Violations of International Criminal Law in the Suppression of Falun Gong
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 10, No. 7, July 2022
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, circa 2000. Source: Falun Data Infocenter.
In July 1999, the Communist Party of China launched a nationwide campaign to eliminate Falun Gong, a spiritual practice believed to have as many as 70 million adherents. Since that time, hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained without due process in prisons, reeducation-through-labour camps, detention centers, and “black jails.” Torture and other high-pressure methods are used to force adherents to renounce their beliefs, sometimes resulting in deaths, while official sources and state-run media agencies depict the group as evil and openly call for its “complete eradication.”
In response to the suppression campaign, Falun Gong adherents outside China have sought to invoke the concept of universal jurisdiction to bring charges against senior Chinese leaders alleging torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This essay assesses the claims of genocide committed against the Falun Gong by making reference to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and jurisprudence of international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. It argues that while some aspects of the Falun Gong case are unique—such as the potential ambiguity of the group’s religious identity—the suppression of Falun Gong would likely satisfy the convention definition of genocide. Continue reading →
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 11, November 2021
TikTok logo. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Last year’s “TikTok war” revealed unprecedented hostility of the US government towards the Chinese tech newcomer. The seemingly innocuous software was developed by ByteDance, a Chinese unicorn company. TikTok is a sister app of Douyin, created for the Chinese market. Both apps allow users to share and watch short videos. In July 2020, then-President Donald Trump accused TikTok of a series of breaches, the most serious of which was sharing user data with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (Levine, 2020). Yet, some experts, including Adam Segal from the Council of Foreign Relations, considered the near-ban a smokescreen to hinder the growth of the most globally successful Chinese app to date (Campbell, 2020). In 2020, TikTok was the most downloaded app globally, with 89 million new users just in the US (Geyser, 2021). To date, 23% of Americans use or have watched TikTok, with an average American user having spent 14.3 hours monthly on the app in 2020 (Tankovska, 2021).
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2021
This article is by an anonymous university student in Myanmar (Burma) who is currently supporting the pro-democracy social movements there against the February 1 coup. Anonymity has been granted to the author due to the threat against his person that might result from a byline.
Pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar (Burma) following the February 1, 2021 coup.
On March 15th, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) announced that they moved Myanmar (Burma) to the “Current Crisis” category, as populations here face crimes against humanity perpetrated by military coup leaders, known as the Junta. That followed the the March 2 announcement by civil society groups of the Myanmar Military as a terrorist group. Their legitimacy and tactics are, in fact, those of terrorists rather than a government, as they have attacked democratically-elected government officials, and shot randomly into people’s homes in an attempt to quell a rising social movement in defense of President U Win Myint, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, other government officials, and civil society leaders. Continue reading →
A still image from a TBD Studio video of songs dedicated to those suffering from the Chinese Communist Party, uploaded April 3, 2020. Another of their videos is a COVID-19 timeline, uploaded May 6, 2020.
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 8, No. 5, May 2020
TBD Studio is a group of Mainland Chinese students who are studying abroad. TBD stands for “The Big Dipper.” The names they have chosen below preserve their anonymity.
Since the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949, millions of Chinese people have been persecuted to death in numerous political movements. Continue reading →
Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2020
Red Guard political slogan on Fudan University campus, Shanghai, China, toward the close of the Cultural Revolution (Spring 1976). ‘Defend party central with blood and life! Defend Chairman Mao with blood and life!’ Source: Wikimedia
John Fitzgerald Swinburne University of Technology
In stifling free and open inquiry, China’s universities are being faithful to the party’s Marxist values and authoritarian principles. Universities in the West could display similar backbone by standing up for the values and principles of their own communities, including academic freedom and institutional autonomy, when they deal with education authorities in China. People in China who value freedom and critical inquiry expect nothing less of us.
On December 18, 2019, China’s Ministry of Education announced the latest in a series of revisions of national university constitutions to ensure that the party takes pride of place in their management, curriculum, and international engagements. Public attention was drawn to changes in the charter of Fudan University when footage went viral of students singing their school anthem in protest at the damage done to their school constitution. The Ministry of Education had deleted two phrases from the Fudan charter still preserved in the old school anthem: ‘academic independence and freedom of thought.’