♦ The Silence of Chinese Detentions.
2014 was the Year of the Horse in Chinese Lunar calendar, but the Chinese government turned it into the Year of DETENTIONS. Following the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June and the Hong Kong protests in October, President Xi Jinping’s government carried out a wave of Chinese detentions, disregarding civil rights and tightening control over its citizens. Over 100 new detainees were sent to over-crowded political prisons – the same prisons holding the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo [link] and the founder of New Citizens’ Movement, Xu Zhiyong [link] – and they are still held in captivity.
Citizens have been detained under charges of “creating disturbances”, “operating illegal businesses”, and “inciting subversion”, but what these activists, writers, journalists, and academics were working towards was the freedom of expression, the protection of civil liberties, and justice for victims of human rights abuses. The detained are men and women who fought for their rights and the rights of their fellow citizens in the face of the Chinese government. The detentions silence the voices of activists, but they also silence the voices of the Chinese public, present and future, with the threat of detention and enforced disappearance.
The economic and political rise of China has turned the Chinese government into a seemingly unstoppable force. The past criticisms of China’s human rights violations launched by foreign governments and international organizations have fallen silent amidst cooperative actions to engage with China’s growing economy and increasingly powerful government. China’s economic and political gain came at a cost – impaired labor rights, environmental damage, a loss of civil liberties – and to maintain this power, criticisms of the government by Chinese citizens has resulted in detainment.