By Yves Dumas, Tuidang Center
In its annual World Report of 2014, Human Rights Watch details a variety of oppressive conditions in which the people of China continue to be subject. Although the administration of President Xi Jinping had introduced some modest reforms such as easing (but not ending) the one child policy, China’s government continues its path of intolerance towards dissent, expression, and the reporting of such matters.
Here we summarize some elements of the Report specific to China and offer some of our own observations based on past and current events.
“The government censors the press, the Internet, print publications, and academic research, and justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve ‘social stability’. It carries out involuntary population relocation and rehousing on a massive scale, and enforces highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.”, Human Rights Watch concludes in the China chapter of its World Report 2014.
As observed by the Tuidang movement, where more than 180 million Chinese have stood up to quit the Chinese Communist Party to date, Human Rights Watch has also observed a growing willingness by the population to actively resist state oppression by stating, “At the same time, citizens are increasingly prepared to challenge authorities over volatile livelihood issues, such as land seizures, forced evictions, environmental degradation, miscarriages of justice, abuse of power by corrupt cadres, discrimination, and economic inequality. Official and scholarly statistics, based on law enforcement reports, suggest there are 300-500 protests each day, with anywhere from ten to tens of thousands of participants.
Despite the risks, Internet users and reform-oriented media are aggressively pushing censorship boundaries by advocating for the rule of law and transparency, exposing official wrongdoing, and calling for political reforms.”
Human Rights Defenders
“China’s human rights activists often face imprisonment, detention, torture, commitment to psychiatric facilities, house arrest, and intimidation.”, according to the World Report.
One of the most infamous cases is Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who has been repeatedly kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the communist regime for defending the persecuted.
Gao Zhisheng was released in August, but is monitored daily by public security officers.
Freedom of Expression
“Freedom of expression deteriorated in 2013, Human Rights Watch claims. “Internet censors shape online debate and maintain the ‘Great Firewall,’ which blocks outside content from reaching Internet users in China.”
References to democracy, the free Tibet movement, Taiwan independence, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Hong Kong protests, Falun Gong and anything questioning the legitimacy of the Communist Party are banned from use in public and blocked on the Internet.
Freedom of Religion
Any activity outside the government controlled religious practices is deemed unlawful and subjected to persecution, of which the persecution of Falun Gong is the most widespread and systematic.
“After releasing a new documentary about a labor camp in which Falun Gong practitioners were detained and tortured, filmmaker and photographer Du Bin was detained in May. He was released after five weeks in detention.”, according to the World Report.
“Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment remains common, and torture and ill-treatment in detention is endemic. Fair trials are precluded by a politicized judiciary overtly tasked with suppressing separatism.”, Human Rights Watch reports.
According to the World Report, “police systematically suppress any unauthorized gathering. On July 6, police opened fire in Nyitso, Dawu prefecture (Ch. Daofu), on a crowd that had gathered in the countryside to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Several people were injured. The government censored news of the event.”
“Arbitrary arrest, torture, and disappearance of those deemed separatists are endemic and instill fear in the population.”
“In 2013, over one hundred people—Uyghurs, Han, and other ethnicities—were killed in various incidents across the region, the highest death toll since the July 2009 Urumqi protests. In some cases, heavy casualties appear to have been the result of military-style assaults on groups preparing violent attacks, as in Bachu prefecture on April 23, and in Turfan prefecture on June 26. But in other cases security forces appear to have used lethal force against crowds of unarmed protesters.”, the Report states.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Hong Kong has witnessed slow erosion of the rule of law in recent years, exemplified by increasingly strict police controls on assemblies and processions, and arbitrary Immigration Department bans on individuals critical of Beijing, such as members of the Falun Gong and exiled dissidents from the 1989 democracy spring.”
This year after it was announced that the selection of candidates for the seat of Chief Executive of Hong Kong was to be controlled by a 1,200-strong election committee filled by Communist party figures, the Occupy Central campaign started and the protesters took to the streets.