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Good Afternoon. Senator Brownback, Dr. Binh Nguyen, and friends. I am pleased to be here today to observe with you the Sixteenth Commemoration of Vietnam Human Rights Day and to celebrate our common belief that freedom and human dignity will come to our respective homelands.
I have just returned from an extensive trip to Europe and Asia, where I had the honor to co-chair with Atebi of Iran, the committee on Internet Freedom at the Geneva Human Rights Summit and also lead a Han Chinese delegation to Dharamsala, India to visit with his Holiness the Dalai Lama during the 51st anniversary of the exile of his Holiness. I also was invited to address a Uyghur convention in Istanbul, Turkey. I returned here to the United States invigorated by the experience of a new sense of unity. A realization that our diverse cultures and histories no longer separate us from an unprecedented unity of purpose. A realization that mutual respect, understanding, and common action are necessary ingredients for the achievement of our common goals of freedom, justice, and dignity. As I spoke with his holiness the Dalai Lama, His freedom is my freedom, so I tell you today that your struggle for justice in Vietnam is also my struggle.
I would like to talk with you today about two aspects of Internet freedom. We are all united in belief that control of the Internet is vital for the rulers in Vietnam, Iran and China to maintain their authoritarian power. Over the past year we have worked together through letters to Secretary Clinton, with Senator Brownback, and concerned patriots like Michael Horowitz, to push funding for the quick expansion of proven protocols that will give uncensored and unmonitored Internet access to tens of millions of citizens in these closed societies. We must continue to work together on this initiative as there is no doubt that the electronic superhighway is the fast track to freedom in our respective countries. The delegates to the Geneva Human Rights Summit were unanimous in this belief and in their support for the Geneva Declaration of Internet Freedom which was drafted at the Summit. I call for a concerted effort among world concerned citizens, from closed societies and free ones alike, to push this document to UN so that UN will pass its version of World declaration of Internet Freedom. (Copies of this declaration are available at the information counter outside this room and also electronically at the Summit Website http://www.genevasummit.org/. )
I look forward to our collaboration on this important initiative.
The other aspect of Internet Freedom I want to share with you is equally important. On January 21, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a great speech on Internet freedom. In that speech she remarked that Internet censorship contributes to an imbalance of information that “increases both the likelihood of conflict and the probability that small disagreements could escalate.” This is a profound statement. Censorship causes conflict because it generates misinformation, incomplete information, and lies. We must consider that the Internet Firewalls constructed by China, Iran, and Vietnam control what people see and think on both sides of the wall. We in the West and in particular here in the United States are victims of the Great Firewall almost as much as the Chinese and Vietnamese people living behind these walls. We know what is going on in China and Vietnam. But most people see the China and Vietnam that these authoritarian governments want us to see. Their media control and censorship allows them to project a carefully fabricated picture that does not reflect the reality of life for citizens in Vietnam and China.
Time does permit me to elaborate, except to give you a very specific example of how we are victimized by Internet censorship and how this censorship affects our opinions and ultimately our policies.
On May first, the world’s largest international trade Exhibition opened in Shanghai. The Western media was full of articles praising what the New York Times called “a monumental” achievement. The New York Times article went on to detail the effort expended by the Chinese government to make the expo a reality. According to the Times this effort included “moving 18000 families and 270 factories employing 10,000 workers.” This effort was presented as a positive and significant achievement. The entire article reinforced the impression of China as a progressive, harmonious, and advanced society. Thousands of similar articles appeared in the western media.
What these articles overlooked in their praise of Chinese progress was the fact that “moving” 18000 families involved forced eviction, destruction of homes, and disruption of lives for tens of thousands of people. These people had no recourse for compensation or redress of their grievances. This is not an isolated instance, but a common practice in China and I am sure in Vietnam as well. These are countries that are not progressive or stable or harmonious. They are countries without the rule of law, without any system of checks and balances, without any process for citizens to redress their grievances. These homes are now entombed beneath three square miles of exhibits from international corporations and organizations, including the United Nations.
One of the victims of forced eviction in Shanghai, was Hu Yan, a young mother whose home was destroyed. She has waged a five year battle for justice. Earlier this year she came to the United States and has been camping out across the street from the UN in a tent called “The Hidden Shanghai Expo.” Last week she had a press conference across the street from UN headquarters in New York. Not one U.S. media showed up at the conference.
The information that people received on both sides of the wall was one of a China that is progressive and advanced. The other China, sad reality of Hu Yan and hundreds of millions of other citizens was a China without respect or care for its citizens.
This type of misinformation and incomplete information is repeated every day thousands of time. It becomes a source for decision making and policy making. Bad information makes bad policy and bad policy leads to misunderstanding and ultimately conflict.
As we fight for Internet freedom, we must fight for freedom and truth on both sides of wall of censorship. We must reach out to journalists and newspapers to push for balanced reporting and take them to task when they do not. We must make sure congressman and senators get complete information and facts in a timely manner. We must make sure that we do not give the governments of China, and Vietnam free passes to spread sugar coated information about life inside these regimes. If each of us work together to do this we can put these governments on the defensive. We may not have might on our side, but we have right. And as the famous proverb goes: You shall know the truth and truth shall make you free.
