Chinese authorities go to great lengths to control society, with forced disappearances becoming the norm. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political opponents have gone missing every month. Sometimes without any form of judicial process or oversight, they are sent to secret prisons where they remain for months or even years without anyone knowing where they are. FRANCE 24 investigates the vanishings in China.
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 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 FRANCE 24. They recounted the abductions, harassment and torture that they have been subjected to.
This report tells the harrowing story of the ‘missing’ that Xi Jinping’s China is so keen to silence.