Ban the bombs

GetUp’s latest campaign action: Ban the bombs:

As the international community is meeting in Dublin to ban cluster bombs – that saturate the ground with mini-bombs awaiting innocent civilians – our government is going out of its way to frustrate the process.

They’re calling for their own stockpile to be excluded – and for the treaty to be watered down. We’ve got just a few scarce days left before the fragile international agreement is drafted.

The petition calls on Kevin Rudd to support the ban without loopholes or exceptions…

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…

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.

Iraq death toll

CNN: Study: War blamed for 655,000 Iraqi death [via Scripting News]

War has wiped out about 655,000 Iraqis or more than 500 people a day since the U.S.-led invasion, a new study reports.

…President Bush slammed the report Wednesday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. “I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does Gen. (George) Casey,” he said, referring to the top ranking U.S. military official in Iraq, “and neither do Iraqi officials.”

“The methodology is pretty well discredited,” he added.

No mention by Bush of why the methodology is discredited. Later:

Last December, Bush said that he estimated about 30,000 people had died since the war began.

…The authors said their method of sampling the population is a “standard tool of epidemiology and is used by the U.S. government and many other agencies.”

Professionals familiar with such research told CNN that the survey’s methodology is sound.

Doesn’t matter which way you cut it – Bush’s accepted figure of 30,000, Iraq Body Count’s figure of between 43,850 nd 48,693 (which relies solely on media-reported deaths), or 655,000 in the new study – Iraqi’s have suffered a huge loss of life. America launched this attack supposedly in response to the loss of life on 11 Sept 2001 – around 3,000 people. At least 10 times that loss of life in Iraq. At least…

What bugs me most about Bush’s statement is that the US military have explicitly stated that they do not track deaths of Iraqis – so how on earth they can support the 30,000 figure I do not know.