Since my youth, I often imagined myself living in different countries and what it would be like to be Greek, Japanese, Argentinian or Australian. These were the typical dreams of a boy who yearned to fly which I did get to do at age 12 but the world that I soon discovered was truly amazing with too many sights, sounds and smells to include in a single book. This world amazement has not abated over the years, instead I have made an effort to more deeply understand the world that I live in and how I can effect some sort of positive change given that I am neither rich or good looking enough to be an actor.
If you don’t have money and good looks then what do you have? Words. Words are equally as powerful as a $100 bill and can shape a person, a state or even a nation. What happens if even those words are taken away? You have a society in which the word is controlled but knowledge is the last thing anyone should control yet that is exactly what the Chinese government has done. They have created a system and society where the Government decides who you support and what you believe in. I am so thankful to have come from America and now live in Ireland where I can publish my own blog and criticize any component of any Government in the world and have people read my views and disagree with them if they are so inclined.
Amnesty International is once again leading the campaign to ensure that the the Chinese government makes more progress on basic Human Rights as well as dropping the “Great Firewall” so that their citizens are equally informed about global events be they anti-Chinese or pro-Chinese. People often criticize the American government for their control of the media however they do not censor the masses of anti-American information awash in European blogs. Dissent is part of life, we have to accept it or argue but totally pretending it is not even there, is not acceptable.
If you were in China right now, you would not be able to access this blog, I have already tried to send this link to friends of mine repeatedly with no success. In support for the Amnesty Campaign, I have implemented code to demonstrate what the censorship of this site will look like on July 30. Additionally I hope that some of my fellow blogging friends will do the same.
With less than a month to go to the Olympics, I am stunned that the Western Media as essential given The People’s Republic of China a free ride in terms of media coverage. China promised the Olympic committee that they would live up to their pledge to allow “free” reporting by the western media of the Olympics however given the stiff credentialing process required to obtain a Chinese visa, how many non pro-government reporters can we see entering the country? What is the solution? obviously, it is too late for many nations to boycott the games and given China’s increasing influence in the geopolitical stage ( Zimbabwe, Iran etc..), what can any nation do for fear of suffering trade repercussions?
I have been debating writing about this for fear of making some of my Chinese friends mad again however I cannot in good conscience support the Olympic games or the Chinese government. The biggest question on my mind has been moral relativity? Is it fair for me to criticize the Chinese government given the human rights abuses occurring in Guantanamo, CIA detention facilities and possibly other locations? Even if a comparison can be made, how can I equate the loss of human life in numbers? The simple answer I have reached is that with any political/moral argument, you have to take a stand at some point, you have to try to at least speak out against injustice regardless of the consequences. Here is a paragraph from an email I received today from Amnesty International:
First, let me tell you about Ye Guozhu and his family, who were evicted from their home and restaurant in 2003, which were razed to make way for the Beijing Summer Olympics.
Three days after he requested permission to hold a public demonstration against the forced evictions, Ye Guozhu was arrested. He was convicted of “stirring up trouble” and sentenced to four years in prison.
This is just one story of one person who has been arrested for opposing the Chinese “dream” of the perfect Olympics. After the head of the CNN branch in Beijing was called in to explain CNN’s allegedly biased coverage of the Tibet riots; the public should no longer expect truthful coverage of the situation in China because what major news network would want to lose the potential profits of over 1 billion people? The media has taken it increasingly easier on China which is why we only hear about stories like this from organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
I will speak honestly at this point, one of my best friends lives in Taiwan in an age where the current President of the country is unashamed to be pro-China. This bias from the leadership of Taiwan is logical given the recently slow growth within the Taiwanese economy which is all supposed to change according to Jim Rogers who recently stated that the best place to put your money is in Taiwan given its new relationship with China. The problem that President Ma has not taken into account is that the people of Taiwan are fairly split on China hence he has only given half the Taiwanese people a say in the potential eradication of “Taiwanese” as a distinct language.
You might think that I am overstating the situation, but given the demonstration of these tactics in Tibet where the Han now outnumber of ethnic Tibetans, is it truly inconceivable that China will not try to eradicate all remnants of the original Taiwanese culture and tradition in an effort to complete the “One China” fallacy? I think this is a distinct possibility and now the task lies with the media to ensure that the truth behind Human Rights in China is exposed given there new position as a player in the global arena.
