Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mobilizing global support for better human rights in China

CHINA 18 September 2008
RSF website blocked again
SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris
(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders discovered on 17 September 2008 thataccess to its main website ( http://www.rsf.org/ ) has again been blocked within China. The site had been accessible since 1 August, a week before the start of the Olympic Games."Our website was accessible for just over a month in China," the press freedom organisation said. "The freedom allowed to Chinese Internet users for the Beijing Olympic Games, which the authorities had promised, was just an illusion. There is no letup in online censorship in China. We call for the restoration of access to our site and all the other news and information sites that are blocked in China." More than 13,000 Chinese Internet users, most of them based in Beijing, visited the Reporters Without Borders website from 1 August until 17 September.Almost 10,000 Internet users looked at the Chinese-language articles on the Reporters Without Borders site during the same period. The most-read article was the "Journey to the Heart of Internet Censorship" report ( http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23924 ) that was issued on 10 October 2007. A few hours after its publication, Chinese cyber-censors filtered its content in order to prevent its dissemination ( http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25318 ).The websites of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the BBC are still accessible although they continue to be "geo-blocked" for Internet users in Tibet. The overseas Chinese news and human rights websites are also blocked, as is the site ( http://www.torproject.org/ ) from which the censorship circumvention software TOR can be downloaded. According to a recent report by Chinese Human Rights Defenders ( http://crd-net.org/ ), Chinese ISPs are often given orders to restrict their users' freedom of expression. The report gave the following examples of such directives:- 2 July 2007: Do not allow any comment about the fire at the Beijing University Ping Pong Coliseum. Remove all the comments already online and ensure that the following keywords do not lead to any page: "Fire at the Beijing University Ping Pong Coliseum" and "Beijing University Ping Pong Coliseum on fire." Suppress any related report from online forums, blogs and other online information exchange platforms. - 6 August 2007: Do not say anything about the demonstration organised by certain foreigners outside the International Olympic Committee. - 13 August 2007: Delete the following expression from all sites: "Just one world, just one web and human rights: our appeals and recommendations for the Olympic Games."According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, the electronic surveillance extends to mobile phones, whose text messages can be intercepted and stopped if the authorities consider their content "illegal." ISPs also monitor emails, applying the same filtering directives as they do to blogs. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of the 50 cyber-dissidents who are currently in jail as a result of all this surveillance. Some of them have been held for nearly 10 years because of the views they expressed online.

For further information contact Clothilde Le Coz, Internet Freedom desk,RSF, 47, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 71, fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail: http://us.mc596.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=internet@rsf.org, Internet:http://www.internet.rsf.org/

Mobilizing global support for better human rights in China

Amnesty International’s Beijing Olympics campaign calling for improvements to human rights in China is drawing to a close. The response from people around the world was incredible, with over one million people signing up to our call for a positive human rights legacy from the Games. Throughout the last year, across the world, people from over fifty countries on five continents joined Amnesty International’s call for human rights reform in China. From organising sporting events, signing human rights dreams on Chinese-style banners to tearing down brick walls symbolising China’s censorship of the internet, the campaign received immense support. Thousands of people showed solidarity with each other on 12 July at Aerial Art events held in 21 countries. At each location, people formed large-scale messages using their bodies and props like umbrellas; the words only visible from a high vantage point. The Amnesty International office in Spain collected a whopping total of 140,000 signatures for its petition against China’s death penalty; in Belgian they set a new world record by organising a candle lighting event in June where the Amnesty International logo was recreated using 26,105 candles; and in Kathmandu 40,000 postcards were delivered to the Chinese embassy. The postcards contained signatures calling for the release of prisoners of conscience Shi Tao, Chen Guangcheng, Bu Dongwei, Ye Guozhu, Yang Tongyan and Huang Jinqui. What were the participants campaigning for?
The China Debate Issue 2 (2 September 2008)

Empty protest zones, empty promises
No protest application was approved during the Games since the Chinese authorities announced the setting up of protest zones in three designated parks. There are reports of applicants being detained, escorted back to their home and put under surveillance. Those denied their right to protest included two elderly women who wanted to protest the eviction from their homes. They were reportedly held for over ten hours then assigned to re-education through labour for applying for a permit. To date they have been allowed to serve their sentence at home. The authorities provided details of protest submissions on 18 August. Liu Shaowu, the security chief of the Beijing Olympics, reported that they had received 77 protest applications since 1 August. Seventy-four applicants withdrew their applications due to subsequent 'consultation with the authorities'. Although Beijing promised to improve the human rights situations in the run-up to the Olympics, including by allowing for public protests their de facto absence appear to be another broken promise. What do you think of this? Tell us
Successful Olympic Games, compromised human rights

The IOC and Chinese authorities missed an opportunity to improve human rights in China. Instead the human rights violations that took place in the build-up to and during the Beijing Olympics tarnished the Games’ legacy despite their apparent success. The Chinese authorities prioritized image over substance by continuing to persecute activists and journalists before and during the Games. The IOC turned a blind eye to the abuses and should learn from the Beijing Olympics by building concrete and measurable human rights impact indicators into all future bid processes and host city contracts.

What did Amnesty International have to say about the end of the Games?
Hotel detention during OlympicsThe Chinese police sent Chinese activist Zeng Jinyan to visit her husband Hu Jia in Dalian where he’s serving a 3 ½ year sentence for online activism. However after the visit, the police held her and her baby in a hotel for over two weeks. Zeng was prevented from contacting other people during this period. She was sent home on 23 August. In addition, Hu Jia’s letters to his family have been stopped by prison authorities due to his protest against human rights violations in prison.

This web log(blog) is maintained and updated by Albert Ashok on behalf of http://rainbowartistsandwritersfoundation.blogspot.com a non-profit artists’ and writers’ organization defends ‘Freedom of Expression’ and ‘Human Rights’. http://newsfreedomofexpression.blogspot.com/
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