Posts Tagged ‘crackdown’

Today: Tiananmen Square 30 years ago was ‘correct’ but singing about it still not allowed

June 4, 2019

As many news outlets report today it is 30 years ago that China cracked down on Tiananmen Square. China tries mostly to forget about it and make others forget it about it too. Still, it recenty came out to defend it as the “correct policy”. “That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence which is a correct policy” Defence minister Wi Fenghe Wei told a regional security forum in Singapore. “The 30 years have proven that China has undergone major changes,” he said, adding that because of the government’s action at that time “China has enjoyed stability and development“. On the other hand Wu Qian, a spokesman for the defence ministry, decried the use of the word “suppression” to describe the crackdown.

But it does cover Chinese rock musician Li Zhi, who has been outspoken and sung songs about social issues including the Tiananmen Square crackdown, and has not been seen for three months. The South China Morning Post of 2 June has a detailed piece on what happened to this singer: His upcoming tour has been cancelled and his social media accounts taken down. Then his music was removed from all of China’s major streaming sites – as if his career had never existed at all. “Now this square is my grave,” Li sang. “Everything is just a dream.”

The disappearance of Li, the musician, has left fans searching for answers. On February 20, the official Weibo social media account for the 40-year-old’s concert tour posted a photograph of its team in front of a truck about to embark on scheduled performances in Sichuan province in China’s southwest. Just two days later, however, the account posted an image of a hand wearing what appeared to be a hospital wrist band and the words: “Very sorry.” The next post, published the same day, announced without explanation that the tour was cancelled and that ticket purchasers would shortly receive a refund. Fans flooded the comment section with wishes for a speedy recovery.

But the suggestion that a health issue was behind the cancellations was later thrown into doubt. A statement published in April by Sichuan’s culture department said it had “urgently halted” concert plans for a “well-known singer with improper conduct” who was previously slated for 23 performances – the same number of concerts which Li had scheduled in the province. It said 18,000 tickets were fully refunded.

..Li’s presence on the Chinese internet was completely erased. An April 21 central government directive ordered all websites to delete any audio or video content relating to five of Li’s songs, according to China Digital Times, an organisation that publishes leaked censorship instructions. The authenticity of the directive could not be independently verified.

“There’s pretty much a consensus” among those working in the industry that Li’s disappearance from public view is due to the sensitive anniversary, said a music industry professional who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of government retribution. “He did a number of songs that were considered politically risky, making references to June 4, 1989, and so he’s been out of the picture,” the industry professional said.

Li’s current whereabouts could not be confirmed. His company and record label did not respond to repeated interview requests. Li’s songs alluding to the Tiananmen Square protests – The Square, The Spring of 1990 and The Goddess, in honour of the Goddess of Democracy that students erected – were part of his earlier works. In recent years, the bespectacled singer has avoided making public political statements, focusing more on promoting his performances. In 2015, state-run China Daily newspaper published a profile of Li, describing him as a performer who easily sells out concerts. After years of working as an independent artist, he signed last autumn with Taihe Music Group, a major Chinese record label. Fans who knew Li as a largely apolitical entertainer expressed bewilderment online about his disappearance. Others made veiled references to China’s internet censorship. On Zhihu, a question-and-answer website similar to Quora, one user wrote that people posed questions every day about what might have happened to Li, but these posts always disappeared the next morning “as if nothing had happened at all”.

Another user said: “I don’t dare to say it, nor do I dare to ask.” A fan who has been sharing Li’s music on his personal account spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared his employers would punish him for discussing the subject. “Everyone knows the reason for Li Zhi’s disappearance,” the fan said. “But I’m sorry, I can’t tell you, because I follow China’s laws and also hope that Li Zhi can return.” Quoting one of Li’s lyrics, the fan added: “The world will be all right.” Fans continue to circulate videos of Li’s performances online. His complete discography has been uploaded onto file-sharing websites, with back-up links in case the original ones are shuttered. Some users shared tribute art, including a black T-shirt with the words “improper conduct”. A few years ago, in a performance in Taiwan, Li bounced around on stage, strumming his guitar and repeating a chorus in apparent tribute to the spirit of Chinese propaganda.

Foreign companies are not immune. Apple Music has removed from its Chinese streaming service a song by Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung Hok-yau that references the Tiananmen crackdown. Tat Ming Pair, a Hong Kong duo, have been deleted entirely from the app. They released a song this month called Remembering is a Crime in memory of the protests.

