Amnesty International remains deeply concerned at reports of serious human rights violations committed throughout China.[…] This document summarizes a number of Amnesty International’s key human rights concerns on China, including: […]The ongoing crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement and other so-called "heretical organizations", leading to widespread reports of arbitrary detention, torture and deaths in custody;
Re-education through Labour (RTL)
The use of this form of administrative detention has increased considerably in recent years, According to official statistics, in 1996 there were 200,000 people in RTL camps in China. By early 2001, the number had increased to 310,000.(14) Although recent official figures are not available, the number is believed to have further increased since then - notably due to the continuing campaign against the Falun Gong (see below) and the "strike hard" campaign against crime which has continued since April 2001.
Crackdown on "cyber-dissidents"
As the number of Internet users increases in China and the authorities enforce regulations and laws to restrict expression of opinion on the Internet, Amnesty International is concerned about the growing number of politically motivated arrests and sentences in connection with the use of the Internet. The organization has records of over 40 people who are currently detained or imprisoned for Internet-related offences. They include students, political dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners. Those that have been imprisoned have been sentenced to terms of between two and eleven years. (17)
Huang Qi, a computer engineer from Sichuan, was detained on 3 June 2000 for publishing various articles on his website relating to human rights and political issues, (www.6-4tianwang.com), including reports about the independence movement in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, and the Falun Gong spiritual movement. In January 2001 Huang Qi was charged with "subversion" and tried by the Chengdu Intermediate Court in secret in August 2001. No verdict was announced, but Huang Qi remained in detention.
Crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement
"The whole country has formed a situation in which the "Falun Gong" cult is being chased by all like rats running across the street [...] We must exterminate the cult, and the evil must be totally eradicated [...]" (31)
The above statements, taken from a lengthy commentary published by Xinhua in early September 2003, make it clear that the Falun Gong spiritual movement remains a key target for repression in China.(32) Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the nature and tone of such rhetoric, particularly given ongoing reports of the widespread use of violence, including torture and ill-treatment, against Falun Gong practitioners in custody. The organization fears that the continued publication of such inflammatory statements may exacerbate such abuses.
The majority of Falun Gong detainees continue to be held in RTL camps where they are sent without charge or trial (see above). Others have been sentenced to prison terms or held against their will in psychiatric hospitals. Amnesty International considers all those detained in violation of their rights to freedom of belief, expression and association, and who have not used or advocated violence, to be prisoners of conscience.
According to overseas Falun Gong sources, the death toll of those detained in connection with their practice of Falun Gong has now mounted to over 700 people, mostly as a result of torture or ill-treatment. Amnesty International is unable to verify these figures, but continues to receive reports from various sources of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment targeted at Falun Gong practitioners across the country, particularly those who refuse to renounce their beliefs.
Amnesty International has documented cases of Falun Gong practitioners who died in custody after being detained for accessing or posting information about Falun Gong on the Internet. For example Falun Gong practitioner, Li Changjun, a 33-year-old engineering graduate, was reportedly detained on 16 May 2001 for downloading and printing information from the Internet on Falun Gong. Li Changjun had worked at the Wuhan Tax Bureau but was said to have lost his job for refusing to renounce his Falun Gong beliefs. On 27 June 2001, 40 days after his arrest, the Wuhan police notified his family of his death. His mother, Wei Sumin, was allowed to see her son’s body shortly after he died and reportedly said after seeing him, "...he had only skin and bones left. His face and neck were black and blue. His fists were clenched. His teeth were out of place. His face was distorted. His whole back looked as if it was burned and cooked. The scene was horrifying."
According to Falun Gong sources Deng Shiying (f) died on 19 July 2003, the day after her release from Jilin Women’s Prison in Changchun City, Jilin Province. Ms. Deng (42) was sentenced to seven years in prison on 18 February 2003 on charges relating to her alleged involvement in producing and distributing fliers and other material describing human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners in China. Whilst in prison, Ms. Deng reportedly suffered extended periods of beatings and torture, sometimes carried out by up to 8 other inmates at the prison. According to information received by Amnesty International, prison guards often order other prisoners to beat Falun Gong detainees in return for certain privileges and favours. As Ms. Deng’s condition deteriorated, two police officers reportedly demanded 3,000 Yuan (€ 310) from her family on 17 July 2003 to secure her release on bail for medical treatment. Her family were told to collect her from hospital on 18 July 2003, where she was described as unconscious and "near death". She died the following day.
Amnesty International urges the Chinese authorities to conduct full, impartial and independent investigations into the circumstances surrounding these alleged deaths in custody as well as all other reports of torture or ill-treatment against Falun Gong practitioners in detention. All those responsible for such abuses must be brought to justice in line with international fair trial standards.