While we're on the subject of torture

Torture in China – a growing scourge | Amnesty International

Torture still widespread in China, says UN investigator | World news | The Guardian

The UN’s Tough Criticism of China on Torture – BusinessWeek

U.S. cites China for repression, torture – White House-

Concluding observations of the UN Committee against Torture: China (December 2008)

I do hope no one will be so provocative as to mention any of this on the next “Team Canada” trip.

But then, according to Jack Layton,

Harper should not lecture China on its human rights record, considering the questions raised over whether Canada transferred prisoners to Afghan authorities where they were tortured.

“I think you always have to be careful when you live in a glass house when it comes to throwing stones,” Layton told reporters in Winnipeg Friday.

Quite right. Who are we to raise the subject of torture with China, given the second-hand allegations by one diplomat that no one has been able to confirm and that everyone else denies that some years ago some of the prisoners our forces handed over to the government of Afghanistan might have been tortured by the Afghan security service, notwithstanding formal agreements at our insistence requiring Red Cross inspections “at any time,” later amended to include inspections by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and representatives of the Canadian government.

Clearly the situations are parallel.

GLASSHOUSEDATE: Consider the eerie similiarities in Amnesty International’s report:

Zhou Jianxiong, a 30 year-old agricultural worker from Chunhua township in Hunan province, died under torture on 15 May 1998. Detained on 13 May, he was tortured by officials from the township birth control office to make him reveal the whereabouts of his wife, suspected of being pregnant without permission. Zhou was hung upside down, repeatedly whipped and beaten with wooden clubs, burned with cigarette butts, branded with soldering irons, and had his genitals ripped off.

This horrific case of abuse is not an isolated case. Every year many people die due to torture in China. Others survive the torture but continue to suffer the long-term effects of the physical and mental traumas they have endured.

Torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners is widespread and systemic in China. Such abuses have been reported in the full range of state institutions, from police stations, detention centres, prisons, to administrative ”re-education through labour” camps,internal migrant ”custody and repatriation centres”, and enforced drug rehabilitation centres. Torture is also frequently reported as an integral part of the abuse of ”non-custodial” control measures such as ”residential supervision” and during ”special isolation” of officials during investigations into allegations of corruption.

These abuses do not only occur behind closed doors. They have often been perpetrated by officials in the course of their normal duties in full public view, and sometimes as a deliberate public humiliation and warning to others. They are perpetrated by a growing range of officials outside the criminal justice system, including family planning officials and tax collectors

In recent years, victims of torture have included many people who simply became involved in disputes with officials, questioning their authority or attempting to uphold their rights. Officials have resorted to torture in the collection of fines and taxes. Torture as part of blackmail and extortion by corrupt officials is also frequently reported. Migrant workers, particularly young women, are easy prey and frequent victims.

Reports of torture increase during periodic ”strike hard” campaigns against specific crimes when police are clearly given the green light to use ”every means” to achieve ”quick results”…

Torture during interrogation is perpetrated against all types of detainees, including high profile cases. Torture and ill-treatment is also common in prisons and labour camps where prisoners are serving criminal or ”administrative” sentences. Forced labour and ”acknowledgment of guilt” are central to penal policy, generating an environment where prisoners are often abused. Particularly harsh treatment is inflicted on common criminal prisoners and political prisoners who are deemed to be ”resisting reform”. Prison guards often delegate disciplinary duties to selected prisoners or ”cell bosses” who are routinely responsible for abusing other prisoners, often at the direction of the guards.

China? Or Canada?

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