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Human Rights Watch Publishes World Report 2023

Human Rights Watch released World Report 2023 on January 12, 2023. The 710 page annual report summarizes human rights conditions in over 100 countries and territories worldwide in 2022.

In the preface to the report titled A New Model for Global Leadership on Human Rights, Tirana Hassan, the Acting Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, warns that “Governments that fail to live up to their legal obligations to protect human rights at home sow the seeds of discontent, instability, and ultimately crisis.” “Viewing our greatest challenges and threats to the modern world through a human rights lens reveals not only the root causes of disruption but also offers guidance to address them” she said and was of the view that the world’s mobilization around Ukraine reminds the world of the “extraordinary potential when governments realize their human rights responsibilities on a global scale.”

The reports section on China covers Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, Freedom of Religion, Covid 19, Human Rights Defenders, Freedom of Expression, Women’s and Girls’ Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Disability Rights, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Climate Change Policies and Actions, Key International Actions and Foreign Policy.

In Hong Kong, the report states “at least 231 people have been arrested for allegedly violating the NSL (National Security Law) since it was imposed on June 30, 2020, and for “sedition,” a colonial-era law the authorities have revived to crush dissent.” The government has forced many unions to disband. Censorship is now widespread. “Universities were complicit in the authorities’ repression of students, who have been central to the city’s pro-democracy movement.” Overall surveillance of Hong Kong society has been intensified by the police and Hong Kong people “continued to risk arrests to protest.”

In Xinjiang “as many as a million people were wrongfully detained in political education camps, pretrial detention centers, and prisons at the height of the Strike Hard Campaign. While some have been released, the Chinese authorities have also sentenced an estimated half-million people, many of whom remain imprisoned.”

In Tibet “authorities continue to enforce severe restrictions on freedoms of religion, expression, movement, and assembly.” There is “intense censorship.” “Tibetan religious and cultural figures suspected of dissent” have been arrested, sentenced and mistreated in detention.

On freedom of religion, the report concludes that “state control over religion has increased since 2016, when Xi called for “Sinicization” of religions. Going beyond controlling religion by dictating what constitutes “normal,” and therefore legal, religious activity, authorities now seek to comprehensively reshape religions such that they are consistent with the party’s ideology and that they help promote allegiance to the party and to Xi.”  New Measures on the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services came into effect in March and it prohibits individuals or groups from teaching or propagating religion online without official approval.

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