(image by the Laogai Research Foundation)
European beggars in Beijing are not likely to remind the Chinese communist party leadership of the fact that 2011 was the worst year for human rights in China for a decade. Neither is it likely that Chinese leaders who are wined and dined in the White House will be reminded of the most extensive and repressive existing prison camp system in the world, the Chinese Laogai.
This is what the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders says in its annual report:
A major crackdown on dissent following protests across the Arab world made 2011 the worst year for human rights in China in a decade, a pressure group said Friday.
Long jail terms, enforced disappearances and torture of dissidents amounted to a “downward spiral” in China’s record, Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said in its annual report.
The study found more than 3,800 cases of arbitrary detention last year, as well as over 100 cases of individuals tortured specifically because of their rights activism.
“(The crackdown) marked yet another low point in the downward spiral of China’s human rights records, making 2011 the most repressive year since the rights defence movement began in the early 2000s,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s international director, using a term coined by Chinese activists.
The group said it was particularly alarmed by the “widespread use of extralegal detention and enforced disappearance”.
“The crackdown impacted not only the individual activists, but also menacingly conveyed a warning to the ordinary Chinese citizens: anyone who challenges the government will be punished,” it said.
This is what the Laogai Research Foundation says about Communist China´s gruesome prison camp system:
Dictatorships throughout history have relied on fear and control to maintain power. The world has resoundingly condemned the atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Gulag, and many other systems of repression around the globe, but has remained largely silent on one of the most extensive and repressive prison camp system in the world: the Chinese Laogai. Since the early 1950s, China has used the Laogai to crush dissent and root out potential sources of opposition, whether political, economic, or religious in nature, while simultaneously exploiting prisoners as a source of free labor.Originally modeled on the Soviet Gulag, the Laogai of today is thriving, with millions of people suffering in more than one thousand camps. Although many of the Laogai's prisoners are incarcerated for ordinary crimes, there is little respect for due process, or the rule of law in general, within the Chinese criminal justice system, meaning conviction by a fair trial is, at worst, impossible, and at best, uncertain in China. Many find themselves in the Laogai for crimes that are political in nature, such as "subverting State power" or "revealing State secrets." The definitions of these crimes are so broad that the authorities can use them to justify arresting just about anyone for the most innocuous of activities, leading to a widespread chilling effect on all forms of expression.
Furthermore, the Laogai's role in economic production enables the Chinese government to profit from the imprisonment of its people, creating a perverse incentive to maintain high rates of incarceration. Since its inception in 1949, 40 to 50 million people are estimated to have been imprisoned in the Laogai, and untold numbers have perished under its brutality.
The Laogai is more than a place to detain and "reform" convicts and dissidents; it is inextricably linked to the Chinese economy. The Chinese government profits handsomely from the labor camp system by allowing goods made with forced labor to enter both domestic and international markets. The Laogai relies on prisoners to provide free labor in over 1,000 camps. Most Laogai camps operate a commercial enterprise, be it a factory, farm, workshop, or mine. Indeed, many camps have a number of Laogai enterprises producing a wide range of products. Prisons in China generally have two names: a commercial name used for trading and an official administrative name identifying the facility as a prison. Because prisoners are not paid for their work, these Laogai enterprises are able to reap huge profits.