Music by Tat Ming Pair – Anthony Wong Yiu-ming (left) and Tats Lau Yi-tat – has been deleted from the Apple Music app. Photo: K.Y. Cheng
Music by Tat Ming Pair – Anthony Wong Yiu-ming (left) and Tats Lau Yi-tat – has been deleted from the Apple Music app. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Wikipedia also announced this month that the online encyclopaedia is no longer accessible in China. While the Chinese-language version has been blocked since 2015, most other languages could previously be viewed, Wikipedia said.

The Human Rights Foundation publised this video about China’s Million Person Muslim Prison Camps:

For the 25th anniversary see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/06/13/25-years-tiananmen-celebrated-with-over-100-detentions/

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/31/on-4-june-streets-around-chinese-embassy-to-be-renamed-tiananmen-square/

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/china-says-tiananmen-square-crackdown-1989-correct-policy-093500064.html

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3012782/outspoken-folk-rock-singer-li-zhi-disappears-china-tightens

UN Rapporteurs urge Ethiopia to end violent crackdown and impunity

February 10, 2016

On 21 January 2016 a group of United Nations Rapporteurs (Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances) called on the Ethiopian authorities to end the ongoing crackdown on peaceful protests by the country’s security forces, who have reportedly killed more than 140 demonstrators and arrested scores more in the past nine weeks. “The sheer number of people killed and arrested suggests that the Government of Ethiopia views the citizens as a hindrance, rather than a partner,” the independent experts said, while also expressing deep concern about allegations of enforced disappearances of several protesters.

The current wave of protests began in mid-November, in opposition to the Government’s ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan’ to expand the capital’s municipal boundary. The ‘Master Plan’ could reportedly lead to mass evictions and the seizure of agricultural land in the Oromia region, as well as extensive deforestation. The UN experts welcomed the Government’s announcement on 12 January 2016 suspending the implementation of the ‘Master Plan’, but were concerned about continuous reports of killings, mass arrests, excessive use of force and other abuses by security forces. “The Government’s decision is a positive development, but it cannot be seen as a sincere commitment until the security forces stop their crackdown on peaceful protests,” they said. “The role of security forces should be to protect demonstrators and to facilitate peaceful assemblies, not suppress them.”

We call on the Government to immediately release protesters who seem to have been arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, to reveal the whereabouts of those reportedly disappeared and to carry out an independent, transparent investigation into the security forces’ response to the protests,” the experts said.  “Impunity, on the other hand, only perpetuates distrust, violence and more oppression.

The UN independent experts also expressed grave concern over the Ethiopian Government’s application of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation 652/2009 to arrest and prosecute protesters, labelling them as ‘terrorists’ without substantiated evidence. This law authorises the use of unrestrained force against suspects and pre-trial detention of up to four months. “Ethiopia’s use of terrorism laws to criminalize peaceful dissent is a disturbing trend, not limited to the current wave of protests,” they experts noted. “The wanton labelling of peaceful activists as terrorists is not only a violation of international human rights law, it also contributes to an erosion of confidence in Ethiopia’s ability to fight real terrorism. This ultimately makes our world a more dangerous place.”

How the law was used recently is clear from the case of the “Zone 9” bloggers. Fortunately, on 16 October 2015 Front Line was able to report that all “Zone 9” bloggers were cleared of terrorism charges by the Federal Court in Addis Ababa. All bloggers and journalists whose terrorism charges have been dropped are members of the “Zone 9” and prominent social media activists. With the exception of Soliana Shimelis, the other human rights defenders, namely Mss Mahlet Fantahun and Edom Kassaye and Messrs Natnael Feleke, Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Birhane, Zelalem Kibret, Abel Wabela, Tesfalem Weldyes and Asmamaw Haile Giorgis, were arrested on 25 and 26 April 2014 and remained in detention for over a year before being freed.  The human rights defenders’ lawyer stated that “all the evidence presented was very weak to prove they were planning any kind of terrorism”. However, charges of inciting violence remain pending against Befekadu Hailu, who might face a ten-year imprisonment sentence if convicted. See: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29137

On Ethiopia: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/suffocating-dissent-in-ethiopia-counterpunch-tells-the-facts-and-names-the-names/

http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16977&LangID=E

Unlike his Chinese colleagues human rights defender Peter Dahlin can go home

January 26, 2016

After more than 20 days of detention and a public confession that sounded forced, Swedish human defender Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is on his way home. The Chinese foreign ministry and Swedish embassy in Beijing confirmed Peter Dahlin, 35, had been released from detention and expelled from the country on Monday 15 January 2016.

