China’s human rights activists continue to speak out on behalf of victims of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s abuses of power, despite the threat of arbitrary detention, torture, and forced ‘disappearance,’ an overseas rights group said on Thursday.
“2018 was another year of harsh reprisals against human rights defenders by Chinese authorities for their peaceful exercise of and advocacy for human rights,” the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) network, which compiles reports from groups inside China, said in its annual report.
“Types of retaliation included the use of torture, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention,” the report said, adding that the government had also threatened activists who tried to cooperate with United Nations human rights experts.
Anyone who tried to speak out for marginalized and persecuted communities, report violations, or complain about the perpetrators of rights violations “bore the brunt of government retaliation” last year, the report said.
The group called on China to release all ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims subjected to mass arbitrary detention in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
“End arbitrary detention of ethnic Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims in the [XUAR], and shut down internment camps and other indoctrination programs established under ‘counter-terrorism’ and ‘counter-extremism’ policies,” the report said in its recommendations section.
It also called for the release of all detained and imprisoned rights activists and human rights lawyers, and for those who mistreated or tortured them to be held criminally responsible.
“CHRD urges the Chinese government … to provide detainees and prisoners prompt access to proper medical treatment … and end the practice of enforced disappearance,” it said.
The report also said that wholesale violations of basic human rights had reached unprecedented levels under the administration of President Xi Jinping.