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Trump to sanction Syria’s dictator for human rights abuses

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On Wednesday, the United States announced fresh sanctions on individuals and entities whom it views as “key enablers” of the massive human rights abuses committed by Syria’s authoritarian regime, Reuters and The Hill have reported.

President Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s longtime dictator, has been embroiled in a civil war for the past nine years, during which his government has routinely perpetrated human rights violations. In its effort to cut off the regime’s monetary sources, the U.S. will sanction six people and 13 institutions, including the Central Bank of Syria and parts of the Syrian military among others.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both stood firm in justifying the move.

“The United States will continue to employ all of its tools and authorities to target the finances of anyone who profits from or facilitates the Assad regime’s abuse of the Syrian people,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Thus far, Assad’s foreign enablers have only emboldened his regime’s cronies and deepened their involvement in the exploitative financial and military apparatus that underpins the regime’s survival,” Pompeo said in a different statement.

“There is a clear path forward,” he added. “The Syrian people have suffered enough.”

If Assad’s regime wants the sanctions to stop, Pompeo asserted, he must come to the table, accept, and implement the United Nations’ peace plan for finally ending the civil war.

The targeting of officials, commanders and “corrupt business leaders will not cease,” he said.

“Until the Assad regime and its enablers take irreversible steps to end their campaign of violence against the Syrian people and genuinely implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254,” added Pompeo.

The Syrian Civil War, sparked by the Assad government’s bloody 2011 crackdown of Arab Spring protests, quickly evolved into one of the deadliest conflicts to afflict the Middle East in decades. As of March 2020, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights has documented 384,000 deaths from the conflict. The resulting humanitarian crisis forced 6.6 million refugees to flee the war-torn country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world

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China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.

Key findings of the report are below.

“Persuaded to return”

According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.

Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.

The Nine Forbidden Countries

China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.

Conclusion

According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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