Aasof on a dark system?
Dec 7, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: All of the articles this week are taken from Speigel Online and gave me a number of problems, the primary one being the veracity of the stories. The common factor in all the accounts (including the video posted on China’s failed experiment with democracy) is their political context and it is perhaps this, which to my mind, makes the accounts truthful. The Laogai System¹ may be prevalent in China and seems to be acceptable by Chinese scholar Zhang Weiwei, who clearly supports the Chinese meritocratic system of government. Authoritarianism² is on the increase globally, perhaps driven by The China Model, which appeals all political classes who kowtow to it and all politicians opposed to democracy.
During his military service, Li worked for the Wujing, a unit of China’s special forces that deals with domestic security. His main assignment had been to act as a mediator between the people and the government. His instructors told him a police officer must always protect the people and never hurt them, a lesson that Li took to heart. He thought he was on the right side (1).
Those who obey and serve the police can expect bigger food rations, better sleeping conditions and shorter prison sentences, Amnesty says. In addition to becoming group leaders, selected prisoners evidently played other roles as well (2).
Chinese poet Liao Yiwu recently moved to Germany, where his books are best-sellers. His self-imposed exile has allowed him to finally publish his memoir, which reveals the abuses and torture he suffered during his years in prison. The book is a shocking indictment of the Chinese justice system (3).
He Gang, the group leader who Xie was warned about, was a small, lanky man with furtive eyes. Xie first got to know him when he beat up one of his friends. It happened late one evening when Xie, Sun and a few others were sitting in their dormitory talking. After a time, He Gang and some other supervisors walked in, prompting Xie and the other prisoners to immediately stand at attention (4).
Li’s old police hat sits on a desk in his workshop. A metal emblem adorns the front, with four small golden stars creating a semicircle around a much larger fifth star. The large star symbolizes the leadership of the Communist Party while the four smaller stars represent the workers, farmers, the petit bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie. It’s an old symbol hailing from the era of Mao Zedong. During his tenure as an elite policeman, Li wore the hat with pride. Today, it reminds him of how uncomplicated his life was before he knew China’s dark side (5).
Under President Xi Jinping, says Chinese law expert Keith Hand at the University of California, the Communist Party has shown a new determination “to marginalize any potential threats” to its power. China’s Human Rights Activists Under Scrutiny
The Chinese concentration camps are an extension of existing efforts to contain cultural and religious attitudes that may pose a threat to unity. Arrests have increased by over 300 percent in the last five years, the majority of the increase being in 2017. Chinese Concentration Camps
1. Arrested:A foggy reservoir is nestled between rice terraces and bamboo forests in the hills of central China, not far from Chongqing, one of the world’s largest metropolises. This is where Li’s hometown was once located. During their relocation, he and 52 of his neighbors felt they had been treated unfairly. When they objected to their local government, they were thrown into a prison camp. Forty-one-years old, Li was himself once an employee of the state – a patriot, even. But then he was forced to leave the land of his ancestors, and all the illusions about China he had spent a lifetime cultivating collapsed instantly.
2. Torture and Forced Labour: After the fourth day, Xie was regularly given enough to drink, but usually there wasn’t enough to eat. The menu included cabbage, radish and wax gourd, with meat being a rarity. Often, all they got was a bowl of rice. Aside from Li, other former prisoners also say they were forced to inhale hot rice while a guard stood behind them and counted down from 10. Sometimes the supervisors would make things even more difficult for them by giving only every second inmate a pair of chopsticks.
3. Chinese Dissident Exposes Prison Brutality: The friendly 53-year-old Chinese man who has written the year’s most brutal and shocking book, and insists every word in it is true. The man is Liao Yiwu and the book lays out his recollections from nearly four years spent in Chinese prisons, following his arrest and conviction for writing a poem called “Massacre” in response to the bloody suppression of the 1989 demonstrations at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
4. The Metamorphosis Shortly thereafter, a group leader brought Li to a roughly 40-year-old police officer. The official wanted to know why Li was at the camp and when Li told him his story, the officer nodded. “I don’t have much influence,” he said. “But I’ll try to help you.” Xie also sought to protect himself. A friend of a friend was a police officer and Xie asked his wife to bribe him. Not long later, the officer called Xishanping and asked them to protect Xie. It bothered Xie that his money was flowing into the corrupt state, but his security was more important to him.
5. Traumas: Huang Guoyu wrings out her long black hair over a small bowl. There are some lettuce leaves next to her on a sideboard. Behind her is a squat toilet and the family’s laundry hangs above her on a nylon clothesline. Huang dries herself and then begins preparing dinner in this provisional kitchen/washroom. In the hallway of the electronics store, Li has built a plywood platform under the ceiling with a ladder that leads up to the small, cramped sleeping area covered in mattresses and blankets. One of the blankets is adorned with comic book heroes, while a pillow is decorated with pigs. It reeks of urine and sweat.
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
- A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
- The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
- A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹The Laogai System (url*): It is estimated that anywhere from 40 to 50 million Chinese have suffered in the laogai since the founding of the people’s republic of china. The victims of this inhumane system have endured long hours of forced labor, beatings, starvation, physical torture and mental torment. Many of them did not survive. Theirs are stories of tragedy, cruelty, and despair, but also of dignity, courage, and defiance.
²Understanding what authoritarianism is! Is democracy dying? Many people are worried about authoritarianism, about the pressure on free media, free speech and independent judiciaries. Political scientists from the University of Amsterdam help us understanding what authoritarianism is, and how it might relate to other tendencies such as populism or xenophobia. To understand authoritarianism, we need to look at more than elections and must get away from seeing states as separate units that are either democratic or authoritarian. Instead, we should study authoritarian practices.