A coordinated effort was launched on March 22, 2021 to sanction several human rights violators in Xinjiang Province, China.
The sanction lists include Zhu Hailun (Deputy Party Secretary of Xinjiang), Chen Mingguo (chief of Xinjiang Public Security Bureau), Wang Mingshan (Party Secretary of Xinjiang Political and Legal Affairs Committee, PLAC), and Wang Junzheng (former Party Secretary of PLAC in Xinjiang, current Deputy Party Secretary of Xinxjiang).
This is the first time that the EU and the UK have joined forces to sanction Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials for human rights violations. Both EU and UK, as well as Canada, have decided to sanction all four officials mentioned above. The U.S. announced that it will sanction Chen Mingguo and Wang Junzheng.
The sanction includes travel bans and asset freezes. This is a continuation of actions to counter the CCP’s abuse of human rights. On July 9, 2020, the former US administration announced that it would sanction the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and four CCP officials, including Chen Quanguo, Party Secretary of Xinjiang.
Besides suppressing the Uyghurs minority group, Chen also directed the persecution of Falun Gong in Xinjiang since he was appointed the current position in August 2016. Earlier reports from Minghui showed Chen had escalated the human rights abuse against Falun Gong practitioners in Xinjiang in recent years.
Track Record of Human Rights Violation
Non-government organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch released its World Report 2021 on January 13, 2021. “The Chinese government’s authoritarianism was on full display in 2020 as it grappled with the deadly coronavirus outbreak first reported in Wuhan Province. Authorities initially covered up news about the virus, then adopted harsh quarantine measures in Wuhan and other parts of China,” wrote the report, “The government has rejected international calls for independent, unfettered investigations into Chinese authorities’ handling of the outbreak, and surveilled and harassed families of those who died of the virus.”
The CCP’s suppression of people was also seen in others areas such as the forced National Security Law in Hong Kong, detention and brainwashing of Uighurs in Xinjiang, and religious persecution in Tibet.
Other government agencies, NGOs, and human rights organizations have also recognized the brutality in China. For example, Freedom House released its Freedom in the World 2020 on March 4 last year. Out of 100 points, China only had 10 points and it continued to be considered one of the countries with the least freedom.
One month later, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published its annual report. “In 2019 religious freedom conditions in China continued to deteriorate,” wrote the report. As a result, for the consecutive 21st year China was designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC).
On September 9, 2020, more than 300 NGOs submitted a letter to Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nation (UN) and Michelle Bachelet, UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. The letter called on an international investigation into the human rights abuses in China and urging a “decisive action.”
The U.S. Department of State released the 2019 Human Rights Report in October 26, 2020. “Significant human rights issues included: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; arbitrary detention by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; substantial problems with the independence of the judiciary; physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members; censorship and site blocking; interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws that apply to foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); severe restrictions of religious freedom; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement (for travel within the country and overseas)...” wrote the report.
The human rights situation in China has been widely criticized in the past few decades by organizations such as the United Nations, U.S. Department of State, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others. The human rights violation in China has always been a focal point. However, the CCP has been ignoring these and shows no intention of improvement.
Sanction Against Human Rights Perpetrators
Protecting basic human rights is a consensus among democratic nations. In 2016, the United States passed the Global Magnitsky Act to punish human rights violators and corrupt officials. The U.S. Department of State issued a press release on December 20, 2019 to announce that it has re-designated China and several other countries as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Consistent progress has been made by the Department of State officials. “In October, we placed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials” for human rights violations. In December, “the U.S. Government announced designations of 68 individuals and entities in nine countries for corruption and human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Act.”
After a notice was published by Minghui in May 2019, over 100,000 people have been included on the list of perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong in China. The U.S. government clarified that, the name list can be provided to U.S. officials as long as there were persecution cases. Even if the human rights violators and their family members have entered the U.S., actions could be taken to revoke their visas or deport them. Such measures would block human rights perpetrators from coming to the U.S. as a safe haven for their crimes.
The European Council adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanction regime on December 7, 2020. “The framework for targeted restrictive measures applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions),” wrote a press release on the European Council’s website.
“Such restrictive measures will provide for a travel ban applying to individuals, and the freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly,” the press release continued.
Based on that, Falun Gong practitioners submitted a list of human rights perpetrators to 29 governments in early December 2020, requesting they take actions against the persecution of Falun Gong in China. These countries include the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States), 18 nations in the European Union (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Czech, Romania, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia), and 6 additional nations (Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Mexico).
Falun Gong practitioners in Canada also started a petition calling on the Canadian government to sanction Chinese officials based on the Magnitsky Act. Over 20,000 signatures were obtained within a month. In July 2020, Canadian practitioners also submitted a list to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This 300-page document listed 14 individuals involved in the crime of anti-humanity including Jiang Zemin (former CCP leader who launched the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999), Luo Gan (former Party Secretary of Political and Legal Affairs Committee), Liu Jing (former chief of central 610 Office), and Zhou Yongkang (former Minister of Public Security).
Globally, 28 countries have implemented or planned to introduce laws similar to the Magnitsky Act. This includes barring human rights violators from entry and freezing their assets.
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