Stanley Lubman: China’s War on Dissent and Activism

U.C. Berkeley Law Professor Stanley Lubman writes on the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog that the ongoing crackdown on dissent is not likely to end anytime soon:

Beijing’s denunciations of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo and the extraordinary clumsiness of China’s response express intense anxiety about social instability and determination to quell the mix of emotions and values that has been unleashed by economic development. This column considers dissent in China from three perspectives: the relentlessness of efforts to repress dissent, the possibility that repression may be buttressed by some support from other nations, and need to avoid inflaming Chinese nationalism.

As the war on dissent continues, harassment of lawyers who represent dissenters has increased. According to a recent report, one lawyer was forced to meet a client in the presence of police, others have been prevented from meeting detained clients, some have been placed under surveillance, and still others have been barred from leaving China to participate in law-related activities abroad.

In the ongoing war on protesters, the government has sunk to dismaying exertions of force. Hospitalization for mental illness has been employed as a weapon. One news story told of how, after a village farmer filed complaints against a local government in a land dispute, the government drew up an order to commit him to a mental hospital (and forged his brother’s signature on the order). He was confined for more than six years, during which he was subjected to electric shocks and repeatedly drugged. According to one Chinese human-rights NGO, petitioners are “today’s most frequent victims of psychiatric abuse.” A woman confined to a psychiatric hospital after six years of failed petitioning alleging unfair denial of a government job complained about medication that made her dizzy, and was told by the head of the psychiatric ward, “We will treat you the way officials tell us.”

December 23, 2010 11:06 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Law, Politics