[What Dahlin actually admitted to in his televised confession, and what a voice-over in Chinese said he had admitted to, were two very different things, as Quartz reported earlier. Discrepancies included his alleged “funding” of Chinese activists (Dahlin said “support” in his confession, which was in English), and an accusation that he had embezzled money from foreign NGOs, which Dahlin never admitted to.] https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/confessions-abound-on-chinese-television-first-gui-minhai-and-now-peter-dahlin/

Another Swedish citizen, Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhairemains in custody in Beijing after his suspected abduction from Thailand by Chinese authorities. Swedish officials are “very concerned about the detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai. Our efforts to bring clarity to his situation and be granted the opportunity to visit him continue with unabated intensity,” the Swedish embassy said in its statement.

Source: Human rights activist Peter Dahlin has been expelled from China, and is headed home to Sweden – Quartz

Confessions abound on Chinese television: first Gui Minhai and now Peter Dahlin

January 21, 2016

Peter Dahlin appears on China state TV for his confession. CCTV/Twitter/Tom Phillips

The Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, after being kidnapped by Chinese security services, made a confession on CCTV earlier this week. Now also Peter Dahlin a Swede working for a NGO [CUAWG] in China has made a “scripted” television confession following his detention earlier this week. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/the-plight-of-human-rights-defenders-in-china-just-two-weeks-into-the-new-year/] In a TV appearance on the state-run CCTV news channel, Dahlin said: “I violated China’s law through my activities here.  I’ve caused harm to the Chinese government. I’ve hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. I apologise sincerely for this and I am very sorry that this ever happened. I have been given good food, plenty of sleep and I have suffered no mistreatments of any kind.

Cases the CUAWG have worked on include that of Qi Chonghuai, a journalist and writer who was imprisoned for reporting on Communist party corruption, and Tulip Award winner Ni Yulan, a lawyer who opposed illegal demolitions and was beaten, harrased and imprisoned by police.

Source: Peter Dahlin: Swedish human rights law activist detained in China makes a ‘scripted’ confession | Asia | News | The Independent

Letter from legal experts on detained lawyers in China

January 19, 2016

On 18 January 2016 Human Rights Watch published an open Letter from Legal Experts on detained lawyers in China. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/]. The letter, reproduced below, tries to link the Chinese leaders to their earlier promises that ‘China is a country ruled by law’ and that ‘every individual Party organisation and Party member must abide by the country’s constitution and laws and must not take the Party’s leadership as a privilege to violate them.’ It concludes that the events described appear entirely contrary to those commitments. The list of signatories is impressive.  Read the rest of this entry »

The plight of human rights defenders in China: just two weeks into the new year

January 13, 2016

Perhaps one should be ‘grateful’ that China on 3 January 2016 decided to detain the Swedish human rights campaigner Peter Dahlin (first foreigner to be detained for ‘endangering state security’) as this helped international media the take note of the extraordinary crackdown by Chinese president Xi Jinping who is now widely considered to be China’s most authoritarian leader in decades. Here a short overview of the most notable cases in the first two weeks of 2016:

Paramilitary guards stand in front of the gates of Sweden’s embassy in Beijing on Wednesday
 Paramilitary guards stand in front of the gates of Sweden’s embassy in Beijing on Wednesday. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

Read the rest of this entry »

Human rights defenders Sui Muqing and Huang Liqun in China released

January 7, 2016

On 6 and 7 January 2016, human rights lawyers Mr Sui Muqing and Mr Huang Liqun in China were released from police custody reports Front Line Defenders on 7 January.  The two human rights defenders were detained on 10 July 2015 in the midst of a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/] and placed under ‘residential surveillance at a designated location‘. Article 73 of the Criminal Procedure Law allows for the detention of suspects in state security, terrorism and serious bribery cases for up to six months in undisclosed locations, under the guise of ‘residential surveillance’. The authorities are not obliged to specify the place of detention or notify the suspect’s relatives or legal representative of the reasons for the residential surveillance in cases relating to the three charges, if doing so may “interfere with the investigation”. Neither of the human rights defenders were permitted access to lawyers during their six months’ detention. https://frontlinedefenders.org/node/29112

(Sui Muqing is a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer who has represented a number of other human rights defenders, including Guo Feixiong, and has suffered harassment, intimidation and travel bans as a result of his work. Huang Liqun is a human rights lawyer with Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, a firm specifically targeted by the authorities in Beijing. Six other lawyers with the firm remain in detention).

