Human Rights

Murat Harri Uyghur, a doctor in Finland, is helping to compile testimonies from other Uighurs in exile about loved ones who may be in Chinese internment camps.CreditMeeri Koutaniemi for The New York Times

The New York Times
Date: Feb. 17, 2019
By: Austin Ramzy

Murat Harri Uyghur, a doctor in Finland, is helping to compile testimonies from other Uighurs in exile about loved ones who may be in Chinese internment camps.CreditCreditMeeri Koutaniemi for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Many members of the Uighur ethnic group living in exile are worried that their relatives back home in China are locked up in internment camps — or dead.

So when China released a video this past week to prove that a prominent Uighur musician had not died in custody as rumored, Uighurs around the world sat up.

“Show me that my father is alive and well!” one wrote on Twitter. “Where are my relatives?” another asked. In one clip, a child held up a photo of her missing father, weeping as she said: “Show his video to us.”

Murat Harri Uyghur, a doctor living in Finland, and a group of fellow activists gave the campaign a hashtag, #MeTooUyghur(#MenmuUyghur in Uighur), and urged others to add their voices to it.    [FULL  STORY]

Fox News
Date: Feb 17, 2019
By Christopher Carbone | Fox News

A screen shows visitors being filmed by AI (Artificial Intelligence) security cameras with facial recognition technology at the 14th China International Exhibition on Public Safety and Security in Beijing.  (Getty Images)

A Chinese surveillance firm using facial recognition technology left one of its databases exposed online for months, according to a prominent security researcher.

A massive database for 2,565,724 people — with names, ID card number, expiration date, home address, date of birth, nationality, gender, photograph, employer and GPS coordinates of locations — was left online without authentication, according to a report from ZDNet.

Security researcher Victor Gevers, who found the database, told ZDNet that over a 24-hour period, a steady stream of nearly 6.7 million GPS coordinates was recorded, which means the database was actively tracking Uyghur Muslims as they moved around Xinjiang province in China.

Human rights groups have said that China is keeping hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims in internment camps, where they are indoctrinated, forced to perform labor and detained.    [FULL  STORY]

BIG BROTHER SCENARIO: Yoshua Bengio said he is scared the technology he helped to create is being used to control people when it should instead be highly regulated

Taipei Times
Date: Feb 03, 2019
By: Bloomberg

Getty Images

Yoshua Bengio, a Canadian computer scientist who helped pioneer the techniques underpinning much of the current excitement around artificial intelligence (AI), said he is worried about China’s use of AI for surveillance and political control.

Bengio, who is also a cofounder of Montreal-based software company Element AI, said he was concerned about the technology he helped create being used to control people’s behavior and influence their minds.

“This is the 1984 Big Brother scenario,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s becoming more and more scary.”

Bengio, a professor at the University of Montreal, is considered one of the three “godfathers” of deep learning, along with Yann LeCun and Geoff Hinton.    [FULL  STORY]

The Washington Post
Date: January 31, 2019
By: Editorial Board

Li Wenzu, the wife of imprisoned lawyer Wang Quanzhang, reacts before an interview at her home in Beijing on Monday. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

ON JULY 9, 2015, China launched its war on lawyers. Over the course of a few weeks, some 300 lawyers, legal assistants and other advocates for the rule of law were rounded up. One of the most prominent, Wang Quanzhang, disappeared into secret detention on Aug. 3, 2015; after being held incommunicado for nearly 3½ years, he was the last to go on trial. On Monday, he was sentenced to 4½ years in prison on charges of subversion, putting a punctuation mark on one of the principal means of repression used by President Xi Jinping to consolidate power.

Since taking office six years ago, Mr. Xi has employed corruption investigations to purge rivals in the Communist Party; stepped up censorship of social media; and conducted a massive campaign against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, hundreds of thousands of whom have been confined to concentration camps and forced to undergo “reeducation.” Meanwhile, he has sought to stifle dissent by targeting the lawyers who defend human rights activists and religious believers or bring cases against local authorities for corruption.

Most of the lawyers and activists detained in what became known (for its July 9 date) as the 709 campaign were held for a few weeks; a number were later stripped of their licenses or driven out of business. But at least four besides Mr. Wang have been sentenced to prison. In August 2016, lawyer Zhou Shifeng and activist Hu Shigenwere given terms of seven and 7½ years, respectively; in November 2017, lawyer Jiang Tianyong was sentenced to two years. The next month, human rights activist Wu Gan was handed an eight-year term.    [FULL  STORY]

As China faces increasing criticism over its treatment of its Muslim population, new details emerge about how Beijing spies on Uighurs at home and abroad.

Al Jazeera
Date: Feb. 1, 2019
By: Steve Chao

Sitting in the lobby of a hotel overlooking the Black Sea, waiting for him to arrive, I wonder what kind of person would agree to inform on neighbours, friends and even family for a government accused by rights groups of carrying out a brutal campaign of mass arrests and detention.

As Amat walks in through the glass door, I almost miss him. Wearing grey overalls, a grey cotton-knit hat and a grey bulky jacket, everything about him – from his clothes to his mannerisms – is unremarkable.

“Ni hao (hello),” Amat says softly, greeting me in Mandarin as he casts his eyes down and gently shakes my hand.    [FULL  STORY]

The Australian
Date: January 28th 2019

An Australian writer being detained in China has implored his friends not to risk their own lives fighting for his freedom. Novelist Yang Hengjun wrote the note in 2011 with the request it should be published if he were ever taken into custody. His lawyer claims he has been charged with espionage and is being held in Beijing. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne says Australia needs to let the Chinese justice system run its course. Image: News Corp Australia    [SOURCE]

Date: January 28, 2019
By: Ben Westcott, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)A Chinese court on Monday sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang to four years and six months in prison for subversion of state power.
Wang, who has languished in detention for more than three and half years, was one of hundreds of lawyers and activists rounded up as part of a nationwide crackdown on political and religious dissent in July 2015.

