China's e-blockade a blow to human rights victims of the world

It’s not surprising that with the Olympics come and gone, reports are surfacing of China’s cracking down of the Internet, again, and with the help, of course, of Chinese and US companies, including Microsoft and Google.

Unfortunately, Amnesty’s website is again one of the victims.

But when widespread censorship occurs, the “victims” are even more widespread — it’s much more than the author of a site or the person who can’t access it which is harmed. According to media reports, Chinese authorities have clamped down on child pornography and vulgur content. (And, who wants to argue the pro-child pornography point?) But, such categories are also said to include “content depicting violence and depravity”.

Content depicting violence and depravity? Iraq? Gaza? Darfur? All off limits? It’s unfair enough to deprive Chinese nationals of access to the world, but what about those suffering egregious abuses around the world, whose only hope could depend on the awareness and actions of others (citizens of the world/human rights activists/humanists) outside of their borders? What right does any state have to take away not only from its own people, but from people far beyond its jurisdiction? And, how can companies that enable this taking sleep at night?

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

6 thoughts on “China's e-blockade a blow to human rights victims of the world

  1. Let's not forget Sri Lanka, where the government has repeatedly incited attacks on opposition media that question the government's response to the Tamil insurgency. Radio stations, newspaper offices, printing houses, and other media have been vandalized, bombed, and destroyed; journalists, editors, radio hosts, and other media personalities have been threatened, attacked, and assassinated. Tamil rebels are guilty, too, of targeting media that write or speak about the war's effect on civilians.

    One human rights defender who died protecting his right to freedom of expression is journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga, who wrote an editorial to be published in the event of his death. In it, he explains why he stayed in Sri Lanka despite threats to his life and opportunities to leave the country:

    "No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted."

  2. I would like to know why this post isn't about the death penalty.. the death penalty is the most important human rights issue and i want to know why amnesty international isn't doing more to end it. doesnt anmesty care about human rights and whats important?!?!

  3. Actually, Mary Ellen, I've noticed quite a lot of other posts on this blog pertaining to the death penalty (Brian Evans usually writes about it), and it's definitely one of Amnesty's priority issues. I'm sure Brian would love to hear your ideas on what more could be done!

  4. Let’s not forget Sri Lanka, where the government has repeatedly incited attacks on opposition media that question the government’s response to the Tamil insurgency. Radio stations, newspaper offices, printing houses, and other media have been vandalized, bombed, and destroyed; journalists, editors, radio hosts, and other media personalities have been threatened, attacked, and assassinated. Tamil rebels are guilty, too, of targeting media that write or speak about the war’s effect on civilians.

    One human rights defender who died protecting his right to freedom of expression is journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga, who wrote an editorial to be published in the event of his death. In it, he explains why he stayed in Sri Lanka despite threats to his life and opportunities to leave the country:

    “No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

    People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted.”

  5. I would like to know why this post isn’t about the death penalty.. the death penalty is the most important human rights issue and i want to know why amnesty international isn’t doing more to end it. doesnt anmesty care about human rights and whats important?!?!

  6. Actually, Mary Ellen, I’ve noticed quite a lot of other posts on this blog pertaining to the death penalty (Brian Evans usually writes about it), and it’s definitely one of Amnesty’s priority issues. I’m sure Brian would love to hear your ideas on what more could be done!