By Phuntsok Yangchem
DHARAMSHALA, January 16: The U.S. based human rights watchdog Freedom House in its latest report has said the state of religious freedom in China has worsened since Xi Jinping became Chinese President.
“The methods of repression have also evolved. The current authorities are mounting more coordinated and multipronged campaigns to dominate online discourse, obstruct human rights activism, and preempt public protests. Punishments meted out to dissidents have shifted, with various forms of criminal, administrative, and extralegal detention replacing the abolished “reeducation through labor” camp system,” said the report posted on the organization's website.
Sarah Cook, senior research analyst at Freedom House and author of the report had examined hundreds of official documents and speeches, media accounts, censorship directives, and research by scholars, think tanks, and human rights groups in Chinese and English.
The report draws on roughly 30 interviews with lawyers, bloggers, civil society activists, commentators, and scholars both inside and outside China.
The report said that China has continued to oppress personal freedoms using harsh tactics that include obstructing activism and shutting down public protest even as China declares its commitment to human rights.
"The result is that the Chinese Communist Party is trapped in a vicious cycle, whereby the actions taken to maintain power risk alienating the population and some of its own members, undermining the regime's long-term legitimacy and security," the report said.
Since 2009, 135 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard line policies.
According to the report, censors have strictly regulated the Internet, nipping online dissent in the bud. "There is a clear change in how Xi Jinping is managing the censorship and security apparatus compared to his predecessor, and overall this has meant more restrictions, not more freedom," said the report.