US renews concerns over China clampdown

Originally published by AFP,20 Apr 2011


WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday reiterated its concerns about China’s clampdown on dissent after Beijing freed two of the human rights lawyers held in a wave of detentions.

The State Department said it was aware of the release of Jiang Tianyong, a top Chinese lawyer handling sensitive rights-related cases, and Liu Xiaoyuan, who represents missing world-acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei.

“But obviously we continue to express our deep concern to the Chinese government over the use of extralegal detention against these and other human rights activists,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

Separately, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an autonomous government board, urged China to halt detentions during the Easter period and to allow services Sunday on the Christian holiday.

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China and Aust to disagree on human rights

Originally published by The Sydney Herald morning, April 20 2011

China’s ambassador to Australia, Chen Yuming, says Beijing and Canberra will continue to disagree on issues such as human rights.

But as Julia Gillard jets off for her first visit to China as prime minister, Mr Chen said the two countries would be able to work together on reducing global carbon emissions.

Ms Gillard has departed on a week-long visit to North Asia during which she’ll talk to leaders in Japan, Korea and China on a range of bilateral issues.

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Top US court declines plea by Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC
The detainees, who face no charges, want the chance to be resettled in the US

Originally published by BBC News,19 Apr 2011


The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the five remaining Chinese Muslims being held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay.

The detainees wanted the court to consider whether a US judge could order them released on to American soil.

The Chinese Muslims had previously declined an offer to be resettled in the small Pacific nation of Palau.

The five men were among a group of Uighurs captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and have all been cleared of charges.

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The Uighurs’ Passover Story

Originally published by New Yorker,April 19 2011

Once you have been at Guantánamo for years, what counts as an “appropriate” home? The Supreme Court, in denying cert. Monday in Kiyemba v. Obama, came up with an odd answer. The case was not about Yemenis with dodgy connections who we think are going to disappear into hinterlands and join an Al Qaeda cell—do we mind if they end up in their capital, trying to bring down their government?—but seventeen Uighur prisoners who nobody, except the Chinese, even pretends are dangerous at all. Our government has long agreed that there is no reason for them to be in Guantánamo, but because they might be tortured in China we can’t send them there. A judge ordered them to simply be released into the United States, where there is a Uighur immigrant community that could welcome them; the government appealled, and he was reversed, leaving them in Guantánamo.

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Man stabs 6 then kills himself in China’s Xinjiang: report

Originally published by AFP,19 Apr 2011

BEIJING — A man stabbed and wounded six people in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang before slitting his own throat and dying, state media reported on Tuesday.

The attacker was aged in his 20s and armed with a knife and scissors when he stabbed six passersby, including a middle school student, in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, Xinhua news agency said.

After being surrounded by police he slashed his throat three times and died, it said. The report quoted police saying “five bottles suspected to contain marijuana” were found on the assailant.

The incident was the latest in a series of violent attacks in recent years in Xinjiang, whose Muslim ethnic Uighur population has long chafed under Chinese rule.

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Dangerous Arts

Originally published by The New York Times, April 19 2011
By Salman Rushdie

THE great Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern, a former power station, is a notoriously difficult space for an artist to fill with authority. Its immensity can dwarf the imaginations of all but a select tribe of modern artists who understand the mysteries of scale, of how to say something interesting when you also have to say something really big. Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider once stood menacingly in this hall; Anish Kapoor’s “Marsyas,” a huge, hollow trumpet-like shape made of a stretched substance that hinted at flayed skin, triumphed over it majestically.

Last October the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei covered the floor with his “Sunflower Seeds”: 100 million tiny porcelain objects, each handmade by a master craftsman, no two identical. The installation was a carpet of life, multitudinous, inexplicable and, in the best Surrealist sense, strange. The seeds were intended to be walked on, but further strangeness followed. It was discovered that when trampled they gave off a fine dust that could damage the lungs. These symbolic representations of life could, it appeared, be dangerous to the living. The exhibition was cordoned off and visitors had to walk carefully around the perimeter.

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FREEDOM ON THE NET 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media

Freedom House, 18 April 2011

Freedom House — In order to illuminate the emerging threats to internet freedom and identify areas of opportunity, Freedom House created a unique methodology to assess the full range of elements that comprise digital media freedom.

This report examines internet freedom in 37 countries around the globe. The study’s findings indicate that the threats to internet freedom are growing and have become more diverse. Cyber attacks, politically-motivated censorship, and government control over internet infrastructure have emerged as especially prominent threats.

The chapter on China is available here.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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High court turns down Uighur case for U.S. resettlement

Originally published by The Washington Post, 18 Apr 2011

By Robert Barne


The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea from five Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that the justices consider their request to be resettled in the United States.

A trial judge had ordered such a plan for the inmates, known as Uighurs. They have been held since 2002, but the U.S. government has agreed that they are not terrorists and pose no threat.

But an appeals court blocked the release, saying decisions about resettlement in this country must be made by the executive and legislative branches, not judges.

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