Activists in Hong Kong Photograph:( Reuters )
China had an "appalling year" in terms of human rights in 2020, said Human Rights Watch on Wednesday
China had an "appalling year" in terms of human rights in 2020, said Human Rights Watch on Wednesday.
The group took into account the crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong with new security laws, the persecution of Uighur Muslims, and attempts at silencing people that were vigorously reporting on the pandemic.
Just last week, a court in China sentenced a citizen-journalist to four years in jail after he reported from Wuhan, the original epicentre of the virus where it initially began. Many others who attempted to report on the pandemic have since then disappeared.
"To crack down on whistleblowers and citizen-journalists at this particular moment ... helps highlight to the rest of the world what the consequences of violations inside China can be," Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch (HRW) for China claimed after releasing its yearly report.
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Earlier, HRW's Executive Director Kenneth Roth had told Reuters that China is the biggest threat to human rights around the world. Roth added that President Xi Jinping had "embarked on the most intense repression" in China since 1989 when the Tiananmen Square crackdown took place.
As part of the national security law which was introduced in Hong Kong, 53 pro-democracy activists have been arrested in raids over the last week.
In addition, Beijing stands accused of the persecution and forced labour of Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang.
Richardson noted how Uighurs' plight remains largely ignored on the global stage, and how it was similar to what Rohingya Muslims were undergoing in Myanmar.
She added how the European Union's investment pact with China remains problematic, after a year of China "publicly shredding" its commitments in terms of human rights.
"Putting a dent in the Chinese government's sense of impunity for serious human rights violations is a real priority, we think, for governments and for institutions like the UN," she said, while adding that criticism against China is now growing in the international community.