Beijing, February 6: As many as 50,000 people, including 10,000 in the year 2020 are feared to have been detained in China under a draconian surveillance law passed by the communist leadership under a “systematized, arbitrary and secret detention” policy of the country in which authorities can jail anybody for up to six months without permission, says a media report.
Under Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) policy, the Chinese police can now detain anyone, native or foreign, for up to six months at a specific location without disclosing their whereabouts, The Hong Kong Post reported citing a report by Spain-based rights group Safeguard Democracy.
“Anywhere between 27,000 and 56,000 people may have suffered such detention in the last seven years. Thousands more are said to be in detention as of date.In 2020 alone, over 10,000 people were detained, it is suspected, the report cited by The Hong Kong Post said.
The issue of the policy of secret detention without trial was first exposed last September when China released two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, after detaining them for over a thousand days. Media reports say many of the detainees are well-known personalities who may have fallen foul of Chinese authorities.
“The number includes well-known names including artist Ai Wei Wei and human rights lawyers Wang Yu and Wang Quanzhang, who were caught up in China’s 2015 crackdown on human rights defenders. Other foreigners have also gone through RSDL, like Peter Dahlin, a Swedish activist and co-founder of Safeguard Defenders, and Canadian missionaries Kevin and Julia Garrett, who was accused of espionage in 2014,” The Hong Kong Post reported.
It added that China has a parallel system of unaccounted-for detention called “liuzhi”. It is reserved for communist party members, state employees and, anyone involved in public affairs. The system, introduced in 2018, has led to thousands of detentions every year since then.Citing Al Jazeera, the media outlet reported that the conditions under both RSDL and “liuzhi” have been described as tantamount to torture, and inmates are held without a right to legal counsel.
Sleep deprivation, isolation, solitary confinement, beatings, and forced stress positions have been reported by survivors of both systems, according to multiple rights groups.
In some cases, inmates may be placed in an infamous “tiger chair” which restricts limb movement for days at a time, according to the HK Post. Meanwhile, China refused to comment on the “terrible treatment” of the illegal detainees, the ministry of foreign affairs did comment on the detention of Canadians, Spavor and Kovrig. “The pair was suspected of endangering national security their lawful rights had been guaranteed and they were not held in arbitrary detention while their cases moved forward in accordance with the law,” the Chinese foreign said.