Saturday, 4 June 2011

China Launches The Worst Repression In World History

As the anniversary of June 4 Tiananmen massacre draws closer, the Chinese government and its secret police have unleashed a wave of terror. Unlike the its name People's Republic it has become a police state where even relatives or any person remotely connected with dissenters are put behind bar.

This happens every year but this year the cruelty is far more even by the Communist standards. It has been reported in various media that social media activists and bloggers are simple disappearing for the past few months. These measures are being taken to stop any kind of Tunisia or Egypt like revolution. Unfortunately what the Chinese government does not realize that it is these oppressive and demonic policies which will keep the fire of democracy and the yearning for freedom burning in the hearts of Chinese people.

The Missing
The whereabouts of several Chinese activists — last seen being hauled off by police — remain unknown. None have been formally charged. Past experiences indicate that the longer activists are held by police without charges, the greater the likelihood that they may be subjected to torture to extract “confessions.”

  • Tang Jitian, a human rights lawyer, was taken away by police on the evening of Feb. 16. He had just eaten lunch with a dozen other activists who were discussing how to provide assistance to the blind activist Chen Guangcheng, now under house arrest in Shandong province. Tang’s residence was searched.
  • Jiang Tianyong, a human rights lawyer, was taken from his brother’s home on Feb. 19 and driven away by men identified by his family as Beijing police officers. That evening, police searched his apartment and confiscated his computer.
  • Teng Biao, another human rights lawyer, went missing after leaving his home to meet with friends on the afternoon of Feb. 19. Police from Beijing Public Security Bureau’s National Security Unit searched Teng’s home the next day, confiscating two computers, a printer, books, and several DVDs.
  • On Feb. 19, two dozen policemen searched the home of Gu Chuan, a Beijing writer and activist, and then took Gu away to an unknown location. The police confiscated two computers, two cell phones, and some books. His wife, Li Xinai, also an activist, has been placed under house arrest.
  • On the morning of Feb. 25, democracy and human rights activist Li Hai was taken from his home in the Beijing suburbs by local police. He returned home late that evening, but was warned not to leave his home again, go online, or attempt to contact anyone. On Feb. 26, Li sent a text message to friends alerting them that he was being guarded by three men; if he turned his cell phone off, he warned, it meant that there was trouble. Shortly after 3 p.m., his phone went dead. He has not been heard from since.

The Accused
Within the past several days, several activists across China have been detained for “endangering state security.” Those convicted on similar charges in recent years have faced prison sentences of a decade or longer.
  • Ran Yunfei, 46, a writer, blogger, and activist, was detained for “subversion of state power” on Feb. 24. Ran is a member of the ethnic Tu minority who lives in the city of Chengdu in western Sichuan province; he writes for the magazine Sichuan Literature and tweets frequently. His Twitter account has more than 44,000 followers. Police also searched his home and confiscated his computer.
  • Hua Chunhui, 47, is a cyberactivist and midlevel manager at an insurance company in eastern Jiangsu province. He was seized by police on Feb. 21 and detained on suspicion of “endangering state security.” Hua, using the Twitter account @wxhch64, has tweeted messages about the “Jasmine Revolution.” Hua and his fiancĂ©e Wang Yi have been active in civil society initiatives in recent years.
  • Liang Haiyi was taken in for questioning on Feb. 19 by police in Harbin City, Heilongjiang province. According to Liang Xiaojun, a lawyer retained by her family, Liang was detained on suspicion of “subversion of state power.” Police accused her of “posting information from foreign websites regarding ‘Jasmine Revolution’ actions on domestic websites” such as QQ, the popular Chinese social networking site.
  • Ding Mao, 45, was seized on Feb. 19 and detained in Sichuan province on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” As a philosophy student at Lanzhou University, Ding became a student leader during the 1989 pro-democracy protests. He was twice imprisoned for his activism, first in 1989 and again in 1992. He has spent a total of 10 years in prison, and is currently the general manager of an investment company.
  • Chen Wei, a 42-year-old human rights activist based in Sichuan, was criminally detained for “inciting subversion of state power” on Feb. 21. Police later searched his home, confiscating a computer, two hard drives, and a USB drive. He is currently being held at the Suining City Detention Center.
  • Zheng Chuangtian, a human rights activist, was detained for “inciting subversion of state power” by police in Huilai County, Guangdong province on Feb. 26. Police also searched Zheng’s home.
As the world watches and reacts to the events of the Arab Spring unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa, commentators are drawing parallels to the Chinese pro-democracy movement of 1989, both in recognition of the symbolic similarities of the demonstrations and in fear of how repressive regimes in the region might respond. At the same time, in China, the current leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have instituted the most severe repression of dissent and activism since the post-Tiananmen crackdown.

