Dharamsala, Jan 30: Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights group in its recently released annual report says China remains an authoritarian state and maintains that under Xi Jinping’s rule, China has been violating human rights at an intensity that is unprecedented in its recent history.
“China remains an authoritarian state, one that systematically curbs fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion, when their exercise is perceived to threaten one-party rule,” HRW said in its annual report.
The group added that Communist Party under Xi’s leadership has “unleashed an extraordinary assault on basic human rights and their defenders with a ferocity unseen in recent years”.
Apart from acknowledging few positives step that it sums up in a single paragraph, such as abolition of Re-education through Labour (RTL), announcement of limited reforms of the hukou system (household registration) for internal migrants and provision of greater access for persons with disabilities to the all-important university entrance exam, the 656-page “World Report 2015” by the top watchdog group was critical of China’s human rights record under President Xi.
The rights group stated that discriminatory and repressive minority policies carried out in the name of “fight against separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism” continue to fuel rising tensions in ethnic minority regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
The group noted that in Tibet the authorities were intolerant of peaceful protests by Tibetans and targeted families and communities related to self-immolations.
“A series of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese government repression appeared to have abated by early 2014. The authorities punished families and communities for allegedly inciting or being involved in these protests; punishment of individuals included imprisonment, hefty fines, and restrictions of movement,” the group said adding, “Authorities were intolerant of peaceful protests by Tibetans, harshly responding with beatings and arrests to protests against mines on land considered sacred and against detention of local Tibetan leaders.”
“China’s mass rehousing and relocation policy has radically changed Tibetans’ way of life and livelihoods, in some cases impoverishing them or making them dependent on state subsidies,” the group further added.
“Since 2006, over 2 million Tibetans, both farmers and herders, have been involuntarily ‘rehoused’—through government-ordered renovation or construction of new houses—in the TAR; hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders in the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau have been relocated or settled in ‘New Socialist Villages’,” HRW said in its report.
HRW also raised concern over human rights situation in China in the coming years as it noted that recent developments in China are “an alarming sign given that the current leadership will likely remain in power through 2023.”