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Saturday, December 03, 2005 

Torture still widespread in China.

It's good to know that one of the countries which is increasingly making more and more business deals with western companies and contributing to the kleptocracy which operates in both China and the US is actually becoming such a beacon for human rights:

Immersion in sewage, ripping out fingernails, sleep deprivation, cigarette burns and beatings with electric prods - these are some of the torture methods used by China's police and prison officers to extract confessions and maintain discipline, a United Nations investigation has found.

Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said yesterday that abuse of suspects and prisoners remained widespread in China. Treatment was far worse than international norms, despite recent signs of improvement.

Mr Nowak's investigation was the first ever permitted by China and, as such, represents a breakthrough in human rights. Despite this, he said he had been obstructed by security officials, who intimidated some victims and their relatives or prevented them from seeing him.

However, he was able to visit prisons, detention centres and "re-education" labour camps in Beijing and the troubled regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as interviewing academics, justice officials and detainees. Among the prisoners, Mr Nowak said he observed a "palpable level of fear and self-censorship", which he had not seen in missions to other countries.

Human rights groups say brutality and degradation are common in Chinese prisons, where many of the victims are from the Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities, political dissidents, followers of the banned Falun Gong sect and members of underground churches.

Although China outlawed torture in 1996, its definition of illegal acts - those leaving physical marks - is so narrow that interrogators can employ a wide range of methods contravening UN standards. Suspects are manacled in contorted positions, deprived of sleep and subjected to psychological torture. Some techniques have been given names, such as "reversing an aeroplane", where a victim must remain standing, bent double, with arms splayed upwards and backwards.

I find it really sickening how increasingly cosy relations are getting between the Chinese and other nations and companies. This is a country which is no longer in any way Communist - which is what it claims. It is rather a fascistic ultra-capitalist state where dissent is managed on the internet by blocking numerous sites and words, and where nationalist sentiment is riled up by cadres of the party, most recently seen against Japan. It shows no signs whatsoever of giving in to some vestiges of democracy, and has cracked down brutally on peasant movements and against those who refuse to have their land taken from them for industry. In short then, it's a dream for most business - little regulation, low taxes and low pay for the workers.

China does however have a huge number of rural poor. While the middle classes in the major cities are engaged in an orgy of consumerism and greed, those outside them increasingly find themselves being swept into destitution. It is they who have the power to change China's direction. The question is when or if they will awaken from their slumber. If they don't, then it looks increasingly like we will have an emerging world power that makes the Soviet Union look like a beacon for prosperity and hope.

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Very nice site!
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