Davids and Goliath – Award-Winning Documentary

17 November, 2014 at 11:33 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, organ harvesting, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment
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Tuidang Movement

“Davids and Goliath,” a film about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China, won Best Documentary at the 9th Hamilton Film Festival in Hamilton, Canada. The movie is currently available here to view for free until Nov. 27: http://tinyurl.com/nzx7fed

“It’s a movie like this that needs to get out to the public, and more people to become aware of it that it’s happening and how it’s happening. That kind of thing needs to be stopped.”— Administrative director of the Hamilton Film Festival, Nathan Fleet.

“Davids and Goliath” focuses on the investigation into organ harvesting by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour. Both were separately nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on forced organ harvesting in China.

Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q5cjkzm

Umbrella Movement Student Refused Entry to Mainland China

11 November, 2014 at 10:21 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

A student member of Scholarism, an organization leading the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests in Hong Kong, was recently refused entry by customs officers in the city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.

On Nov. 8. Scholarism posted on Facebook that the customs officers accused a middle school student of “participating activities violating state security” and refused his entry to Shenzhen on Nov. 7.

The student was a volunteer of Scholarism who’s not well-known and had not been interviewed by any media, the Scholarism statement says. The student’s trip to mainland China was simply for personal errands unrelated to politics.

Scholarism leader Joshua Wong expressed deep concern that members’ information has been leaked. He said the name list of Scholarism members has never been open to the public and few people in the organization have the list, the Facebook post says.

Wong indicated that the organization would be more concerned and cautious when taking on volunteers in the future.

Vice secretary of Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) Lester Shum expressed disappointment at the mainland authority’s action of banning a supporter of the pro-democracy Occupy Central, according to Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.

Shum believes that the blocking of this Scholarism member’s trip to the mainland is related to the plan of pro-democracy activists to visit Beijing. The students plan on appealing to the central authorities for the Hong Kong people to have the right to nominate candidates for the chief executive.

According to a decision handed down at the end of August by the Standing Committee of the Chinese regime’s rubber stamp legislature, the nominees for the chief executive position will be chosen by a committee that Beijing effectively controls.

HKFS stated last week that it was planning on marching to Beijing jointly with Scholarism and the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front. HKFS requested Tung Chee-hwa, a former Hong Kong chief executive who’s currently a Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, to arrange a meeting with the central leadership.

Tung hasn’t given a clear answer, and has urged the students to end the protests and go back to their studies.

Shum told Apple Daily that HKFS’s plan of going to Beijing would not be influenced by mainland customs refusing entry to the Scholarism member, and once again urged Tung to arrange the meeting soon.

The human rights group Amnesty International reported on Nov. 7 that at least 76 mainland Chinese have been arrested for supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It urged the Chinese authorities to release mainland supporters immediately and unconditionally.

via Umbrella Movement Student Refused Entry to Mainland China – The Epoch Times

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Help, Not Incarceration

31 October, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society | Leave a comment
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By Annie WuThe Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Anthony Cruz is a different man now that he has been locked up several times.

Before serving his 10-year sentence in New York state prisons for manslaughter in the first degree he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and depression, among other mental health conditions. Cruz spent a total of three years in solitary confinement, but he said he was denied help from mental health staff in prison. Unless he had suicidal thoughts, he wasn’t allowed to talk to a psychiatrist. 

Since Cruz was released on parole two years ago, it’s been difficult finding a steady job with a felony conviction on his record. This summer, he received notice from the city that his family would have to relocate from their current homeless shelter location in the Bronx. Then, his wife’s temporary teaching job ended, and her weeks of job searching didn’t yield results. To cope with the stress, Cruz turned to MDMA, a drug he was addicted to before. “I was going through so much,” Cruz explained.

At a regular visit to the parole office for a drug urine test, Cruz was caught with the drug in his system.

He had a panic attack upon hearing that he’d have to go to jail at Rikers Island for his parole violation. “I was wailing and crying, telling the parole officers that I didn’t want to go back to a cell.”

Cruz suffered several more panic attacks while inside. He couldn’t sleep being around so many people. He was reliving his deepest fear.

Local jail reform advocate Five Mualimm-ak, with the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, sought to get Cruz treatment for his drug dependence and other mental health needs, but nothing came of the requests.

Across the country, people with mental illness and substance abuse are repeatedly cycled in and out of the criminal justice system. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimate that more than 1.26 million mentally ill adults are detained in the country’s jails and prisons. Some cities are trying to change this statistic through programs that offer some of these nonviolent offenders a way out of incarceration, and a chance to improve their lives.

Out of Jail, Into Treatment

In the 1980s and ’90s, different communities across the country created programs to provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for people like Cruz, who would otherwise face jail time for nonviolent drug charges, or those who committed offenses during a mental health crisis.

For example, in the late ’80s, the police department in Memphis, Tenn., devised a crisis intervention team (CIT) where officers would be trained in identifying and responding appropriately to the emotionally or mentally disturbed. Police are taught de-escalation techniques to calm down individuals who may be agitated or aggressive. And instead of arresting them, police would bring them to a mental health treatment center.

The Memphis model has been adopted by other cities, including in San Antonio, Texas, where police officers bring people to The Restoration Center. There, they can get medical and mental health treatment, as well as social services such as housing and job training.

San Antonio also has a detox center and a 90-day residential program for those in need of substance abuse treatment. For those in need of more intensive care, they get transferred to state hospitals or private institutions if the individual has private health insurance.

Leon Evans, the director of San Antonio’s mental health care system who developed the center, said he got the idea after he saw the county jail overcrowded with people in need of mental health treatment.

Police would bring the mentally distressed to the emergency room or jail, but without treatment or housing, they get released back to the streets and may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their illnesses. “They would get arrested the same day and go right back into jail,” Evans said.

“Texas is a pretty conservative place,” said Evans. “[W]e realized that putting them in jail was the last thing we should be doing.”

Evans said the center has been proven effective: about 70 percent of those who graduate from the center’s treatment programs are living and working independently a year later. Since the center was built five years ago, the county has also saved $10 million per year.

Dangerous for the Mentally Ill

The country’s jails and prisons are toxic environments for those with a mental illness.

In August, a DOJ investigation of jail conditions at the city’s main jail Rikers Island found that adolescent mentally ill inmates were routinely abused by corrections officers and placed into solitary confinement for extended periods of time—as punishment for breaking rules, or getting into verbal disputes with the officers. Several high-profile cases of mentally ill inmates dying under questionable circumstances while detained at Rikers have been reported in the last year.

DOJ data shows that across the country, mentally ill jail inmates are twice as likely to be charged with a rule violation and three times as likely to be injured in a fight. Studies have also shown that mentally ill inmates are detained longer on average than those without a mental illness.

Incarceration also has heavy financial costs. A recent analysis by the city comptroller’s office revealed that in fiscal year 2014, it cost city taxpayers more than $96,000 a year to house an inmate in jail.

Treatment is more cost-effective than jail, said Jim Parsons, research director at the Vera Institute, a criminal justice policy research organization based in New York. The organization found that alternative-to-incarceration programs in New York City save an average of $7,038 per person.

