Tuesday, 05-Mar-2002

BEIJING, March 5 (AFP) - China continued to commit "numerous and serious abuses" of human rights last year, a US State Department report charged, detailing problems including arbitrary arrest, torture and the repression of religion and of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China's human rights record throughout 2001 "remained poor", the State Department concluded in a scathing 70,000-word catalogue of abuses


The report, issued in Washington as part of an annual survey of global human rights, said the curtailment of human rights in China remained endemic and was part of the fabric of the Communist Party's monopoly rule.

"Authorities still were quick to suppress any person or group, whether religious, political, or social, that they perceived to be a threat to government power, or to national stability, and citizens who sought to express openly dissenting political and religious views continued to live in an environment filled with repression," the report charged.

It also decried abuses such as "extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment of prisoners, forced confessions, arbitrary arrest and detention, lengthy incommunicado detention, and denial of due process".

Religious freedom in China -- the subject of passionate appeals by US President George W. Bush during his trip to Beijing last month -- also remained severely curtailed.

"Overall, government respect for religious freedom remained poor and crackdowns against unregistered groups... continued," the report said.

Unofficial religious groups were not tolerated and "church leaders or adherents were harassed, and, at times, fined, detained, beaten, and tortured", it added.

The [...] Falungong spiritual group, outlawed as a [Chinese government's slanderous term omitted] in mid-1999, continued to be brutally repressed, the State Department said, noting that "scores" of adherents died in police custody during 2001.

The report cited "reliable" reports saying local officials from a city in the eastern province of Shandong, "were responsible for beating to death Falungong adherents at the rate of about one per month".