China & human rights
Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China ; Human Rights Watch ; Amnesty International
Kilgour and Matas Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
David Kilgour and David Matas, two Canadian human rights crusaders, have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work related to the investigation of organ harvesting crimes against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites
(NYT) Officials announced new rules on Friday aimed at controlling the way Chinese Internet users post messages on social networking sites that have posed challenges to the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machinery.
Leaders here have long discussed how to better control the Chinese Internet, which has about 485 million users, the most of any country. Most vexing for officials has been the speed with which information can spread on microblogs. This year, several incidents highlighted the reach of microblogs, including posts that ignited mass anger over both the Wenzhou high-speed train crash and the hit-and-run death of a two-year-old toddler, Yueyue.
Chinese flock to Christ despite government interference
Despite strict government control of religion in China, citizens of the world’s most populace country continue to flock to Jesus Christ. Even state persecution of some Christian communities in China has not prevented the faithful from gathering and worshipping in secret.
Violence erupts in China’s Uighur region
Violence in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has left at least 10 people dead and dozens wounded since July 18. The violence was reportedly triggered by protests by ethnic Uighurs against detentions and land seizures by authorities. BBC (8/3)
Hu Jia released after years in Chinese prison
(CSM) Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese political activist, was released after 3-1/2 years in prison. Under the terms of his release he will not be able to speak to media for one year.
Hu, 37, is known for his activism with AIDS patients and orphans. The sedition charge stems from police accusations that he planned to work with foreigners to disturb the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Hu’s release comes amid one of the Chinese government’s broadest campaigns of repression in years as Beijing has moved to prevent the growth of an Arab-style protest movement.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei free, but silenced
(CTV) … artist and government critic Ai Weiwei, whose disappearance in April sparked an international outcry, has been barred from leaving Beijing for one year after being released from police detention.
China Detains Church Members at Easter Services
The authorities stepped up a three-week campaign against an underground Christian church on Sunday, detaining hundreds of congregants in their homes and taking at least 36 others into custody after they tried to hold Easter services in a public square, church members and officials said.
China crackdown sends powerful signal
The scale of China’s ongoing crackdown against dissent dashes hope that more economic openness and liberal interaction with the international community would lead to a freer China, The Economist writes. Dozens of artists, lawyers and activists have been detained and face criminal charges, and activists report widespread harassment — and some physical assaults — by security forces in a crackdown that has become increasingly forceful over the past two years. The Economist (4/14)
Ai Weiwei is accused of “economic crimes”
Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous contemporary artist is being held by authorities on suspicion of unspecified economic crimes. Ai has not been seen since Sunday, when he was arrested at a Beijing airport in an incident that a foreign ministry spokesman said “has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression.” BBC (4/7), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/5)
China Tightens Controls on Foreign Press
(NYT) Apparently unnerved by an anonymous Internet campaign urging Chinese citizens to emulate the protests that have rocked the Middle East, Chinese authorities this week have begun a forceful and carefully focused clampdown on activities by foreigners that the government deems threatening to political stability.
New role emerges for China at United Nations
Though typically reluctant to condemn other countries for human-rights violations, China backed a UN Security Council resolution condemning human-rights abuses in Libya and referring Libya’s leaders to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The country’s leadership is likely to be increasingly called upon to try to balance its internal policies with new foreign realities, according to this editorial. The Christian Science Monitor (2/28)
Human Rights Day With “Chinese Characteristics”
by Jerome A. Cohen
On Human Rights Day this year, the day on which imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, I was in Beijing, where the authorities’ angry clampdown on dissent had brought about an eerie hush among those aware of the occasion. Scores of activists had been placed under house arrest, deprived of internet and phone services, or “vacationed” out of town to ensure their silence.
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo
(FP) Imprisoned Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo was represented by an empty chair at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring him in Norway today. The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee called for his immediate release.
“China’s new status entails increased responsibility. China must be prepared for criticism, and regard it as a positive, as an opportunity for improvement,” said Thorbjorn Jagland.
Liu Xiaobo: China’s Nobel public affairs disaster
(BBC) Maybe, with hindsight, China would have done things differently.
If it had not made such a huge fuss about the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, the world’s press would not have come to Oslo in such large numbers to report on the ceremony.
