05 Oct 2021

Locked Up: report on China's secret jails now out in Chinese language

Safeguard Defenders’ ground-breaking illustrated report, Locked Up: Inside China’s Secret RSDL Jails, is now out in Chinese language. Inside its pages, readers are taken on a deep dive into the dark world of China’s Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL). For the first time, RSDL is depicted with rich artwork, satellite images and architectural sketches to bring the reality of this secret prison system to light.

Download PDF of report here in Chinese and here in the original English.

RSDL is China’s system of state-sanctioned kidnapping that it is using against thousands of people every year. Just a few weeks ago, news of prominent human rights lawyer Chang Weiping’s torture under six months of RSDL between October 2020 and April this year was made public after he was finally allowed to meet with his lawyer, almost a year after he disappeared. He spent six consecutive days strapped immobile into a tiger chair and was subjected to abusive sleep and food deprivation.

Chinese security forces have also used RSDL on other well-known human rights defenders including dissident artist Ai Weiwei, human rights lawyers Wang Yu and Wang Quanzhang, as well as on foreigners, especially those caught up in hostage diplomacy cases, like the recently released Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The very nature of RSDL, that it takes place at hidden locations with the victim in isolation and incommunicado, and in facilities other than police stations and detention centres, means that there are very few images, or even information about their whereabouts. That RSDL is used by the Ministry of State Security for suspected national security ‘crimes’, and against foreigners, also adds another reason to why it is kept so secret.

Locked Up: Inside China’s Secret RSDL Jails is an attempt to remedy this by bringing alive the stories told by its victims with the use of artwork and second person narrative to allow the reader to travel, black hooded, right into the hidden facility, into the cell, into the interrogation room, and even into the tiger chair. Every detail in Locked Up is sourced from testimony provided by victims, their families or lawyers.

In addition to raising international awareness for advocacy efforts, Locked Up is now out in a Chinese language version to help rights defenders inside China better understand the secretive and abusive custodial system. Armed with this knowledge, it is hoped they may have a better chance at being prepared if they are also disappeared by the state.

Read the full story and see the remarkable graphics by clicking here (Chinese) or here (English).