bm275 Baghdad Brian Arrested in China

by bicyclemark 8 Comments

Fellow independent video blogger and friend Baghdad Brian, along with 5 other individuals, was arrested Thursday in Beijing. They are accused of being part of an overseas pro-tibet activist group. Brian was there to report about the demonstrations during the olympics as an independent journalist.
Chinese authorities say they must serve a 10 day jail sentence, according to the American embassy the conditions they are living in are better than average (perhaps because they’re foreigners). Since the start of the olympic games at least 400 people have disappeared as part of the continued repression of pro tibet and other human rights demonstrations. These disappeared include many journalists who are their without the supervision of Chinese government handlers.
The following podcast features an interview with Brian’s wife, Eowyn, who explains what she knows about Brian’s situation, the group, and people who have risked their freedom and well-being in protest of the Chinese government and their disregard for basic human rights. More information can be found here. Please listen to the program and do pass on the link, otherwise all we have is the image of the mainstream press… the picture perfect images of the olympic games and China on television.

Phil Ochs – I’m Going to Say it Now
Utah Phillips – Ain’t it Grand

Keeping Promises in OZ

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Depending on where you live in the world or what media you consult in your daily life, you may not often hear about things happening in Australia.? You might hear the occasional story from a friend who travelled there or perhaps its the summertime wild fires that manage to make the oldstream media reports around dinner time.

One ongoing saga over the past decade, that involves so much human suffering and not much international media attention, is the detainment of asylum seekers in Australia.? Long before there was the torture prison at guantanamo, or extraordinairy rendition made the news, the Australian government was carrying out a policy of imprisoning anyone seeking refuge from war, political oppression, or any such cause that would force someone to flee their country.? These people, of all ages (that is: including children) were kept in prisons located on small pacific islands, which is how the program came to be named “The Pacific Solution.”

Started in the 1990’s under a labor government and then carried out in a big way by the Liberal government that allied itself so closely with the Bush administration, these imprisonments led to hunger strikes and demonstrations, as well as condemnation by international human rights organizations.? Yet still one would have been hard pressed to find much space dedicated to the issue in many of the world’s most popular news outlets. Even more rare was hearing any criticism or pressure from world leaders for the Australian government to change its policy.

And so it has taken many years and much suffering, as well as the election of a new prime minister, but finally this policy is changing.? Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government has announced that they will stop imprisoning asylum seekers and end the Pacific Solution.? A look at the details reveals that children will no longer be detained, and in some “more extreme cases” people might be detained but their cases will be reviewed every three months. It may be too early to celebrate, but this announcement already seems encouraging…? full credit not to the Australian government for finally doing something to end the suffering, but to all those who sacrificed their own well being in an effort to make this change come true.

Being Pride Month

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This is pride month and I realize I’m yet to do anything related to LGBT rights and focus on related situations worldwide.? Actually I’m surprised to not yet have heard reports of violent and disgusting attacks on participants at Gay Pride festivals throughout Eastern Europe. Seems as though every year I’ll catch images of Moscow police beating gay citizens for carrying signs or participating in nonviolent demonstrations. Or I’ll read the reports from Romania of marchers being beaten, or the banning of pride celebrations in Poland.? No, this year I haven’t been talking about the issue all that much, but the month isn’t over yet – so I will.

But to perhaps begin to talk about some of the pride events taking place in the world, and yes, to have a laugh as well, I wanted to recommend the great and potentially insane Tim Can’t Reid’s latest video entry where he recounts his experience at Gay Pride in Spokane, Washington.? I’ve never been to Tim’s corner of the US, but it is almost like being there just by listening to Tim and watching the images.

The Quintessential China-US Debate

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

I’ll start the week by pointing you to a very excellent edition of On the Media, one of my absolute required-listening podcasts each week – Journalism with Chinese Characteristics. And the subtext of the post reads as follows:

There is real investigative reporting in China, it?s just not done under a free press flag. Instead, practitioners mind an unstated set of rules, keeping themselves safe by employing tactics like using excessive jargon and exploiting government rivalries…

The program itself doesn’t present particularly new facts or opinions about China.? If anything, in the last few years, there is no shortage of Chinese voices in international media talking about how China isn’t what you might remember from the movies or old stereotypes. That the country is modernizing fast and people have alot of new freedoms that are comparable to whatever you have in the west.? That said, OTM provides a nice group of voices who communicate their experiences and opinions in a manner worthy of listening to.

What gets me about the interviewees in this podcast is that they come back to the classic China-US comparison talking point: The freedom criticism.? So they point out how strange it is that there are “free Tibet” protests on the streets of the US, and yet the US occupies Iraq and has guantanamo bay.? To which there are no protests on the streets of China saying “Free Iraq.”? The arguement brushes over the well known hypocracy and goes right for some kind of lack of reciprocity.

My response would simply be as follows, once and for all let it be said, that it is our right and responsibility as human beings on this earth, to protest and engage in some form of acknowledgement whenever and wherever human lives are being destroyed and opressed.? Moreover, that you might be American and on the streets protesting what takes place in Tibet, does not mean you automatically believe your own government is doing just fine and you support the occupation of Iraq.? Hell, you probably attend those demonstrations as well.? But protesting human rights violations in another country does not require that you live in a country where human rights are perfectly respected and it shouldn’t result in silencing dissent anywhere in the world.

Just because you have the capacity to repeat all the terrible mistakes and crimes of the western world, dear China, does not mean you should.