Press Releases


Wuhan lockdown one year ago (Jan. 23)

An intensified human rights crisis (Press Release)

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), it is now clear that China's CP government used the world's first lockdown for widespread political repression in Wuhan. On January 23, 2020, the country's authorities had sealed off the megacity. "As a consequence of the Corona outbreak, we see a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in the People's Republic – and this affects, above all, internet administrators, citizen journalists, and other media workers," stated Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director. Between the beginning of January and the end of March of last year alone, independent human rights groups registered 897 cases in which Chinese authorities punished Internet users for online posts on the topic of Covid-19. The punishments ranged from warnings, interrogations, detentions, fines, and forced confessions to an "administrative detention" – incarceration in a labor camp for up to two years, without trial. The figures are based on the analysis of official reports in China's state-controlled media.      

"Further, censorship on social media has been stepped up to keep the people from exchanging opinions on the pandemic and its consequences," Delius criticized. "As the official media are supposed to avoid the issue – except for official announcements – civil society journalism is of special importance." As an alternative to the official and censored media, this form of journalism has been on the rise for years. However, many committed journalists are now paying for their commitment to independent information with years of imprisonment.

The Corona crisis has also had a massive impact on the religious minorities in the country. For example, their churches and community centers were closed across the country. "Their reopening was often tied to political conditions such as the removal of crosses or the mandatory display of the Chinese flag. The authorities are using the pandemic to advance their war on religion," Delius said. Openly persecuted religious groups such as the "Church of Almighty God" are complaining that the registration procedure for vaccinations is used to track members of banned religious communities. This is a perfidious instrumentalization of the health crisis with the aim of restricting religious freedom.