Mongolian woman sentenced to immurement, 1913

Mogolian woman sentenced to immurement, 1913

Immurement (from Latin im- “in” and mūrus “wall”; literally “walling in”) is a form of imprisonment, usually for life, in which a person is, for example, locked within an enclosed space and all possible exits turned into impassable walls. This includes instances where people have been enclosed in extremely tight confinement, such as within a coffin. When used as a means of execution, the prisoner is simply left to die from starvation or dehydration. This is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation. Immurement was practiced in Mongolia as recently as the early 20th century. It is not necessarily clear that all thus immured were meant to die of starvation, though. In a newspaper report from 1914, it is written:

..the prisons and dungeons of the Far Eastern country contain a number of refined Chinese shut up for life in heavy iron-bound coffins, which do not permit them to sit upright or lie down. These prisoners see daylight for only a few minutes daily when the food is thrown into their coffins through a small hole

Photograph by Albert Kahn

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