China is in the midst of its darkest period for human rights since the Tiananmen Square massacre, Human Rights Watch has said in its annual report.
But 2020 was also the year that world governments found “safety in numbers” to push back on China’s policies of repression, with less fear of retaliation, it said.
Worsening persecutions of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet, targeting of whistleblowers, the crackdown on Hong Kong and attempts to cover up the coronavirus outbreak were all part of the deteriorating situation under President Xi Jinping, the organisation said.
“This has been the darkest period for human rights in China since the 1989 massacre that ended the Tiananmen Square democracy movement,” the report on worldwide human rights abuses said.
“The Chinese government’s authoritarianism was on full display in 2020 as it grappled with the deadly coronavirus outbreak first reported in Wuhan,” the report said, describing the initial cover-up of the outbreak by authorities and the punishment of whistleblower doctors including Li Wenliang and journalists such as Zhang Zhan, who reported on the Wuhan lockdown and on surveillance and harassment of virus victims’ families .
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