Read more: Help, Not Incarceration

Xi Jinping Averts Tiananmen-style Massacre in Hong Kong

30 October, 2014 at 09:51 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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Jiang Zemin faction sought bloody end to the Umbrella Movement

By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

Hong Kong media are reporting that one faction of the Chinese Communist Party CCP has attempted to manipulate recent events in order to produce a Tiananmen Square-like massacre in Hong Kong. The goal of the bloodshed would be to bring down Party leader Xi Jinping, according to the reports, which corroborate previous reporting by Epoch Times.

The recently released November edition of Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine cited a Beijing source with inside knowledge of the CCP’s affairs as saying Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang wanted to turn the suppression of pro-democracy protesters by Hong Kong police on Sept. 28 into a second Tiananmen Square massacre. The Frontline article, which is not available online, was quoted by the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Aboluowang.

Zhang is the chair of the Standing Committee of the CCP’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and holds the Party’s portfolio for Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Zhang is also a close ally of former CCP head Jiang Zemin.

According to the Beijing source, the faction loyal to Jiang Zemin believed that if a massacre in Hong Kong took place under the spotlight of the world’s media, it would spell the end of Xi Jinping’s rule.

As Epoch Times has previously reported, Jiang’s faction has sought to displace Xi since before he took office. Part of the Jiang faction’s strategy has been to create unrest in Hong Kong as a way of making trouble for Xi, as Epoch Times, relying on sources inside the Party, first reported on Dec. 3, 2012.

MORE: Chinese Officials Seek to Discredit Xi Jinping in Hong Kong

Again relying on sources inside the Party, Epoch Times reported in 2014 before the Occupy Central protests began that Jiang’s faction sought to incite bloodshed in Hong Kong as a way of unseating Xi.

After the Hong Kong police volleyed dozens of tear gas canisters at the protesters on the night of Sept. 28, Xi issued orders prohibiting a violent crackdown, Frontline reported.

The leaked order from Xi to the Hong Kong government says: “It’s absolutely not allowed to open fire. Wasn’t the lesson of June 4 deep enough? Whoever permits shooting steps down! Even tear gas wasn’t necessary. Let it be, if it was already done. If people are not scared away, just leave. The condition has deteriorated to this point, and it’s your job to figure out how to solve the problem. Overall, never allow bloodshed. Try to win public support. Hong Kong affairs must be negotiated with the Hong Kong people.”

MORE: Xi Jinping Grabs His Umbrella, Joins Occupy Central [Funny]

Senior political commentator, column writer, and historian of the CCP Lin Baohua published an opinion article on Taiwan People News on Oct. 25 that argued that the central authorities didn’t want a bloody incident in Hong Kong.

“If Beijing didn’t stop [the violence], with [Hong Kong chief executive] Leung Chun-ying’s wolf nature, he would have long committed the slaughter.” Lin wrote.

Lin said the lack of firm action against Occupy Central reflects the division of opinions high in the CCP.

Inciting Protest

The October edition of Hong Kong’s Trend magazine gives a picture of Hong Kong that complements that provided by Frontline and Lin Baohua.

The magazine quotes some anonymous princelings—offspring of the founders of the CCP—as saying Zhang Dejiang was “as bad as a violent terrorist” and was “using Hong Kong to bring trouble to Xi.”

Xi, son of communist revolutionary and a political leader Xi Zhongxun, is considered as a representative of offsprings of China’s elites.

Many princelings consider Xi Jinping, the son of communist revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, as a representative for their group.

Trend magazine sketches some of the steps the Jiang faction took to help incite the pro-democracy protests.

MORE: Anything for Power: The Real Story of China’s Jiang Zemin

Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan, an ally of Jiang Zemin, issued the White Paper on Hong Kong on June 10 that defined the concept of one country, two systems out of existence by ending any claim Hong Kong had to autonomy.

The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that denied meaningful universal suffrage to Hong Kong was issued by Zhang Dejiang.

Trend magazine reports that the White Paper and the decision on universal suffrage were meant by Jiang’s faction to arouse anger in Hongkongers.

In response to the White Paper, more than 500,000 took part in the July 1 march for democracy. The decision on universal suffrage triggered the student strike on Sept. 22, which evolved into full-blown protests on Sept. 27.

A commentary article in the November edition of Frontline magazine criticizes Zhang for being “insane” for insisting NPC’s decision on universal suffrage was unchallengeable.

During the meeting of Zhang with Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on Sept. 16, Zhang stated that the NPC’s decision on Hong Kong’s election in 2017 was “the supreme legal authority.”

In making this claim, the Frontline commentary pointed out that Zhang was contradicting the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which requires the Legislative Council and the chief executive to approve changes to the means for electing the chief executive.

MORE: Xi Jinping Seizes Control Over Key Law Enforcement Agency

One week after Zhang’s statement, Xi Jinping spoke in a much softer tone in a Sept. 23 meeting with top Hong Kong business people.

Without mentioning the NPC decision on universal suffrage or the White Paper, Xi said: “The basic policy that the central government takes to Hong Kong hasn’t changed and won’t change. [The central government] will firmly hold onto one country, two systems and the Basic Law, supporting Hong Kong promoting the development of democracy and maintaining prosperity and stability.”

Xi’s statements on the Hong Kong issue were “sharp warnings to Zhang,” Frontline said.

via Xi Jinping Averts Tiananmen-style Massacre in Hong Kong

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The Last Hieroglyphic Language on Earth and an Ancient Culture Fighting to Survive

28 October, 2014 at 07:26 | Posted in archaeology, China, Culture, Science, Society | 2 Comments
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By April Holloway
http://www.ancient-origins.net

The Dongba symbols are an ancient system of pictographic glyphs created by the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet and used by the Naxi people in southern China. Historical records show that this unique script was used as early as the 7th century, during the early Tang Dynasty, however, research conducted last year showed that its origins may date back as far as 7,000 years ago. Incredibly, the Dongba symbols continue to be used by the elders of the Naxi people, making it the only hieroglyphic language still used in the world today.

The Naxi people lived in the beautiful mountain province of Yunnan (“south of the clouds”) for thousands of years, where they developed their own rich and enduring culture. Today, most of the 270,000 Naxi people live in the county of Lijiang where they retain many of their ancient traditions.

Read more: The Last Hieroglyphic Language on Earth and an Ancient Culture Fighting to Survive – The Epoch Times

U.N. Human Rights Panel Urges China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

26 October, 2014 at 10:42 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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HONG KONG — The United Nations Human Rights Committee urged China on Thursday to allow elections in Hong Kong without restrictions on who can run as a candidate. The move appeared likely to draw strong criticism from Beijing, where officials decided in August to set strict guidelines for the 2017 election of the city’s next leader, prompting mass sit-in protests.

The 18-member panel in Geneva said that Hong Kong needed to do more to ensure that its people had not only the right to vote, but also the right to run for office.

“Hong Kong China should take all necessary measures to implement universal and equal suffrage in conformity with the covenant, as a matter of priority for all future elections,” Cornelis Flinterman, a member of the rights panel from the Netherlands, said on Thursday, referring to an international agreement on political rights.

