Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds
of thousands of people identified as drug users in China and across Southeast
Asia are held without due process in centers where they may be subjected to
torture, and physical and sexual violence in the name of "treatment". The charge
is contained in a 23-page Human Rights
Watch (HRW), recent report titled " Torture in the Name of Treatment:
Human Rights Abuses in Vietnam,
China, Cambodia, and Lao PDR." These
centers, added the expert organization based in New York (United States), have
received financial support and funds from donor countries and UN agencies, but the
centers systematically deny people rights to effective HIV and drug dependency
treatment, and have ignored forced labor and abuse.
The HRW document shows that more than 350 thousand persons, identified as "habitual drugs users", have been locked up in facilities comparable to real prisons, in the name of "treatment" to follow a medical detox. The deprivation of liberty could last up to five years and even involved ordinary homeless citizens, mentally ill and street children. In the camp the "guests" are subjected to military-style exercises, chanting slogans and working conditions comparable to slavery as part of an elusive "therapy".
Joe Amon, director of health and human rights at Human Rights Watch, stresses that "beatings, forced labor and humiliation" are not part of the therapy indicated for combating addiction. " These centers need to be closed, and voluntary, effective drug treatment provided in their place." Beijing, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Vientiane systematically violate the rights of patients, depriving people of personal liberty. They are picked up by police, or "volunteered" by local authorities or family members who buckle under social pressure to make their village "drug free." And once inside, they cannot leave. No clinical evaluation of drug dependency is performed, resulting in the detention of occasional drug users as well as others merely suspected of using drugs.
Recent research has also shown that these camps have fostered the spread of diseases like AIDS or the rapid growth in the number of HIV-positive. In Vietnam, "occupational therapy" is an integral part of drug addiction treatment and centers are nothing more than forced labor camps, in which tens of thousands of people work for six days a week in the most menial and laborious tasks . And punishment for any mistakes often lead to torture. A practice that, in addition to Vietnam, is applied with equal harshness in Cambodia, Laos and China, where convict labor is exploited for the production of objects and artifacts.