China Enforces Mass Torture To Force Confessions

( In June, the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders published a report claiming that the Chinese Communist regime is holding thousands of people, including political dissidents and human rights activists, in secret prisons where they are subjected to physical and psychological torture in order to force them into signing confessions. And last Tuesday, the report “Locked Up: Inside China’s Secret RSDL Jails,” was published in Chinese.

Safeguard Defenders describe these RSDL jails (Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location) as a “system of state-sanctioned kidnapping” and a “legalized form of black jail” that has “virtually no judicial oversight.” According to the report, the RDSL system was created the same year Xi Jinping became President of China (2013).

Chinese security officers, striking without warning, grab up victims, usually late at night. Victims say these security officers don’t necessarily show any credentials, paperwork or warrants. And instead of giving victims a chance to go quietly, they are violently subdued.

Targets are then bound and hooded, sometimes getting processed at a local police station, but often getting whisked immediately to an RDSL black site. During transport, detainees remain hooded so they cannot see where they are being taken.

Safeguard Defenders interviewed RDSL survivors who described being subjected to internationally illegal torture that is strikingly similar to the accounts given by Uyghurs held in the Xinjiang province concentration camps.

They described the use of a torture device called the “tiger chair” which forces prisoners to hold agonizing positions over an extended period of time while being denied food or sleep.

Other methods described by survivors include being forced to ingest unknown “medications,” the withholding of actual medical treatment, and painful beatings that leave no visible marks. Female prisoners were subjected to sexual humiliation, and both prisoners and their families were under constant threats.

The survivors interviewed by Safeguard Defenders all said that the top priority of RDSL is to pressure prisoners into signing confessions. Some were forced to write multiple drafts until they wrote a confession that satisfied their captors. Once released, prisoners were also forced to sign pledges that they will not discuss what happened to them in RDSL – whether by talking to reporters or by lodging a complaint with a foreign government.

According to their June report, Safeguard Defenders say over 57,000 people have passed through RDSL since 2013.