Read more: U.N. Human Rights Panel Urges China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong – NYTimes.com


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United Nations Calls on China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

HONG KONG—A panel of United Nations experts on Thursday called on China to allow real universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the latest sign of international pressure and attention on the People’s Republic of China over its restrictions on Hong Kong’s political system, after tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have occupied major roads in the financial center for nearly a month.

Chinese communist authorities say they have already provided Hong Kong with universal suffrage. But the definition provided by the panel of 18 UN experts, differs from China’s.

Konstantine Vardzelashvili, the chair of the UN review session, said that “universal suffrage … means both the right to be elected as well as the right to vote.”

“The main concerns of Committee members were focused on the right to stand for elections without unreasonable restrictions,” she said, in statements made at the conclusion of the panel.

The panel, part of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, monitors Hong Kong’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a bedrock standard of human rights around the world.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, has since 1997 been a special administrative region of the PRC under a “one country, two systems” model. For decades Hong Kong activists have fought for the right to vote and stand in elections freely. Most recently they have been thwarted by decisions in Beijing which force candidates for the chief executive, the top position in the city, through a political sieve. Chinese authorities say that the Hong Kong public will be presented with two or three candidates that have effectively been vetted for their loyalty to the regime. Hong Kong citizens worry that such individuals will have little incentive to represent the interests of Hong Kong citizens.

The remarks by the ICCPR review panel were a follow up to recommendations put forward in March 2013 for Hong Kong to allow genuine universal suffrage. Chinese authorities responded last week that it was already trying to “forge consensus within the community so as to realize the implementation of universal suffrage.” The version of “universal suffrage” proposed by the regime, however, was found unsatisfactory to the United Nations panel.

via United Nations Calls on China to Allow Free Elections in Hong Kong

Can Confucius Institutes Follow Both Chinese and Canadian Law?

26 October, 2014 at 07:21 | Posted in Children, China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Omid Ghoreishi
Epoch Times

Is it possible for Confucius Institutes, a Beijing-controlled educational program cited by Chinese officials as a tool to extend the regime’s “soft power,” to follow both Chinese law and the law of the hosting nation?

A clause in the agreement between the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the headquarters of Confucius Institute (CI) obtained by Epoch Times through a request under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act says that CI activities must be in accordance with the laws and regulations of both Canada and China. The school board, Canada’s largest, will vote on whether to terminate its partnership with the CI on Oct. 29.

Experience in at least one Canadian institution shows that this is impractical since in many cases the laws of the one-party totalitarian state contradict those of Canada’s parliamentary democracy, and so it may be that the Canadian law gets dispensed with.

“Canadian law is equality, non-discrimination,” explains David Matas, a Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer. China’s laws, on the other hand, institute “repression, discrimination, hostility,” toward any group the Chinese Communist Party chooses to target, including Falun Gong, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and democracy activists, among many others, Matas says.

In 2012/13, Matas took on a case involving a Confucius Institute instructor at McMaster University who, like other instructors hired in China to come to the university’s CI, had to sign a contract promising not to practice Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation system severely persecuted in China.

Sonia Zhao signed the contract out of fear that her refusal might reveal to Chinese officials that she in fact practices Falun Gong and as a result could face imprisonment like her mother, also a Falun Gong adherent.

“Initially [McMaster’s] defence was that it is not their jurisdiction and they didn’t know about it,” Matas says.

“I argued to the contrary that it was their jurisdiction because it was happening in Ontario and they must have known about it because the Hanban (CI headquarters in China) hiring policy was published on its website in English.”

Epoch Times reported in 2011 that Hanban has a stipulation in English on its main website stating that teachers at CIs must have “no record of participation in Falun Gong.”

Epoch Times also reported earlier this year that the website of Hunan University, which has an agreement to supply instructors for the TDSB’s CI, states that teaching candidates “will be assessed to ensure they meet political ideology requirements.”

‘No Alignment’

For its part, McMaster held discussions with CI headquarters to eliminate the discriminatory requirement for the instructors coming to Canada. However, Hanban wouldn’t back down.

Eventually, the university decided to end its CI program since the Beijing-run organization didn’t follow human rights values and principles that the university follows and “holds dear.”

“There wasn’t alignment between what was happening in the two countries,” says Andrea Farquhar, assistant vice president of public and government relations at McMaster.

“Although we tried to see if there could possibly be a solution, it turned out that there wasn’t, so we did give them notice in December of 2012 that we would be closing [the CI], and it closed in 2013.”

‘Political Arms’ of Beijing

McMaster isn’t the only institution to close its CI. The Canadian Association of University Teachers issued a statement late last year calling on all Canadian universities and colleges to cut ties with CIs, calling them “political arms of the Chinese government.” Shortly after, the University of Sherbrooke ended its CI program.

South of the Border, the American Association of University Professors echoed the statement of its Canadian counterpart and asked all American universities not to partner with CIs, saying hosting one enables CIs to “advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

Two prominent U.S. universities, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago, decided to end their relationships with CIs in the last couple of months.

Intelligence agencies and experts, including former Canadian Security Intelligence Service senior manager Michel Juneau-Katsuya, have also indicated that CIs are involved in espionage activities for Beijing.

The TDSB’s CI partnership was originally championed by former chair Chris Bolton while the rest of the board was kept in the dark about the details of the agreement. Bolton resigned in June a few months before the end of his term amidst concerns raised by parents and many of the trustees about the partnership.

Earlier this month, a TDSB committee voted to terminate the board’s CI partnership. That decision will be voted on by the entire board during a general meeting on Oct. 29.

via Can Confucius Institutes Follow Both Chinese and Canadian Law? – The Epoch Times

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10 Ways to Understand Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

23 October, 2014 at 10:53 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Chen Pokong

1. Teens, Youth, and Middle-Aged People

Scholarism, the Hong Kong Federation of Students ,and the Troika of Occupy Central are the three major groups that uphold the Hong Kong Occupy Central Movement. They are composed of high school students, college students, and middle-aged intellectuals respectively.

The perfect combination of teens, youth, and the middle-aged represents the mainstream and future of Hong Kong. This combination disseminates an explicit message: Communism is unpopular in Hong Kong and the Communist Party has no future in Hong Kong.

Given these, there are two propositions that follow: Will Hong Kong’s youth live longer, or Beijing’s political patriarchs live longer? Will the universal values that Hong Kong people insist on live longer, or the one-party dictatorship that the Party leadership compound of Zhongnanhai adheres to live longer?

2. Illegality Against Illegality

Beijing accused the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement of being illegal. Nonetheless, civil disobedience is an illegal defiance meant to restore legality by means of illegality.

But one thing which is for sure is that the central government of the Beijing regime was illegal in the first place—it violated the “Basic law,” breached the “one country, two systems” formula, and broke the promises stipulated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

So, Hong Kong people simply followed suit. It is a kind of illegality against illegality, which is similar to the old Chinese saying, “to subdue the enemies by learning from their strong points.”

3. The Consequences of Violence

Throughout the Occupy Central With Love and Peace movement, the occupiers have always upheld pacifism and love for Hong Kong. They have never thrown a bottle or a paper ball. They even picked up the garbage on the ground and sorted it out.

