14 November 2017 – Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) is China’s attempt to mask its systematic use of enforced disappearances of human rights defenders behind the veneer of the rule of law. Under RSDL, the state can take anyone, deny them access to a lawyer, and refuse the outside world any information about their fate or whereabouts for up to six months. The state Prosecutor is even denied the right to visit the victim or provide oversight against maltreatment. Torture is common. There is no legal review or appeal. Once inside RSDL, you simply disappear.
“You are now under Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location.
Your only right is to obey.”
from Chapter 7, Xie Yang
The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, with a foreword by Dr. Teng Biao, provides a comprehensive and chilling portrait of RSDL through the first-person accounts of 11 of its victims. Wang Yu, the renowned rights defense lawyer, kidnapped in the middle of the night, speaks for the first time about her six month’s of disappearance. Tang Zhishun, taken in Myanmar and illegally brought back to China, laughs at the absurdity of being charged with subversion. One author recounts being forced to sing the national anthem naked in his cell, while another tells how the police threatened him with permanent disappearance.
Through these 11 stories, The People’s Republic of the Disappeared charts the common experiences of abuse inside RSDL, from prolonged solitary confinement, extended sleep and food deprivation, and beatings, to the use of threats against loved ones. It portrays a system designed with one intention: to break you. The book concludes with a comprehensive analysis of relevant domestic Chinese and international law.
China’s normalization of enforced disappearances is a direct challenge to the international human rights system. The world’s media have so far effectively ignored RSDL, and in China itself even many rights defenders remain uncertain about what it really is. This book will change that.
A “noteworthy” and “deserving” book.
Jerome A. Cohen, Professor at New York University (School of Law)
…the most comprehensive collective portrait to date, Disappeared compiles powerful first-person accounts.
Terence Halliday, Co-Director of Center on Law and Globalization, American Bar Foundation
…eye-opening and courageous. …help you better understand the Middle Kingdom.
June Cheng, WORLD magazine
…a very heavy [reading] session.
Kate Whitehead, South China Morning Post
The narrators tell of physical and psychological abuse, beatings and sleep deprivation, humiliations, isolation… rare in their detail.
Steven Lee Meyer, the New York Times
“Direct and compelling, these first-person accounts give us a sense of the terrors…”
Eva Pils, King’s College London
…this book is a necessary eye opener. …will add depth and clarity.
Yaxue Cao, Director of ChinaChange.org
…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
…essential reading for academics and journalists, governments and nonprofit workers. …worthwhile reading for anyone studying authoritarian regimes and the struggle for human rights.
Magnus Fiskesjö, Professor at Cornell University
…reading this is like taking a direct glimpse at the cruelty and brutality that are the heart of Communist Party rule.
Kong Tsung-gan, Medium, The Best Human Rights Books of 2017