Necklacing

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Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

Contents

In South Africa

The practice became a common method of lethal lynching during disturbances in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The first recorded instance took place in Uitenhage on 23 March 1985 when African National Congress (ANC) supporters killed a councillor who was accused of being a collaborator.[1]

Necklacing "sentences" were sometimes handed down against alleged criminals by "people's courts" established in black townships as a means of enforcing their own judicial system. Necklacing was also used to punish members of the black community who were perceived as collaborators with the government. These included black policemen, town councillors and others, as well as their relatives and associates. The practice was often carried out in the name of the ANC, and Winnie Mandela, then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and a senior member of the ANC, even made statements that blatantly endorsed its use,.[2] The ANC officially condemned the practice.[3]

The first victim of necklacing, according to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was a young girl, Maki Skosana, in July 1985.[4]

Moloko said her sister was burned to death with a tyre around her neck while attending the funeral of one of the youths.

Her body had been scorched by fire and some broken pieces of glass had been inserted into her vagina, Moloko told the committee.

Moloko added that a big rock had been thrown on her face after she had been killed.[5]

Photojournalist Kevin Carter was the first to photograph a public execution by necklacing in South Africa in the mid-1980s. He later spoke of the images

I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures... then I felt that maybe my actions hadn't been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn't necessarily such a bad thing to do.[6]

He went on to say:

After having seen so many necklacings on the news, it occurs to me that either many others were being performed (off camera as it were) and this was just the tip of the iceberg, or that the presence of the camera completed the last requirement, and acted as a catalyst in this terrible reaction. The strong message that was being sent, was only meaningful if it were carried by the media. It was not more about the warning (others) than about causing one person pain. The question that haunts me is 'would those people have been necklaced, if there was no media coverage?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once famously saved a near victim of necklacing when he rushed into a large gathered crowd and threw his arms around a man accused of being a police informant, who was about to be killed. Tutu's actions, which were caught on film,[citation needed] caused the crowd to release the man.

Necklacing returned to South Africa in 2008 when people turned against immigrants from the rest of Africa. The influx of immigrants led to violence, looting, and murder in some of South Africa’s poorest areas; this violence included necklace lynching.[7] This raised concerns that the latent practice might return once more as a form of public protest in the wake of service delivery failures by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).[8]

Some commentators have noted that the practice of necklacing served to escalate the levels of violence during the township wars of the 1980s and early 1990s as security force members became brutalized and afraid that they might fall victim to the practice.[9]

In other countries

This practice of lynching is found in the Caribbean country of Haiti. It was prominently used against supporters of Jean-Claude Duvalier's dictatorship at the beginning of the democratic transition, from 1986 to 1990.[citation needed] There were about 45 or so at the close of 2010, including about 40 in Grand Anse department. (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-12-24/world/haiti.cholera.killings_1_cholera-epidemic-cholera-outbreak-voodoo-priests?_s=PM:WORLD)

In the early 1990s, university students in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire were plagued by burglars stealing from their dorms. The students took matters into their own hands by capturing the thieves, and then murdered them by placing tyres around their necks and setting the tyres on fire. Ivorian police, powerless to stop these necklacings, could do nothing but stand by and watch.[10]

In 2006, at least one person died in Nigeria by necklacing in the deadly Muslim protests over satirical cartoon drawings of Muhammad.[11]

In India, necklacing has been used in communal riots, most notably in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.[12]

The practice is widely used by drug-dealers in Brazil, where it's called microondas (an allusion to the microwave oven).[13]

Necklacing was also widely used in the armed insurrection led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in Sri Lanka. A graphic description of one such necklacing appears in the book The Island of Blood by journalist Anita Pratap.

In popular culture

The character Armadillo Quintero from the TV series The Shield uses necklacing to kill his opposition gang members while consolidating his drug trade in the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles. In an episode of the Canadian series Blue Murder, two of the detectives had to investigate two cases of necklacing related to diamond and drug smuggling. In an episode of the Canadian/South African sci-fi series Charlie Jade, executives from Vexcor threaten Charlie's friend Karl with necklacing if he does not give them information. Incidentally, this scene takes place in Cape Town. In the opening scene of the film Bopha an African is necklaced by a mob of other Africans, although the scene is supposed to occur in 1980; it therefore predates the year when actual necklacings began, which was 1985. In the film Elite Squad, a member of an NGO is executed in this way in a Rio de Janeiro favela (slum). In the film Tears of the Sun, Bruce Willis's sniper shoots a man who is in the process of necklacing a man in the name of ethnic cleansing. He is referred to as "the Zippo man" because of the "Zippo" lighter he was brandishing. In the 2008 British horror film Eden Lake a pre-teen wannabe gang member is necklaced as a severe punishment. In 2009, BBC crime drama Silent Witness incorporated the practice of necklacing into a storyline surrounding a prostitution ring in South Africa. The American band The Mars Volta reference the practice in their song "Teflon." In the 2010 video game Fallout New Vegas, necklacing is used by one faction after it raids a town.

References

  1. International Association of Forensic Sciences Meeting (1995). Forensic Odontology & Anthropology. Verlag Dr. Köster, 154. ISBN 895741078. 
  2. David Beresford (27 January 1989). "Row over 'mother of the nation' Winnie Mandela". The Guardian. http://century.guardian.co.uk/1980-1989/Story/0,,110268,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  3. The Black Struggle for Political Power: Major Forces in the Conflict. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved on 2008-02-18].
  4. http://www.doj.gov.za/trc/hrvtrans/duduza/moloko.htm
  5. Truth Commission Looks At First "Necklace" Murder. SAPA (4 February 1997). Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  6. Tim Porter (18 February 2003). Covering War in a Free Society. Retrieved on 2008-02-18.
  7. Violence erupts in South-Africa, Blackademics, 2008
  8. http://www.environment.co.za/documents/water/KeynoteAddressCSIR2008.pdf
  9. Turton, A.R. 2010. Shaking Hands with Billy. Durban: Just Done Publications. http://www.shakinghandswithbilly.com
  10. Kaplan, Robert D. (1996). The Ends of the Earth: A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy. New York: Random House, 14. ISBN 0679751238. 
  11. Musa, 'Njadvara (19 February 2006). "Muslims' rage over cartoons hits Nigeria". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved on 18 September 2009.
  12. http://www.ensaaf.org/pdf/reports/kristallnacht.pdf
  13. http://www.polarisimages.com/Portfolios/Photographers/Andr%E9_Vieira/index.html
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