Being unarmed, they held up their empty hands during their demonstrations. These kind of peaceful demonstrators are indeed few and far between. However, taking orders from the Beijing regime, the Hong Kong Government turned out to resort to a large amount of tear gas and pepper spray, trying to forcibly disperse the protesters as soon as possible.

This action in turn triggered another large-scale protest participated in by over 200,000 Hong Kong residents. The Occupy Central movement thus became occupying Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, which has long been a civilized territory, the chaos is in fact the consequence of the government’s violence.

4. Red Versus Black

To deal with the massive Occupy Central movement, it is reported that Beijing authorities finally came up with an alternative idea under the bottom line of “no compromise and no bloodshed.” That is, mobilizing the underworld to carry out sinister tricks by thugs to intimidate, harass, and attack Occupy Central protesters with violence.

The appearance of those masked men who forcibly demolished the barricades is no different from the terrorists in the Middle East, and their nature is equally evil. Under the evil forces’ incessant intimidation and vocal abuse, Chow Ting, a member of Scholarism quit the movement.

The (communist) red and the (triad) black have long belonged to the same family. No wonder the former Politburo member Bo Xilai failed after he advocated “singing red and fighting black”—his attempt in the megacity of Chongqing to revive a Maoist fervor for communism while pretending to fight organized crime. If something is self-contradictory, how can it not be doomed to collapse?

5. Black and White

Not only did those who are against Occupy Central movement lay siege to Occupy Central protesters, but they also participated in the forcible demolition of the barricades. We do not rule out the possibility that among those who are against the Occupy Central movement, there are some gangsters and some pro-communist residents.

In fact, the CCP’s special skill is to instigate struggles between groups. But people didn’t expect that it would still be applicable 65 years after it took power.

However, black and white are two distinct things. The anti-Occupy Central members’ joining the underworld side inadvertently proved the fact that those who associated with the underworld are in fact no different in nature from those in the underworld.

6. Hong Kong People Versus Chinese People

Some people from mainland China don’t understand the Hong Kong people’s fight for freedom, and even disdain or condemn them. They said, “Hong Kong people have been enjoying so much democracy and freedom, but they are still not satisfied. Hong Kong people are spoiled.”

This kind of mindset suggests that not only should people in mainland China not enjoy democracy and freedom, neither should the people in Hong Kong.

This situation is similar to the Chinese saying that caged birds ridicule the birds in the sky, while domesticated animals mock wildlife. The Zhongnanhai leadership should be secretly delighted that its birdcage policy and raising-pig philosophy have been so successful.

Growing up in different environments, the Hong Kong people’s concepts of democracy, universal values, and an independent personality differ tremendously from the Chinese mainlanders’ nationalism and slave personality—as much as if they were water versus fire.

7. The Scandal About the Chief Executive

Amid the heated Hong Kong democracy protests, a scandal about the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying happened to come to light. He was accused of accepting approximately US$6.5 million in secret funds, without declaring them.

Who made this news public? The public doubted that it was the Beijing regime that leaked the news. In fact, between compromise and recourse to force, dismissing Leung Chun-ying might be a perfect intermediate solution, as it may be a step that avoids embarrassment for both sides.

Beijing can ask Leung to step down under the pretext of a corruption investigation and calm down the Hong Kong people’s anger. After winning the first-stage victory, Hong Kong people may calm down temporarily.

8. Color Revolution

Beijing refers to the Occupy Central movement as a “color revolution.” However, color revolution is not a negative term, but something positive.

All the color revolutions that occurred around the world were movements in which people overthrew authoritarian tyrants by taking to the streets or launching a great revolution, such as the “Velvet Revolution,” the “Tulip Revolution,” the “Orange Revolution,” “Jasmine Revolution,” and so on.

The Chinese regime’s defining the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement as a color revolution is tantamount to agreeing that Beijing is a dictator and a tyrant. In fact, Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is dubbed by the public as the “Umbrella Revolution.” Since the umbrella revolution is an anti-dictatorship revolution aiming to fight for freedom, it turns out to be one of the great color revolutions.

9. Foreign Forces

Beijing has said there are foreign forces behind Hong Kong people’s Occupy Central movement, and explicitly specified the U.S. government.

This accusation suggests that all the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, are all obedient subjects or citizens who are not supposed to criticize or protest against the Chinese regime. As long as there are Chinese people, Hong Kong people included, who criticize or protest against the regime, they must have been ordered by foreigners, or received money from foreigners to carry out the conspiracy plotted by foreigners.

In actuality, the Chinese regime has in this humiliated all the Chinese people: You are all slaves who were born a slave, and your IQ is lower than that of foreigners; if you were not ordered by foreigners to do so, how could you come up with the ideas of criticism, protest, and rebellion?

10. Ripple Effects

Hong Kong Occupy Central movement has attracted global attention. People around the world are aware that Hong Kong people do not agree with or accept the CCP’s rule.

Taiwan’s pro-independence campaign thus came up with campaign slogans reading “If you vote for the KMT, Taiwan would become Hong Kong,” “Taiwan people are worried “Today’s Hong Kong may be tomorrow’s Taiwan.”

Even Taiwan’s pro-China president Ma Ying-jeou had to stand up to make it clear that Taiwan will never accept the one country, two systems policy; and that he firmly supports the Hong Kong people’s fighting for genuine universal suffrage.

In addition, Ma also imitated Deng Xiaoping’s saying of “letting some people get rich first,” by calling on Beijing to “let some people get democracy first!”

Obviously, the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement is expanding its ripple effect.

Chen Pokong was a member of the 1989 student movement in China. After twice serving time in prison, Chen was exiled to the United States. He writes regularly on, and is the author of several books about, China and its politics.

Translation by Billy Shiyu

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.

via 10 Ways to Understand Hong Kong’s Occupy Central – The Epoch Times

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A Troubled Hong Kong Returns Violence With Compassion

2 October, 2014 at 10:09 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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A photo captures the city’s imagination and helps it let go its anger

By Li Zhen
Epoch Times

Commentary

HONG KONG—On Sept. 29 the government withdrew the riot police, and at least 100 thousand students and adults continued gathering outside the central government offices in Admiralty, and in Causeway, Wan Chai, and Mong Kok. After a night of terror on Sept. 28, the mood in the city had shifted, a shift perhaps captured by an Epoch Times photograph that went viral.

On the night of Sept. 28, a young protester stood opposite the police outside the Central Government offices. Suddenly, and without provocation, the police discharged pepper spray.

The young man was preoccupied with filming, and the pepper spray went onto his face and in his eyes. He cried out in pain, “We are unarmed. How can you attack us like that?”

The policeman standing opposite the young man said, “I know, I know.” Then, while dressed in the face shield and gas mask that made him look like something other than a human being, the policeman took out his own water bottle and began rinsing the young man’s eyes.

At that moment, Epoch Times photographer Yu Gang snapped a photo.

The simple image has touched countless Hongkongers. They find the photo soothing in a time of trouble. It seems to encourage people to set aside their anger, and the positive feelings it engenders are circulating through the Internet and into society.

Netizens Respond

Within a few hours after the photo was uploaded to the Hong Kong Epoch Times Facebook page, over a million people saw the post in their news feed.

One netizen responding to the photo wrote, “Of course we understand they [the police] are just doing their jobs. We are not mad at them. We are mad at the authorities.”

