Amnesty International: 2003 Annual Report (excerpts)

Serious human rights violations continued and in some respects the situation deteriorated. […] The “strike hard” campaign against crime launched in April 2001 was renewed for a further year.[…] Torture and ill-treatment remained widespread and appeared to increase as a result of the campaign. The anti-crime crack-down also extended to people accused of being “ethnic separatists”, “terrorists” and “religious extremists” in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Repression of spiritual and religious groups

Members of unofficial spiritual or religious groups, including some Qi Gong groups and unregistered Christian groups, continued to be arbitrarily detained, tortured and ill-treated.

The crack-down on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which was banned as a “heretical organization” in July 1999, intensified, particularly after Falun Gong practitioners intercepted cable and satellite television to broadcast pro-Falun Gong messages.

Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners continued to be detained, many at risk of torture and ill-treatment if they refused to renounce their beliefs. By the end of 2002, total alleged deaths in custody of Falun Gong practitioners had reached around 500. Most of those held were in “re-education through labour” centres, but some were in prisons or psychiatric hospitals. Those accused of organizing Falun Gong protests were sentenced to prison terms after apparently unfair trial

  • Zhao Ming, a Falun Gong practitioner from Changchun city, Jilin province, alleged he was punched, beaten with electro-shock batons, deprived of sleep and forcibly fed while held in Tuanhe “re-education through labour” camp in Beijing between June 2000 and March 2002.

Administrative detention, unfair trials and the rule of law

The combined effects of repressive and vaguely worded criminal legislation, the use of administrative detention, a weak judiciary and impunity for officials who abuse their power continued to result in widespread abuses of human rights.
The use of two systems of administrative detention increased considerably, as in recent years.[…] Some 310,000 people were administratively detained without charge or trial in “re-education through labour” camps in early 2001, the last official figure available. The figure was thought to be substantially higher in 2002 as a result of the government’s crack-down on the Falun Gong and the “strike hard” campaign against crime.

People accused of political and criminal offences continued to be denied due process.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Members of the Falun Gong, a registered society in Hong Kong, were arrested at peaceful demonstrations and alleged that they were victims of police violence. In August, 16 Falun Gong members were convicted of obstruction during a demonstration in March. There were claims that the trial was politically motivated.

Macao Special Administrative Region

Members of the Falun Gong, which was neither registered nor banned in Macao, were reportedly harassed by police and foreign practitioners were denied access to Macao.

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