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‘ICE Alerts’ Twitter account locked

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UPDATED @ 10:30 PM (EST) WITH ICE STATEMENT

A Twitter account for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) specializing in public safety alerts pertaining to fugitive undocumented immigrants called ICE Alerts on Tuesday has been locked.

At the time of publication, ICE’s official Twitter account has not addressed the locking of the ICE Alerts account.

On the ICE Alerts account page is a note saying: “These Tweets are protected” and “Only approved followers can see @ICEAlerts’s Tweets.” The note then mentions that in order to request access, click “follow”.

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The account, launched in January 2013, was reportedly locked by the Biden administration, according to a former senior advisor at ICE, Jon Feere. According to him, the account was largely developed by the Trump administration.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Feere heavily criticized the move to lock the account, charging that it “seems the Biden Admin locked @ICEAlerts because if you were to report the location of one of these dangerous aliens to ICE, it would become too obvious that these assaulters, drug dealers, thieves, and drunk drivers are now allowed to go free under Biden’s policies.”

Feere went on to share examples of public safety alerts from the account, arguing that the administration “doesn’t want you reporting” violent fugitives who are undocumented immigrants.

In a statement to this reporter, an ICE spokesperson said that the ICE Alerts account, whose last tweet was on January 21, has been archived.

“ICE continues to use its main twitter account, @ICEgov, and our regional twitter accounts to communicate with the public about our national security, border security, and public safety mission,” the spokesperson said. “ICE also uses our website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Flickr to communicate with all our stakeholders, including local jurisdictions.”

“ICE routinely updates its many communication tools to ensure accurate information remains consist with current priorities,” the spokesperson continued. “As with similar accounts associated with prior administrations’ policies, @ICEalerts was archived as it was no longer being maintained.”

“ICE continues to focus its civil immigration enforcement on the common-sense priorities of national security, border security, and public safety,” they added.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not immediately respond to this reporter’s request.

MORE ON IMMIGRATION: Sara Carter: Biden immigration policy ‘perpetuating violence at the border’

During the Trump administration, whose immigration policies and rhetoric were markedly tougher than those of previous administrations, the role of ICE came under intense scrutiny from progressives and various civil rights groups in large part—among many other things—for using tactics viewed as aggressive and inhumane in its detaining of undocumented immigrants residing in the country. As a result, an increasing amount of those on the left have come out in support of abolishing ICE outright.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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