Internet refugees flee Xinjiang

Originally published by Taipei Times, 23 January 2010

Xinjiang has no e-mail, no blogs, no instant messaging and only four restricted Web sites. Some travel more than 1,000km for services most of us can’t imagine living without

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 Xinjiang, whose 20 million people have 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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Cambodia: Rights Defenders Under Fire

Originally Published by Human Rights Watch, 21 January 2010

(New York) – Cambodia’s respect for basic rights dramatically deteriorated in 2009 as the government misused the judiciary to silence government critics, attacked human rights defenders, tightened restrictions on press freedom, and abandoned its international obligations to protect refugees, Human Rights Watch said today in its new World Report 2010.

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Cambodia’s deportations ordered by China

Originally Published by United Press International, 21 January 2010

Niigata, Japan — After decades of isolation due to genocide and political conflict, Cambodia has integrated with regional groups like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and adopted a free market system. However, the right to movement in the country is still restricted and issues related to refugees and migrants are highly politicized.

The deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China in December last year reveals the implications and challenges that face Cambodia.

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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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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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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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