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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Keeping their causes and sacrifices in the news:

  • US and EU call for release of Chinese dissident – “The US and European Union today renewed calls for the immediate release of high profile dissident Liu Xiaobo, as a Chinese court upheld his 11-year-sentence. He was convicted for inciting the subversion of state power after co-authoring Charter 08, a call for greater political freedoms. Although the vaguely-worded offence carries a maximum term of up to 15 years, the writer’s sentence was one of the longest handed out in recent years on the charge. But a reduction would have been remarkable in such a high-profile political case and his wife said she had expected the decision. She added that Liu shouted out his innocence after hearing the court’s statement.”
  • China can’t ‘frighten the monkey’ – Ma Jian 馬建 – “When former Czech president Vaclav Havel knocked on the door of the Chinese embassy in Prague to demand the release of writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), I had an eerie sense of deja vu. Thirty-three years ago, Havel helped initiate Charter 77, the landmark document that crystallized the ideals of all the dissidents — and many others — trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Havel, of course, was rewarded with a long jail sentence for his efforts. Now Liu has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for much the same crime — initiating Charter 08, perhaps the bravest attempt yet to chart a peaceful way to freedom for China. History is said to repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, and it is indeed farcical for China’s government to try to suppress the yearning for freedom in the same brutal ways that Soviet-era communists once did. Jailing Liu on the absurd charge of trying to overthrow the Chinese state is typical of the type of thinking found in the closed societies of 20th century communism, where the state asserted its absolute right to judge every thought and every thinker.”
  • Lawyer says Hong Kong violated Chinese dissident’s rights – “The complex case of the dissident, Zhou Yongjun, who had been living in exile, has raised questions about whether Hong Kong authorities handed him over to the Chinese police in violation of the “one country, two systems” form of governing. Mr. Zhou was sentenced on Jan. 15 to nine years in prison by a court in the city of Shehong, his lawyers said last week. He was also fined $11,700. Mr. Zhou, 42, from Sichuan, was a prominent student protester in the days leading to the June 1989 killings around Tiananmen Square, when soldiers took the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians. Mr. Zhou fled to the United States in 1993 and became one of many stateless exiles.” – a warning for Taiwan…
  • Chinese activist surfaces after a year in custody – “Since Mr. Gao disappeared into the custody of public security personnel in February 2009, the Chinese government has provided a series of contradictory and cryptic explanations of his whereabouts, despite entreaties by the United Nations, the White House and the European Union. During a previous detention in 2006, Mr. Gao said he was tortured by his captors. He said they repeatedly applied electric shocks to his body and warned him that he would be killed if he revealed how he was treated.”
  • Crusading Chinese lawyer gives up activism – “Gao acknowledged that his seeming turnabout is sure to dishearten his backers and asked for their understanding. ”Everybody will be disappointed. Some people were really involved, concerned, supportive, making appeals. So when they read my words they will definitely feel disappointed. To them, I apologize. I’m extremely sorry,” he said. His previous imprisonment and run-ins with police — including a time in 2007 when security forces gave him electric shocks to his genitals and placed cigarettes in his eyes — helped him survive the last 14 months.”
  • Chinese lawyer says he favors family over dissent – ““I don’t have the capacity to persevere,” said Mr. Gao, sitting straight-backed at a tea house near his apartment in northern Beijing. “On the one hand, it’s my past experiences. It’s also that these experiences greatly hurt my loved ones. This ultimate choice of mine, after a process of deep and careful thought, is to seek the goal of peace and calm.” His eyes brimmed with tears several times when he discussed his family, especially when he described seeing their shoes when he returned home for the first time on Tuesday. “I completely lost control of my emotions, because to me these are the three dearest people in the world, and now, we’re like a kite with a broken string,” he said.”
  • Ailing Chinese dissident is denied early release – “Joshua Rosenzweig, a researcher at the Dui Hua Foundation, an advocacy group, said it was worrisome that prison officials refused to provide any documentation of Mr. Hu’s medical condition. “The lack of transparency leaves the impression that they are trying to hide something,” he said. “They seem to be saying, ‘Don’t worry, we know what’s best for him.’ But how is his family supposed to take those assurances at face value, given what they’ve been through?” It is the second time Mr. Hu has been denied medical parole.”
  • Gao Zhisheng, Hu jia, Liu Xiaobo – “This latest disappearance has been devastating for Mr. Gao and his family, which had been under constant police surveillance for years. Press reports said that his teenage daughter had tried to commit suicide. His wife and children escaped to the United States last year. Chinese authorities also are doing their best to break two other men of conscience who are still being held. On Monday, family members said the government had rejected a request for a medical parole for Hu Jia, who has shown signs of possible liver cancer. He gained prominence fighting to protect AIDS patients, environmental causes and democratic rights before being charged two years ago with subverting state power.”

