CHRD: human rights situation in China not improving

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Originally published in on March 18, 2013

Chinese Human Rights Defenders released its annual report on human rights violations in mainland China last year. Forced labour cases are down but the number of people taking their own life because of the authorities’ refusal to listen to their grievances is up. Ordinary state violence rose, but so did opposition by domestic advocacy groups. Meanwhile, police torture dissident Hu Jia.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese authorities arrested, interrogated, tortured and placed under house arrest well known activist Hu Jia. All this was done without formal charges or trial. Public security officials took him into custody at his home last Thursday and held him for eight hours at the Tongzhou District station where he was hit to the head and back, leaving him with serious injuries. A visit Hu made to Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, appears to be the reason for police action.

Hu has been under house arrest since 26 February, after he was detained as part of the usual roundup that takes place before the annual session of the National People’s Congress currently underway in Beijing.

During his interrogation, agents insulted him in order to provoke him and have an excuse to beat him. He was eventually taken home with bleeding injuries to the head and great pain to the back. Despite this, the agents told him not to go to a hospital even though he suffers from hepatitis B and needs regular medical care.

Meanwhile, Chinese Human Rights Defenders released its annual report on human rights violations in China in parallel with the leadership change in the Chinese Communist Party and state in Beijing.

The study shows that 2012 was not very different from 2011 in terms of the number of violations and the acts of violence by state agents. However, it also found that advocacy groups have boosted their action in the defence of fundamental rights.

According to the CHRD, the number of cases of “enforced disappearance,” “soft detention,” and “residential surveillance” more than doubled. At the same time, fewer people were sent to Rehabilitation-through-labour or laojiao camps, a system for forced labour that is are currently under review in the higher echelons of power.

Last year saw also a major rise in the number of people who killed or hurt themselves in reaction to the authorities’ refusal to listen to their grievances.

In Tibet, nearly a hundred cases of self-immolations in Tibet by Tibetan monks and lay people took place. In most of the cases, the victims had called for religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. In scores of other cases, Han Chinese also hurt and injured (sometimes killed) themselves trying to defend their property, homes and farmland, from seizures ordered by the authorities.

The CHRD report noted that the authorities also boosted cyber-controls. “Police,” one can read, “continued to use a relatively new cyber-surveillance system-called ‘movement management and control’-to monitor individuals and specific groups [. . .]. The system appears to conceivably target” groups that “pose threats to ‘social order’.”

Over the years, these practices have become an integral part of China’s social system. It has become so prevalent as an attempt to avoid social unrest and protests that local authorities, especially in the capital, now resort to preventive arrest and intimidation in lieu of regular trials.

Conversely, pro-democracy groups have shown a great capacity to deal with formal charges. Hu Jia’s case is not an exception, as evinced by the number of other cases involving human rights activists.

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