Human Rights

Joshua Wong, Denise Ho testify before US congressmen, call for passage of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/09/18
By: Micah McCartney, Taiwan News

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Pro-democracy Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong and Denise Ho testified on Capitol Hill

Joshua Wong testifies in Washington D.C. Sept. 17 (Taken from Congressional-Executive Commission on China livestream)
Tuesday (Sept. 17), pleading with lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would impose consequences on China in the case of a brutal crackdown and further erosion of the city's autonomy.

Two of the most visible faces of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, Joshua Wong and Cantonese pop star Denise Ho, met a bipartisan group of U.S. congressmen on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. They spoke out about the deteriorating freedoms in Hong Kong and lobbied for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

The hearing, entitled "Hong Kong's Summer of Discontent and U.S. Policy Responses," was held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and presided over by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

In his opening remarks, McGovern lauded Hongkongers as an inspiration to the world for risking their education, jobs, and even lives in the tireless resistance. Condemning Hong Kong authorities' vicious response to the protests, he asserted that U.S. companies should not be abetting police's use of excessive force by exporting crowd-control equipment such as tear gas, a position reflected in the PROTECT Hong Kong Act he and Rep. Smith jointly authored.    [FULL  STORY]

Return Minors Housed in State-Run Institutions to RelativesHuman Rights Watch
Date: September 15, 2019

The entrance to the No. 4 High School with a sign that reads “Entering school grounds, please speak Mandarin,” left, in Peyzawat, Xinjiang region.
 © 2018 AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

(New York) – Chinese authorities should immediately release to their families children held in “child welfare” institutions and boarding schools in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should cease unnecessarily separating Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim children from their families.

Under China’s “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism,” an estimated 1 million Turkic Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in unlawful political education camps in Xinjiang since 2017. An unknown number are being held in detention centers and prisons. Chinese authorities have housed countless children whose parents are detained or in exile in state-run child welfare institutions and boarding schools without parental consent or access.

“The Chinese government’s forced separation of children is perhaps the cruelest element of its oppression in Xinjiang,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Children should be either immediately returned to the custody of relatives in China or allowed to join their parents outside the country.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed five families from the Xinjiang region now living outside the country who described having no contact with their children. Some know and others believe the authorities placed their children in state-run institutions without their family’s consent.    [FULL  STORY]

National Review
Date: September 16, 2019
By: Jay Nordlinger

Former Xinjiang University president Tashpolat Teyip (left) at the University of Paris in an undated photo (Nury Teyip)

The Chinese state is committing monstrous crimes against the Uyghur minority. So monstrous are these crimes, it can be hard to take it all in. To focus the mind. The state has rounded up something like 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities and put them into internment camps, or reeducation camps, or concentration camps, or whatever you choose to call them. Many have been tortured to death.

I wrote a piece about the general issue last year (a piece that, while general, cites individual cases).

Here and now, I would like to call attention to one man. Stalin is reputed to have said, “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.” Sakharov disliked talking about human rights in general. (His widow, Yelena Bonner, told me this.) He needed to talk about individuals and their predicaments.

Consider Tashpolat Teyip. Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action notice in his behalf. Apparently, his execution is imminent. Teyip is a prominent intellectual and educator — a geographer and a former president of Xinjiang University. In 2017, he was arrested and “disappeared.” The authorities do not disclose his whereabouts today. The charge against him was “separatism” or “splittism,” an old charge in the “People’s Republic.”

Radio Free Asia quoted Teyip’s brother, Nury, who is in exile. “All of the intellectuals and outstanding scholars are being charged with groundless crimes, and just one of them is my brother. I call on the international community to act and save not only my brother, but my people as a whole.”    [FULL  STORY]

Protests there have demonstrated the enduring appeal of American values and power. But can Washington live up to that promise?

The Atlantic
Date: SEP 15, 2019
By: Uri Friedman and Timothy McLaughlin

Protesters hold up five fingers and a U.S. flag during a rally to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, China September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis – RC1EAFF1C560

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement, the David to China’s Goliath, is calling out to the land of the free for help—and help may be on the way. The question is whether it will be substantial enough and fast enough, and have the support of the president of the United States.

For months now, a small but zealous contingent of American flag-waving protesters has been a fixture of the huge demonstrations in Hong Kong, including today, when dozens of people again carried the U.S. flag during a rally held in defiance of a police ban. As the struggle to resist China’s tightening grip on the semiautonomous region has intensified, protesters have appealed to the United States in larger numbers and with greater urgency. Last weekend, tens of thousands of protesters marched near the U.S. consulate in the territory, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and carrying signs that urged President Donald Trump to “liberate Hong Kong.” Perhaps more realistically, they also issued a practical plea: for Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would grant the United States further means to defend the territory’s freedoms and autonomy.

