CHRD Follow-Up Report Submitted to Committee on the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationComments Off on CHRD Follow-Up Report Submitted to Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)
Follow-Up Report Submitted to
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Civil Society Assessment of
China’s Implementation of Recommendations in
“Concluding Observations” (CERD/C/CHN/CO/14-17)
Paragraphs 33 (b), 42 (a)–(d), 42 (f)–(h) and 44 (c)
Date Submitted: August 14, 2019
33. Recalling that civil society can play an important role in meeting the challenges of implementing the Convention, the Committee: (b) Requests the State party to provide in its follow-up report the number of non-governmental organizations that are working on issues relating to the Convention and are officially registered in China.
To address this issue, the NGOs in question shall be divided into “domestic/Chinese NGOs” and “foreign/international NGOs.” As far as foreign/international NGOs are concerned, the list of officially registered foreign NGOs includes 491 as of August 1, 2019.Many of these organizations are business or trade councils.None of them are known to work on issues relating to the Convention. According to the head of China’s Civil Affairs Ministry, in January 2019 there were approximately 800,000 registered (domestic) social organizations but there is no breakdown of how many (if any at all) work on issues related to the Convention.In 2018, Civil Affairs Ministry officials launched a “strike hard” campaign against “illegal social organizations” and stated that it had investigated 5,845 groups and found approximately 300 were “illegal,” but did not provide details on the reason for the determination.
Of China’s five officially recognized “autonomous” regions of ethnic minorities—Guangxi Zhuang region, Tibetan region, Xinjiang Uyghur region, Ningxia Hui region, and Inner Mongolian region—there are only 15 registered foreign NGOs, none are registered in Xinjiang or Ningxia, the two regions with a concentration of Muslim ethnic minorities, and only one registered in Tibet. Dozens more registered foreign NGOs are permitted to operate in these regions, but it is unclear to what extent their work relates to the Convention, especially as many are business or trade councils.
The current legal framework for NGOs in China, which does not comply with international standards, creates a restrictive environment that prevents NGOs from documenting and investigating violations of the Convention in China’s ethnic minority regions, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet. Recently enacted laws restrict funding and vaguely defined activities that may “endanger national security.” Registered domestic NGOs must be partnered with a local government agency; NGOs that don’t register to maintain their independence from the government are considered “illegal organizations.” NGOs working on human rights issues, including those working on issues relating to the Convention, have not been able to meet the requirements for legal registration. More seriously, they have been banned/shut down and or their staff members have been subjected to arbitrary detention, disappearances, and torture.Such NGOs, as they have operated independently of the government in China, have come under significant pressure since the implementation of the Overseas NGO Law and Charity Law and a crackdown on staff.Proposed amendments released in August 2018 to revise the regulations governing domestic NGOs would require domestic social organizations to install Chinese Communist Party cells inside an organization, further restricting the independence of such groups.
42. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Halt the practice of detaining individuals who have not been lawfully charged, tried and convicted for a criminal offence in any extralegal detention facility;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(a).
The Chinese government continues to maintain its system of “re-education” internment camps, which it calls “vocational skills education and training centers” (职业技能教育培训中心), and the government claims that these centers have been “established for counter-terrorism purposes”.The government amended the Xinjiang De-Extremism Regulations and Xinjiang Implementing Measures for the Counter-Terrorism Law on October 9, 2018, which went into effect immediately,to include reference to the centers. The camps remain illegal under Chinese law. Under Chinese law, regional measures cannot be used to deprive citizens of their liberty; according to China’s Constitution and Legislation Law, the deprivation of liberty of a person can only be authorized by a statute passed by the National People’s Congress or it’s standing committee.Additionally, these regulations violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which China signed but not yet ratified). In November 2018, six UN Special Procedures called on China to repeal the Xinjiang De-Extremism Regulations due to their violations of international human rights standards.At the time of writing, the Chinese government has not responded to the Special Procedures’ letter.
The government has made public statements in UN forums since the August 2018 CERD review, where the government explicitly defended the extralegal detention centers in Xinjiang and made no mention of any plans to implement the CERD recommendations to immediately close these centers.These include statement made by the head of China’s state delegation during the 3rdUniversal Periodic Review (UPR) on China in November 2018, statement made by China delegation during the Human Rights Council 40thSession in March 2019 and during the HRC 41stSession in June-July 2019.
