Wednesday, December 7, 2011

China: Enforced Disappearances On The Rise

12/5/2011 China (IPS) - China is experiencing the worst crackdown since 1989 with a rising number of enforced disappearances of activists, a prominent Chinese dissident now living in exile has stated.
Liao Yiwu, a former Chinese political prisoner and eminent author most well known for his Tiananmen Square poem Massacre, fled China overland via Vietnam this July to live in exile abroad.

"It’s the worst crackdowns since 1989," Liao told IPS over the phone from the United States, where he was on a book tour for ‘God is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China’, a documentation of illegal house churches regularly raided by the government.

"First (the government) started to toughen their control over the Internet. Then they started to use the mafia method to treat intellectuals or dissidents to make them disappear," said Liao. The writer believes that a softening Western stance towards human rights accounts for the increased abuses.

"After Jun. 4 in 1989 (the government) were at least sometimes worried about the pressure from Western countries. But now they have taken a hardened stance - they refuse to bow down to pressure because they feel like the West relies on them economically.

"Western countries compromise their principles in order to curry favour with China so they no longer talk about human rights. So the government is becoming more bold in the way that they crack down on dissidents," he added.

Human rights organisations have raised concern over the increasing number of "enforced disappearances" in the country - a term coined to describe Chinese activists secretly detained by the state.

"Over the past two years the problem in China has worsened considerably," says Phelim Kine, a senior Asia researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). "Since the start of this year at least 30 high profile individuals were abducted - half for a period of days and weeks. We know that if they are targeting high profile individuals there will be many more who are not well known."

The increasing crackdowns come as China announces that the practice of enforced disappearances might soon be enshrined in law.

On Aug. 30 China published proposed revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law which would give police the power to legally imprison suspects in secret for up to six months with no right to contact their families or a lawyer(Source).

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