The 2016-founded human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders has released a new report detailing the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) system of "residential surveillance at a designated location" or RSDL, which authorities have subjected thousands of peaceful detrators to in the last eight years.
Over 57,000 thousands have fallen victim to CCP's RSDL system, in which they are forced into grueling interrogations that often lead to forced concessions from the detainees who are held for up to six months at a time, without a lawyer.
According to Radio Free Asia, Safeguard Defender's report spoke of the story of human rights lawyer Chang Weiping, who was tortured by Chinese authorities over six months of RSDL from October 2020 to April 2021.
The report recounted how Chang was prohibited from meeting with a lawyer for about a year while he was in detention and was strapped immobile into a "tiger chair" torture device for six days, deprived of food and sleep. He was only allowed to see a lawyer after almost a year under the Chinese authorities' custody.
Other victims of RSDL in China are dissident artist Ai Weiwei, human rights lawyers Wang Yu, and Wang Quanzhang, and two recently released foreigners, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor of Canada. But this system is highly secretive and those who are detained, tortured, and forced to confess are taken to hidden locations and facilities that keep victims in isolation and incommunicado. These peaceful dissidents are then labeled as "disappeared," Safeguard Defenders researcher Chen Yanting explained.
"They give the police huge powers to detain people in secret facilities and cut them off from any contact with the outside world, and don't tell anyone where they are," Chen explained. "It's the same as disappearing."
Chen added that while the stipulated limit to such detentions in the hands of Chinese authorities is just six months, some victims have been detained for as long as four years. He said, "Basically, Chinese police and state security police are arbitrarily disappearing and detaining people without supervision, during which time victims are tortured for 'confessions,' so it's a black jail system."
The human rights lawyer expressed his hope that the international community would condemn the CCP's use of RSDL and other human rights violations. Under the RSDL system, victims are held in facilities that ensure they do not harm themselves or are unable to commit suicide to escape their torture.
A bookseller who escaped to Taiwan after being detained in China who goes by the name of Lam Wing-kei recounted how he was held in such a facility after he was captured for selling banned political books in Hong Kong. Lam shared that where he was held, even the toothbrush was "very small and is attached to a rope to stop you swallowing it, while the walls and the corners of the tables and chairs are all padded."
Lam explained that the Chinese authorities knew exactly what they were doing in designing and building these types of facilities with the necessary "protection" so that prisoners could not self-harm and commit suicide. Thousands of prisoners like Lam were also constantly monitored in such facilities where the light is never turned off. He said, "The CCP knows the psychological state of these people. You can't hang anything on the wall, and you can't hang yourself, either."