Better to Light a Candle… – Michael Shtender-Auerbach

From Mother Jones Magazine:

[Amnesty International’s] foray into the fight against Web-censorship comes in conjunction with another anniversary: May marked 40 years since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China. To celebrate, Beijing trumped up charges of “disclosing state secrets” against Zhao Yan, a New York Times researcher; sentenced Internet blogger and online pollster Yang Tianshui to 12 years in prison; and Baidu, China’s largest Internet portal and NASDAQ listed company, launched a censored version of the famous online encyclopedia renamed Baidupedia.

The Great Proletarian Cultural kicked off a ten year campaign in May of 1966 intent on “purifying” the communist party from “intellectual” and “bourgeois” influences. This ideological war was waged by the infamous Red Guards, mostly teenagers and young persons that tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens. Forty years later, China’s leadership has learned little from the mistakes of Chairman Mao. Mao, who once said, “All erroneous ideas, all poisonous weeds, all ghosts and monsters, must be subjected to ,” echoes in the views of President Hu himself. Today, Beijing has sanctioned their Red Guards, the thousands of Internet censors, to find and delete the “poisonous” ideas from the Internet and arrest those who write them. Sadly, it is American corporations that provide the technology for the newly formed Red Guards’ mission”to Censor and Destroy. [Full text]

See also a Human Rights Watch press release (link):

The Chinese must ensure an open and fair trial for Zhao Yan, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial of Zhao, the Chinese assistant at the New York Times Beijing bureau who has been accused of leaking state secrets and of lesser charges, is expected to begin June 8.

Zhao was detained in September 2004 in connection with a New York Times article correctly predicting a reshuffle of top leadership positions in the Communist Party of China (CPC). Zhao, who has consistently denied the charges, has been in prison for almost 21 months without a hearing or an appearance before a judge. The prosecutors withdrew the charges against Zhao ahead of a visit by President Hu Jintao to Washington in April 2006, only to reinstate virtually identical charges two months later. Zhao’s lawyer, , has criticized the numerous time delays and procedural irregularities that have marked Zhao’s case.

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