China’s increasingly negative perceptions in the world

Untold India January 14, 2022

New Delhi: The Chinese government’s rights record and its “wolf warrior” diplomacy resulted in increasingly negative public perceptions of the government in some countries abroad, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its World Report 2022. New research from AidData revealed $385 billion in “hidden debt” owed by developing countries to Chinese authorities. Some foreign governments took more concrete measures to press the Chinese government to improve its rights record, at home and abroad, but those remained inadequate to effectively challenge the scope and scale of Beijing’s abuses, the report said. Beijing and Hong Kong authorities moved aggressively to roll back rights in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists were arbitrarily arrested and detained. In January, authorities arrested 53 politicians for “subversion” for their involvement in a July 2020 public opinion poll. The Chinese authorities are committing crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. Abuses committed included mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, cultural and religious persecution, separation of families, forced returns to China, forced labour, and sexual violence and violations of reproductive rights. Little news trickled out of Xinjiang in 2021, however, as the authorities maintained tight control over information, and as access to the region, already limited, was further constrained due to Covid-19 movement restrictions. Some Uyghurs who disappeared into Xinjiang’s abusive “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” were confirmed imprisoned, including prominent academic Rahile Dawut, though her alleged crime, length of sentence, and location of imprisonment remained unclear, the HRW said. A report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project showed the Xinjiang government dispossessed Uyghurs by confiscating $84.8 million worth of assets from 21 jailed Uyghurs and auctioning the assets online. Neighbouring governments continued to facilitate Beijing’s abuses. Last September, Kazakh authorities banned a Russian-American researcher, Yevgeniy Bunin, from the country in apparent efforts to stymie his work documenting Xinjiang’s abuses. Also in the same month, Turkey denied entry to Dolkun Isa, president of the Uyghur exile organisation Uyghur World Congress. Uyghurs abroad from Afghanistan to Morocco feared deportations to China as the Chinese government continued to seek their return for alleged terrorism, a term vaguely defined under Chinese law that encompasses peaceful expression and advocacy. Last March, Chinese consumers boycotted international clothing brands for vowing to stop purchasing cotton from Xinjiang due to reports of forced labour. In April, Shenzhen police shut down the Chinese affiliate of a US labour auditing non-profit, Verite. In July, US photography company Kodak deleted from Instagram a photographer’s post calling Xinjiang “dystopian”. The US Customs and Border Protection agency issued numerous import bans related to Xinjiang, including cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang, and all downstream products that use Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes manufactured outside the region. There are growing calls for other countries to impose similar bans on Xinjiang imports. Authorities continued to detain or prosecute people for criticizing the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Between January 2020 and June 2021, the Twitter account SpeechFreedomCN recorded at least 663 arrests for Covid-19-related speech. In March, retired professor Chen Zhaozhi was put on trial on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for posting on social media, “the Wuhan pneumonia is not a Chinese virus, but Chinese Communist Party virus”. Authorities harassed, detained, or prosecuted numerous people for their online posts and private chat messages critical of the government, bringing trumped-up charges of “spreading rumours”, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, and “insulting the country’s leaders”. A 2021 Wall Street Journal report found that 58 Chinese users were punished with prison sentences between six months and four years since 2017 for their posts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube — all platforms banned in China. An increasing number of people were punished for speeches deemed “unpatriotic”. In February, at least seven people were detained for comments in relation to the border clash with Indian troops. In March, the government passed a provision stipulating that slandering “heroes and martyrs” could be punished with up to three years in prison. Former journalist Qiu Ziming was sentenced to an eight-month prison term for suggesting the real death toll of Chinese soldiers in the clash was higher than the official figure, the HRW said. Authorities continued to suppress online content not in line with “core socialist values”. They target

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PIL in Apex court seeks direction for independent probe into hate speeches against Muslims

Untold India January 10, 2022

New Delhi: A new public interest lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, asking the court to issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ, order, or direction to ensure that an independent, credible, and impartial investigation is conducted into incidents of hate speech against the Muslim community, including speeches delivered between December 17-19, 2021 at Haridwar and Delhi by a SIT or otherwise as the Court deems appropriate. According to the appeal, speeches given between December 17 and 19, 2021 at two rallies in Haridwar (by one Yati Narsinghanand) and Delhi (by a group calling itself ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’) are not only hate speeches, but an open call for the death of an entire community. Justice Anjana Prakash, a former judge of Patna High Court and Qurban Ali, senior journalist approached Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India to take the cognizance of both the events. People expected the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance of the hate speeches delivered at Dharm Sansad in Haridwar asking for the annihilation of Muslims after the Union Government’s deafening silence. However, despite a letter from 76 Supreme Court Senior Lawyers and others to the Chief Justice demanding that he intervene in this serious matter, the Supreme Court has taken no action to date. Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur reacted to this by expressing his disgust with the Executive and Judiciary’s inability to intervene in this subject, saying unequivocally that he was “terribly disturbed that the Supreme Court has not moved against the Calls for Genocide.” Counsel for the petitioners, advocates Rashmi Singh and Sumita Hazarika said in the petition that the hate speeches that have been delivered between in Haridwar and in Delhi with the apparent objective of declaring war against a significant section of the Indian Citizenry. “These hate speeches consisted of open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing. It is pertinent to note that the said speeches are not mere hate speeches but amount to an open call for murder of an entire community. The said speeches thus, pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens”, said the petition. The petitioners also brought to notice of the court that the Police authorities have still not taken effective steps to arrest the accused. “It is submitted that despite the passage of almost 3 weeks no effective steps have been taken by the Police authorities including non-application of Sections 120B, 121A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 that squarely apply to the said hate speeches.” It is further pointed out that the Police authorities have registered two FIRs against 10 people who took part in the Haridwar Dharam Sansad but even in the said FIRs only Sections 153A, 295A and 298 of the IPC have been made. It is also relevant to note that no action whatsoever has been taken by the Delhi Police in relation with the event held in Delhi despite the fact that open calls for genocide, that are available on the internet, were made therein. It may further be pointed out that the recent speeches are a part of a series of similar speeches that we have come across in the past. It may be noted that no effective steps have been taken under the provisions of 153, 153A, 153B, 295A, 504, 506, 120B, 34 of IPC in respect of the earlier hate speeches. The blatant inaction by the Police also came into the forefront when a Police Officer’s video went viral on the internet, wherein one of speakers of the aforementioned events openly acknowledged the officer’s allegiance with the organizers and speakers of the Dharam Sansad. It is submitted that not only the inaction of the Police allow delivery of hate speeches with impunity but also shows that the Police authorities are in fact hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate. Counsel for the petitioners warned the mass appeal and consequences thereof: “Plugging in into a systemic discourse of hateful content, declaration of war on a section of the population, and encouragement to participate in the ‘cleansing war’. That the proclamations made at the events are widely available on the internet and qualify as both extreme hate speech and also as ‘violent speech inciting targeted killings of Muslim citizens’, which would pass the ‘spark in a powder keg’ test in Ragarajan v. P. Jagjeevan Ram and Ors. (1989) 2 SCC 574, and in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015) 5 SCC 1. That the contents of the speech feed into an already prevailing discourse which seeks to reimagine the Indian Republic as exclusivist, and that which has no space for other cultures, traditions and practices. Such a discourse is in itself violative of constitutional guarantees provided to minority cultures and religions in India. Both the events violently

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