Twenty-two years later, the legacy of the 1989 pro-democracy movement remains as relevant as ever for both China and the international community, as the Chinese government still has not addressed the human rights atrocities committed during the violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Beijing between June 3 and 4, 1989. In fact, the government is farther than it has been in years from guaranteeing Chinese citizens their basic rights and freedoms, the very cause which brought them to Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the streets of many cities in the spring of 1989.

The Chinese government has long defied international calls for justice for the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre. For example, in 2008, the UN Committee against Torture requested that Chinese officials

“conduct a full and impartial investigation into the suppression of the Democracy movement in Beijing in June 1989, provide information on the persons who are still detained from that period, inform the family members of their findings, offer apologies and reparation as appropriate and prosecute those found responsible for excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment.”

To date, the Chinese government has launched no such investigation, much less has it apologized, offered compensation, or held individuals accountable for killing, injuring, imprisoning, persecuting and torturing individuals for participating in peaceful protests. Families continue to be barred from publicly commemorating the deaths of their loved ones and from seeking accountability. Activists have been persecuted and harassed for independently investigating the crackdown or for calling for a rectification of the government’s “verdict” that the pro-democracy movement was a “counter-revolutionary riot.”

While the time around June 4th is always among the most “sensitive” on the government’s calendar of political repression, the police harassment, restrictions on movement, and other forms of intimidation that have become an annual occurrence are taking place this year in a more tense environment. The steady backsliding on human rights and the rule of law in China, which began in earnest during the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, has reached a peak in recent months as the government has mobilized police across the country to detain, disappear, and intimidate hundreds of individuals. At least 48 individuals have been subjected to criminal detention since mid-February, and so far seven of those have been formally arrested and one already convicted. Sixteen remain in some form of detention as of the time of writing. At least 22 individuals, including a number of prominent human rights lawyers, have been subjected to enforced disappearances, some for as long as 70 days. At least 12 individuals are still missing. Reports from individuals who have been detained or disappeared in recent months indicate that torture and mistreatment have been routine, as police seek to pressure these individuals to abandon their human rights activism or keep silent about their treatment during detention.

The support of the international community is now more critical than ever, as Chinese activists face ever-greater risks for speaking out against abuses or expressing their aspirations.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) should convene a special session on China to discuss the appropriateness of its membership on the Council. The current crackdown on activism and dissent in China is the worst in over 20 years. China has served on the HRC since 2006; however, during the two terms of its membership, the Chinese government has continued its pattern of gross and systematic violations of Chinese citizens’ rights. The Chinese government has repeatedly and directly contravened those international human rights treaties which it signed and/or ratified, including, among others, the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Degrading, or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment, which China signed and ratified in 1988.

In light of the recent actions the HRC and the UN General Assembly has taken with respect to human rights abuses in the Middle East and North Africa, including the suspension of Libya’s membership on the HRC, and the Commissions of Inquiry and fact finding missions to Libya and other countries, we urge the HRC to authorize the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to launch an inquiry into the current crackdown on human rights and pro-democracy activists in China and demand that the Chinese government take concrete measures to address past and ongoing human rights abuses.