China: 2009 Marked by Political Hardening: Rights Defenders Targeted in Face of Weak International Engagement

Originally Published by Human Rights Watch, 20 January 2010

(Washington) – Human rights protections in China faced significant setbacks in 2009 as the Chinese government, emboldened by increasingly weak international criticism of its rights record, pursued politically-motivated attacks against dissidents, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates, Human Rights Watch said in its annual World Report, released today.

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China Cracks Down On Texting

Originally Published by Forbes, 20 January 2010

HONG KONG — China has a new policy: If Beijing doesn’t like the text messages you send in the country, your cellphone will be disabled, preventing you from sending or receiving messages.

According to the government newspaper China Daily, Beijing has banned “illegal or unhealthy” content in SMS messages, but it hasn’t defined exactly what that entails.

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What Internet? For 20 million in China, email, international calls cut off for 6 months

Originally Published by Canadian Press, 19 January 2010

LIUYUAN, China — They arrive at this gritty desert crossroads weary from a 13-hour train ride but determined. The promised land lies just across the railway station plaza: a large, white sign that says “Easy Connection Internet Cafe.”

The visitors are Internet refugees from China’s western Xinjiang region, whose 20 million people been without links to the outside world since the government blocked virtually all online access, text messages and international phone calls after ethnic riots in July. It’s the largest and longest such blackout in the world, observers say.

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China allows texting in Xinjiang six months after riots

Originally Published by BBC, 18 January 2010

Text messaging services have resumed in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, six months after deadly ethnic unrest that left nearly 200 people dead.

Services were being restored gradually, according to an official quoted by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

People were stopped from sending text messages last July following riots and demonstrations in Xinjiang.

The authorities said this was done to maintain social order between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese people.

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Germany urges China to respect for minority rights

Originally Published by World Bulletin, 15 January 2010

German FM urged China to show more respect for human rights but said differences of opinion on this issue should not hinder trade ties.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged China to show more respect for human rights on Friday but said differences of opinion on this issue should not hinder trade ties between the world’s two biggest exporters.

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2009 – The Uyghur Human Rights Year in Review

Originally Published by Huffington Post, 14 January 2010

2009 will be remembered as a watershed year for the Uyghur people of East Turkestan (a region known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Chinese government). The event that defined not only the year, but also the foreseeable future for millions of Uyghurs was the serious unrest in the regional capital of Urumchi. The events beginning on July 5 and their repercussions underscored both the egregious human rights abuses that are endemic in East Turkestan, and the pressing need for meaningful and participatory solutions to the grievances of the Uyghur people. Notable incidents before the Urumchi unrest in 2009 merely illustrated the broad range of Uyghur human rights concerns, such as the demolition of Kashgar Old City, which were contributing factors to mounting tension that contextualize a serious outbreak of social disorder.

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Guantanamo Uighurs start new life in Palau

Originally Published by BBC, 14 January 2010

At 0300 on 1 November 2009, the roar of a C17 US military transport plane shattered the silence at an airport in Palau, its landing lights off, invisible against the night sky.

Waiting anxiously on the tarmac was Johnson Toribiong, president of the tiny Pacific island state with a population of just 20,000 people.

Six more residents were about to be added. All of them were Muslim Uighurs from western China, who 20 hours earlier had been detainees at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Bern to consult Jura before Uighur decision

Originally Published by World Radio Switzerland, 14 January 2010

The Swiss government says it won’t make a final decision on whether to take in two Uighur brothers who’ve been held at Guantanamo Bay until it’s heard from the canton of Jura, where the two men would ultimately be heading.

The Cabinet’s comments come amid deep divisions in parliament over the issue.

Some MPs have warned that accepting the two men would threaten national security and relations with China.

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