CFP: By Judi McLeod Friday, August 1, 2008
With a defiant China standing firm on Internet censorship, one tiny group is standing tall against them. Even as China was hitting back at the United States over human rights criticism yesterday, The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) was writing a detailed guide, a how-to booklet with a map to some of China’s most prominent gulags of despair.
According to CIPFG, not only do these “hellholes” exist—but also some are located within mere miles of Olympic venues.
The booklet, released yesterday shows the 20,000 international journalists expected to cover the Aug.8-24 games, a detailed guide to detention facilities known for their severe abuse of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
The guide, entitled Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to China’s Labor Camps is available online at humanrightstorch.org, or as a 22-page downloadable PDF.
While the Chinese government has sent out a message to the world that certain Internet sites will be blocked, some reporters can arrive at the Olympics equipped with their own roadmap to take them directly to the gulags.
“Many of us have heard stories about China’s gulags, but when you discover how close some of these hellholes are to Olympic venues, it’s sickening,” says Clive Ansley, China Monitor for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and North American President of CIPFG.
Reporters now don’t have to take either side of human rights abuses in China, but can see and judge for themselves what life is like for the repressed in the People’s Republic of China.
The guide details seven detention facilities, in or near Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao and Shenyang.
The CIPFG map is comprehensive and pinpoints not just the exact location of the facility, but the location of the closest Olympic venue, and comes complete with English-language directions to the camp from the nearest airport and train station.
Listed in the booklet is a photo, general description of the facility, details of its prisoner population, overall conditions, and the name, address and phone number (if available).
The brief individual case summaries of current and former prisoners of conscience, the abuse they have suffered in custody, and whether they are available for interviews are included.
During the games Chinese officials will allow access to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, but most sites with the word `Tibet’ in their domain names are out.
Ditto for the websites of human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, all Falun Gong sites and Reporters Without Borders. Included in the banned list is US radio broadcaster Radio Free Asia.
Reporters Without Borders home page replaced the 5 Olympic rings logo with interlocking handcuffs.
But CIPFG wanted to make a statement that came with the opportunity to break through China’s blackout before the traditional “Let the Games begin” launches the 2008 Olympics.
“We hope this guide will draw international attention to the innocent individuals held at these locations,” says Ansley. “It should particularly aid journalists in investigating the plight of adherents of the Falun Gong, who make up a huge percentage of labor camp detainees and have suffered a brutal campaign of persecution for nine years.”
Falun Gong websites are some of the ones blocked for journalist access by the Chinese government.
“Contrary to promises of “complete freedom” for foreign media, the Chinese authorities have blocked access to Falun Gong-related websites from the Olympic Media
Center in a deal struck with the International Committee,” CIPFG says in its media release.
To circumvent such censorship, CIPFG suggests the following measures:
“Request that colleagues outside China e-mail or fax a copy of the guide to you inside China.
“Use circumvention tools available at internetfreedom.org to access the guide despite the censorship.
“Once you have obtained a copy, please re-post it on other websites, blogs, etc. By creating multiple copies on the Web, the Chinese government’s blocking of the original becomes obsolete.”
The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) was established to unite international human rights organizations, legal experts, medical institutions, NGOs and government representatives around the world to participate in an independent investigation of the Chinese communist regime’s imprisonment, torture, killing and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. Since August 2007, it has also sponsored the Human Rights Torch Relay, a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness of, and stop, the Chinese communist regime’s human rights crimes against all victimized groups prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Meanwhile, no one, not even the Chinese Government, can censor the Internet.