Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China 2010

Chinese Human Rights Defenders

March 3, 2011

To download this report as a .pdf file, please click here

The ongoing crackdown on activists following an online call for “Jasmine Revolution” protests is a chilling reminder that defending human rights is a perilous occupation in China. The general environment for China’s human rights defenders (HRDs) deteriorated in 2010. Through reviewing CHRD’s reporting over the past year and surveys conducted with defenders around the country, CHRD finds that activists continued to face severe restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association as well as the right to an effective remedy. They were routinely subjected to arbitrary detention—CHRD documented a total of 3,544 new incidences of individuals arbitrary detained for exercising or defending their own or others’ human rights in 2010—as well as tortured, disappeared and harassed.

“The awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo provided much-needed recognition to human rights activists in China,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director, “The regime is once again reacting with a new wave of frenzied repression targeting these activists after the call for ‘Jasmine Revolution.’ The international community must do more—it must provide sustained and concrete support to these activists by speaking up for them and providing them with resources as they inch forward in the struggle for their freedoms.”

This is the fourth annual report produced by CHRD examining the extent to which the Chinese government has failed to fulfill its obligations to protect the rights of HRDs, as defined by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Some of the key findings of this report include:

  • Authorities maintained a firm grip over online freedoms as the cat-and-mouse struggle with netizens continued: While Twitter was popular among HRDs for unfiltered expression, which helped them learn about the plight of their fellow activists and rapidly mobilize support for those targeted by the government, its limited reach has also forced activists and citizens alike to increasingly use censored domestic microblogs and other internet tools to spread human rights messages and organize protests. Meanwhile, the government’s usual internet controls remained firmly in place while it strengthened other measures, such as stricter registration requirements for users of communications technologies, to close loopholes for activism on the web.

 

  • Officials placed further restrictions on individuals’ freedom of association: A number of rights organizations were harassed in 2010, while new government regulations tightening restrictions on receiving foreign funding placed further hurdles in the way of NGOs operating in an already hostile environment.

 

  • Activists sought creative ways around tight control over freedom of assembly: Mass protests remained a risky business, as organizers were often punished by detention or jail. However, despite government control and monitoring, HRDs were able to devise new ways to meet frequently in informal settings to exchange views and forge ties throughout the year.

 

  • Human rights defenders faced persecution throughout 2010: In addition to the cases of arbitrary detention already mentioned, in the past year CHRD documented 118 cases of torture, 36 cases of enforced disappearances, and 17 cases of individuals whose homes were raided by the authorities in retaliation for exercising or defending their own or others’ human rights.

 

CHRD calls on the Chinese government to honor its obligation to protect human rights defenders as set forth in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Chinese government must:

  • End the persecution and harassment of HRDs, their families and the organizations they form, and protect the rights and freedoms essential to the defense of human rights;

 

  • Release all detained and imprisoned human rights defenders;

 

  • Abolish the system of Re-education through Labor and close down all black jails around the country;

 

  • Protect human rights defenders’ freedom of expression, and end the censoring or blocking of their blogs, emails and websites.

 

For more information about this report, please contact:

 

Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 6937 or +1 240 374 8937
Wang Songlian, Research Coordinator (English and Mandarin), +852 8191 1660

David Smalls, Researcher (English), +1 347 448 5285