During the dialogue of the 3rdUPR on China, six countries recommended that the Chinese government close the extralegal detention camps in Xinjiang.The Chinese government did not accept any of these recommendations.On July 8, 2019, 22 countries sent a letter to the President of the Human Rights Council, raising concern over the ongoing “arbitrary detention in large-scale detention facilities.” The States asked that the letter be officially recorded as a document of the 41stSession of the Human Right Council.
(b) Immediately release individuals currently detained under these circumstances, and allow those wrongfully held to seek redress;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(b).
In a July 30, 2019, press conference, Alken Tuniaz, the vice chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, told reporters that “Over 90 percent of the students have returned to society and returned to their families and are living happily,” in reference to the detainees at the extralegal detention centers.However, such a claim cannot be independently verified and is not considered credible, as many overseas families still cannot contact members of their families.Independent NGOs, including human rights organizations, and UN independent experts have not been able to visit the region to conduct unimpeded investigations. Journalists have been followed and harassed by police when they tried to interview local residents of the ethnic Uyghur minority.
There have been some independent reports that some individuals were released from the extralegal detention camps.It does not appear as though any of those released were immediately and unconditionally released. None of those released have been allowed to seek redress.
It appears the government has used releases as a way to try and silence overseas family members from speaking out. One Uyghur U.S. citizen said his mother had been briefly released from an extralegal detention camp in Xinjiang after he met with the U.S. secretary of state. She called him and praised the camp system but was sent back to the camp following the call.There have been reports of temporary 24-hour releases granted to some Uyghurs for “good behaviour.”Reportedly, some detainees have died shortly following their release from a camp.There continue to be reports of deaths inside the camps.
(c) Undertake prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of racial, ethnic and ethno-religious profiling, holding those responsible accountable and providing effective remedies, including compensation and guarantees of non-repetition;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(c).
No public investigation into racial, ethnic, and ethno-religious profiling has been undertaken by the government. A media investigation found the American company Airbnb allowed discriminatory postings that openly stated Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other ethnic groups could not rent rooms; some (but not all) of the listings were taken down after the company was contacted by the reporter, but the government did not order an investigation.In August 2018, a Chinese landlord in Henan province received an administrative detention penalty and fine for “violating” the Counter-Terrorism Law by renting out rooms to three Uyghurs, who were later forcibly sent back to Xinjiang and held in an extralegal detention camp.
Ethnic minorities continue to be profiled and discriminated against in employment. A job currently advertised at the time of writing in August 2019 posted by a recruitment agency for an IT company openly stated that ethnic Tibetans, Yi, and Uyghurs could not apply. This is despite the issue being raised in civil society reports ahead of the 2018 CERD review, which indicates the government failed to investigate such allegations. As in previous years, applicants are excluded from the National Civil Service if they have family members who have been imprisoned, a requirement that collectively punish the families of political prisoners and may disproportionately affect Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims whose family members have been sent to extralegal detention centers.
The Chinese government continues to implement its own policies based on ethno-racist profiling, targeting entire ethnic minority groups and their cultures. The government has promoted policies to “sinicize” ethnic Tibetan and Uyghur cultures.In January 2019, eight government-affiliated Islamic associations agreed on a five-year plan to “sinicize Islam,” a policy which is directed by the Central government through its United Front Work Department.The government has instituted policies to restrict the use of the Uyghur and Tibetan languages, demolished Uyghur mosques and historical sites, and destroyed Uyghur neighbourhoods.Over one million Han Chinese have moved into Uyghur homes in Xinjiang, closely monitoring residents to make sure that they have exorcised any traits of traditional culture from their daily life.Tibetan cultural centers have been demolished or removed, such as the Larung Gar monastery in Sichuan, which local authorities partially demolished and forcibly evicted resident nuns and monks in 2016, and then issued a notice in October 2018 that no more large religious gatherings could be held at the site.In July 2019, authorities reportedly began demolishing the Yachen Gar Tibetan Buddhist Center in Sichuan Province after evicting thousands of nuns from Palyul county.
(d) Implement mandatory collection and analysis of data on the ethnicity of all individuals stopped by law enforcement, the reasons for and outcome of those stops, report publicly on the information collected at regular intervals and include it in its follow-up report;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(d). No information about any mandatory collection of such data has been made publicly available.
