On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 449-page executive summary of a 6,200-page report documenting the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program instituted under President Bush and used against suspected Al Qaeda operatives between 2002-2008. From a New York Times description of the report:
In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.” [Source]
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson was quick to call on the U.S. government to “correct its ways” upon release of the report. Tania Branigan at The Guardian reports:
“China has consistently opposed torture. We believe that the US side should reflect on this, correct its ways and earnestly respect and follow the rules of related international conventions,” spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
China has been accused of torture repeatedly by human rights groups and former detainees. It has previously promised to tackle abuses following a series of cases of wrongful convictions due to forced confessions.
State news agency Xinhua’s website dedicated a special page to coverage of the Senate report, titled: “How long can the US pretend to be a human rights champion?”
In an English report, Xinhua pointed out that Chinese media was focusing on the report with special coverage:
Ironically, the report, which included a list of the ten major interrogation techniques used by the CIA, was released on the eve of Dec. 10, Human Rights Day — the day the world honors the United Nations’ (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
State television China Central Television (CCTV) covered the story during its early morning program, with its Washington D.C. correspondent, Wang Guan, focusing on the brutality and questionable effect of the brutal interrogation techniques the CIA used on detainees, who it held without trial on the basis that they were suspected members of al-Qaeda.
“[The questioning under torture] didn’t result in Osama bin Laden being found, according to the report,” said Wang Guan, adding that the CIA had also lied about the number of detainees it had tortured.
[…] Although most of Wednesday’s morning newspapers missed releasing of the report due to publishing deadlines, the Beijing News, which has a daily circulation of more than 500,000, still managed to dedicate a whole page to the story with a map detailing where and how torture had occurred. [Source]
Xinhua also published an editorial marking International Human Rights Day and condemning the U.S. for criticizing China’s human rights record:
China is open to dialogues and exchanges with other countries over its human rights issues and welcomes friendly advice and suggestions. However, should a country adopt double standards, being “loose” domestically and “strict” abroad, its contrasting principles could be taken as a disregard for human rights.
What the U.S. appears to be doing is defending its own national interests and wielding human rights issues as a political tool.
The Untied Nations General Assembly declared Dec. 10 to be Human Rights Day in 1950, the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.
The day continues to be commemorated as, globally, the worldwide human rights mission is far from complete.
Both the U.S. and China are signatories of the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. The Chinese government has itself repeatedly been accused of committing torture against detainees, even after implementing legal reforms that outlaw coerced confessions.