October 29, 2011

The Activists Shining LIGHT On China’s Dark Corners! China’s 'Netizens’ Skip Censorship And Brave Beatings To Expose The Torment Of A Blind Lawyer, Chen Guangcheng!

This is the Marxist government you Maoist in the U.S. LOVE so much!

The Telegraph UK
written by By Peter Foster, Dongshigu
Thursday October 28, 2011

China’s 'netizens’ skip censorship and brave beatings to expose the torment of a blind lawyer, Chen Guangcheng.

The policeman’s hand slapped the woman’s face with an audible crack. Standing only five feet tall in her trainers, barely the height of her assailant’s epaulettes, she took the blow without a cry.

This scene was witnessed by The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday in a small police station near a village in Shandong province, north-east China, that has become a magnet for activists of all stripes protesting against a dark corner of the Chinese state that operates beyond the law.

The woman who took the slap, 30-year-old Wang Xuezhen, is one of a stream of people who have marshalled themselves over the internet and travelled to Dongshigu village to support a man they believe is being persecuted, a blind lawyer named Chen Guangcheng.

Stumbling out of the police station and holding her stinging face, Miss Wang bitterly observed a truth about contemporary China: the country’s lawlessness begins with the law itself.

Then she turned on her mobile phone and asked a friend to post a message on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, relaying the news of the assault to the world.

Almost immediately, her supporters began passing on the message and posting their own messages of support. By the evening the slap had been picked up by an Asian television channel.

“These animals, they lack all humanity, I hate them so much. I wish I could go and join your fight!” wrote one of her followers.

The power and speed of China’s social networks has alarmed the government, which announced plans on Wednesday to police the buzz of messages more tightly, in the name of maintaining what it calls “social stability”.

In the two years since it was launched, the Weibo platform has attracted more than 200 million Chinese, creating a chorus of commentary on the failings of an authoritarian state that often questions and contradicts the output of the tightly-controlled state media.

Even though the Weibo microblogs are carefully policed, with censors blocking and deleting content deemed seditious, the controls are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of outpourings by the so-called “netizens” – a “Chinglish” coinage for online activists and contributors.

“Operation Free Chen Guangcheng” is perhaps one of the clearest examples of what frightens the Communist Party. It began earlier this year when activists began suggesting online that people should go as “tourists” to visit the 39-year-old blind lawyer, who has been kept under illegal house arrest for more than a year.

What started as a trickle of visitors has become a steady flow, with more than 30 people arriving at the village last weekend alone, despite the almost certain prospect of being greeted by violence.

Mr Chen upset local Communist Party officials by exposing a gruesome programme of forced abortions and sterilisations as part of China’s one-child policy.

He has already served four years in prison on the trumped-up charge of “blocking the traffic”. Since his release in September last year, he and his family have been locked into their home with steel shutters covering the windows.

To make sure no visitors could reach him, his phones and internet lines were cut and a 200-strong army of thugs was hired – by whom no one is quite sure – to patrol the perimeters of his village night and day.

Several of the activists trying to visit him have been beaten, but the flow of people has not stopped, with one activist saying that they are “like mosquitoes settling on the hide of an elephant”.

“It is like a relay race, if the 'netizens’ don’t keep coming then they will have won, they will have achieved their aims,” says Guo Feng, a 35-year-old self-employed man who had come from Luoyang in Henan province after reading about Mr Chen’s plight online.

Through the social networks, all sorts of people have been drawn to Dongshigu; a strange mixture of brave activists, principled citizen journalists and a few thrill-seekers.

One, a young man, who prefers not to be interviewed because he is “politically connected”, is driving an Audi saloon and wears designer jeans and visibly relishes the daily game of cat-and-mouse with the local secret police.

He is part of a five-man team that recently infiltrated the fringes of the village at night to set off a cannonade of fireworks into the night sky, sending a message “to tell Blind Chen the people care”. He works with another “netizen” from Changchun who cannot be named.

A video of the fireworks was posted online, attracting 6,000 hits before it was taken down by the internet censors.

Ironically, Miss Wang and two others had paid a visit to the local police station to ask for protection from the thugs who – just like the officer who struck her and removed the Velcro patch with his police number on – operate above the law, but apparently with its tacit support.

Their request was met with scorn.

“You are citizens of China, of course you are free to visit the village,” said the senior officer, who would not give his name, but did wear his ID number, 076970. “If there are problems we will protect you, but we cannot protect you against imaginary difficulties.”

It was then that Miss Wang started to argue, retorting that the last time she came to Dongshigu, on September 21, a bag was put over her head before she was beaten and robbed and yet the police offered her no protection and refused to investigate her case. After firing a particularly strong insult at the officer, that slap suddenly rang out. But what would be grounds for an assault charge in Britain was brushed off as just another unavoidable knock.

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