And if China had not tried to strong-arm countries with diplomatic representation in Norway and persuade them not to send their ambassadors to the ceremony, then it would not have got into a contest with Europe and the United States – something it was never going to win. As it was, only 16 other countries, many of them heavily dependent on China, boycotted the award.
(Montreal Gazette) Words of Chinese dissident read at Nobel ceremony
Peace Prize awarded in absentia
(Al Jazeera) Chinese laureate and jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo is represented by an empty chair at Nobel ceremony held in Oslo.
Free Liu Xiaobo, UN human rights chief tells China
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay called for the release Thursday of jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo as soon as possible. The Chinese government has restricted the movement of at least 120 people in the run-up to the ceremony today awarding Liu the Nobel Peace Prize. Reuters (12/9) , The Miami Herald/The Associated Press (free registration) (12/9)
John Ralston Saul: What China’s real friends say about Liu Xiaobo
(Globe & Mail) In the days leading up to Friday’s Nobel ceremony, a simple chorus will continue to grow: “Free Liu Xiaobo.”
It comes from every continent. To these words should be added: “Release his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest.” And, for that matter, the dozens of people on PEN International’s list of writers in prison. And stop harassing loyal citizens who are merely exercising their constitutional rights.
China’s dissidents struggle to be heard
The Nobel committee’s selection of Liu Xiaobo as this year’s Peace Prize winner raised the profile of China’s pro-democracy movement internationally, but inside China the top campaigners — profiled in this piece — remain unknown to the public. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (12/4)
Havel and Tutu urge China to release Liu Xiaobo
(BBC) Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Czech President Vaclav Havel have called on China to release dissident Liu Xiaobo before he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The pair said Mr Liu was “sadly emblematic of the Chinese government’s intolerance”.
They said China risked losing its credibility as a world leader if it continued to restrict human rights.
Malcolm Moore: China imposes blanket ban on Nobel ceremony
(Telegraph) Only one of the 140 Chinese guests invited to this year’s Nobel Peace prize ceremony has confirmed he will attend, as Beijing continues to hold scores of activists under house arrest.
Nobel Committee: Why We Gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel
(Chinh’s news) THE Chinese authorities’ condemnation of the Nobel committee’s selection of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed political activist, as the winner of the 2010 Peace Prize inadvertently illustrates why human rights are worth defending.
The authorities assert that no one has the right to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
But they are wrong: international human rights law and standards are above the nation-state, and the world community has a duty to ensure they are respected.
Nobel Peace Prize Inspires Chinese Dissidents
(Spiegel) The Chinese government’s efforts to conceal the news about dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize from the population have not been successful. Young people have been disseminating Liu’s “Charter 08″ reform manifesto. Even veteran Communist Party functionaries are calling for more freedom.
Chinese dissident wins Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident described by the award committee as “the foremost symbol of the wide-ranging struggle for human rights” in the repressive Communist country. The Chinese government condemned the award, news of which was absent from the country’s main Internet portals. The New York Times (10/8) , BBC (10/8) , The Guardian (London) (10/8) More articles
Christians come under attack in China
Communist theory has long held that religion is nothing more than “superstition and foolishness,” and that as China prospers and becomes more modern, religion will fade away.
But that hasn’t happened.
Instead, religious belief is growing.
Party members also confide that Christianity’s rapid rise has raised concern within the Communist leadership itself: a new set of closed-door conferences is being held in Beijing and the Party is commissioning new research on how to respond.
This isn’t purely about religion, of course.
What troubles China’s central government isn’t belief – but the fact that the house churches are growing into a potentially formidable force with leadership, organizational structures, independent financing and a loyal and growing following.
It is these kinds of characteristics, they fear, that could build into an alternative belief system in opposition to the government.
Missing Chinese Lawyer Honored With Human Rights Award
Gao Zhisheng, a missing Chinese attorney, has been honored with an international human rights award from the American Bar Association (ABA). With Mr. Gao missing in China, his 17-year-old daughter Grace accepted the International Human Rights Lawyer Award on his behalf at an event held in San Francisco on Friday, Aug. 6.