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This is a must-read article for anyone who wishes to understand what censorship is like in China – China’s censorship machine takes on the Internet.

Just a few excerpts:

““Carrot” — in Mandarin, huluobo — may seem innocuous enough. But it contains the same Chinese character as the surname of President Hu Jintao. And the computers, long programmed to intercept Chinese-language searches on the nation’s leaders, substitute an error message for the search result before it can sneak onto a mainland computer.”

“That’s not all. Not content merely to block dissonant views, the government increasingly employs agents to peddle its views online, in the guise of impartial bloggers and chat-room denizens. And increasingly, it is backing state-friendly clones of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all Western sites that have been blocked here for roughly a year. The government’s strategy, according to Mr. Bandurski and others, is not just to block unflattering messages, but to overwhelm them with its own positive spin and rebuttals.”

“With 384 million users in China at last count in January — and 181 million blogs — the Internet poses a true cat-herding predicament for censors. Foreign entities that operate outside China are the lesser of the censors’ problems. The reason is logistical: access to the Internet in China from the outside world is limited, and all traffic must pass through one of three large computer centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.”

Also see this blog post on China’s freelance internet propagandists and the linked articles.

Lastly, check out this first-hand account of a NYT reporter finding out he’d been hacked – I was hacked in Beijing – “For weeks, friends and colleagues complained I had not answered their e-mail messages. I swore I had not received them.

My e-mail program began crashing almost daily. But only when all my contacts disappeared for the second time did suspicion push me to act.

I dug deep inside my Yahoo settings, and I shuddered. Incoming messages had been forwarding to an unfamiliar e-mail address, one presumably typed in by intruders who had gained access to my account.

I’d been hacked.”

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Full list of my bookmarks on Delicious here.  Also, I have recent finished uploading a new set of photos on Flickr: 2009-08 Amherst.

Bookmark highlights:

  • On Kristof’s column suggesting topics for the new year, I suggested looking at corruption in our government institutions, as inspired by Professor Lawrence Lessig. Some recent articles on this issue:
    • “A dose of realism?”  How about this for “realism”: We need leadership – Lessig – “This Court has become an angry old dog which has now bitten four times in a row. (The government is 0 for 4 in its defense of campaign finance regulations). Sure, maybe it won’t bite your kid. Maybe it will be the sweet moderate dog it was years ago. But you don’t need to be the parent of a young child to believe it reckless to let your kid play with this dog. And I don’t think you have to be a complete cynic about the Supreme Court to read their decisions to signal that this revolution is not yet over.”
    • How campaign finance ruling changes politics – NPR interview with Lessig
  • On animals:
    • An otter’s work is never done – too cute
    • Free Tilly – and all circus animals – Singer – “We will never know exactly what was going on in Tilly’s mind, but we do know that he has been in captivity since he was about two years old – he was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983. Orcas are social mammals, and he would have been living with his mother and other relatives in a pod. It is reasonable to suppose that the sudden separation was traumatic for Tilly.Moreover, the degree of confinement in an aquarium is extreme, for no tank, no matter how large, can come close to meeting the needs of animals who spend their lives in social groups swimming long distances in the ocean. Joyce Tischler, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, described keeping a six-ton orca in Sea World’s tanks as akin to keeping a human in a bathtub for his entire life. David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project for the Earth Island Institute, which led the efforts to rehabilitate the orca Keiko – made famous by the movie Free Willy – said “Orcas deserve a better fate than living in cramped pools.””
    • Chinese zoo blamed for death of 11 tigers – “The deaths underscore conflicting signals in China’s attempts to save its dwindling number of tigers. While extensive conservation efforts are under way, animal protection groups say zoos and wildlife parks may be deliberately breeding more animals than they can afford, hoping to sell off the carcasses onto a black market where tiger parts fetch a high price for use in traditional medicines and liquor.“We’ve seen cases where tiger farms have steeped the bones from their deceased tigers in liquor to sell to visitors,” said Hua Ning, project director for the China branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.Other animal rights groups like the Washington-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have documented stockpiled pelts and the sale of tiger wine at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain village in south China’s Guangxi region.”
    • Tuna takes center stage at CITES meet – “Atlantic bluefin tuna is in crisis and meets the criteria for a total ban on international trade, the head of the UN wildlife trade organization said on Saturday in opening a 13-day meeting.The 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), convening for the first time in the Middle East, is the only UN body with the power to outlaw commerce in endangered wild animals and plants.Besides the sharply disputed proposal on bluefin, the convention was to debate the status of African elephants, polar bears and tigers.”
    • Farm Sanctuary – Taking in an abandoned calf – at the start / two years later
    • Farm Sanctuary – USDA’s latest slaughterhouse violations heighten urgency for federal ban on all sick animals entering food supply – “Yesterday members of Congress heard testimony from Dean Wyatt, a supervisory veterinarian at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, about instances in which he and other inspectors were overruled when citing slaughterhouses for violations such as shocking and butchering days-old calves that were too weak or sick to stand and butchering conscious pigs, despite rules that they first be stunned and unconscious. In addition to being illegal, inhumane and unsafe, this behavior falls well outside the bounds of what most Americans consider acceptable conduct, and the USDA’s repeated decision to turn a blind eye toward it is cause for national outrage and concern.”
  • Taiwan’s greatest ascent – “During the Japanese occupation (1895-1945), much of the area around Yushan was stripped of timber to supply the growth of the Japanese empire. When survey teams discovered that Yushan was 176 meters higher than the revered Mount Fuji, the mountain’s reputation skyrocketed. The Japanese renamed it Niitakayama, or New High Mountain, and it became a popular hiking destination among Japanese and Taiwanese. The first trail to the peak opened in 1919, and by the 1930s, middle-school girls in school uniforms were climbing as a coming-of-age graduation trip, according to a plaque at the start of the trail.”
  • On Tibet:
    • Tibetans recount Himalayn escapes – ““We’ve all heard stories of Tibetans being shot by Chinese border patrols while trying to escape, so we had to sleep during the day and walk at night, which made it very hard to see clearly, especially when it was snowing,” Jamga said. “We could not see where we were going.”  The trip was a combination of hunger, extreme weather and the threat of being shot.  “One of the members in the group died since we had nothing to eat for a few days,” he said.”
    • Parade honors memory of Tibetans 1959 uprising – “More than 1,000 people — Taiwanese, Tibetans, Chinese, Americans, Europeans and Latin Americans — took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Holding banners and signs with slogans like “self-determination for Tibet,” “stop cultural genocide in Tibet” and “Stop killing in Tibet,” the crowd departed from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station in Taipei and marched to Taipei 101.”
  • On China:
    • China increases security in Tibet to prevent protests – “In Nepal, where the government has been forging closer ties with China, the police on Wednesday arrested 30 protesters who had been demonstrating in Katmandu, the capital, in support of the Tibetan cause. More than 12,000 Tibetans live in Nepal, many of them refugees who have fled Chinese rule.” – a clear example of China using its influence to restrict human rights even in other countries.
    • China jails Tibetan filmmaker for six years – “A Chinese court has jailed a Tibetan filmmaker for six years after he made a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama and complained about how their culture had been trampled upon, campaigners said.The film, Leaving Fear Behind, features a series of interviews with Tibetans who talk about how they still love their exiled spiritual leader and think the Beijing Olympics did little to improve their lives.”
    • China shows signs of neo-fascism – “One of the most peremptory signs of fascism is the state’s negation of individualism and the idea that citizens draw their identity and raison d’etre from the state. Evidence of this emerged earlier this week when Chinese Vice Sports Minister Yu ­Zaiqing (于再清) chided 18-year-old Olympic champion short track speedskater Zhou Yang (周洋) for thanking her parents — but not her country — after winning gold at the Vancouver Winter Games last month.  “It’s OK to thank your parents, but first you should thank the motherland. You should put the motherland first, not only thank your parents,” Yu told the Southern Metropolis Daily.”
    • Chinese editorials assail a government system – “But a few hours later, the editorials had largely vanished from the Internet, presumably erased by a government that is wary of abandoning a 50-year-old system that many critics say has fed the surging gap between China’s urban and rural population.”
    • Not surprisingly, this happened shortly afterward – Editor is fired after criticizing Chinese registration system – “On March 1, just days before China’s annual legislative sessions, Mr. Zhang’s newspaper and a dozen other Chinese publications published his editorial, asserting that the registration system unfairly restricts the right of Chinese citizens to seek a better life outside their hometowns. “We believe in people born to be free and people possessing the right to migrate freely,” the editorial proclaimed.  The editorial vanished from the Internet within hours, the victim of China’s censors, but not before it was picked up by foreign news outlets.”

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