Another wrote, “I used to be a policeman and understand they have to obey orders when on duty. Why only put the blame on frontline police? From my point of view, it’s the commissioner who should take the most responsibility. He should apologize and be dismissed from his position. Note that it is DIMISSED!”

“The police have gone too far, but the chief criminals are [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying and [Police Commissioner] Tsang Wai-hung. Should have them kneel and apologize to everybody,” wrote a netizen.

Another netizen wrote, “I heard the police kept saying ‘sorry’ to protesters while firing pepper spray.”

Some netizens also showed support and admiration for the reporters and photographers working at the front lines. “Without you guys, there won’t be any news. Thank you all for risking your lives to record everything from the beginning,” read one post.

The photographer Yu Gang said that while covering the protests he was caught in the tear gas and could hardly breathe. A few people helped him get out of that place, and one of them was a policeman. Yu remembered he saw the word “police” on one person through a translucent rain coat.

Peacefulness, Compassion, and Tolerance

After the police fired volleys of tear gas into the crowds on the night of the 28th, the authorities obviously realized the gravity of the situation and changed their tactics.

Condemnation for the police action immediately descended on Hong Kong from around the world, and statements of support for democracy in Hong Kong were forthcoming from the UN Secretary General, the White House, and Canada’s foreign ministry.

In Hong Kong, the indignation over the use of pepper spray and tear gas against unarmed students and protesters is citywide and extends through all parts of society.

Beneath the indignation, there is a mutual grief. Hongkongers have lost faith in the police, and a relationship built over a long period of time is now gone.

There are reports that the Hong Kong police are split on how to handle the demonstrators. Some are tormented at having targeted unarmed and compassionate young students, some of whom may be their relatives or people they know. After the night of tear gassing, some police announced their resignations on Facebook.

In the current situation, the police will have a hard time increasing the violence. Hong Kong is a special region. It is a small city with a population of about 7 million. Inhabitants here share the same Chinese traditions and also the colonial culture inherited from the United Kingdom. They mainly speak Cantonese and some English. They identify with one another.

The pro-democracy protesters have won over the whole city, even the entire world, with their peacefulness, compassion, and tolerance.

A Hongkonger wrote on Facebook that he has never seen such polite demonstrators. They have not damaged a single car or harmed any public facilities or anything at all. They did not attempt to fight back after being doused with pepper spray and being immersed in clouds of tear gas. They pick up their trash and clean up after themselves.

During their demonstrations, they sing and cry. They distribute food and water in an orderly way. Some students study at the site.

When the coordinator of the rally asked the protesters to leave after the police unleashed the tear gas on the 28th, none left. Instead, more people came to join. They are fighting for a better Hong Kong and displaying the true spirit of Hong Kong for the whole world to see.

As a Hongkonger wrote on the internet, “At this moment, I have to admit that I’m truly proud of you all, my fellow Hong Kong people!”

Translated by Michelle Tsun.

via A Troubled Hong Kong Returns Violence With Compassion

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China Markets Tools of Torture

28 September, 2014 at 07:33 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment
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By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

Electric shock weapons, dart guns, stun shields, thumb cuffs, restraint chairs, and spiked batons are just some of the specialty weapons designed to inflict pain being exported by Chinese companies closely aligned with, or owned by the state, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Some of the equipment discussed in the report, such as ordinary handcuffs and restraints, a limited number of controlled stun weapons, and certain blunt striking instruments, all have legitimate law enforcement purposes, the report says.

But many of the weapons are “intrinsically cruel, inhuman and degrading, and therefore should be prohibited” from manufacture in the first place, the report says.

There are currently no comprehensive international covenants governing the manufacture and export of police weapons, and part of Amnesty’s advocacy work following the report will be to begin establishing such a mechanism—with China perhaps serving as a negative example.

Read more: China Markets Tools of Torture

Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

9 September, 2014 at 11:12 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

By Susanne W. Lamm
Epoch Times Staff

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A Swedish prison, specialized in treating drug offenders, offered the inmates meditation – under the label of “mindfulness” – as an addition to their regular treatment program. The idea was that prisoners would be able to cope better with everyday life after their release. The method is called “The Path of Freedom”, and has received high praise from inmates and prison staff alike.

Ulrika Lilljegren, former manager of the Högsbo prison facility, says that inmates seem to be more responsive to the other treatment programs if they are combined with yoga or meditation, for instance.

According to Lilljegren, many inmates most likely suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, like ADHD, or are damaged from long-term drug abuse. They often find it difficult to focus and concentrate.

“We had a guy like that [in the “Path of Freedom”-project],” she says. “Watching him sit still for half an hour, was a completely new experience. He was always very active, just bouncing around the ward, but he had found something in this meditation practice that allowed him to sit still.

Meditation provides new tools for the participants, helping them to perhaps stop and think before they act. They discover ways to adjust their behavior in a way that helps them not get into trouble all the time.

“Of course, different people had different reactions, but for a couple of them, it had a huge impact, and a great influence,” Lilljegren says.

Pake Hall from the Gothenburg Zen Center led the classes. He thinks the prison is a great environment for meditation.

“It’s such a difficult environment,” he mentions. “But you become aware of the fact that you need to face your own dark sides. They emerge when you’re locked up like that, and have nowhere to go. There is also plenty of time for practice. In many ways, it’s like a monastery.”

Hall feels a connection to society’s less fortunate. He often ended up with people that have social problems, with individuals whose behavior is on the borderline between what is and isn’t functional in society. He worked at treatment centers, and also with children with different kinds of difficulties.

When he began to meditate earnestly, he felt there was something in it he wanted to pass on to others. He thought about all the people who were locked up, who might be interested in meditation, but who don’t have a chance to learn it.

He joined an American network called Prison Dharma Network.  Here he became the mentor of a young American man, serving a double-life sentence for gang-related murders, and who had become interested in practising Buddhism. Their exchange was limited to letters, but the Prison Dharma Network later held a class that would allow Hall to hold Path of Freedom-classes at Swedish criminal facilities.

“The Path of Freedom is based on a very simple idea,” he says. “It’s all about helping people who are locked up.

“It’s about questioning whether these walls really are what’s keeping us from being free, or if there is something else standing in our way,” Hall explains. “Maybe we’re stuck in our own prisons, no matter if we’re sitting in our home in Gothenburg, with unlimited freedom, or locked up in a high-security prison? Maybe we’re all trapped by desire and aversion? This is a way to work with these issues, regardless of your surroundings.”

But shouldn’t society’s resources be used for helping people who fall prey to criminals and their actions, rather than the criminals themselves? Hall has a different perspective.

“I see nothing but victims here,” he says. “As soon as we commit an act that leads to another person’s suffering, that person suffers, but we suffer too, because we have to live with the consequences of that action. There are two victims, not one.”

He adds that the prison is in fact a great place for breaking the patterns of human existence. Many people in prison have deeply rooted patterns of hurting themselves and others. If you can somehow help them get out of these ruts, suffering may be reduced, both for them and for those around them.

