Daily Archives: July 31, 2008

Teacher sent to re-education labor camp for posting images of collapsed schools in Sichuan earthquake

A teacher in China has been detained for posting images on the internet of schools that collapsed in the devastating Sichuan earthquake, a rights group said yesterday.

Telegraph | Jul 31, 2008

Liu Shaokun was detained for “disseminating rumours and destroying social order”, said Human Rights in China and was ordered to serve a year of “re-education through labour”.

Since he was detained on June 25 on suspicion of “inciting subversion,” Liu’s family has been denied access to him and were not formally notified of his detention as required by the law, the rights group said.

The May 12 disaster left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing, including 9,000 school children, according to official reports.

The poor condition of the school buildings has become a sensitive political issue for the government, and grieving parents have staged numerous protests demanding an inquiry.

Many have accused local officials of colluding with builders to allow them to get away with cheap and unsafe practices.

“Instead of investigating and pursuing accountability for shoddy and dangerous school buildings, the authorities are resorting to (labour camps) to silence and lock up concerned citizens like teacher Liu Shaokun,” said Sharon Hom, head of the rights group.

“These actions further undermine human rights and the ‘peaceful Olympics’ called for by the authorities, and reflect an irresponsible callousness towards the Sichuan earthquake victims and parents of the thousands of children killed by collapsed school buildings.”

Mr Liu’s wife was informed by police last week that the teacher, from Guanghan Middle School in Deyang city, had been sent to a labour camp.

The “re-education through labour” system allows police to incarcerate a crime suspect for up to four years without the need for a criminal trial or a formal charge.

The system, in place since 1957, has been widely criticised by the UN and other organisations.

China to continue internet censorship during Olympics

Beijing Olympics: China defies IOC to ban internet freedom

Beijing today defied concerns of the International Olympic Committee and press freedom groups by confirming that the internet at Games facilities would remain censored.


China’s All-Seeing Eye

Telegraph | Jul 30, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

Officials were challenged as to why journalists and others trying to access the internet at the Media Press Centre, the Olympic Village and other venues were blocked from seeing sites including the BBC Chinese language service, other international media and human rights groups.

Sun Weide, the chief spokesman, acknowledged that sites would remain blocked, specifically those connected to falun gong, a religious movement which is heavily repressed in China.

“Falun gong is an evil cult so their sites are blocked and will remain so,” he said, though he refused to give specifics about other sites.

The International Olympics Committee says it is “concerned” about internet censorship, while acknowledging there is little it can do as long as sites pertaining to sport are left open.

“I will speak with the Chinese authorities to advise them of the restraints and to see what their reaction is,” said Kevan Gosper, the IOC member who heads its press commission.

Among the other sites inaccessible are some Hong Kong and Taiwanese newspapers, those of human rights groups such as Amnesty International, and most non-Chinese government sites relating to Tibet.

Giselle Davies, the IOC spokeswoman, said it had been aware of Chinese intentions to censor the internet but thought originally it would apply to pornography sites and other material regularly blocked in other countries.

Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, had previously pledged there would be no censorship in Beijing.

But Ms Davies said it became clear that there were “issues” with Beijing’s approach. “They have always made clear that some websites would be an issue, and we’re working with them to ensure the media face the minimum possible restrictions,” she said.

China is maintaining tight security across the city in the lead-up to the Games next week, despite hopes by the IOC that the Games would bring greater openness.

The authorities also announced yesterday that security checkpoints were being set up for tourists wishing to walk on to Tiananmen Square, which is normally accessed through underpasses from the surrounding main roads.

Among the greatest concerns is the possibility of protests on the Square, the most sensitive and surveilled public place in China since the student demonstrations of 1989. International broadcasters are still battling with the authorities over the extent to which they will be allowed to film there during the Games, in line with earlier promises.

Meanwhile, police leave has been cancelled to ensure “absolute security without a single lapse” in Tibet, one potential source of disturbances during the Games period, state media reported.