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‘Mental Torture’ happens in the labor camps in China everywhere, says U.N. rapporteur

Posted by Author on June 21, 2010

Radio Free Asia, 2010-06-21 –

WASHINGTON— China’s prison system commonly subjects detainees to mental torment rather than physical abuse, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, although reforms are under way.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, told an Open Society Institute gathering here that authorities in China set out to “break the will” of convicts and detainees to make them believe that they have committed a crime.

“It’s much more mental torture—what they call ‘reeducation.’ That is on the one hand reeducation-through-labor camps. If you go in there it is just unbelievable what kind of brainwashing those people have to go through,” he said.

Most inmates at reeducation-through-labor camps, Nowak said, are members of the outlawed Falun Gong religious movement, sex workers, and others who have exhibited “unsocial behavior” that can be held for up to three or four years without being convicted at trial.

“But this policy of reeducation is not just in the specific camps—it’s everywhere. Of course, if you are convicted … without having confessed, they still want you to confess afterwards,” he said.

“They want to reeducate you so that you finally see that you have done something wrong. And that means trying to break the will of the people. If it didn’t work during trial, during police custody with torture or whatever, then they try to break your will afterwards.”

Nowak said he has met inmates who said they had eventually confessed to crimes they had not committed or acknowledged guilt in order to alleviate pressure from authorities.

“I have met quite a number … of people who told me, ‘I just finally gave up, because if I finally say ‘Yes, I did something wrong,’ then I get certain privileges. I can be earlier released.’”

Others, Novak said, are kept in jail without basic rights, sometimes indefinitely.

“You have no privileges—that means also [no] contact with family. All that will be reduced or it will be improved if you finally say, ‘I did something wrong,’” he said…….(Radio Free Asia)

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