UCA News
Contribute

China punishing children for parents' activism

Beijing consistently denies abuses and claims the allegations are part of a deliberate smear campaign
Police walk past messages in support of jailed Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (pictured right on placard) and China's first 'cyber-dissident' and founder of human rights website '64 Tianwang,' Huang Qi (pictured left on placard), after a protest attended by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong on Jan. 29, 2019.

Police walk past messages in support of jailed Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (pictured right on placard) and China's first 'cyber-dissident' and founder of human rights website '64 Tianwang,' Huang Qi (pictured left on placard), after a protest attended by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong on Jan. 29, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 16, 2024 04:51 AM GMT
Updated: April 16, 2024 05:03 AM GMT

The children of human rights advocates in China are being punished for their parents' activism as Beijing intensifies a crackdown on civil society, a rights group warned on April 15.

China has long stood accused of suppressing human rights, especially in the troubled regions of Xinjiang and Tibet as well as more recently in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

Beijing consistently denies abuses and claims the allegations are part of a deliberate smear campaign to contain its development.

But a new report released by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a group of international and Chinese NGOs, points to several recent cases in which "collective punishment" was meted out against the families of human rights defenders.

"While this report focuses on 2023, Chinese authorities have used these tactics for decades, inflicting tremendous harm with impunity," it said.

"Seeking redress often triggers more police harassment, brutality, and baseless legal prosecutions," it added.

The report is based on testimony from a dozen people affected by collective punishment last year and redacted certain identifying details to protect them from official reprisals.

It said authorities threatened and harmed the children of rights advocates, including by imposing exit bans, forcing them to drop out of school, and detaining them in psychiatric wards and orphanages.

AFP was not able to independently verify the claims.

"The Chinese Communist Party's collective punishment of human rights defenders' families is an informal or hidden policy carried out by government authorities," the report cited one activist as saying.

It points to the case of He Fangmei -- an imprisoned campaigner for vaccine safety and for victims of defective vaccines -- whose young children were placed in a psychiatric hospital following her and her husband's detentions.

After He gave birth, the report said, her newborn child was also placed in the institution.

In another case, the family of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was reportedly subjected to intense harassment, and his young son was denied education through official pressure on schools.

Last month, the report said, police showed up at a school the boy had been attending for just ten days.

"He was once again forced out of school!" his mother Li Wenzu -- also an activist -- was quoted as saying.

Those who try to flee such treatment by going abroad, the report said, are then slapped with exit bans -- a practice that rights groups have said has intensified in recent years as President Xi Jinping tightens control.

The April 15 report also shed some light on the fate of Peng Lifa, an activist who reportedly disappeared after placing banners denouncing Xi and the country's Covid policies.

"To prevent his family from speaking out, Chinese police have... put members of his family and relatives under surveillance and cut off all contact with each other and the outside world," the report said.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia