Expression = prison

Amnesty International: Expression = prison: Hu Jia.

Tibet has (rightly) been in the spotlight of late, but this is a timeline reminder that these human rights abuses continue to occur throughout the country. I dearly hope that the spotlight remains firmly on these abuses in the leadup to the Olympics.

It is these kind of sentences that create the culture of self-censorship within the Chinese community.

Rebecca McKinnon suggests that we can’t expect too much to change – I hope that at least the embarrassments and increased pressure do at least help move things for the better, at least in some way.

Uncensor China

This is a cross-post from the Zumio blog.

Just a quick note to mention that yesterday, Amnesty International Australia’s Uncensor site was launched. This is the project I’ve been involved in, though the work I’m doing isn’t on the site yet.

The site is part of Amnesty’s campaign in the lead up to the Olympics being held in August in China, focusing on internet censorship and repression. I’ve been following the blog for a couple of days now and the writing there is excellent – really informative.

The “Search for Freedom” function (in the right sidebar) shows first hand China’s censorship regime at work, and clearly highlights how Google is participating in the “Golden Shield” system.

You may have heard about the Fuwa, the Chinese Olympics mascot. Well it seems that they left someone out – meet Nu Wa the Uncensor mascot. Nu Wa (who’s name means “outraged, angry young boy”, wants to set the record straight by speaking about the human rights abuses suffered by people in China.

I really dig the site, as does Priscilla. Well worth checking out…

Another action for Tibet

Again, fromAshley:

Another urgent online action for Tibet – this one is to ask the IOC to intervene and ensure that the olympic torch doesn’t go through Tibet (including Lhasa and Mt Everest). The Chinese government are planning these stops on the torch relay to try and legitimise their occupation of Tibet. At this point in time, we have grave concerns that if the torch were to go through parts of Tibet it would only inflame the already tense situation, leading to further protests and likely violent reprisals from the large Chinese military presence now assembled in Tibet.

(More from Ashley, who is an active member of the Australia Tibet Council, on the situation here.)

The email action is here.

And GetUp now have an action targeting our PM:

As Australians, we are in a unique position right now to help stop the cultural genocide taking place in Tibet. That’s because Kevin Rudd is visiting Beijing to meet the Chinese President and Premier – the two men who are able to put an end to this crisis. With the impending Beijing Olympics, where the world’s eyes will focus on China, we have a once in a decade chance to make a real difference.

The GetUp action is here.

Tibet petition

I got this from my friend Ashley (who rarely sends this kind of thing I might add) via email and I think it’s worth supporting/promoting:

I just signed an urgent petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This is really important, and I thought you might want to take action.

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. But violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is right now considering a choice between increasing brutality or dialogue, that could determine the future of Tibet and China.

We can affect this historic choice. China does care about its international reputation. Its economy is totally dependent on “Made in China” exports that we all buy, and it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China that is a respected world power.

President Hu needs to hear that ‘Brand China’ and the Olympics can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Click below to join me and sign a petition to President Hu calling for restraint in Tibet and dialogue with the Dalai Lama — and tell absolutely everyone you can right away. The petition is organized by Avaaz, and they are urgently aiming to reach 1 million signatures to deliver directly to Chinese officials.

Thank you so much for your help!

China internet censorship and Tibet

I was a bit late to the news about Tibet, finding out only yesterday about what’s been happening. A brief news snippet on JJJ said that the Chinese government says that about 16 “innocent civilians” were killed, but the Tibetan government in exile claims more than 60.

Of course, no-one knows because, in typical fashion, the Chinese government have shut-down media in Lhasa. Internet censorship continues, with YouTube blocked for posting foreign news reports on the riots and Chinese response.

Also on that JJJ news snippet, they stated the Chinese government also claims that it has been exercising “extreme restraint” in its response to protests – if this is extreme restraint, I’d hate to see what they are really capable of.

Rebecca McKinnon has a good post that touches on a variety of issues around internet censorship and engagement. But I just wanted to highlight her first point:

The Chinese system of Internet censorship and media propaganda may have a lot of holes, but when tested by events like the Tibet unrest this past week, so far it’s holding up well enough for the regime’s purpose.

I’m privileged to be working on a project at the moment for Amnesty International Australia that highlights the issue of Chinese internet censorship and its effect on human rights. Hopefully this action will help bring about change so that Chinese netizens can get an unfiltered view of their Government’s actions (more on that later).

She points to the Davesgonechina blog, highlighting the following point (among others):

Watching the build up to the Olympics has been, for me, like watching the world’s biggest, slowest traffic accident. For a while now its been pretty obvious that alot of contentious issues about China were going to come to the front as we approach August 8th, but the problem is that there are two completely separate parallel worlds on these issues: the Chinese one, and the rest of us. Westerners have been exposed to rhetoric and information about Tibetan discontent, Darfur’s international and Chinese dimensions, and of course old chestnuts like Tiananmen provide a larger context of long term, ongoing problems. Meanwhile, Chinese mainlanders by and large have no knowledge of these events or issues. While for the rest of the world the Olympics will be largely a referendum on China’s ability to deal with what everyone else has talked about for years, for Chinese citizens it will be about China winning a beauty pageant of sorts.

Two Worlds, Two Dreams: prepare for the SchizOlympics.

It’s an interesting take on the situation – one that is likely to get more heated as the Games draw near.

China: the world is watching forum

Got this via email today. I’m going – anyone else interested in coming along?

We’re pleased to invite you to “China: The World is Watching”, presented by the Amnesty International (Australia) Business Group, on Wednesday 5 September.

The forum, featuring Sophie Peer from Amnesty International and Gordon Renouf from the Australian Consumers Association, will detail the risks and opportunities which Australians may face in doing business in China. Speakers will outline an “ethical consumption” viewpoint on goods consumed in Australia from China. The session will outline the human rights situation in China and the repression caused by the actions of international IT companies. The obligation that China now has to be more transparent and the opportunity to improve human rights presented by the Beijing Olympics will be highlighted.

The details:

  • Date and Time: Wednesday 5 September 2007, 6.30pm to 8pm
  • Location: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, Level 1, 280 Pitt St Sydney
  • Format: Q&A and drinks follow our speakers
  • Cost: Entry by voluntary donation, $10 suggested
  • Lucky door prize: 2 nights accommodation at your choice of 25 deluxe Mantra Resorts nationwide, courtesy of Stella Hospitality Group
  • RSVP: By email to or register at the door