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    » 01/21/2013, 00.00

    CHINA

    Forced labor camps, Party game continues amid announcements and denials

    Chen Weijun

    For the third time in a month an official voice of the Communist regime announces the closing of laojiao, the fields of "re-education through labor" set up by Mao Zedong to silence opposition and now used against Christians, Falun Gong practitioners and dissidents. The first two were denied in the following days. The struggle for reform inside the CCP.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese communist regime continues to send contrasting signals regarding reforms, especially those related to human rights and the rule of law. After a month of announcements and denials, today, state media reported statements by a senior government official stating that the controversial system of forced labor camps is expected to be abolished "by the end of 2013." However, such statements were published, and later denied on at least two occasions in January.

    The last in order of time was made by Chen Jiping, deputy director of the China Law Society. According to the China Daily, the official newspaper close to the Party, the official was part of a high-level meeting that decided to limit the use of labour camps until the National People's Congress (NPC, the "Chinese Parliament ") meets, the only body able to abolish the whole system of laojiao [re-education through labour -ed.] The meeting is scheduled for March, when the new government headed by Xi Jinping enters into force.

    According to Chen, "the system of forced labor camps should be abolished by 2013. It was a useful tool while the Communist Party consolidated its power, but today we have a strong rule of law and therefore no longer needed laojiao . Yet to entirely abolish them the approval of the highest legislative body, which introduced them in 1953, is needed".

    Before Meng Jianzhu, Secretary of the Committee for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China. had spoken on the issue of "State gulags" and an open editorial in the People's Daily. Both announcements, however, were later contradicted by other officials who made it clear: a "reform" of the system is under discussion not its abolition.

    Born as rehabilitation centres for counter-revolutionaries and common criminals, the laojiao have become over time a tool to silence dissidents and critics of the Communist Party. With a hotly contested reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the government has allowed the police to hold any Chinese citizen for three years in labor camps without a judgment of a court of law.

    Unofficial estimates say that between 190 thousand to 2 million people are interned in laojiao. The China Daily says that there are approximately 320 laojiao labor camps, where 500 thousand people are locked up, most criminals from the drugs world. In these labor camps - organized as farms or industries - the prisoners have a punishing schedule, up to 12-15 hours, and are given a minimum monthly wage. Here, unofficial Christians, Catholic bishops and priests and members of the Falun Gong sect are detained and still held.

     

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    See also

    08/01/2013 CHINA
    Reform of the labor camps, the skepticism of civil society
    The announcement leaked yesterday clashes with messages of a very different nature from state media: "The authorities want to reform, not eliminate, the laojiao." And human rights activists show little confidence: "Maybe it's just a cosmetic change, change a name and they are happy."

    07/02/2013 CHINA
    Guangdong and Yunnan announce the abolition of forced labor camps (laojiao)
    The two provinces have decided, in the wake of an indication of the central government to close the camps for "re-education through labor". But experts dampen enthusiasm: "Declarations and denials been going on for a month, it is too early to celebrate. And China needs a real rule of law, declarations by communists is not enough. "

    14/11/2007 CHINA
    Condemned to forced labour for seeking Political reform of Party
    Liu Jie was condemned without trial to 18 months of forced labour in a military farm yesterday. At the beginning of October he had written an open letter signed by 12,510 people asking the Communist Congress for political and legal reform.

    26/01/2013 CHINA
    Asylums and mutilation: China’s new forms of torture
    While the central government debates whether to reform the system of "re-education through labor" cases of human rights violations multiply and worsen. The story of Chen Qingxia, wife of a mentally ill man, beaten until she lost the use of her legs as she tried to present his petition to the central government. Her husband was interned in a psychiatric hospital and her 12 year old son has disappeared into thin air.

    29/04/2010 CHINA
    Pre-Expo “cleansing”, dissidents arrested, sent to camps
    The People’s Republic of China has begun cleansing Shanghai of its dissidents and human rights activists in preparation of the official opening of the Shanghai World Expo, scheduled for 1 May. Some undesirables are arrested; others are sent to láojiào (re-education-through-labour) camps; those from neighbouring provinces are “invited” not to come for the Expo.



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