The class consisted of 12 sessions. In order to motivate the inmates, they were scheduled in the middle of the week, which meant they could attend mindfulness classes instead of working. Each session lasted between 1 and 1,5 hours, and consisted of both theory and practice, one-on-one talks, and sharing experiences with the group.

Subjects like compassion, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and conflict resolution were at the center of the curriculum. Between the sessions, inmates would have “cell practice”, where they put into practice what they had learned.

“You don’t know how these people are going to take what you’re teaching them,” Hall says. “You sow little seeds during these short sessions. It’s a very, very dull environment. We’re in a locked room, with guards present at all times, for security reasons. New people join all the time, and many participants are having major problems with restlessness and anxiety.”

The “us and them”-culture of the prison was also an obstacle. To inmates, it’s important to not appear vulnerable, to be tough and to maintain their status.

“A mindfulness class is very much about just letting go and opening up,” Hall explains. “It’s about looking at what you’ve got, so of course the group can get sensitive at times. Once you’ve done a few sessions, though, something happens. It becomes a safe place, a ‘container’ for sharing things, or just listening to the teacher without making smart remarks to your neighbor. But as soon as new people enter the group, their masks are put on again, more or less.”

Being a neutral, third party in between prisoners, management and staff was also tricky, according to Hall.

“Everyone wants you to be their ally,” he explains. “The guards want to influence the inmates in a certain direction. Some thoughts and ideas are supposed to be ‘wrong’ from their perspective. And during the sharing with the inmates after the meditation, they would vent their anger with the guards. Not agreeing with them, yet not contradicting them, being there with them and not making them feel like you’re distancing yourself or disrespecting how they feel… It was very interesting, the way that game was always on.”

Overall, the project was a success. The response from the participants was positive. One of them wrote:

“My head is like a (…) ping pong game all the time, with balls flying all over the place, and now I’ve realized I don’t need to return all those balls.”

Another participant described how, when another inmate was “eyeballing him” in the cafeteria line, he remembered what he had learned in class, and just moved his attention down to his feet, instead of resorting to violence.

“That’s great, of course,” Hall says. “Those little seeds you sow, and when they tell you that they really liked it, and wanted more of it. It was worth the time I spent there.”

Read the original Swedish article here

via Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

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7 Ways GMOs are Destroying Humanity and the Planet

8 September, 2014 at 07:49 | Posted in Environmental issues, Food, Nature, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Jonathan Benson, contributing writer to Natural News

No matter what personal views you might have on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), these relatively new biological creations are wreaking havoc on both the environment and human health, as thoroughly demonstrated in the scientific literature. And here are seven concrete examples of why:

1) GMOs lead to superbugs and superweeds. There is no denying the massive ecological changes that occur as a result of GMOs and their respective growing chemicals. Farmers all across North America now face a steadily increasing onslaught of “superweeds” and “superpests” that have spawned as a direct result of biotechnology.

Among 13 major pests examined as part of a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, five of them were found to be completely immune to the poisons genetically implanted into Bt corn and cotton, for instance. And more recently, Brazilian farmers have reported that GMO corn is no longer resistant to pests.

2) GMOs are killing off our pollinators. GMO proponents often argue that, without biotechnology, the world would starve. But weedkillers and other chemicals applied to GMOs are killing off bees, butterflies and other pollinators that are vital in the production of one-third of the world’s food crops.

According to the latest data, honeybees, which are responsible for roughly 80 percent of the pollinating duties, are dying off at a rate of 30 percent per year. Neonicotinoids and other pesticides leave residues on crops, which are then picked up by pollinators, destroying their insides and causing them to eventually die. German professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz told SPIEGEL ONLINE that GMO crop chemicals appears to alter bees’ intestines, making them highly susceptible to parasites and infections.

3) GMOs allow corporations to control life. With natural seeds, farmers are free to save and reuse them year after year in self-sufficiency. But GMOs require seeds to be repurchased year after year, placing control of food and life into the hands of a select few transnational corporations, who, since they maintain an oligopoly, can charge high prices and keep farmers in their servitude.

4) GMOs cross-contaminate natural crops. If GMOs could exist in their own private, agrarian bubbles, their threat to humanity might be containable. But because they grow in the open air alongside other natural and organic crops that require pollination, the threat of cross-contamination is almost certain, which means the entire global food supply stands to eventually become contaminated.

5) Accidentally growing GMOs is a crime. Believe it or not, biotech corporations like Monsanto have actually sued non-GMO farmers whose crops were damaged as a result of genetic drift. This is because GMOs are patented intellectual property, meaning they can’t be grown without permission and payment.

6) GMOs place an unmanageable burden of debt on farmers. Farmers are typically lured into growing GMOs based on empty promises of increased yields and fewer crop losses. But when this doesn’t pan out, they become locked into a system of debt that, especially in poorer countries, often leads to total bankruptcy. This is part of the reason why some 1,000 Indian farmers now commit suicide every month, as they are left with no way out but to pay the piper money that they don’t have.

7) GMOs destroy biodiversity, the life-force of our planet. The viability of our planet is dependent upon a rich stock of plant life that is varied, abundant and well-balanced within the confines of a biodiverse ecosystem. But GMOs are the antithesis of all this, perpetuating a system of unsustainable monoculture that breeds soil erosion, mineral loss and, ultimately, death.

via 7 Ways GMOs are Destroying Humanity and the Planet

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Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

6 September, 2014 at 09:29 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Li Zhen
Epoch Times

HONG KONG—For decades Hong Kong democrats have dreamed of universal suffrage. On Aug. 31, the Chinese communist regime officially shut the door on this possibility for the next election, infuriating Hong Kongers and moving them to action.

Since Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China in 1984, democracy supporters in the city-state have hoped to someday elect their chief executive and Legislative Council members by true universal suffrage without control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP has repeatedly postponed its promise of true universal suffrage. Their most recent decision is that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage as long as a Beijing-controlled nominating committee selects the chief executive candidates and Beijing gets the final say in the election.

As a result, many Hong Kongers feel that they have been deceived for 30 years.

One Lie Too Many

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, broke into tears during a rally on the evening of Aug. 31.

“We were all saddened at how much the efforts of young men have been wasted for the past 30 years, going around in circles on the issue of democratic development,” Chow said. “After this battle, the majority who support democracy, including the moderates, have been pushed into a dead end by the CCP.”

“Who would still hold out hope of negotiating with the Communist Party? Who would still believe in the lie of ‘one country, two systems’ and the high degree of autonomy?”

Chow was referring to the CCP’s promise in 1984 that Hong Kong would have a high degree of independence from mainland China, with the principle of “one country, two systems.”

Chow told Epoch Times that in the future Hong Kongers will fight for their autonomy, including launching student strikes, instead of trusting the CCP.

Nearly 800 thousand Hong Kong people voted for democracy in June during an informal civil referendum held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a nonviolent movement for universal suffrage. With their hopes of democracy dashed, Hong Kong citizens are rallying together to oppose the CCP.

“This is not the darkest day in Hong Kong, but the beginning day of Hong Kongers’ awakening,” said Occupy Central co-organizer Chan Kin-man.

Chan has participated in politics for years as a moderate scholar, attempting to negotiate with the CCP to carry forward Hong Kong’s democratic development. He supported Hong Kong’s political reforms in 2005 and 2010.

