Date: Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 12:05 AM

Subject: Recent News about Human Rights Lawyer Zhisheng Gao, CCTV new headquarter fire

Dear friends,

Last time you asked me about the whereabouts and recent situation of the human rights lawyer Zhisheng Gao[1]-[8] who was closed off for a long time.  Recently there are news reports[7] on 8 Feb. about his recent abduction by the PRC government.  It was told in a news report that before the recent abduction from his inhabitancy, Mr. Gao was isolated from his friends and kept away from public media, but he could survive by working somewhere.  At the same time, some human rights organizations released a horrible description of the torture he suffered in the previous abduction in Sept. 2007 by the  secret agents.  It's not out of my imagination but I was still shocked.  This information about his suffering of ferocious torture was not released before, because the governmental mafia agents threatened him that he would be tortured again in front of his wife and children.  "You bastard will reach your end of life if you tell this to the outside world. These several masters will vent our angers on you at anytime.", shouted a tall bully repeatedly, with Gao's hair seized up when he was tortured [10].

I'm burnt by anger and worry but I have no way to help him.  What a shame!

In recent days there is another Chinese news which might be interesting to our journalist friends.  One of the main buildings of the new headquarter of the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) (the major propaganda tool of PRC government) was totally burnt by possible ignition of the fireworks that CCTV shot to celebrate the traditional lantern festival on Tue. 10 Feb.  The building on fire was a luxury 5+ star hotel built as part of the headquarter business park, together with some production facilities of the governmental TV subsidiary.  Messages, photos and video clips taken on the spot by amateur reporters propagated quickly through mobile phone, instant messengers, Youtube.com, blogs and twitter.com.  Although people payed sympathy to the casualty of dozens of fire fighters and construction workers, there is a prevailing public cheering emotion of schadenfreude jokes and insults on this accident, especially in audience comments on news websites, blogs and short message microblog services like Twitter.com.  A secrete order was revealed on twitter.com, claimed to come from the government to news agencies and website companies to restrict the exposure of this news, only use the official copy of news release and disable user comment functions of websites in order to sheer away the public humiliation.

Mr. Han Han, one popular young writer born in the 1980s, wrote in an ironical essay on his own blog: "Well about CCTV, I never expected that a media which is always telling the truth could ever have suffered such a disaster.  Is God without eyes?"  The original blog posts were removed very quickly by the China-based blog service provider.  But before that, copies were already re-published everywhere on the Internet.

A popular IT tech blogger Jason Ng imprecated internet censorship in his twitter message: "I believe in Karma.  When the government shuts down the eighth batch of websites in name of fighting 'vulgarism', it's the time that the office of the 'Illegal and Bad Internet Information Report Center' [which is a governmental organ in charge of Internet censorship] will catch fire [like CCTV now]." [12]

Shuguang Zhou, a famous self-educated network engineer, blogger and amateur journalist as known as "citizen journalist" collected amateur report messages promptly and published a summary report with extensive text, maps, photos and video links on Google's online Document processor and blog website , as what he claims "a practical field training of new media journalism" [11].  He has been giving tutorial, lectures and writing such courses to help journalists and potential journalists in universities to improve their skills for timely reports utilizing Internet and mobile communication technologies.

It's interesting that in discussions of this fire accident, most of the people agreed on using a common vulgar nickname "big trousers"[14] for the main building of the CCTV headquarter which was designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his team from OMA.  This might be because the unusual and expensive shape of the building looks like the bottom part of a human.  Some people even created mockery cartoons (Fig. 1) joking about the fire accident: "Don't worry! The trousers are still not burnt yet".  A lot of people even showed their apparent disappointment when they were confirmed that the main building "big trousers" was not burnt down as they wished.

I'm especially curious on what Mr. Koolhaas will think about the humiliation of his great masterpiece in China.  Some journalists tried to call OMA but failed to reach Mr. Koolhaas for comments [15].


Figure 1, Peace! The trousers are still not burnt yet"
From http://hexieshangan.blog.163.com/blog/static/899184972009110101944608/

Met vriendelijke groet, Huaxin

[1] Human Rights Watch: Profiles in Courage, China's rights defenders, Chinese human rights advocates in jail, under house arrest or under police surveillance http://china.hrw.org/chinas_rights_defenders
[2] Human Rights Watch report, "A Great Danger to Lawyers": New Regulatory Curbs on Lawyers Representing Protesters (Dec. 2006) http://hrw.org/reports/2006/china1206/5.htm
[3] Human Rights Watch report, "Walking on Thin Ice": Control, Intimidation and Harassment of Lawyers in China (April 2008) http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/china0408/10.htm
[4] Chinese Human Rights Defenders, "Lawyer Gao Zhisheng's Whereabouts Unknown, Feared Detained by Police" (9/25/07) http://crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200709/20070926234216_5799.html
[5] China: Arbitrary detention/Fear of torture and other ill-treatment: Gao Zhisheng (m) http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/004/2009/en
[6] Kerry Brown: Courageous Fighter, A review of A China More Just: My Fight as a Rights Lawyer in the World’s Largest Communist State
By Gao Zhisheng http://hrichina.org/public/PDFs/CRF.1.2008/CRF-2008-1_Courageous.pdf
[7] Human Rights Lawyer in Arbitrary Detention; Joint statement by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights in China, February 02, 2009; http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/press?revision_id=123359&item_id=122844
[8] HRIC Statement on Gao Zhisheng's Sentence, December 22, 2006, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/32006
[9] Zhisheng Gao: Dark Night, Dark Hood, and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia, November 28, 2007 (English translation) http://hrichina.org/public/PDFs/PressReleases/2009.02.08_Gao_Zhisheng_account_ENG.pdf
[10] ibid., Original Chinese text: http://hrichina.org/public/PDFs/PressReleases/2009.02.08_Gao_Zhisheng_account_CHN.pdf
[11] TVCC大火新闻专题报导 - 社会化媒体报道实战,新媒体实战教程 http://zhoushuguang.blogspot.com/2009/02/breaking-news-cctv_09.html
[12] 我相信报应的

[13] 请各网站只用新华社通稿

[14] Twisted mouth http://ubilibertas.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!E2818CD72B238DB0!173.entry
[15] ANDREW JACOBS: China TV Network Apologizes for Fire; New York Times; February 11, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/world/asia/11beijing.html?em

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