Monday, 4 April 2011

A Repressive Harmonious Society

Some disturbing news happened over the weekend in China, signaling the repression continues.
 
Instead of outing those against the state like the Communists did during the Cultural Revolution, the government chooses to detain or disappear its critics, making it harder for them to make their dissenting voices to be heard.
 
On Sunday artist and activist Ai Weiwei was detained at Beijing Capital International Airport. He was on his way to Hong Kong for business, but instead police told Ai's assistant who was with him that he had "other business" instead and didn't get on the flight.
 
It had been assumed the 53-year-old was relatively protected due to the status of his late father, a well-known poet; but now it appears this isn't enough of a shield for those who criticize the government. 
 
Ai's studio at Chaochangdi, a place in the outskirts of Beijing I have visited before, was surrounded by 15 to 20 police officers. A reporter tried to take a picture of the area with the cellphone, but it was grabbed by police and the image was deleted. "You are not allowed to be on this street. You must leave," instructed a police officer.
 
A nearby resident said, "I went outside to see what was going on and I saw a lot of police... I cannot understand it. What has he done?"
 
Earlier in the week the police had visited the studio three times, mainly to check the staff -- particularly the foreign ones -- were properly registered.
 
During the raid yesterday the assistants were rounded up and detained at the police station for hours before being released. Many of them were scared and shaken up by the whole ordeal.

There is still no word on what happened to Ai.
 
Meanwhile, Liao Yiwu, author of The Corpse Walker had to cancel his upcoming promotional book tour in the United States and Australia.
 
He was issued an order by the police on March 28 that he was forbidden from leaving China.
 
"I had originally planned to travel to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington and other cities and to give lectures, readings and musical performances at Harvard, Yale and other universities as well as participate in the New York literary Festival where I was to make a speech and perform, and to have a dialogue with writers from around the world on the theme 'Contemporary Writer and Bearing Witness to History'," wrote Liao. "Now all this has been canceled.
 
"Ever since my return from Germany last year, I have been closely monitored. The police have 'invited me to drink tea' many times. My writing has been repeatedly interrupted," he continued.
 
"I have once again been forbidden to travel abroad for national security reasons. Over the last 10 or so years I have strived to get the right to travel abroad 16 times. I succeeded once and failed 15 times."
 
Ai, Liao and several well known human rights lawyers are detained. Who knows how much longer this will go on.
 
What have these people done wrong?
 
According to China's report to the Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism of the Human Rights Council in February 2009, the country states:
 
"There is no censorship in the country" (paragraph 71);
 
"No individual or press has been penalized for voicing their opinions or views" (paragraph 71);
 
"There are no black jails in the country" (paragraph 69);
 
"There is no such thing as law enforcement organs using state secrets to suppress human rights defenders" (paragraph 104).

The way China functions on paper and in reality are like night and day.

And in this case, its attempt to create a "harmonious society" through repression is frightening.


1 comment:

  1. it is sad , in this day and age there is such fragrant abuse of state power and the disregard of human rights in a world power such as china. the government violate it own laws all in the excuse for national security. back to the feudal times.

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