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Rep. Clyburn refuses to comment on State Dept. saying China is committing ‘genocide’ against Uighur Muslims

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Following the U.S. State Department on Tuesday publicly accusing China of committing “genocide” against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) refused to comment on the declaration issued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying he doesn’t “react to the headlines.”

When asked for his reaction to the declaration during a Fox News interview, Clyburn said: “I try to stay out of these foreign affairs matters. I have not made that a particular endeavor of mine in the Congress. I listen to these things and I usually reserve comment when they are bordering on international issues, and I will today as well.”

Fox News anchor Sandra Smith then asked if he supported the declaration, to which Clyburn replied, “I don’t react to the headlines,” going on to complain about how politics is too soundbite-driven, eventually saying, “I’ll have to see with the substance of [the declaration] is.”

Smith offered some more context about the declaration to South Carolina Democrat, bringing up President-elect Joe Biden‘s treasury nominee Janet Yellen who said on Tuesday at her confirmation hearing that China is guilty of “horrendous human rights abuses” when she was asked if President Xi Jinping committed genocide.

Smith then asked Clyburn the same question and he reiterated that he’s going to “stay out” of international affairs. He also said that Pompeo “has not been one of my favorite people” and criticized the departing secretary of state for making such a move on his last day of office.

Smith pressed Clyburn some more, asking him if he thinks President Xi and China committed genocide.

“You can ask me as many times as you wish,” he replied. “I’m going to wait to see what an administration I trust, what conclusions they come up with. I’m not going to pass judgment on that.”

The statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes less than 24 hours before Biden becomes president, making this declaration one of Pompeo’s final acts as secretary of state. His statement also forces the incoming president to decide whether or not to maintain the declaration.

In the statement published Tuesday, Pompeo accused the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of committing “crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang” as far back as March 2017.

These crimes, the United States’ chief diplomat said, include “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

Moreover, Pompeo’s move is the latest in a series of actions against China by the Trump administration, with tensions between the U.S. and China having escalated over the past year.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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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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