Repression; ethnic, gender bias grow in East Asia: Amnesty
Beijing, Mar 28 (EFE).- A global annual report released Tuesday by rights organization Amnesty International said countries in East Asia such as China, North Korea and Japan have largely seen growing human rights abuses, from speech freedom to ethnic and gender discrimination.
The report spoke of repression in China, where the organization said online censorship is “increasingly omnipresent” while authorities continue to persecute Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
“Government critics,human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists and religious leaders and practitioners were among those subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention,” the organization said. “Systematic repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet continued.”
The report said China tried to prevent the publication of a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “documenting potential crimes against humanity and other international crimes in Xinjiang.”
The organization said constant surveillance prevented citizens from sharing information about human rights violations while Beijing denied the accusations, adding that its actions in the region only seek to prevent terrorist acts and preserve security.
The spoke about the report published in August after the visit to Xinjiang by then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet which confirms that “due to their scope, the arbitrary and discriminatory detentions of Uyghurs and other people could constitute a crime under international law, in particular a crime against humanity.”
“Online censorship grew more pervasive and sophisticated as a tool to stifle criticism of the government, intensifying around high-profile events and anniversaries,” the report read.
It spoke of incidents that undermined press and speech freedom during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games or during the long confinements imposed by the “zero Covid-19” policy.
The organization reported imprisonment, torture and mistreatment of activists, lawyers and human rights defenders, with cases such as that of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, released after four years in prison and who claimed to have suffered physical abuse.
It spoke about the prison situation of the founder and director of the Sichuan human rights website “64 Tianwang,” Huang Qi, sentenced to 12 years in prison for reporting on human rights, and the imprisonment of lawyers Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, secretly tried in June for “subversion of state power.”
The report also mentions China in terms of climate change, with “highly insufficient” steps to reduce emissions and increase coal production, although it called positive the new objectives to increase by a35 percent the energy obtained from renewable sources.
Hong Kong authorities “continued their crackdown” against groups such as “pro-democracy activists, journalists and human rights defenders,” Amnesty International said in the report.
The organization spoke about “the 2020 National Security Law and other repressive laws” used against people “exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”
The document said “the UN Human Rights Committee urged the Hong Kong Government to repeal the National Security Law,” in force since July 2020 and imposed by Beijing in response to the anti-government protests the city registered in 2019.
The law carries penalties of up to life imprisonment for various cases, among which are the crimes of secession.
In July 2022, John Lee, the only candidate, was elected as the new chief executive of the semi-autonomous region.
The organization said Lee is responsible for the police repression against the protests in 2019 and for the application of the controversial National Security Law, from his position in those years as head of city security.
Since its promulgation in 2020 until Oct. 31, at least 230 people had been arrested in its application, it said.
At least 11 people were sentenced to prison in the former British colony “for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression” in 2022.