However, reports from civil society and independent media about government surveillance of ethnic minorities indicate that the government has not collected data on ethnicity and religion in Xinjiang and Tibet, in violation of the Convention and international law, and that such practices have continued. Stops by law enforcement at numerous check points have become daily routines everywhere in these regions and continue to single out and target ethnic minorities.In some areas, facial recognition systems have been deployed specifically to identify and track Uyghurs.A database from the Chinse surveillance company SenseNets Technology that was left unsecured and accessible online was analysed by international researchers, who found that the Chinese authorities were using facial recognition software in Xinjiang to track the movements of ethnic Uyghurs.Concern has also been raised over the publishing of academic papers that focus on profiling of ethnic minorities through facial recognition technology.In another recent report, visitors or residents entering Xinjiang through a Kyrgyzstan border crossing are said to have been targeted by police, who installed a secret surveillance app on the visitors’ phones to download information from the phone and scan the phone for “extremist” content, which includes references to fasting on Ramadan.
(f) Eliminate travel restrictions that disproportionately affect members of ethnic minorities;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(f).
Passports have not been returned to Ugyhurs and Tibetans since they were forced to hand them over to authorities.
Ethnic minorities continue to face travel restrictions, an issue raised in relation to restriction on Tibetans by four UN Special Procedures in a communication with the Chinese government in August 2018.As recently as summer of 2019, it was observed that Tibetan residents of the Tibet Autonomous Region needed to get permission from local police station with sealed evidence and signature in order to travel to Lhasa and other parts of TAR, otherwise they cannot get through internal security checkpoints. Certain areas, such as those where religious sites are located, are not accessible to non-local Tibetans.
(g) Disclose the current location and status of Uighur students, refugees and asylum seekers who returned to China pursuant to a demand made by the State party in the past five years;
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(g). No government data has been made publicly available; and the fate of the Uyghur students, refugees and asylum seekers, who returned to China, remains largely unknown. Family members and observers fear that, as their whereabouts are unknown, they may have been subjected to extralegal detention or torture.
Based on such concerns, some countries began to stop sending Uyghur asylum seekers back to China. Germany suspended deportations of Uyghurs in late August 2018, Sweden in September,and Malaysia refused to deport 11 Uyghurs to China in October.
(h) Provide the number of persons held against their will in all extralegal detention facilities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in the past five years, together with the duration of their detention, the grounds for detention, the humanitarian conditions in the centres, the content of any training or political curriculum and activities, the rights that detainees have to challenge the illegality of their detention or appeal the detention, and any measures taken to ensure that their families are promptly notified of their detention.
The Chinese government has not implemented recommendation 42(h).
No such information has been made publicly available. NGOs and journalists continue to try and gather such information through interviews with victims and analyses of government documents or state media reports.
There is no government-provided number of persons held in extralegal detention camps in Xinjiang. CHRD reported in July 2018 that approximately 1.1 million people are being held at that time.In December 2018, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State testified that the US believed that at least 800,000 and possibly more than 2 million persons were detained in extralegal detention camps since April 2017.Independent researcher Adrian Zenz estimated in a July 2019 research paper that there may be up to 1.5 million detainees.
One NGO has documented 386 cases of intellectuals or professionals of Uyghur ethnic background being interned in camps, disappeared, or imprisoned, including students, scholars, artists and journalists.The Chinese government has not explained why highly-skilled professionals would need to be detained in facilities to undergo language or employment skills training, which the government claimed to be the purpose of the extralegal detention camps.
The grounds for detention have generally included using WhatsApp;visiting or living, or having family members that visited or lived in one of 26 countries listed as “banned” by the Xinjiang government; being suspected of engaging in activities such as smoking or drinking in a restaurant, keeping a beard, or praying.
According to testimonies by released detainees, the conditions inside the extralegal detention camps are very poor and do not meet international standards or China’s own legal standard. One former employee of a camp said in a media interview that the camps were overcrowded and unsanitary and that detainees were deprived of food if they didn’t meet the target (such as in learning Mandarin Chinese).There have been reports of torture and beatings.One former detainee said they were forced to take unknown medication.Some Muslim detainees have also reportedly been forced to eat pork in some facilities or face punishment.One former detainee said the detainees were forced to eat pork on Fridays, and were banned from speaking any language other than Chinese, praying, or growing a beard.A media investigation found that the extralegal detention centers had placed orders for police batons, electric cattle prods, handcuffs, and pepper spray, indicating that these facilitaties were detention centers, not “boarding schools” or “career skill training centers.”
There are reports that detainees in the extralegal detention camps are being subjected to forced labour. Several Western companies reportedly cut off or investigated their supply chains to factories in Xinjiang due to concerns that the products are being made in camps.The Fair Labor Association declared in April 2019 that there was an increased risk of forced labour in Xinjiang due to the emergence of extralegal detention camps.
It is not known whether any current or former detainee has been able to challenge the detention. There is no evidence that authorities are attempting to comply with Chinese law to notify families within 24 hours of detaining an individual.