Up to 20 other human rights defenders in the July crackdown are still in detention.

 

 

 

 

China detains activists for supporting Hong Kong protests

October 1, 2014

If there was any doubt that the Chinese regime fears contamination from Hong Kong, today’s (1 October) report by the NGO China Human Rights Defenders [CHRD] makes clear that any expressions of support are dealt with harshly. Authorities are reported to have detained a dozen activists across China and threatened several others who expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in recent days….They include activist Wang Long, who was detained by police in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen on Monday for “creating a disturbance” after he posted messages about the protests online, CHRD said. The 25-year-old Wang made headlines last month with his decision to sue a state-owned telecom operator for denying him access to US search engine Google. Another activist, Shanghai-based Shen Yanqiu, posted online photos of herself with a shaved head in support for the Hong Kong protesters on Sunday, CHRD said. She was detained on Tuesday and is “being held in an unknown location”, according to the group. A group of “up to 20 citizens” were seized by police on Tuesday in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, after gathering in a city park to voice support the pro-democracy camp, according to CHRD. At least two activists – Huang Minpeng and Liu Hui – were detained by police and “denied food” while in custody before they were released in the afternoon, the group said. Other areas where activists have reportedly been detained or threatened include Beijing, the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing and central China’s Jiangxi province. (AFP/nd)

via China detains activists for supporting Hong Kong protests: Rights group – Channel NewsAsia.

Mona Seif reports on crackdown in Egypt including her brother’s case

December 6, 2013

By Mona Seif, founder of ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ and Final Nominee 2013 of the MEA reports in some detail the following:

Egyptian Activists Arrested in Growing Crackdown – Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah one of at least 27 people currently charged under Egypt’s new anti-protest law

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

Egypt is facing a growing crackdown on political protest and dissent. This week has seen the arrest of 27 political activists under the cover of a new law designed to effectively ban protest in Egypt. On November 26th the well-known and internationally respected activist group, No to Military Trials for Civilians, called for a demonstration in front of the Shoura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian parliament) to protest the failure of the current draft constitution to legislate against the military court martials of civilians. The entirely peaceful protest was met with serious force by the police, who attacked demonstrators with a water cannon and tear gas while arresting as many people as they could. At least 51 people were arrested that day. Read the rest of this entry »

Number of human rights defenders in detention in Emirates reaches 77

January 7, 2013

On 26 October 2012 I referred in this blog to the controversy raised by a Arab blogger about the status of Human Rights Defenders in the Emirates (UAE) who were described as being in fact intolerant islamists. No enlightening comments were received, so I have to concluded that the attack was a politically motivated defense of government policy. That is this policy is far from HRD friendly is brought home again by a recent press release from the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) which claims that the number of human rights defenders and activists in detention has now reached 77 as the crackdown continues.

On 14 December 2012 an Egyptian journalist was arrested and three Egyptian doctors were arrested four days later (reportedly bringing the total number of Egyptian activists in detention in the UAE to 11).

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights GCHR has issued previous appeals concerning the deteriorating situation in the UAE  (http://gc4hr.org/news/index/country/2). It is reported that approximately 200 people who are supporters or relatives of human rights defenders and activists are being prohibited from travelling.  For many of them it is only when they have attempted to leave the UAE, often having purchased tickets in advance, that they are informed of this restriction on their freedom of movement.

It is feared that more interrogations and arrest will take place in the near future.Some of the detained human rights defenders have had their detention extended, including prominent human rights lawyers Dr. Mohamed Al-Mansoori and Dr. Mohamed Al-Roken, who had their detention extended on 2 January 2013. It is reported that these extensions are granted as officials have, to date, failed to gather evidence to prosecute those detained. The GCHR call for urgent action, see:

Urgent Action: UAE- Number of human rights defenders & activists in detention reaches 77 as brutal crackdown continues.