16 April, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 02/22/2010 16:39
CHINA
Laojiao, China’s shame, where 50 million people have been detained
Administrative detention in laojiao centres is often due to petty crimes but also to causing “trouble” or demanding justice. In all cases though, it entails forced labour. Unofficial estimates put to the current number of people in laojiao facilities at 500,000. Up to 50 million have gone through them since the 1950s.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tens of thousands of people are held in laojiao (re-education through labour) centres, which are virtual forced labour camps. They are there without due process or trial, deemed troublemakers or guilty of petitioning the authorities. Sentencing people to long periods of administrative detention is a common practice of local authorities and police. Internees and their families are often not even notified of the reasons.  

The US-based Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) estimates that up to 500,000 people could still be in such facilities. Other rights groups, using information published by the justice ministry, say the number could have dropped to 190,000. Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based economist who has led calls to abolish laojiao, says there are more than 300 centres holding an average of 1,000 to 2,000 prisoners each. In addition, many unofficial centres also exist, usually holding people for days and weeks without charges.

For the past two years, Beijing has been drafting legislation to abolish laojiao centres. By contrast, most laogai (reform-through-labour) facilities were rebranded as prisons after the Communist Party officially ended the use of the name in 1994. The Laogai Research Foundation estimates that 40 million to 50 million people have been imprisoned in the laogai system since the 1950s.

Laojiao is generally used to detain persons for minor crimes such as prostitution, burglary and assault. In a typical case reported by state media in November, a restaurant manager in Shenzhen was sentenced to one year of laojiao for distributing forged banknotes.

However, rights groups have continued to document the detention of people deemed prisoners of conscience. Among them is Shenyang-based Zhang Huaiyang, who was sentenced to 18 months of laojiao in June for posting online the Charter '08 for democratic reform and other political articles.  He tried, unsuccessfully, to challenge his sentence in local courts, according to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Defenders. Another dissident in a laojiao centre is Zhang Jie. She was detained many times for petitioning Beijing over a dispute that began in 2003 when her family sought better terms of compensation over the demolition of their home.

LRF founder Harry Wu spent the next 19 years in the laogai system. He was arrested and sent to a camp in 1960 for protesting against the Soviet invasion of Hungary. After his release in 1979 he left China for the United States where he has been fighting this indecency ever since.

Laojiao prisoners are forced to work, officially to reform them for society. However, they are often used by the authorities as cheap labour, for example to make balls for the 2008 Beijing Olympics or export goods like lights, shoes, car parts and hand tools for the Christmas shopping season, Hu said.

The authorities “don't need any evidence, they don't need any trial” and for prisoners “there is no right of appeal,” Hu said. “The government keeps saying it wants a nation ruled by law, but the movement is backwards.”

The United Nations has condemned prison without due process and has called on China to abolish laogai facilities, which are in violation of international conventions.

China’s National People’s Congress formally announced in 2005 that it would draft legislation to change the laojiao system, but in 2008 Teng Wei, deputy director of the NPC's criminal law office, said several key issues still needed "further discussion".

According to official media, the main disagreement that has held up change pits the Ministry of Public Security, which seeks to keep the laojiao system intact, against the Supreme People's Court, which favours judicial procedure for all sentences. In the meantime, nothing has changed.

The abolition of laojiao will take "at least five to ten years,” Hu told the South China Morning Post. One reason is that "some officials think it is necessary to stabilise society", Hu said. "Of course, another major reason is that the laojiao system creates huge profits.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
02/19/2007 CHINA
UN believes China might abolish forced labour
01/21/2013 CHINA
Forced labor camps, Party game continues amid announcements and denials
by Chen Weijun
04/04/2007 CINA
Chongqing: authorities to let lawyers represent lagoai inmates
05/14/2009 CHINA
Lawyers beaten and arrested for inquirying into the death of a Falun Gong member
01/12/2007 CHINA
Underground bishop, a “humble but extraordinary pastor”, dies at 103

Editor's choices
SYRIA
I will miss you Fr Frans, you inspired us all, says Syrian Jesuit
by Tony Homsy*A young priest from the Society of Jesus remembers the life and work of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed in Homs after he refused to abandon residents beleaguered by hunger and war. "He gave and continues to give everything for the Church, Syria, and peace. His story and qualities made him an exceptional missionary and witness to the Gospel." Reprinted courtesy of 'The Jesuit Post'.
FRANCE - IRAQ
Chaldean Patriarch on the uncertain future of eastern Christians, a bridge between the West and Islam
by Mar Louis Raphael I SakoThe wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan have made things worse for their peoples, especially minorities. As Western policies have been a failure, fundamentalism has grown with the Arab Spring losing out to extremism. Muslim authorities have a role in protecting rights and religious freedom. The presence of Christians in the Middle East is crucial for Muslims.
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
Xi Jinping returns home full of deals and silence
by Bernardo CervelleraThe Chinese president signed agreements worth tens of billions of Euros in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He also stayed clear of any press conference. At the College of Europe in Bruges, he presented his dream of a new trillion-dollar Silk Road. Yet, he also made it clear that at home, the monopoly of power stays with the Party, squashing any dream for political reform in China. On the Internet, netizens disagree with him.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.