I was browsing around the internet today when I came upon RR’s homepage and the badge on the right hand pane. I am a member of Blog Catalog but in all honesty I joined the place because I had seen the icon on alot of blogs around the internet. To my astonishment, the people at Blog Catalog in conjunction with Amnesty International are making May 15th: “Bloggers Unite for Human Rights Day.” I am a firm believer in Human Rights having being born into a country where the color of my skin made me a second class citizen for a long time however in the present day I am lucky enough to live in a country where I am free to express my views no matter how crazy they may be.
Many of us living in the Western Hemisphere forget how lucky we are; countries like China employ over 30,000 people to actively censor blogs like this one. This was proven to me earlier on this year when I tried to send the link to my blog to two friends of mine in China who cannot access it to this day. This kind of censorship is wrong as all people are entitled to read, express and voice their views on any subject. 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the U.N declaration of human rights therefore I hope many of the other bloggers that I know will blog about this issue on Thursday. Some topics for consideration:
The wrongful imprisonment of journalists covering assemblies.
Governments that ignore the plight of citizens left to the mercy of gangs.
The censorship of the Internet in order to prevent freedom of expression.
Harsh punishments that include torture, forced labor, and starvation.
Sexual assault against women by members of military or militia.
A friend, Mr. Howard Kuff recently forwarded the link to this video about a Channel 4 documentary that was aired on March 31, 2008. I am ashamed to say that I have Channel 4 but hardly ever watch it with the exception of a few comedies. Here is an excerpt from the Channel 4 website:
As Tibetan protesters take to the streets in the biggest and most bloody challenge to Chinese rule in nearly 20 years, Dispatches reports on the hidden reality of life under Chinese occupation after spending three months undercover, deep inside the region. Dozens are feared dead after the recent clashes and crackdown by Chinese troops, but with reporting so rigidly controlled from the region little is known of living conditions inside Tibet.
He sees for himself the impact of the enormous military and police presence in the region, and the hunger and hardship being endured by many Tibetans, and hears warnings of the uprising taking place across the provinces now.
To make this film, Tibetan exile Tash Despa returns to the homeland he risked his life to escape 11 years ago, to carry out secret filming with award-winning, Bafta-nominated director Jezza Neumann (Dispatches Special: China’s Stolen Children). Risking imprisonment and deportation, he uncovers evidence of the “cultural genocide” described by the Dalai Lama.
He finds the nomadic way of life being forcefully wiped out as native Tibetans are stripped of their land and livestock and are being resettled in concrete camps. Tibet reveals the regime of terror which dominates daily life and makes freedom of expression impossible. Tash meets victims of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and “disappearances” and uncovers evidence of enforced sterilisations on ethnic Tibetan women.
The documentary is fairly long, about 48 min from beginning to end. I would recommend that you let the video cache (let the grey bar move all the way to the end) before you begin watching so that there is no interruption. Many people might question the authenticity of this video but given the digital age, almost anything can be fabricated so how do you determine whether there is any truth behind this video? The best way is to reason it out, what do Channel 4 gain by making up such a documentary? Absolutely nothing therefore to the best of my knowledge this is 100% real and absolutely horrifying.
The Dalai Lama described what was going on in Tibet at one stage as a “cultural genocide”, this is quite true. The Chinese government is systematically dismembering the tibetan culture and the people. If you have a look at the english translation of Woeser’s blog ( A Tibetan lady blogging out of Beijing), she describes how the Chinese government has locked down the capital of Tibet while forcing people to write negative things about the Dalai “Clique.” The Chinese media is also using various methods to demonize the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Prize Winner, he must be some Demon!
The worst part about all of this is that nothing is being done about it, the Western media has shelved the story because of pressure from the Chinese government as well as their own governments. It also comes down to ratings I think, however I honestly hope that Channel 4 will allow this documentary to be shown on other news channels so that the truth can be known about the atrocities commited by the Chinese government in the name of the “One China Policy.”
I was doing my end of the night browse through Digg when I came across the headline that Time had released their list of the 100 most influential people. Number one on that list for “Leaders & Revolutionaries” was the Dalai Lama which is quite fitting given the strength of the character the man has shown in recent months considering the deaths of over 100 of his people at the hands of the Chinese government. Despite all of this adversity, he has chosen the peaceful course for his country which is simple autonomy rather than pure independence. Can you imagine making such a decision? Can you imagine the harmony that must exist in the man’s soul to deal with adversity on a daily basis? I simply cannot since I quite often lose patience over the simplest things therefore the lesson I would like all of us to take away today is one of “Patience.” Patience in all things especially politics.