Faced with Trump’s scattershot approach to the ferment in Hong Kong, which doesn’t rank as a high-priority issue for his administration, activists are placing their faith in legislation that ultimately will only be as effective as the executive branch’s willingness to implement it.

Nevertheless, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the sponsors of the bill in the Senate, is optimistic that the U.S. government will deliver on its promise. That scene near the consulate a week ago was a vivid reminder that America is still a potent “symbol of democracy and freedom” around the world, he told The Atlantic. The protesters “see a country where people vehemently disagree on public policy and say horrible things about each other, but no one goes to jail for it,” he noted.    [FULL  STORY]

A look at the evolution of China's Xinjiang narrative and how it is controlled by Beijing.

Al Jazeera
Date: 08 Sep 2019

After months of outright silence and even denial on the subject of Xinjiang and the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs, China's state broadcaster CCTV aired a 15-minute documentary on October 16, 2018. Not only did it acknowledge the existence of internment camps but it vigorously defended them.

The segment marked a major shift in the government's messaging on its policy in the region.

"It told the story of what the Chinese government wanted to communicate about what was happening in Xinjiang," says Shelley Zhang, a writer for China Uncensored and observer of the country's media trends.

"In Xinjiang, there was radical extremism, there was terrorism, there was ethnic separatism. And the government is fighting this as part of a 'worldwide battle against terrorism'. This was how the government framed it."

The piece did not stop at defending the need for the camps as a proportionate response to a terrorist threat. CCTV's coverage also highlighted their role not in suppressing the Uighur population – as has been reported in the international press – but rather in promoting minority culture and providing valuable vocational training opportunities.

"Western reports are fake news and misleading," Victor Gao, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing told The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi.   [FULL  STORY]


Business Insider
September 13, 2019
By: Ellen Ioanes

In this Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, photo, a guard tower and barbed wire fences are seen around a facility in the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region. This is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language and their religion and subject to political indoctrination. Now, the Chinese government is also forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food industries, in what activists call “black factories.”
 Ng Han Guan / Associated Press

  • A prominent Chinese Uyghur may be facing imminent execution by the Chinese government, Amnesty International warns. Tashpolat Tiyip was seized in Germany while on a trip to a conference there, and has been held in unknown conditions since.
  • As many as 3 million Chinese Muslims, including Uyghurs, are being held in concentration camps in China's Xinjiang province. They face interrogation, torture, and indoctrination by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • "The attack on these elites will destroy the hope of Uyghur society and plunge Uyghurs into despair," Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut said about the detention of Uyghur intellectuals. "Perhaps the Communist Party of China would like to see this result."

Uyghur intellectual Tashpolat Tiyip may be facing imminent execution by the Chinese government after two years of languishing in secret detention, Amnesty International reports.

Tiyip was the president of Xinjiang University, and was visiting Germany with students for a conference in 2017 when he was forcibly detained while traveling, one of hundreds of prominent Uyghurs who have disappeared as Chinese authorities have relocated millions of these Muslim citizens to concentration camps in the country's west.

Tiyip underwent a secret and "grossly unfair" trial where he was convicted of "separatism" and sentenced to a "suspended death sentence" — where the detainee is eligible for commutation after two years provided they have committed no other crimes — two years ago this September, according to Amnesty International. The rights group reports that he is being held in unknown conditions, and that his execution could be imminent, as the two-year reprieve period comes to an end this month.    [FULL  STORY]

Trade fight gives U.S. companies an incentive to replace Chinese labor with automation.

The Wall Street Journal
Date: Sept. 12, 2019
By: James Freeman

Many observers have warned that the Chinese could dominate the field of artificial intelligence. Maybe it will dominate

President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan in June. PHOTO: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
them. The potential impact of technology on the Chinese workforce could be driving Beijing to try again for a U.S. trade deal.

Lingling Wei and Chao Deng report in the Journal:

China is looking to narrow the scope of its negotiations with the U.S. to only trade matters, putting thornier national-security issues on a separate track in a bid to break deadlocked talks with the U.S.

Chinese officials are hoping that such an approach would help both sides resolve some immediate issues and offer a path out of the impasse, according to people familiar with the plan.

The shift comes as President Trump on Wednesday delayed tariffs on some Chinese imports.

Workers and investors have seen their share of head fakes about the direction of trade negotiations from officials in both governments. But the Journal report suggests the Chinese regime is willing to do more than buy soybeans:

In preparation for a new round of talks scheduled to take place in Washington early next month, Chinese negotiators are making plans to boost purchases of U.S. agricultural products, give American companies greater access to China’s market and bolster intellectual-property protections, these people said.

Meanwhile U.S. officials seem to have wisely selected their top two priorities:

In Washington, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he was cautiously optimistic the two sides could make meaningful progress.

