4 December 2023

False: Video of public death penalty trial shows Myanmar, not China

The public hearing and execution took place in Wa Self-Administered Region in Myanmar where authorities also speak Mandarin Chinese.


A tweet on May 28 claimed a public trial in China meted out capital punishment two years ago while the public cheered and clapped their hands.

It said the execution was immediately carried out with a video purportedly showing the scene of the trial taking place outdoors on May 4, 2020.

This YouTube video falsely claims the trial was held in China.

The social media account has more than 28,000 followers. The same video was also uploaded on YouTube with the same claim that three men were sentenced to death in public in China, which has been viewed over a million times as of this writing.

The claim is false, however. The video actually shows a public trial that took place two years ago in Wa State, Myanmar, on May 14, 2020.

Annie Lab found the same video posted on Yahoo News on May 16, 2020.

The accompanying article reports that three Chinese nationals were found guilty of robbing a gold shop and murdering the shop owner in Wa Self-Administered Region in Myanmar, an area run by the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and its army (UWSA).

Juxtaposition of screenshots of video from the original tweet versus that of Newsvia.
The video on Yahoo News credited to Newsvia is identical to the one on Twitter. Bottled mineral water placed on a table covered in a blue tablecloth can be seen in both clips, for instance.

The video shows many men donned in what looks like uniforms appearing to hold some people on the ground while the spectators watch.

Another man in the same attire speaks Chinese in the clip.

He says the death penalty is effective immediately and the guilty party would be taken to the execution ground in Mandarin, one of the official languages of the UWSP/UWSA that has established ties with the Chinese government since its inception in 1989, according to Myanmar Peace Monitor.

The trial and subsequent execution had been reported by various other media outlets as well, including Apple Daily (Taiwan), Mizzima Daily and BNI Multimedia Group.

Min Punia, a Burmese student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, translated the report from Mizzima Daily for Annie Lab.

He said that Mizzima Daily quoted U Nyi Yan, the UWSA’s liaison officer in Lashio as saying that two Chinese men were arrested on May 3 in 2020 for robbing a jewelry store and killing the owner.

Other news sites such as the BNI Multimedia Group said another suspect was arrested on May 5 and the robbery took place in Namtit Township.

After a series of investigations, the three were sentenced to death under the law of the Wa State, it said.

Capital punishment is also legal in China and the country says people who commit the most heinous crimes can face the death penalty.