Expo 2010 Shanghai: A Better Life,’ but not for dissidents
(Miami Herald) Even as China proudly celebrates its economic progress, observers point to deep concerns about the repressive government that brought it about. The rare sign of political dissent is hammered into submission in China, as is most public discourse on “sensitive” topics such as a lack of rule of law or the difficult legacy of the Cultural Revolution.
While the central government backed the expo to project a picture of China as a harmonious society, on the ascent to a bright future, the realities left outside that frame are more complicated.
… of the tens of millions who are expected to visit by the time the expo closes at the end of October, few will be made aware of the country’s political prisoners, the absence of many civil rights and the widespread official corruption.
A world’s fair is, of course, not the sort of setting in which a host state usually airs its dirty laundry, but the gulf between the image the Chinese government presents and the police state tactics it employs is startling.
Tiananmen anniversary brings activists out
Though China does not recognize publicly the Tiananmen Square massacre through memorials or anniversary demonstrations, this year’s anniversary may receive more official recognition than in previous years. The Chinese newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily published a cartoon that appeared to reference the anonymous “tank man” from the famous photograph. New details on the events just before and after the demonstrations will be revealed by the publication of the diary of Li Peng, the man who ordered martial law in Beijing in order to stop the pro-democracy protests. Los Angeles Times (6/4) , BBC (6/4)
Censors Without Borders
As China’s influence spreads throughout the world, so does a willingness to play by its rules.
Gao Zhisheng, Hu Jia, Liu Xiaobo
(NYT Editorial) Washington and Beijing are, rightly, eager to lower tensions. After President Obama met President Hu Jintao of China at the White House on Monday, officials said they had agreed to work together to come up with new sanctions on Iran. That is good news.
Mr. Obama also must squarely acknowledge — and protest — the Chinese leadership’s continuing, ruthless stifling of any serious political dissent. That is bad news for China and the world.
The most recent reminder came when Gao Zhisheng, a crusading human rights lawyer, resurfaced last month.
In February, a Beijing appeals court upheld an 11-year sentence for Liu Xiaobo, who was convicted of subversion for helping organize the Charter 08 manifesto that called for sweeping political reforms.
Mr. Hu and Mr. Liu should be released from jail now. Mr. Gao should be permitted to reunite with his family.
Net produces new generation of human rights activists in China
But while sites and services such as Twitter and Facebook help get the word out, users can face persecution for openly criticizing the government
China blocks online materials it deems to be harmful or pornographic, which frequently includes information that contradicts the views of the ruling Communist Party. Such restrictions prompted Internet giant Google to announce in January that it may close China-based Google.cn because it no longer wanted to co-operate with Beijing’s Internet censorship.
But there is a vibrant community of tech-savvy users who can easily hop over the “Great Firewall” that blocks access to sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. They are a minority of the 384 million people online in China but among the most vocal: young, educated, liberal-minded and unafraid of questioning the Communist government.
Twitter in particular has been harnessed by Chinese users who revel in having a forum where they can speak freely about politically sensitive matters — in 140 characters or less, of course.
Chinese newspapers unite to call for reform
Thirteen Chinese newspapers have boldly published a joint editorial calling for Chinese to be given freedom of movement across the country
The rare show of defiance came a few days before the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, and was intended to put pressure on politicians.
Currently, a strict household registration system, called the hukou, means that each Chinese family can only claim social benefits, such as healthcare and education, in their home town.
China’s National People’s Congress
Democracy in action – Making sure that China’s supreme legislative body is toothless
As usual, China is preparing for the upcoming parliamentary meeting with a propaganda blitz about the session’s importance as a conduit for public opinion. Online opinion polls seek votes on the topics of most interest at the meeting. Corruption, income disparities and soaring house prices rate highly. But internal directives suggest that in recent years the party has been keeping tight control on the legislature in an effort to minimise embarrassment to the party leadership.
The politics of repression in China
What are they afraid of? The economy is booming and politics stable. Yet China’s leaders seem edgy
“THE forces pulling China toward integration and openness are more powerful today than ever before,” said President Bill Clinton in 1999. China then, though battered by the Asian financial crisis, was busy dismantling state-owned enterprises and pushing for admission to the World Trade Organisation. Today, however, those forces look much weaker.
A spate of recent events, from the heavy jail sentences passed on human-rights activists to an undiplomatic obduracy at the climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen last December, invite questions about the thinking of China’s leaders. Has their view of the outside world and dissent at home changed? Or were the forces detected by Mr Clinton and so many others after all not pulling so hard in the direction they were expecting?
Gao Zhisheng: One year later, China still mum on missing lawyer
(CSM) Gao Zhisheng, once praised by the Chinese government as a star lawyer, remains missing one year after police dragged him from his home. Rights groups are particularly worried about the treatment of the human rights lawyer.
Human-rights groups praise Google’s challenge of China
Human-rights activists and Internet enthusiasts in the U.S. and China welcomed Google’s decision to challenge China on its mandatory censorship policy after a sophisticated cyberattack originating in China — a decision that could reshape the face of the Internet. China reaffirmed all companies operating in China must adhere to its strict Web protocols, and most of the company’s major rivals — including Microsoft, which recently launched its Bing browser — were silent on Google’s announcement. Should Google follow through on promises to make information as available as possible to Chinese Internet users, it could mark a significant shift in information access, experts said. The Guardian (London) (1/14)
1 January 2010
Thousands demand Hong Kong voting reform
(FT) Thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong on Friday demanding universal suffrage by 2012, in the strongest display yet of public dissatisfaction with the government’s plan to delay open elections.
Demonstrators calling for open elections carry a portrait of jailed mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo
The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, promises the introduction of universal suffrage through a “gradual and orderly progress” but is vague on the timing. A consultation paper released by the government in 2007 stated that more than half the public expected the next chief executive to be democratically elected in 2012 and that their view should be given due consideration.
However, in line with a recent directive from Beijing, the Hong Kong government said direct elections for the chief executive would come in 2017 and the legislature would not be fully elected until 2020. Hong Kong also launched last month a three-month public consultation on its proposal to add to the number of elected seats in the legislature and expand the election committee for the chief executive from 800 to 1,200 individuals. The protest came four days after Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s chief executive, was given a warning by China’s leadership to resolve “deep-rooted conflicts”.
China jails Liu Xiaobo for 11 years
OUTCRY: Human rights groups, the US and the EU expressed dismay over the ‘disproportionately’ long sentence that was seen as a warning to other dissidents
(Taipei Times) One of China’s most prominent dissidents, Liu Xiaobo, was jailed yesterday for 11 years for campaigning for political freedoms, with the stiff sentence on a subversion charge swiftly condemned by rights groups and Washington. Liu, who turns 54 on Monday, helped organize the “Charter 08” petition, which called for sweeping political reforms, and before that was prominent in the 1989 pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square that were crushed by armed troops. He stood quietly in a Beijing courtroom as a judge found him guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” for his role in the petition and for online essays critical of the Chinese Communist Party, defense lawyer Shang Baojun said.Liu was not allowed to respond in court to the sentence. (Reuters) China targets political foes after dissident trial ; (WSJ) Chinese Activist Liu Gets 11 Years (Times Online) Liu Xiaobo, an uncompromising critic of Beijing
Never bow before the bully
Author Denise Chong has learned first-hand just how far the arm of China’s repressive regime can reach
(National Post) The regime in China, in overt or subtle ways, gets across a message that it can choose to sideline those in the West who raise issues that “offend or embarrass the Chinese people.” China’s human rights record tops the list of those issues. In the wake of Harper’s China visit, many have been asking, “Is it time to rethink how we ‘engage’ China?” My answer: Maybe we need to take the measure of ourselves by our own character. If human rights are indeed universal, why couldn’t human rights be the driving force behind all that we do — including pursuing trade and commerce with China?
Hon. David Kilgour: CHINA’S HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGES
It is certainly true that any government of China faces enormous challenges with regard to sustaining growth and creating jobs on a massive scale. Living standards for many have improved since the government discarded ‘command and control’ economics. This has come at an unacceptably high cost in terms of human dignity and cannot be sustained in the long run. The people of China, whether on the streets of Beijing, Lhasa, Urumqi or a thousand other locations across the country, have said quite clearly that “enough is enough”. The friends of the Chinese people everywhere must support those voices crying for justice.
China Focuses on Territorial Issues as It Equates Tibet to U.S. Civil War South
By EDWARD WONG
While much attention during President Obama’s visit will be focused on broad international issues like trade and currency values, climate change and the ailing world economy, questions of sovereignty and territory remain an obsession of Chinese foreign policy. Some scholars and analysts see this as an expression of an aggressive expansionism that will only deepen as China moves toward superpower status. Others argue that China is driven more by the need to recover territory wrested from it during the decades it was known as the Sick Man of Asia, when pieces of it were humiliatingly annexed by European powers and Japan.
They come in search of justice – but end up thrown into jail
(The Independent) For thousands of years, ordinary Chinese people wishing to obtain justice have travelled to the capital to petition those in authority. The custom survived the transition to Communism and all the upheavals of the past 50 years. For many years, petitioners were heard during the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliament. Officially the practice is still lauded by the rulers of the People’s Republic. In March, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao praised the system as a “mechanism to resolve social conflicts, and guide the public to express their requests and interests through legal channels”.
But in An Alleyway in Hell, Human Rights Watch reveals that, instead of getting a fair hearing for their problems, Chinese citizens are often thrown into improvised cells that may be squalid store-rooms in cheap hotels or rooms in state-owned guest houses, nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals. Government officials, police officers and hired thugs grab them, incarcerate them and intimidate them into giving up their quest for justice.
Author of ‘Life and Death in Shanghai’ dies at 94
Nien Cheng, 94, whose memoir “Life and Death in Shanghai” was widely praised as one of the most riveting accounts of the Cultural Revolution, died Nov. 2 of cardiovascular and renal disease at her home in Washington.
At a time when China’s Communist leader Mao Zedong was trying to purge political rivals and reassert his authority, Mrs. Cheng, the wealthy widow of an oil company executive, was one of untold numbers of professionals who were evicted from their homes by the Red Guard. She was arrested in August 1966 and falsely accused of being a spy. Mrs. Cheng endured 6 1/2 years of solitary confinement and torture in prison, refusing to confess or bow to the will of her interrogators. Upon her release, she discovered that her only child was dead, purportedly of suicide, but actually beaten to death by Red Guards.
How is the Chinese Communist Party Using the Urumqi Incident? — Wei Jingsheng
the CCP immediately framed the World Uyghur Congress for the incident from the very beginning. This tells us that the incident is in fact a planted political move by the CCP instead of a commonly thought random event happening accidentally. Judging by the main propaganda the CCP has been trying to spread since then, it is clear that they are painting a Uyghur-killing-Han picture, currently as well as historically. One cannot make a plausible understanding of the CCP if not to take the CCP as the very party who is fanning ethnical flames.
(RCI) China has again criticized Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the U.S.-based World Uighur Congress. Chinese officials say Miss Kadeer should not be allowed to speak in foreign countries about the ethnic violence in the region of Xinjiang. The criticism came after an Australian film festival accused Beijing of trying to stop the showing of a documentary about Miss Kadeer, whom China considers a separatist and of having fomented the unrest in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi, where at least 192 people have died since July 5.
Three lawyers arrested for defending the rights of Falun Gong members
(Asia news) CHRD denounces “a progressive deterioration of the situation” for lawyers who fight for human rights in China”. One of the three arrested had already been sentenced in 2005 to one year of re-education through forced labour for the same reason. Confirming the climate of intimidation in China, in recent days the government “warned” lawyers not to take up the defence of human rights activists and demonstrators, referring in particular to the demonstrators of Urumqi. Recently, many lawyers involved in cases of political significance have been arrested, beaten and the Beijing authorities have threatened their removal from the professional role, controlled by the Communist Party of China. These include lawyers who are defending Tibetans, the followers of Falun Gong, Sichuan earthquake victims and parents of babies who died in the melamine to milk scandal.
A Strongman Is China’s Rock in Ethnic Strife
Wang Lequan, who has used an iron hand against Uighur Muslims, is Beijing’s go-to expert on policies toward ethnic minorities.
Wei Jingsheng: Who is the “Black Hand” Behind the Scenes in the Urumqi Riots?
As soon as the Urumqi riots happened, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claimed that there was a “black hand” acting as the evil backstage manipulator behind the scene. The terminology of “the black hand” got stir-fried many times in the public and the CCP controlled media.
Is there really a “black hand” behind the scene? Many people do not believe that, because whenever the CCP frames others, it always labels them as “black hands”. When the CCP cannot figure a rightful reason, it manufactures “black hands” conveniently. After too many times of “crying wolf”, the CCP cannot be believed anymore. But there are still many people who could be misled by the lies of the CCP. The CCP’s skill of lying is also progressing with time. Following CCP lies, there are always some saying things that sound real but are not true, in an effort to prove the lies are true.
China’s Hu abandons G8 as ethnic unrest continues
(Reuters) – Banks of paramilitary police fanned out in the far-flung Chinese city of Urumqi on Wednesday to try to stifle unrest days after 156 people were killed in the region’s worst ethnic violence in decades.
Chinese go online to vent ire at Xinjiang unrest
(Reuters) – Chinese are venting their anger online after ethnic violence in the Muslim region of Xinjiang left at least 156 dead but are playing a cat-and-mouse game with censors who appear to be removing some posts and blogs.
China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot
(Reuters) – China clamped down on the Internet in the capital of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang on Monday, in the hope of stemming the flow of information about ethnic unrest which left 140 people dead. The government has blamed Sunday’s riots in Urumqi — the deadliest unrest since the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations — on exiled Muslim separatists. Xinjiang riot toll hits 156 as unrest spreads
Human dignity, religious rights, and Obama
By David T. Jones
(The Metropolitain) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 without dissent. It proclaimed: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…..Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
The effort for now over 60 years has been to transform paper principles into practical protections. The protection of human dignity, including religious freedom, is normally more effective in countries where there are independent judicial systems, including effective and sensible human rights commissions. Canada has been a leader in upholding the rights promoted in the UDHR.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, human dignity backed by an independent judiciary remains a distant dream. Many individuals have paid terrible prices for their courageous pursuit of what Canadians often take for granted.
Consider the case of Gao Zhisheng, a Beijing lawyer and Nobel Peace prize nominee. In 2001, he was named one of China’s top ten lawyers. He donated a third of his time to victims of human rights violations, representing miners, evicted tenants and others. However, when he attempted to defend members of the Falun Gong spiritual community, the party-state unleashed its wrath. This included removing his permit to practise law, an attempt on his life, having police attack his wife and 13-year-old daughter, and attempting to deny the family any income.
10 May 2009
How the Family of a Dissident Fled China
Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s most irrepressible dissidents, began the day of Jan. 9 the same way as most days since security officials had begun watching him around the clock. He and his wife, Geng He, ate a breakfast of soy milk, fried eggs and peanuts. Mr. Gao left the apartment to run some errands. By the time he returned, his wife and two children were gone. With only the clothes they were wearing, roughly $60 in cash and, out of habit, their keys, the three embarked upon a harrowing odyssey orchestrated by human rights activists that began in the bitter cold of northern Beijing and ended, seven days and some 2,000 miles later, in the humid safety of Thailand.
China Still Presses Crusade Against Falun Gong
(NYT) BEIJING — In the decade since the Chinese government began repressing Falun Gong, a crusade that human rights groups say has led to the imprisonment of tens of thousands of practitioners and claimed at least 2,000 lives, the world’s attention has shifted elsewhere.
Ethan Gutmann How the War Against Falun Gong Started
(Epoch Times) Ten years ago, on April 25, I was attending a Beijing wedding when I heard a rumor that a large crowd of people had gathered at Zhongnanhai, the central Chinese leadership compound. I phoned my friend Jasper Becker, the Bureau Chief for the South China Morning Post.
Who are they? I asked him. We think they are called “Falun Gong,” he said. “Apparently it’s a huge Chinese religious movement, but we don’t really know anything about them.”
… According to a former district-level official, I’ll call him “Minister X,” the Party’s decision to eliminate Falun Gong—and preparations towards that goal—was actually made long before any ban was made public. It was circulated explicitly in internal Party meetings: Jiang Zemin could not resolve the Tiananmen slaughter except by creating a new target. Falun Gong was it. Minister X, for his part, was told to quietly stop granting business licenses to practitioners. April 25 was simply the unfolding of an elaborate bait and switch with Falun Gong as the patsy.
