“You are now under residential surveillance at a designated location. Your only right is to obey.”
With these words, Chinese lawyer Xie Yang was introduced to the brutality of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL), China’s rapidly expanding system for enforced disappearances. Little is known of RSDL, or what happens inside. The People’s Republic of the Disappeared will change that.
RSDL facilities, often secret, custom-built and unmarked prisons, are run by police or State Security officials. Inside, people are placed outside the normal legal system, left in solitary confinement, interrogated repeatedly, and often subjected to torture. There is no oversight of the police, and no protection for those inside. In RSDL, you simply vanish. In RSDL, the police have total control.
This book exposes what it is like to be disappeared in China. It is the first anthology written by the victims themselves, from lawyer Wang Yu who was abducted in the middle of the night to engineer Tang Zhishun who was taken from across the border in Burma; from IT worker Jiang Xiaoyu who was beaten and threatened with permanent disappearance to Pan Jinling whose only crime was dating an NGO worker.
The People’s Republic of the Disappeared includes a foreword by well-known exiled human rights lawyer Teng Biao. The foreword and introduction provide the reader with an understanding of RSDL. The legal chapter at the end offers an exhaustive, authoritative analysis of the domestic law giving rise to RSDL, and the international legal framework that China brazenly violates. These chapters, along with stories by lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Shihui trace China’s obsession with disappearing dissidents from the early 2000s, through to the Jasmine Revolution movement in China in 2011, and into the current system of RSDL.
This book is essential reading for academics and journalists, governments and nonprofit workers alike working on or interested in China, because these stories illustrate, with narrative clarity, the hollowness of China’s rhetoric of the rule of law. Likewise, it is worthwhile reading for anyone studying authoritarian regimes and the struggle for human rights.
"The narrators tell of physical and psychological abuse, beatings and sleep deprivation, humiliations, isolation... rare in their detail." Steven Lee Meyer, New York Times Sunday Review
"... gets behind the benign mask China shows the world to reveal a cynical use of law to subvert justice, destroy dignity,and erode humanity. In the most comprehensive collective portrait to date, Disappeared compiles powerful first-person accounts" Terence Halliday, Co-author of Criminal Defense in China (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Co-Director, Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation
"... eye-opening and courageous. ...help you better understand the Middle Kingdom." June Cheng, WORLD magazine
A "noteworthy" and "deserving" book. One of the most chilling of many quotable statements comes from human rights activist Tang Zhishun: "At times the guards warned me that my wife and child, despite being in the United States, were not as safe as I might think they were. Chinese agents could still kill them..." Jerome Cohen, Director US-Asia Law Institute, Professor of Law, New York University
"... a profoundly important book. If you want to understand China beneath the dollar signs and infrastructure projects, read this book." Benedict Rogers, Deputy Chair of [UK] Conservative Party Human Rights Committee, founder of Hong Kong Watch