Tags: Uncategorized · speeches and remarks by Dr. Yang Jianli
“This is the China hidden behind the great firewall of Chinese censorship and media control.” Initiatives for China President, Yang Jianli
Washington, D.C. April 27, 2010. Hu Yan, a determined, young Chinese mother of an infant daughter, takes her five-year battle against forced eviction to the United Nations in New York. She will camp out across the street from the UN in a tent called “The Hidden Shanghai Expo.” Mrs. Hu also sent a letter detailing her ordeal to UN Secretary General. (See complete text of letter following this release)
Hu Yan’s struggle against the Chinese bureaucracy began five years ago when her home was demolished to make way for the 2010 Shanghai Expo, which will open on May 1st. City authorities offered no compensation or relocation assistance to her or the tens of thousands of other displaced citizens.
Her five-year battle has been a series of legal dead ends. One official from the Shanghai Expo Bureau told her to take her grievance to Beijing with a flippant note that said “Beijing is the capital of China. Beijing welcomes you.” In another note the official, Mr. Zhang, said,”You can get a passport and petition your case to the UN.” So earlier this month she came to New York, seeking justice at the UN headquarters. Last week she visited Washington D.C. With the help of the pro-democracy movement, Initiatives for China, Mrs. Hu was able to organize a protest in front of the White House.
According to Dr. Yang Jianli, Harvard Fellow and President of Initiatives for China, Mrs. Hu’s case highlights the difficulties that Chinese citizens face in the absence of the rule of law in China. “While Chinese law forbids forced evictions, the reality is that the courts in China report into the ruling communist party,” he said.
“Party officials make the rules as they see fit,” Dr. Yang said. “The ordinary citizen has no recourse. Hu Yan wants the world to know that the Shanghai Expo is built on the crushed homes of thousands of innocent families discarded as so much garbage. This is the China hidden behind the great firewall of Chinese censorship and media control.”
Hu Yan seeks reasonable compensation for the demolition of her house and the destruction of her private possessions. She will be camping out across the street from the UN building everyday between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Hu Yan will inform the public of her schedule change ahead of time via her Twitter feed (@shanghaihuyan) and blog. Those living in the NYC area are asked to visit Hu Yan there. For those visiting New York, please show your support for Hu Yan by making the UN Square one of your destinations.
Initiatives for China asks supporters of Hu Yan to get involved as concerned citizens. Chinese citizens are urged to write letters of support to Yiabo, firstname.lastname@example.org
International citizens are urged to write letters of support to their preferred media and to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. The contacts below can be used for further information.
Chinese media, please contact Hu Yan at (646) 522-8122 or email@example.com
U.S. media, contact Jim Geheran at 202.290.1423 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New York based media, please contact Mr. Cao Jintao at (917) 292-7348 or email@example.com.
French media, please contact Mr. Wang Longmeng at +33 (0)6 3087 8405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Japanese media, please contact Mr. Liu Yanxin at +81 9063475138 or email@example.com.
German media please contact Mr. Fei Liangyong at +49-911-223820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For interviews to be conducted in other languages, please contact Hu Yan and kindly provide your own interpreters.
Initiatives for China is dedicated to a peaceful transition to democracy in China through education, citizen power, and facilitating cooperation between all peoples under Chinese rule.
Complete Text of Hu Yan’s Letter to the UN Secretary General
Dear Honorable UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon:
My name is Yan Hu, and I come from Shanghai, China. As the Chinese government seriously violated the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in the process of hosting the 2010 World Expo by depriving me and tens of thousands of Shanghai residents of our human rights and private properties, and that I have exhausted all legal means in China, seeking justice in vain, and that I was advised by officials of the Shanghai government to petition the United Nations, I am herein appealing to you for justice.
1. Facts and Evidence. On Dec 29, 2005, my house that I inherited from my parents and
grandparents was forcibly demolished by the Shanghai government to clear space for the 2010 World Expo. My personal property was also crushed to pieces during the demolition, and my family received no compensation at all for my demolished home.
2. The Shanghai government has not only been robbing Shanghai residents of their private properties, but also has been persecuting and cracking down on those residents and their families petitioning for their rights. My husband, Bin Jiang, has been continuously defending our right to private property. The Shanghai government has been intimidating our family, tapping our phones, following us wherever we go, and has been detaining my husband under non-existent charges. My family has been living in fear.
3. The Shanghai government directed my work unit to persecute me.The company I worked for has been threatening me, deducting money from my salary and bonuses, depriving me of my right to work and promotion; I was hurt mentally and physically, and in the end, I am having serious mental problems.
4. In China, the government has blocked me from seeking justice by all legal means, and if I went to petition in Beijing, I would be subjected to more serious persecution! The Shanghai government has become an “independent kingdom”, and it does not care about the central government at all. The government asked me to petition to the United Nations. I have no choice but to come here to tell you the truth about the “Shanghai World Expo”, and to tell the international world that thousands of Shanghai residents have lost their homes to forcible demolition and are persecuted relentlessly.
5. The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, hosted by the Chinese government, is acknowledged and supported by the United Nations; the Exhibition Hall of the United Nations at the World Expo is provided by the host free of charge. 33 international projects of the UN will be exhibited there. For this reason, I herein appeal to you, the Honorable UN Secretary General, to urge the Shanghai government to return my looted private property to me, and to stop persecuting those Shanghai residents who lost their homes to forcible demolition and relocation as a result of the 2010 World Expo, and who had no choice but to go on petitioning in vain for their private property looted by the Shanghai government!
Refugee of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo