03/06/2007versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend



A proposal of reform of "re-education through work" of dissidents is put forward
A bill to reform the institution of laojiao, the conviction to many years (up to four) of hard labour with no trial for citizens considered counter-revolutionary or antisocial, will be presented at the National People Assembly next Monday in Beijing. The Chinese parliament wants to maintain the conviction, but reduce the sentence duration to maximum one year and render the labour camps more similar to schools than to prisons: bars and barbed wires will be removed and the denomination will change from “re-education centres” to “correction centres”. Therefore it is not an abolition of laojiao, as emphatically quoted by many newspapers, although it is a first important step forward.

Arresto di una dissidente Conviction without a trial. Introduced in 1957, the laojiao must not be confused with laodong, the hard labour inflicted to criminals after a criminal trial. “Re-education through labour” –  this is the meaning of laojiao – is a fine imposed by authorities without going through a court, with no defence or appeal: this makes laojiao an institution even more against civil rights, as any limitation of personal freedom should be ordered only by a judge after a regular trial. With laojiao, instead, one is arrested by police at home without notice and taken to a labour camp without any possibility of reply. A possibility that could now be introduced.

Lavoro nei campi Not only hard labour. Among the at least 300 thousand Chinese who work in the about 300 laojiao camps we find small common criminals (thieves, swindlers, prostitutes, drug addicts, illegal immigrants) but above all political dissidents of every kind, from democratic militants, to Falun Gong followers, from human rights defenders to petition signers.
By working in the camps, mines or brick factories under constant police surveillance, these people should “re-educate”, that is regret their behaviours, becoming respectful of law and party, devoted to the construction of socialism. For those not changing their mind or, even worse, protesting or not respecting the camp discipline rules, there are penalty extension and corporal punishment: solitary confinement, collective beatings, tortures with electric shocks. The extension will not be possible any more, but punishments will.

Keywords: china, gulag, reform, work, laojiao
Topic: Human Rights
Area: China