Now Chan is deeply upset with the decision by the CCP’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to deny true universal suffrage. He said the decision shows that the CCP would never grant any real power to Hong Kong.

Chan said that in the early 1980s some students from the University of Hong Kong were concerned with Hong Kong’s future after the handover, so they demanded democracy.

“[Former Chinese premier] Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to the students and promised there would be universal suffrage in Hong Kong’s future. But to this day, you can tell that the universal suffrage is in fact a fully manipulated election,” Chan said.

After the handover in 1997, Hong Kongers continued to put their hopes in Beijing for universal suffrage. Chan said that they knew it wouldn’t be granted in the first ten years after the handover, so they pinned their hopes on 2007. In 2004, however, the NPC vetoed the plan of universal suffrage for 2007.

Later the hope was to achieve universal suffrage in 2012, but the CCP delayed it again. Chan said that the moderates and the democrats, including the Democratic Party, all feel like they have been deceived.

“When we accepted the time frame, we thought 2017 was the finishing point. But now 2017 is just a starting point, and democratic development is to be carried forward slowly, step by step [according to the CCP],” Chan said.

However, Chan sees hope in the darkness.

“We are willing to protect our way of life with the power of the people, which is a gratifying thing,” he said. “We hope that society will not develop a pessimistic mood just because the political reform has encountered a dead end. I hope we all stay in this place to protect our homeland, making this the beginning of a new chapter.”

Double Deception

Cheng Yu-shek, convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, thinks the CCP has deceived Hong Kong in two major aspects in the past 30 years. The first is the promise of a high degree of autonomy.

“Now some Beijing officials have said Beijing must take control over Hong Kong. This is a dramatic change,” Cheng said.

The second deception is the promise to achieve democracy in Hong Kong step by step. The NPC’s recent decision is a regression, Cheng said.

“How is ‘step-by-step’ reflected in this? They often say that Hong Kong will have democracy when conditions are ripe, but how to tell when the conditions are ripe?” Cheng said. “Therefore, we can see clearly that the Party will hold on to the power over Hong Kong, and it will certainly not allow genuine democracy in Hong Kong.”

Cheng places his hope in long-term and persistent fighting, and never giving up.

“We shall safeguard our core values, lifestyle, and dignity,” he said. “We refuse to let Hong Kong become another mainland city.”

Taiwan political critic Lin Baohua held a press conference in Taiwan echoing Hong Kong’s democratic campaign. He said the NPC’s decision has shown that the CCP no longer needs to make Hong Kong an example of “one country two systems” to show to Taiwan.

Lin said the CCP is deceptive by nature, putting on a show for the public and letting them have fantasies. Before the NPC meeting, both Beijing officials and Hong Kong CCP supporter Lau Siu-kai said that NPC’s decision wasn’t final, and there was still room for discussion.

“However, this [political reform] draft was a step backward,” Lin said.

According to Lin, the previous rule “allows one to become a chief executive candidate with just one-eighth of all nominating committee votes, but now at least a 50 percent nomination is required.”

‘CCP Must Be Overthrown’

Lin added that only by disintegrating the CCP will Hong Kong have democracy.

“The CCP must be overthrown,” he said. “The CCP itself is opposing democracy, and it’s impossible to let Hong Kong develop democracy.”

“If it did, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai would all want democracy, and then what? So it’s impossible to grant democracy to HK,” Lin said.

Senior political commentator Lin Yuet-tsang wrote in his column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal that political circumstances have entered a sharp downturn. He said the CCP has shown its true nature, shocking many moderates, centrists, and those who are not usually concerned with political affairs.

Lin Yuet-tsang said he never believed Hong Kong could obtain democracy from the CCP’s hands. He added that he has been fighting for three decades, and it is important to spread democratic awareness.

Epoch Times columnist Xia Xiaoqiang said Hong Kong’s democratic system has demonstrated the universal values of freedom and human rights to the mainland Chinese people. This is what the CCP fears, Xia said.

Translated by Michelle Tsun. Written in English by Sally Appert.

via Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says

18 August, 2014 at 11:20 | Posted in China, Gao Zhisheng, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says: photo 2

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

Once dubbed the “conscience of China,” Gao Zhisheng spoke out powerfully for the persecuted and dispossessed. Now, after five years of abuse, the voice that challenged injustice is, for the moment at least, almost silenced.

Since Gao, a celebrated Chinese human rights lawyer, was released from custody last week, news about his condition has trickled out through his wife, Geng He, who lives in California with their two children.

Geng He has only been able to have a few brief conversations with her husband, but she has spoken extensively to her sister, who is with Gao in Urumqi. Chinese security officials live in their home and monitor them, while others are stationed outside.

Geng He described her conversations with Gao both on Twitter and in discussions with a family friend, Sherry Zhang, who visits and spends time with the family in the Bay Area, where they live. Geng He has declined interviews with the media, but publishes updates about Gao’s condition on Twitter.

A note from Aug. 12 is chilling in its depiction of Gao’s degraded faculties: “When I was speaking with Gao the phone cut off, so I called him back and asked: ‘What were we talking about?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I asked: ‘How did the call get cut off?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I said: ‘Look, do you understand what I’m saying or not? Can you not hear, or do you not understand?’”

At that point the phone passed to Geng He’s sister, who said: “He’s been locked in a dark cell by himself for five years, fed a steamed bun and a bowl of cabbage every day. You have to patiently help him learn to speak again,” according to Geng He’s account on Twitter.

Tianyu, Gao Zhisheng’s young son, was disappointed and confused after attempting to speak with his father on the telephone. He had been practicing Chinese in order to speak with his dad, but after getting off the phone simply said: “Dad can’t speak Chinese!” according to Sherry Zhang, who visited the family.

“He can barely talk—and only in very short sentences—most of the time he is unintelligible,” Zhang said in an email viewed by the Epoch Times. “Gao’s son was incredibly excited to speak to him on the phone, and was completely shocked that he barely understood his father, that his voice was monotone, and that he was only giving 2 or 3 word answers to questions and wasn’t initiating any of the discussion,” the email continued.

“Gao has been utterly destroyed,” said a recent statement from Freedom Now, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which has followed Gao’s case for several years. “Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him. He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. … He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”

Jared Genser, president of Freedom Now and a pro bono attorney for the Gao family, said in a telephone interview, “We hope the U.S. impresses on China the need to allow him to leave for medical treatment in the U.S. Without that help and support, Gao’s future physical and mental health is very much in question.”

Genser continued: “The only thing worse than Gao being killed was for him to be horrifically mentally and physically tortured. He’s a shell of his former self, and it’s devastating for Geng He and her family. She just wants to take care of him, and that’s what we’re hoping will happen. But the Chinese government doesn’t make anything easy there.”

Additional reporting by Ma Youzhi

via Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says

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China’s Environmental Catastrophe

14 August, 2014 at 09:08 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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China's Environmental Catastrophe

By Hong Jiang

China’s environment has been so thoroughly assaulted by urban and industrial development that pollution in air, water, and soil has reached alarming levels. “It’s on a scale and speed the world has never known,” according to Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center. What do we know? What can be done?