The Battle of Beijing
What happens when an authoritarian government and thousands of activists go head-to-head at the Olympics? China is about to find out.
(Foreign Policy November/December 2007) You can always count on the Olympic Games to provide drama. Next year’s games in Beijing will be no different; they too will produce powerful stories and riveting television. But this time the images will not just be athletes overcoming the odds or breaking records. They will also focus on the clashes between the Chinese police and the activists who will arrive from all around the world. The causes that motivate their activism range from human rights to global warming, from Darfur to Tibet, from Christianity to Falun Gong. The clashes outside the stadiums are likely to be more intense and spectacular than the sports competitions taking place inside. And the showdown will be captured as much by the videocameras in the cell phones of protesters and spectators as any news agencies’ camera crews. In fact, the Beijing Olympics will not just offer another opportunity to test the limits of human athletic performance; it will also test the limits of a centralized police state’s ability to confront a nebulous swarm of foreign activists armed with BlackBerries. A governmental bureaucracy organized according to 20th-century principles will meet 21st-century global politics. Lenin meets YouTube.
23 September 2007
High-profile Human Rights Attorney Seized by Chinese Police After
Sending Letter to U.S. Congress
Sept. 23, 2007—Renowned Chinese rights lawyer Mr. Gao Zhisheng was taken from his home by police on Saturday, Sept. 22; his present whereabouts are unknown. It is believed that Mr. Gao’s arrest is related to the 16-page letter he sent to the United States Congress last week expressing his deep concerns over the worsening deterioration of human rights in China ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In his letter, Gao explains that China’s promises to the IOC in 2001 were hollow and deceitful: “Under the name of securing the success of the Olympic Games, all kinds of evils have been committed openly, including forced evictions, illegal arrests and persecution of people who petition to the authorities, and the suppression of religious people. It is plain as day to all Chinese people that, by successfully hosting the Olympic Games, the communist regime is trying to [appear as a] legal government despite all the tyranny and all the horrible crimes against humanity the Party has committed during the past decades, at the cost of at least 80 million Chinese lives.”
U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament and ranking member of the EU Foreign Affairs Committee; and David Kilgour, former Secretary of State of Canada, Asia-Pacific, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., after receiving Gao’s letter.
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen praised Gao as a voice for the “dislocated, the abandoned, and the oppressed.” The 10-term Representative said the Chinese regime had passed up the opportunity to make the Olympics a time for greater openness. Instead, the regime sees the Olympics as “a mandate for further control and repression of the Chinese people.”
Gao was arrested on Aug. 15, 2006, a few months after the U.S. Congress had unanimously passed a resolution supporting him. After his arrest, Gao was forbidden by the Chinese regime to communicate with the outside world. Gao decided to break the silence after seeing that the Chinese communist regime had not improved human rights in China, as promised to the International Olympics Committee, but instead, had intensified its persecution of the Chinese people, including rights advocates and religious believers.
Gao was well aware of the danger such a letter might bring to him and his family, but he said, “Someone’s got to do it.”
For more information, contact: Dr. Sherry Zhang 1-415-845-5295
Mr. Gao Zhisheng has been featured on the cover of The New York Times. He authored “A China More Just: My Fight as a Rights Lawyer in the World’s Largest Communist State.” He was named as one of China’s top ten lawyers in 2001 and has worked for the gamut of China’s vulnerable groups—coal miners, home-demolition victims, and house church members.
While facing surveillance, house arrest, detention, interrogations, threats, and even attempts on his life, Gao managed to rally China’s activists and legal community around the cause of human rights like no one before him. He has publicly renounced his Chinese Communist Party membership, along with 26 million other Chinese people.
Gao has dealt with many high-profile cases. He wrote open letters to the National People’s Congress stating that the prison terms and fines imposed on Falun Gong practitioners are in complete violation of basic legal principles and contemporary legal norms. He revealed the suppression of Christian house churches, challenged corruption by local officials, and provided legal assistance to Chen Guangcheng, a blind rights advocate working on rural poverty, forced abortion, and forced sterilization.
Gao is widely regarded as the “conscience of China” and “the symbol of China.” He volunteered to be an investigator for CIPFG (the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong) despite the danger of carrying out such mission in China.