Amnesty International has documented widespread human rights violations in China that were marked by a systematic crackdown on dissent. The justice system remained plagued by unfair trials and torture and other ill-treatment in detention. China still classified information on its extensive use of the death penalty as a state secret.
Repression conducted under the guise of “anti-separatism” or “counter-terrorism” remained particularly severe in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) and Tibetan-populated areas (Tibet). Authorities subjected Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang to intrusive surveillance, arbitrary detention and forced indoctrination. From early 2017, after the Xinjiang government had enacted a regulation enforcing so-called “de-extremification”, an estimated up to one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minority people were sent to internment camps.
Police detained human rights defenders outside formal detention facilities, sometimes incommunicado, for long periods, which posed additional risk of torture and other ill-treatment to the detainees. Controls on the internet were strengthened. Repression of religious activities outside state-sanctioned churches continued. The authorities jailed religious leaders who were not recognized by the party for “endangering state security”. Freedom of expression in Hong Kong came under attack as the government uses vague and over broad charges to prosecute pro-democracy activists.
For more information on Amnesty International’s work on China, refer to the links below or contact the AIUSA China Coordination Group.
In the summer of 2019, the people of Hong Kong have repeatedly protested against a proposed extradition bill. The Hong Kong police used tear gas and pepper spray, and in some instances, guns firing bean bags and rubber bullets to disperse protesters including those remaining peaceful. Then on June 30, 2020, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) passed a new national security law for Hong Kong that entered into force in the territory the same day.
Mass detention camps began making their appearance locally in 2014, spreading rapidly throughout Xinjiang after the adoption of regional “Regulations on De-Extremification” in March 2017. The goal of these facilities appears to be replacement of religious affiliation and ethnic identity with secular, patriotic political allegiance. The Chinese government initially denied their existence, but their construction has been documented by recruitment and procurement documents and satellite imagery. Eventually, it acknowledged their existence but claimed that they were voluntary “vocational training centers.”
Since its enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020, 64 persons have been formally charged under the new law. Some may face life imprisonment if found guilty. The vaguely worded law criminalizes a broad range of acts and lacks effective human rights safeguards.
Some Uyghur parents have been separated from their children as a result of the unprecedented crackdown on ethnic populations in Xinjiang. With your voice, we can push China to end this separation.
Amnesty International will close its two offices in Hong Kong by the end of the year, the organization announced today. The local ‘section’ office will cease operations on October 31 while the regional office – which is part of Amnesty’s global International Secretariat – is due to close by the end of 2021. Regional operations will be moved to the organization’s other offices in the Asia-Pacific.
Responding to the jailing after convictions for “unauthorized assembly” of 12 people who took part in a peaceful vigil to mark the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4 last year, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director Yamini Mishra said: “The jailing of 12 Hongkongers who took part in an entirely peaceful, but ‘unauthorized’, vigil to commemorate the victims of China’s violent Tiananmen crackdown is another outrageous attack on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
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International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.