‘Airpocalypse’

Beijing’s air pollution reached a level so dramatically high in January 2013 that a new word, “airpocalypse,” was coined for it. The word has since been used to refer to the alarming air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

Beijing’s PM2.5 level reached beyond 500 in January 2013, with the high index recurring in 2014.

The smog-choked city experienced a visibility so low that it put schools and work at a halt.

World Health Organization (WHO) measures PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, as a health indicator, as it can penetrate the blood stream and enter the lungs, causing respiratory disease, lung cancer, and various other ailments. Safe exposure to PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period—called PM2.5 index 12 and 25, respectively.

A research report released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in February 2013 ranked Beijing as the second worst in living environment among 40 major cities in the world, according to the Daily Mail. The study considered Beijing “barely suitable” for living due to its severe air pollution.

Smog is especially severe in northern Chinese cities during the winter heating season when coal burning adds to air pollution. In October 2013, the northern city of Harbin had the record PM2.5 index of 1,000, with visibility reduced to less than 50 meters, according to data from China’s environmental protection agency.

China’s unbridled and coal-dependent development serves as the direct cause of air pollution. China consumes half of the coal in the world, used to fuel the world’s second-largest economy.

Air pollution has caused great harm to human health. Based on a “2010 Global Burden of Disease” study published in December 2013 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, air pollution led to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, which is about 40 percent of the global total.

Air pollution has reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years in Northern China, according to a study done by researchers from China, Israel, and the United States and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.

China’s airpocalypse not only chokes the Chinese cities, but also affects other countries through long-range transport of air pollutants. About 40–60 percent of fine particulate pollution in Japan comes from China, said Hiroshi Tanimoto at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies to New York Times. The effect on Korea is even greater. Pollutants have crossed the Pacific to affect the western part of the United States.

China’s airpocalypse goes hand in hand with China’s rank as the top emitter of greenhouse gases, aiding the driver of global climate change and the threat of global warming.

Water ‘Too Dangerous to Touch’

If air pollution is bad enough, water pollution is an even worse problem and more difficult to resolve, said a report by The Economist.

“There are large parts of the urban water supply which are not only too dangerous to drink—they are too dangerous to touch,” said John Parker, globalization editor at The Economist, in a video interview. “You cannot even wash in them.”

Data from the Chinese government in 2011 shows that over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. Groundwater, which accounts for one-third of China’s water resources, suffers similar pollution. Of the more than 4,700 groundwater-quality testing stations, about 60 percent showed “relatively bad” or worse pollution level. Half of the rural population lacks safe drinking water.

Chemical, pharmaceutical, and power plants spew pollutants into waterways, creating dead zones where they flow. A notable example is central China’s Huai River, pronounced dead by Elizabeth Economy in her well-known 2004 book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black.”

If China’s air pollution makes airpocalypse, water pollution has created incidents that attract international attention. In 2007, Lake Tai suffered from a heavy carpet of blue-green algae that is cancer-inducing, and its gruesome images have circulated on the Web. The 2006 incident of a chemical spill contaminated Songhua River in Northeast China, and the government cover-up was widely criticized. Many more incidents, however, go under reported.

Some incidents of water pollution can be sadly surreal. Urban waterways in the eastern city of Wenzhou were so polluted by chemicals that a lit cigarette set the water on fire, as reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year. This is not the first time a river was on fire, and other images of water pollution show water turning black or red or orange, or carpeted with algae or dead fish.

A report on chinadialogue indicates that in 2012 over half of China’s cities had water of “poor” or worse quality. Ma Jun, an environmentalist who heads a Beijing-based green NGO, told chinadialogue, “Tackling water pollution is as serious and worthy a challenge for the authority as combating air pollution … water pollution poses a bigger health threat to about 300 million people living in rural areas.”

Polluted Soil and Food

China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese regime, ran an editorial stated, “Soil contaminated with heavy metals is eroding the foundation of the country’s food safety and becoming a looming public health hazard.”

Nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources. Chemicals such as cadmium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and mercury poison the soil, as they are dumped into waters used for irrigation.

Early this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted that there are 450 pollution-related “cancer villages” in China. Prior to that, soil pollution and its threat to health and food received limited media attention, and the Chinese government had kept data on soil pollution as a “state secret.”

The change was partly brought about by a recent scandal of cadmium in rice that set off a Hunan rice scare. According to the mainland business magazine Caijing, the city of Guangzhou inspected local restaurants and found excessive cadmium level in 44.4 percent of rice and rice products. Most of the rice came from Hunan Province.

According to Caixin’s New Century Magazine, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions had reported on cadmium pollution in 2009. They sampled 100 rice paddies near mines throughout Hunan Province, and found that 65 percent of the samples exceeded the cadmium safety limit. The contaminated rice had entered the local and national market.

WHO’s website states, “Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal, and the respiratory systems.” The heavy metal is leached from mines and chemical factories in Hunan.

Also under the spotlight are Hunan’s new cancer villages, among which, Shuanqiao. China Youth reported that 26 people in Shuanqiao died of cadmium poisoning. Soil samples there showed cadmium content 300 times the permitted level, and 509 of its 2,888 villagers were tested positive for cadmium poisoning. The chemical came from the Xianghe Chemical Plant, whose pollution villagers have complained about since 2006. This example is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical poisoning in China.

Worrisome ‘War Against Pollution’

Facing catastrophic environmental pollution, the Chinese government has become alert. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced early this year at the National People’s Congress, “We will declare war against pollution.” Li said, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China, and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”

The Chinese government has plans to clean up the environment. In September 2013, the government launched a $280 billion plan to clean up the air, and early this year, it announced an investment of $300 billion to tackle water pollution. Experts are uncertain, however, whether these investments will change the situation.

What is worrisome is the regime’s persistent attitude of a “war against nature,” that has rendered past investments in the environment limited in their effect. In Mao’s war against nature, draconian actions in agriculture destroyed the fabric of the rural ecosystem. Post-Mao pursuit of economic development has only trumped the past trend with unprecedented pollution in air, water, and soil from industrial and urban growth.

Experts on China believe the root of China’s environmental problems lies with the top-down control by the Communist Party, which has been trapped in corruption and a lack of political accountability and rule of law. Economic incentives for officials have continued to leave pollution unchecked. As some polluting factories are closed, others pop up.

“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” said Ahkok Wong, a university lecturer in Hong Kong, to the ROAR Magazine.

Environmental pollution has increasingly become a source of discontent and protest in China. In the 1990s, rural protests in China already included pollution-related land loss. Since the 2000s, large-scale protests expanded to cities where citizens reject polluting factories and plants. According to a Pew survey, environmental issues accounted for half of the protests in 2013 in China.

Short of fundamental changes in the political system, it is hard to foresee major environmental improvements.

As Mao obliterated traditional Chinese belief of harmony between human beings and heaven, and as the post-Mao communist regime continues to favor development over the environment, the moral foundation of the Chinese people has also been eroded, aiding corruption and disregard for others and the environment.

Without a rebuilding of a moral system, the Chinese environment will continue to suffer, along with the Chinese people.

Hong Jiang is associate professor and chair of the geography department at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She specializes in China’s environment and culture.

For more photos: China’s Environmental Catastrophe

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