44. (c) Provide the Committee with information regarding the promotion of, and any restrictions on the use of, ethnic minority languages.
Government restrictions on the use and teaching or preservation of ethnic minority languages have continued or become more stringent in some cases. For example, officials in a county in Qinghai province banned informal Tibetan language classes at monasteries in December 2018, according to a government notice.In October 2018, the Communist Party deputy secretary of a county in Kashgar, Xinjiang, reportedly circulated a note that said anyone who spoke Uyghur language should be classified as a “two-face person.”A “two-face person” is a Chinese Communist Party term for Uyghur or ethnic minority party members or government officials who allegedly hold “extremist views” or are “disloyal” to the CCP.In December 2018, authorities reportedly arrested a Uyghur court official for being “two-faced” for denouncing the extralegal detention camps.A number of reports have found that children of detainees of the extralegal camps have been sent to state-run institutions, where they are not taught Uyghur language.Tibetan language rights campaigner Tashi Wangchuk remains in prison, despite a Working Group on Arbitrary Detention opinion declaring his detention arbitrary and public calls for his release from several UN special procedures.
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Under the Law on the Management of Overseas NGO Activities in Mainland China and Charity Law, both passed in 2016.
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 Recommendations: 28.22 (United Kingdom), 28.23 (France), 28.35 (Switzerland), 28.175 (Australia), 28.177 (United States of America), 28.180 (Germany).
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Agence Press France, “Eat pork, speak Chinese, no beards: Muslim former detainee tells of China camp trauma,” March 22, 2019, https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/03/22/eat-pork-speak-chinese-no-beards-muslim-former-detainee-tells-china-camp-trauma/.
Ben Dooley “Inside China’s internment camps: tear gas, Tasers and textbooks,” Agence France Presse, October 25, 2018, https://www.afp.com/en/inside-chinas-internment-camps-tear-gas-tasers-and-textbooks.
Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy, “China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor,” The New York Times, December 16, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/16/world/asia/xinjiang-china-forced-labor-camps-uighurs.html; Dake Kang, Martha Mendoza and Yanan Wang, “US sportswear traced to factory in China’s internment camps,” Associated Press, December 19, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/99016849cddb4b99a048b863b52c28cb; Eva Dou and Chao Deng, “Western Companies Get Tangled in China’s Muslim Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/western-companies-get-tangled-in-chinas-muslim-clampdown-11558017472; Sophie McNeill, Jeanavive McGregor, Meredith Griffiths, Michael Walsh, Echo Hui, Bang Xiao, “Cotton On and Target investigate suppliers after forced labour of Uyghurs exposed in China’s Xinjiang,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 15, 2019, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-15/uyghur-forced-labour-xinjiang-china/11298750.
Fair Labor Association, “Forced Labor Risk In Xinjiang, China,” Issue Brief, April 2019, https://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/china-forced-labor_april-2019.pdf
Fair Labor Association, “Forced Labor Risk In Xinjiang, China,” Issue Brief, April 2019, https://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/china-forced-labor_april-2019.pdf
Darren Byler, “The ‘patriotism’ of not speaking Uyghur,” January 2, 2019, https://supchina.com/2019/01/02/the-patriotism-of-not-speaking-uyghur/.
Radio Free Asia, “Xinjiang Authorities Arrest Uyghur Court Official Who Denounced Political Re-education Camps,” December 18, 2018, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/arrest-12182018153514.html.
Emily Feng, “Uighur children fall victim to China anti-terror drive,” Financial Times, July 9, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/f0d3223a-7f4d-11e8-bc55-50daf11b720d; Yanan Wang and Dake Kang, “China treats Uighur kids as ‘orphans’ after parents seized,” Associated Press, September 21, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/903a97b7c62a47b98553b6f422827dd7; HRW, “China: Children Caught in Xinjiang Crackdown,” October 16, 2018, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/16/china-children-caught-xinjiang-crackdown; John Sudworth, “China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families,” British Broadcasting Corporation, July 4, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-48825090; Adrian Zenz, “Break Their Roots: Evidence for China’s Parent-Child Separation Campaign in Xinjiang,” Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 7, July 2019, http://www.jpolrisk.com/break-their-roots-evidence-for-chinas-parent-child-separation-campaign-in-xinjiang.
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinion No. 69/2017 concerning Tashi Wangchuk (China), Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its eightieth session, 20-24 November 2017, A/HRC/WGAD/2017/69; OHCHR, “China: UN human rights experts condemn 5-year jail term for Tibetan activist,” June 6, 2018, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23176&LangID=E.