim is misleading; the photo is an AFP image from 2004 and shows a group of convicts at a sentencing rally in China.

A reverse image search on Google found the photo here on the AFP Forum.

The same photo was also published here on Getty Images, with a credit to AFP.

Below is a screenshot of the photo on the AFP Forum:

A screenshot of an AFP photo of the sentencing rally

The caption states: “Chinese police show of a group of hardcore convicts at a sentencing rally in the east Chinese city of Wenzhou, 07 April 2004, where 11 prisoners were later executed for various crimes. Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on the death penalty in China, saying the country’s dysfunctional criminal justice system meant many innocent people were being executed, after a senior Chinese legislator suggested China executes at least 10,000 people a year, about five times more than the rest of the world combined”.

A keyword search for the execution of 11 Chinese hardcore convicts on April 7, 2004, found this article published on Chinese news site Zhejiang on April 8, 2004.

The Mandarin language report translates to English in part as: “At 9 o’clock in the morning, the Wenzhou Intermediate People’s Court held a public verdict in the Wenzhou Gymnasium. Chen Yongfeng, the murderer who caused the bad influence in Wenzhou, was sentenced to death and deprived of political rights for life. After the meeting, Chen Yongfeng and 10 other criminals sentenced to death were taken to the execution ground to execute the death penalty.

 “At the same time, the criminals who were taken to the execution ground were involved in robbery, intentional murder, intentional injury, forced prostitution and other crimes”.

This article published by sina.com, a Chinese online media company, on April 7, 2004, also reports on the same execution and includes photos showing some of the same prisoners.

The Mandarin language report translates to English in part as: “Chen Yongfeng and Zhao Airong and other 11 criminals were dissatisfied with the first-instance judgment and appealed to the Zhejiang Higher People’s Court. The Provincial High Court final ruling rejected the appeal, upheld the original judgment, and approved the execution of 11 criminals including Chen Yongfeng and deprived of political rights for life”.

The misleading post was shared mostly by Facebook groups which support Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the Marcos political clan, according to data from Crowdtangle.

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