THE New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) has released a report which claims more than one million people are kept under arbitrary detention on the mainland.
Released on the eve of an international human rights conference in Vienna, HRIC said the report was issued to ''bring the serious nature of arbitrary detention in China today to the attention of the international community'' and to mark the fourth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
''The HRIC urges the Chinese Government to take action to eliminate such detention,'' the report said. ''We believe that the lack of judicial supervision or due process . . . provides police and prison officers with a dangerous degree of control over citizens in their custody.'' Quoting from a speech given by Public Security Minister Tao Siju two years ago, the report said the number of people put under ''shelter and investigation'' by mainland police was around one million annually.
And hundreds of thousands were kept under ''re-education through labour'' and ''retention for in-camp employment'', HRIC alleged.
In one incident, the report quoted a Hongkong businessman, who was incarcerated seven years ago in a detention centre in the Huangpu district of Shanghai, as saying that the detainees were often tortured and prison conditions were appalling.
''Thirteen or 14 prisoners were crowded into a cell about three square metres in area . . . the guards would beat the prisoners with bamboo truncheons and trample them with their boots to squeeze them into the line of sleepers,'' the businessman said.
''The prisoners' backsides were covered with swollen bedsores which hurt and formed scabs that bonded their pants to their bodies. As soon as you stood up to use the toilet the scabs would tear and your pants would be covered with blood,'' he added.
Another piece of evidence was given by former Shenzhen police officer Gao Peiqi, who claimed that in the first few months of 1990, at least four people were tortured to death at the Shenzhen Municipal Detention Centre.