(Success! We got it in an established press/NGO. Reporters Without Borders have reported, the ban of typepad and slashdot added with a mention of Adopt a Blog! Well done guys and Thank You! -You know who you are- A story it made. Finally going to get some sleep! Good night! It was so worth it. It really was. Story logged, published, remembered.)
Reporters Without Borders raises alarm over mushrooming Internet repression in China
The Internet under surveillance
Cyberdissident Ma Yalian has been sentenced to 18 months in a work re-education camp for posting articles on the Internet exposing failings in China's complaints system for its citizens. At the same time the authorities have extended filtering of weblogs.
Reporters Without Borders protested against the sentence, handed down on 19 March, which it said rode roughshod over basic rules of law.
"This woman has been sent to a re-education camp for the second time without being tried by a court. This practice shames China, which has just incorporated human rights into its constitution," said the international press freedom organisation.
"We are appalled at the cynicism of the Chinese leaders and call on foreign governments to condemn this type of extra-judicial punishment," it added.
Ma posted articles about harassment to which people were subjected who expressed dissatisfaction with the authorities both on the legal site http://chineselawyer.com.cn and on www.dajiyuan.com, of the spiritual Falun Gong movement.
Chinese citizens have the right to make their complaints known via a national network of administrative offices. The organisation Human Rights in China said that the cyberdissident had criticised the system, which is in fact ineffective and had provided specific examples of complainants being badly treated by the authorities.
Ma also said there had been cases in which individuals had committed suicide in front of these complaints' offices.
She was sentenced by a Re-education Through Labor Management Comittee to 18 months in a work re-education camp, a sentence usually reserved for juvenile delinquents, drug addicts and prostitutes. It can also be used to silence political or religious dissidents.
Ma herself had laid several complaints when she was evicted as a result of an urban redevelopment plan in Shanghai, as a result of which she was sentenced in August 2001 to one year in a work camp. She has said she was beaten during her time there.
The Chinese authorities have been escalating a crackdown on the Internet for several months. On 17 March, Reporters Without Borders reported the blocking of sites that create and host weblogs: Blogbus.com and Blogcn.com (see: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=9545).
Other similar sites have recently become inaccessible, according to information obtained by the organisation. For example, blogs hosted by Typepad are now being filtered. A spokesman for Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT), a firm specialising in the question of Internet filtering in China, said that only the IP address of servers hosting Typepad blogs had been blocked. The website www.typepad.com was still accessible.
Several sources have reported that the US website Slashdot (www.slashdot.org), expert on new technology, which in particular drew attention to the filtering of Typepad, had itself been blocked since the end of March.
A spokesman told Reporters Without Borders the site was regularly made inaccessible by the authorities, adding, "If it is truly blocked, I assume it is because Slashdot and similar forums promote free and robust discussion, plurality of opinion, freedom of thought etc. - things which don't mix well with totalitarian bureaucratic systems."
Internet users have been coming up with initiatives to foil this type of censorship. A group of bloggers has set up a website designed to help editors of censored weblogs: http://www.sinosplice.com/adoptablog
Reporters Without Borders hails this initiative and calls on bloggers worldwide to mobilise to defend free _expression for their Chinese counterparts.
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