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China holding thousands of people under secret residential surveillance system

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According to Al Jazeera, campaigners claim that China systematization arbitrary and secret detention’ by holding thousands of people under ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (RSDL).

According to Safeguard Defenders, a rights organisation based in Spain, as many as 27,208 to 56,963 people have gone through China’s RSDL system since 2013, citing data from the Supreme People’s Court and the testimony of survivors and lawyers.

“These high profile cases obviously attract a lot of attention, but they shouldn’t detract from the fact that there’s no transparency. Collecting data that is available and analysing the trends, the estimate is that every year 4,000 to 5,000 people are disappeared into the RSDL system alone,” said Michael Caster, a co-founder of Safeguard Defenders, Al Jazeera reported.

Caster estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people would pass through the system by 2020, up from 500 in 2013.

Among those named are well-known figures such as artist Ai Wei Wei and human rights lawyers Wang Yu and Wang Quanzhang, who were detained during China’s 2015 crackdown on human rights defenders.

Other foreigners who have gone through RSDL include Swedish activist Peter Dahlin, co-founder of Safeguard Defenders, and Canadian missionaries Kevin and Julia Garrett, who were accused of espionage in 2014.

According to William Nee, a research and advocacy coordinator at China Human Rights Defenders, the use of the extrajudicial detention system has progressed from an exception in its early days to a more widely used tool.

“Before, when Ai Wei Wei was taken away, they had to make an excuse that it was really about his business, or a tax issue or something like that. So there’s this trend, a decade or two ago, where they would use a pretence to detain someone when the real reason was their public participation or their political views,” said Nee, as per the report.

Members of the Communist Party, state employees, and anyone involved in ‘public affairs’ are held in a parallel system known as ‘liuzhi.’

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people have been detained in liuzhi each year since its inception in 2018.

Both RSDL and liuzhi conditions have been described as torture, and inmates are held without the right to legal counsel.

Survivors of both systems have reported sleep deprivation, isolation, solitary confinement, beatings, and forced stress positions, according to multiple rights organisations.

According to the report, inmates in some cases may be placed in the infamous “tiger chair,” which restricts limb movement for days at a time.

According to the report, RSDL, liuzhi, and similar extrajudicial procedures have “systematised arbitrary and secret detention.”

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Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brandon covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.




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