In China, the authorities go to great lengths to control civil society, even resorting to forced disappearances. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political opponents have gone missing every month. Sometimes without any form of judicial process, they are sent to secret prisons where they remain locked up for months or even years, without anyone ever finding out what happened to them. FRANCE 24 investigates China’s forced disappearances.
On July 9, 2015, nearly 300 lawyers and human rights activists were arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in China. Some ended up in "black jails": untraceable places, completely cut off from the outside world, where they were detained in secret.
This massive purge, targeting all those who denounced and challenged the authoritarian excesses of the Chinese Communist Party, was called the “709 incident”. According to some experts, it was Beijing’s worst crackdown on civil society since the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989.
Since then, some of the "709 incident" activists have been released, but other dissidents have faced the ire of the Chinese authorities, sometimes even beyond its borders.
After a three-month investigation, several victims of these purges, family members of those missing and some of the few remaining pro-democracy activists in China agreed to speak to us on camera. They recounted the abductions, harassment and torture that they have been subjected to.
FRANCE 24 brings you the harrowing story of the missing people and activists that Xi Jinping’s China is so keen to silence.