With the turn of the tide to the 2010s, we bid farewell to a decade that never did get a consensus moniker.
Like every decade known to the historian’s annals, however, the Aughties found plenty of work for the world’s hangmen.
As we prepare to flip over the calendar, Executed Today remembers ten executions that most palpably captured the decade’s Zeitgeist.
Although the world’s second-most populous country retains the death penalty and has dozens of death row denizens, an entire generation of Indians has come of age having never known an actual execution … never, except for the 2004 hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee (Update: Not any more). That made this otherwise ordinary criminal a worldwide controversy, and his archaic colonial-era hangman a temporary celebrity.
Two years after the magnetic prostitute/serial killer was given a lethal injection in Florida, Charlize Theron won an Oscar for portraying her in Monster.
This migrant laborer was just grist for the mill of China’s helter-skelter industrialization in the neoliberal economic machine … until, in a fury over wages stolen by his employer, he slew a foreman. Chinese media that picked up his story inadvertently made him an emblematic figure for the untold millions of his countrymen and -women who could sympathize with his sentiment: “I want to die. When I am dead, nobody can exploit me anymore. Right?” Internet buzz about Wang had to be forcibly squelched.
The Gulf War veteran was the face of terrorism in the U.S. from the time of his arrest for the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City’s Murrah Federal Building, until three months after his June 11, 2001, execution.
Heart-rending photos of these teenagers hanging in Iran were a worldwide Internet sensation and made them an instant symbol of Iranian anti-gay persecution.
“I want others to know the unreasonableness that high-achieving children could be killed at any time,” said the author of perhaps the most infamous crime spree in modern Japanese history. The usually glacial Japanese capital system got the former janitor into a noose barely three years after he’d knifed eight children to death in the “Osaka school massacre”.
Something tells us that the ornery Texan — he took his leave of the world throwing an obscene gesture at his former wife from his execution gurney — would have been but pleasantly surprised to discover himself a major posthumous headache for Gov. Rick Perry (who signed his death warrant) and like-minded partisans of pseudoscience arson convictions. The sad part is that the evidence of Willingham’s potential innocence in the recent bombshell New Yorker article was basically all available at the time of his execution.
These grinning Islamic militants orchestrated the 2002 coordinated triple bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202, most of them western tourists. (88 were Australians, the predominant nationality affected, as against only 38 Indonesians.) Then they spent six years gleefully milking their notoriety.
While proletarians like Wang Binyu died for pennies and many like Fu Xinrong died for their organs, the more privileged in China’s gangster capitalism played for higher stakes. For a decade the state’s Food and Drugs Minister, Zheng Xiaoyu took payola to rubber-stamp products that turned out to be dangerous to man and beast. His high-profile execution was Beijing’s response to a wave of concern about the safety of Chinese exports abroad … and a pledge, one year in advance of the 2008 Olympics, of China’s readiness for the world stage.
Undoubtedly the decade’s signature execution, the 2006 hanging by America’s Iraqi puppet government of America’s longtime foreign policy bete noir was purchased for trillions that would have been better spent just buying the guy off … especially since cell phone video soon to circle the globe revealed the old rattlesnake taking command of a distinctly undignified scene.
Some other notable executions to remember the 2000s by:
Creepy Malaysian pop singer Mona Fandey
Anti-abortion terrorist/martyr Paul Hill
Dmitry Chikunov, whose secret execution launched his mother on the crusade that would abolish Uzbekistan’s death penalty
Draconian anti-drug laws ensnaring foreign drug mules, like Australian national Nguyen Van Van and Nigerian footballer Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi in Singapore, and mentally ill Briton Akmal Shaikh in China
Vietnamese crime lord Nam Cam
Han Bok-nam, whose public shooting in North Korea was filmed and smuggled out of the country
The filmed stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad in Iraq
Many people, such as Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, taken hostage in Iraq and demonstratively “executed”
On this day..
- 1981: Gheorghe Stefanescu, the Walter White of wine - 2019
- 1931: Fatma Demir, the first woman hanged in Turkey - 2018
- 1650: Not Anne Greene, miraculously delivered - 2017
- 1661: Murad Bakhsh, son of the Taj Mahal builder - 2016
- 1556: A canon's servant - 2015
- 1793: A Lyon mitraillade - 2014
- 1759: William Davis, St. Croix slave revolt suicide - 2013
- 1761: Jacinto Canek, Mayan revolutionary - 2012
- 1417: The Falstaffian John Oldcastle - 2011
- 1930: Captains Fermin Galan and Angel Garcia Hernandez - 2010
- 1971: Martyred Intellectuals' Day in Bangladesh - 2009
- 1903: William Ennis, wife-murdering cop - 2008
- 1974: Charles Dean and Neal Sharman - 2007