More green shoots of personal liberty appearing?

The most welcomed policy change to come from the National People’s Congress in China was the announcement that the incoming administration of President Xi Jinping has promised to abolish the ‘Re-Education through Labour Programme.’ Introduced over 50 years ago by Chairman Mao and without proper regard for evidence, they were designed to punish the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason.

Incidently,it was in the 1950’s , that I began to see little difference between McCarthyism and Maoism.

In China the system of extra-judicial detention saw dissidents and minor criminals being sent away to remote labour camps for many years at a time, without families being notified. Over the intervening decades it has become an ideal tool for corrupt officials. The potential for this system to be abused and recently the ‘The People’s Daily’, Communist Party’s newspaper, has described Re-education Through Labour as having become a, “tool of retaliation” for unscrupulous local officials.

Recently the case of Tang Hui outraged Chinese public opinion and revived debate over China’s controversial use of re-education through labour. In 2009 Tang Hui was forced to rescue her daughter from a brothel after policemen refused to help. For campaigning to see her 11-year-old girl’s rapists receive justice, Tang was sentenced for “loud disturbances, including door-knocking and obstruction of vehicles” to 18 months of hard labour at a “re-education camp.”

In June 2012, the Hunan provincial higher people’s court handed down tougher sentences, including death sentences for two of the men, life in prison for four others, and a 15-year jail sentence for one.

Released in August 2012 Tang continues to fight for the death penalty for all of them



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