Many were released after questioning, but several have been handed lengthy prison terms.
The Tianjin Number 2 Intermediate People’s Court announced the verdict in a one-sentence statement on its website.

On top of his prison sentence, the court ruled Wang will be “deprived of political rights” for five years, meaning he can’t hold any government-related jobs, can’t vote and has no freedom of speech, protest or publication.

Human rights activist Michael Caster, who has known Wang for more than a decade, told CNN the sentence was a “total injustice.”

“Wang Quanzhang has been a courageous, devoted human rights defender. China should be proud of him but because the Communist Party is afraid of independent civil society they have tried to silence and break him,” he said.

At his trial in Tianjin on December 26, protesters gathered outside the court to rally against his treatment but were quickly removed by a heavy security presence.    [FULL  STORY]

Date:  January 22, 2019
By James Griffiths and Yong Xiong, CNN

Beijing (CNN) China’s universities have always been a breeding ground for political activism, from the May Fourth Movement which helped lead to the Communist revolution, to the 1989 pro-democracy protests which sought to reform it.

Today, however, China’s leaders have no intention of allowing students to challenge them, as a months-long crackdown against a Marxist university group demonstrates.

This week, footage reportedly emerged of apparently staged confessions by a number of prominent student activists, including Yue Xin and Shen Mengyu, both of whom disappeared late last year while protesting to support striking workers in Shenzhen.

The 30-minute video purportedly shows four recent graduates including Yue and Shen disavow their previous behavior, and apologize for criticizing the ruling Communist Party.

CNN has not independently confirmed the contents of the video. A source who had seen it described it to CNN, the source’s account matched independent descriptions of the video shared online.

In the video, Yue — who published an open letter in July 2018 calling for students at universities across China to support the workers at Shenzhen’s Jasic Technology — is alleged to say she has been influenced by “radical leftists” and now realizes her behavior is “illegal.”

The video also allegedly shows Shen saying she had tried to overthrow the Communist Party and the government. She allegedly expresses regret that her behavior has resulted in “foreign forces” attacking China’s government.

Both women disappeared last summer after traveling to Shenzhen to support the Jasic workers.
In a statement, the Jasic Workers Support Group condemned the confession video as a “ridiculous smear,” and accused the authorities of using it to “threaten and divide” those organizing on behalf of workers.

Shen and Yue could not be reached for comment.    [FULL  STORY]

BBC News
Date: Jan 24, 2019

The Australian government says it is investigating reports a Chinese-Australian writer has gone missing in China.

Yang Hengjun, a blogger and former Chinese diplomat, has not been heard from since flying from New York to Guangzhou on Saturday, a friend said.

Sydney academic Feng Chongyi said he feared that Mr Yang had been detained by Chinese authorities.

Chinese officials have not yet commented.

In response to a query about Mr Yang, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “seeking information about an Australian citizen who has been reported missing in China”.

Mr Yang is believed to have been travelling with his wife, Chinese national Yuan Rui Juan, and young stepson.

A social media post by Ms Yuan appeared to show that she was in Beijing, Australian media reported.

It is believed that she was interviewed there by Chinese officials after first travelling to Shanghai to leave her son with relatives, reported the BBC’s Stephen McDonell in Beijing.

‘We’ve been trying to contact him’

Mr Yang, an Australian citizen who now lives in the US, has a sizeable following online and has been critical of China’s Communist Party.    [FULL  STORY]

New Zealand academic says Chinese intimidation tactics she has studied are now being used against her

The Guardian
Date: 22 Jan 2019
By: Eleanor Ainge Royin

China academic Anne-Marie Brady says the harassment has put a strain on her family life. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

It’s just gone midday at Canterbury University and Professor Anne-Marie Brady is rock-hopping across a crystal clear stream.

The life-long academic takes an overgrown bush track to reach the Okeover community gardens, her eyes scanning the sky for native birds. It’s the height of summer in Christchurch and the garden is filled with rhubarb plants, clumps of chewy spinach and spring onions whose tips have turned white in the sun.

“I used to spend a lot of time here,” says Brady, 52, examining the beds, ploughed by academic staff and students wanting to unwind. “I don’t any more.”

Brady has spent more than 25 years researching the Chinese Communist party (CCP), using her base in New Zealand as a refuge to work on her books, cook elaborate meals for her family and tend her vegetable and flower gardens.

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury. Photograph: Supplied
But since the publication of her 2017 paper Magic Weapons, which details the extent of Chinese influence in New Zealand, Brady’s life has been turned upside down, becoming the target of a campaign of intimidation and “psy-ops” she believes is directed by Beijing towards her and her family. The Chinese government has not responded to requests for comment.

Beginning in late 2017, Brady has had her home burgled and her office broken into twice. Her family car has been tampered with, she has received a threatening letter (“You are the next”) and answered numerous, anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night, despite having an unlisted number. The latest came at 3am on the day her family returned home after a Christmas break. “I’m being watched”, she says.

A self-described “stoic”, Brady has had to draw on her experience of PTSD after the 2010 Christchurch earthquakes to help her handle the harassment.

“I have already protected myself in terms of all my information, and the rest is a mind game. It is meant to scare me… to cause mental illness or inhibit the kinds of things I write on – to silence me,” says Brady, her voice quavering slightly. “So I win by not being afraid.”

Close associates of Brady’s have also been visited by the Ministry of State Security in China.

Brady’s employer, Canterbury University, recently hired a security consultant to protect her office. New locks were fitted, CCTV introduced, and encryption software installed.