The Chinese Government Has Legalised “Enforced Disappearance”

Recently, the Chinese government passed a new version of criminal law Article No. 73. Article No. 73 states that individuals who are suspected of jeopardising national security and being involved in terrorist activities can be monitored by the Public Security Bureau without notifying the suspect's family. People believe that Article No. 73 is a way of legalising “secret disappearance.” Under this revision, the rights of Chinese citizens are violated. The government agents or officials are not held responsible for their actions when enforcing the law.

Internationally, this type of disappearance is called “enforced disappearance.” A few years ago, the United Nations adapted the “Protection of All Persons Subjected to Enforced Disappearance Declaration.” The UN defined “enforced disappearance” as a serious crime. When “enforced disappearance” is systematically used on a large scale, it is considered a “crime against humanity.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has practised “enforced disappearance” systematically on a large scale during the years that it has persecuted Falun Gong. The local 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong) is used as a central headquarters to instruct the Domestic Security entities and police on how to make arrests. After practitioners are arrested, the authorities refuse to disclose their whereabouts. The practitioners' families look for them fruitlessly. Sometimes it takes months, even years, to find the arrested practitioners.

Early last year, Zhou Yongkang, the CCP Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee secretary, went to Wuhan in Hubei Province. About two weeks later, there were large-scale arrests of practitioners in Wuhan. In April and May alone, close to 50 practitioners were arrested. On April 20th, 2011, 11 practitioners were secretly arrested. All of the arrests were carried out without the families knowing their loved ones had been arrested. It was later learned that the Wuhan 610 Office had planned the operation and that the city police department and Domestic Security carried it out. After following and monitoring the practitioners for a long time, they purposely made the arrests so their family members could not find out about them.

The police did not follow legal procedures in making the arrests. Reasons for the arrests and the whereabouts of the practitioners were not disclosed to the families. The families inquired about the missing practitioners at different government agencies, none of which provided helpful information. Six months later, the families only knew that the arrests were done by a “section” of the city police department. No one would tell them anything more than that. During that time, some of the families eventually found out that the practitioners had been taken to the provincial brainwashing centre. However, once they located and went to the facility, the guards denied that the practitioners were being held there. The guards showed the families a list of their inmates. The families noticed that none of the practitioners that they were familiar with were on the list. They asked the guard what kinds of people were being detained. The guard just said, “It is a 'secret agency.' Their phone numbers are also 'secret information.'” In fact, many Falun Gong practitioners were being secretly detained there.

The CCP's “enforced disappearance” not only affects practitioners living at home that get arrested, but it also affects those who have just been released from prison. Some practitioners were arrested on the same day that they were released and secretly taken somewhere unknown and continue to be detained.

Mr. Xu Ganghai, 66, from Wuhan spent nine years in prison. His term ended on March 11th, 2012. That very day, the Wuhan 610 Office and the prison secretly took Mr. Xu to a brainwashing centre without notifying his family. Mr. Liu Shuisheng ended an eight-year prison term on March 11th, 2011. He was then sent to the district brainwashing centre for a month. Since Mr. Liu could not be “transformed,” [forcibly renounce Falun Gong] he was transferred to the provincial brainwashing centre.

Practitioners that are the victims of the “enforced disappearance” are not protected by the law. Government agencies do what they want and have abused practitioners. For instance, of 11 practitioners that were secretly arrested in Wuhan, Mr. Zhang Su and Mr. Zhang Weijie were sent to a brainwashing centre and brutally beaten. Mr. Xiong Weiming was given unknown drugs that harmed him. Mr. Feng Zhen was sued by the investigator's office. Mr. Li Huosheng was tried and sentenced to prison without his family being notified. His family hired a lawyer on his behalf, but the lawyer was not allowed to see his client.

Ms. Jiang Sihua from Liujia Village in Magang Township, Tongcheng County, Hubei Province, was in critical condition as a result of being tortured during her 'disappearance.' She was arrested on May 20th, 2008, and was missing for two months. Her family was unable to obtain any information about her. In less than two months, she was physically abused to the point that she became incontinent and was unable to care for herself. Her weight dropped from 117 pounds down to less than 81 pounds. In July 2008, she was sentenced to three years in prison, but the authorities did not notify her family.

Jiang Zemin, [former leader of China and instigator of the persecution] made many statements that facilitated the “secret disappearance” of practitioners becoming the norm, such as: “destroy them physically,” “ death as a result of beating will be considered suicide,” “no need to check their identity, take them directly to be cremated.” He also actively encouraged “enforced disappearance.” Many practitioners have been missing for many years without a word of their whereabouts. “Enforced disappearance" has also become a way the CCP maintains its rule over the country. It affects people at all levels of society. Some individuals and lawyers who uphold justice have also “secretly disappeared” for long periods of time.

China has legalised the crime of the “enforced disappearance.” Even though it is based on the “crimes that endanger national security and crimes plotted by terrorists,” the CCP upholds the right to interpret the law as it sees fit. The CCP can legally apply “enforced disappearance” to every citizen as long as the CCP considers it necessary.

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