He said the U.S.’s top concerns remain intellectual-property rights and forced joint ventures, as well as currency issues.

A key question has been how long Chinese dictator-for-life Xi Jinping can wait to resolve the trade dispute before many more U.S. companies move manufacturing out of China. He has some room for error in part because rising alternatives like Vietnam can’t compete with China’s massive workforce. But what if manufacturers decide they don’t need a massive workforce?    [FULL  STORY]

‘In the current situation, everything must be done to avoid violence,’ German chancellor says in Beijing

The Guardian
Date: Fri 6 Sep 2019
By: Agence France-Presse

 Angela Merkel says she discussed civil rights in Hong Kong with China’s leaders. Photograph: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong “must be guaranteed” after meeting with the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, in Beijing.

Hong Kong has faced months of pro-democracy protests, and ahead of Merkels three-day visit to China this week demonstrators in the semi-autonomous city appealed to the German chancellor to support them in her meetings with China’s leaders.

Merkel said she had discussed tensions in the former British colony, and civil rights there, with her hosts and had “pointed out that these rights and freedoms must of course be guaranteed”.

Hong and Kong? Berlin's panda cubs at centre of Chinese human rights row

“In the current situation, everything must be done to avoid violence,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with Li.

“And the solutions can only be found in a political process – meaning through dialogue.”

Merkel arrived in China on Thursday with a large business delegation in tow. The companies travelling with Merkel include Volkswagen, Allianz and Deutsche Bank, according to the German daily Bild, which carried a headline Friday that read: “Do our companies not care about Hong Kong’s freedom?”

Press access to her visit was unusually tight, with a number of members of the Beijing foreign press corps, including AFP, unable to get accreditation for the event.    [FULL  STORY]

Date: September 6, 2019
By: Stephen Nellis

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

(Reuters) – Apple Inc on Friday confirmed that China’s Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority group considered a security threat by Beijing, had been the target of attacks due to iPhone security flaws, but disputed rival Alphabet Inc’s description of the effort to track users of the smartphone in real time.

Google Project Zero researchers said last week that five security flaws led to a “sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years.”

The researchers did not specify the communities, but CNN, TechCrunch and other news organizations reported that the attacks had been aimed at monitoring Uighurs. Reuters recently reported that China hacked Asian telecommunications companies to spy on Uighur travelers.

Apple said on Friday the attack “was narrowly focused” and affected “fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community” rather than the “en masse” hack of iPhone users described by Google researchers. Apple also said it fixed the issue in February, within 10 days of being notified by Google.    [FULL  STORY]

The News Lens
Date: 2019/08/30
By: Dinah Gardner

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

On the International Day of the Disappeared, China is seen as the worst perpetrator of state-sanctioned enforced disappearances this year.

August 30 is the Day of the Disappeared. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was the name of a horror film. Indeed, what it commemorates is horrific.

The International Day of the Disappeared, on every August 30, was created to draw the world’s attention to the victims of state-sanctioned enforced disappearances. Every day countless numbers of people are snatched up into secret imprisonment, and their families are left to wonder where they are and whether they’ll ever see each other again.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) loves to argue it is the biggest and best at everything. Here’s another statistic it can boast of: it is now a world leader in enforced disappearances. Since 2012, when Xi Jinping (習近平) took the helm of the CCP, the party has launched several new mechanisms for vanishing people. The victim base has expanded from rights lawyers, journalists and dissidents to foreigners kidnapped for hostage diplomacy, celebrities, and businesspeople.

Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

Taiwanese are at risk of being disappeared, too. Although official figures are hard to come by, some estimated between 1 and 3 million Taiwanese nationals residing in China. Considering China’s pattern of bullying the island nation, Taiwanese citizens are particularly vulnerable targets.

On the Day of the Disappeared this year, a large group of international human rights NGOs including Safeguard Defenders are speaking out against China, the worst perpetrator of state-conducted disappearances in the world. Here are the three main systems for enforced disappearances in China:

The CCP has placed over 1 million Uyghurs into "re-education camps" in Xinjiang.

CCP authorities terrorize human rights defenders and lawyers by swallowing them up into a system of secret detention called “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL)."

In 2018, the CCP launched its fearsome anti-corruption watchdog, the National Security Commission (NSC). The Commission, which operates outside the country’s judicial system, has the power to disappear both party members (that’s over 90 million people), anyone working for the Chinese state (many millions more, theoretically including nurses, kindergarten teachers, etc) and anyone from anywhere who is connected to an NSC investigation. The detention system called Liuzhi (留置) works like RSDL — it spirits detainees off to a secret location for intense interrogation in isolated cells for up to six months.

All victims who are trapped in China’s ever-growing ecosystem of enforced disappearances are extremely vulnerable to physical and mental torture. A few of them won’t make it out alive.    [FULL  STORY]