Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel.
“Repression and coercion [in the People’s Republic of China], particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases, were routine,” the recently released U.S. Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 noted.
“Increasingly [Chinese] officials employed harassment, intimidation, and prosecution of family members and associates to retaliate against rights advocates and defenders,” the Human Rights Report said. “Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel.”
Chinese authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent public expression of independent opinions. New measures were implemented to control and censor the Internet and authorities targeted bloggers with large numbers of followers.
Public-interest law firms continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure. There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas.
Sadly, the Human Rights Reported noted, “[Chinese] citizens . . . had limited forms of redress against official abuse.”
The United States encourages the government of China to amend or repeal existing laws that are inconsistent with China’s international human rights commitments and reconsider counterproductive policies in Tibet and Xinjiang. The United States also urges China to end its crackdown against peaceful advocates of good governance and the rule of law, ease restriction on the Internet and release those imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their political or religious views.