July 29th 2017


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The rise and rise of Old King Coal

EDITORIAL Behind Donald Trump's endorsement of Poland

CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

HEALTH Gardasil(R) and the man upon the stair, Part II

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

MUSIC What's in a tune: minor change makes a major difference

CINEMA Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

BOOK REVIEW Moves that may push our constitution over

BOOK REVIEW Exposing the transgender agenda

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GENDER POLITICS Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed

GENDER POLITICS Melbourne mum goes viral on 'Safe Schools'

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, July 29, 2017

The death of leading Chinese pro-democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo has been marked around the world by media articles and protests against the regime which persecuted him for nearly 30 years for advocating democratic reform inside China.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize while a prisoner in 2010 for his advocacy of peaceful reform of China’s one-party dictatorship. The communist regime prevented him from leaving China to receive the award, and even prevented him from delivering the traditional speech in absentia.

Contrary to suggestions in some obituaries in the West, his death will not bring an end to protests in China against the regime, because his example, and that of other imprisoned dissidents, continues to inspire many people to stand up for the rights supposedly guaranteed under China’s constitution but routinely ignored by the state.

As with much of the official information coming from China, it is very difficult to know how many people are currently imprisoned in the country.

Certainly, many people are imprisoned for actions that, in the West, would be regarded as exercising the rights of freedom of association, of religious belief and practice, and freedom of speech. Others are imprisoned for vague offences such as “subversion”, which can mean almost anything that offends the ruling Communist Party.

Statistics

Almost everything about Chinese statistics needs to be taken with a handful of salt. But it is widely believed that China has the highest execution rate in the world, and 46 separate crimes warrant the death sentence.

According to the BBC, the prisoner population per head of population is 118 per 100,000, a figure far below that for the United States and Russia, and even below Britain’s on a per capita basis.

But this figure is just the “official” rate, and it includes only those who are held in Ministry of Justice prisons, which are not subject to independent audit.

The prisons do not include “re-education through labour” institutions, which are not part of the criminal system but are counted as administrative detention, where prisoners are subject to forced labour. These institutions are known as laogai.

In 2008, the Laogai Research Foundation, a human-rights group founded by an exiled ex-prisoner and based in Washington, DC, estimated that approximately 1,045 laogai factories, mines and farms were operating, containing an estimated 500,000 to 2 million detainees.

Additionally, there are military prisons in which the number of detainees is unknown.

Another class of detainees in China are those held prior to trial, like the employees of Australia’s Crown Casino who were detained in 2016 for over six months until they agreed to plead guilty. There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of such detainees in China.

It is not clear where the persecuted Falun Gong practitioners fit into the existing forced labour system. Supporters of the movement in the West believe that up to 800,000 people were detained after Falun Gong was ruthlessly suppressed in 1999.

The then-President of China, Jiang Zemin, set up a special force, known as the 6-10 Office, to suppress Falun Gong, and to detain practitioners of this peaceful way of life. The office still exists today.

Subsequently, there was an extraordinary growth of hospitals involved in organ transplants, and human rights lawyers in the West have shown that Falun Gong practitioners were targeted for selective killing, to acquire their hearts, lungs, corneas and other organs, for this gruesome but very profitable trade.

Although Chinese people would not know the full details of the persecution of dissidents, the practice is so widespread and the abuses of power are so well known that the Communist Party itself is morally discredited, and retains power only through its control of the apparatus of the state.

The death of Liu Xiaobo followed the predictable pattern. Despite the fact that he is the only Chinese-resident Nobel Peace Prize winner, there was no mention of him in Chinese-language media in China, and social media was censored.

The BBC reported that the only reference to him came in English-language media that is under government control: “Xinhua and CCTV news issued brief statements on their English sites stating that Liu Xiaobo, ‘convicted of subversion of state power’, had died.”

Following his imprisonment for subversion in 2009, Liu himself pointed the way forward for China when he wrote: “China’s political reform … should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result.

“I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy.

“So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion.”

The communist Government did not agree, and for this he was imprisoned as a subversive and died.

RIP Liu Xiaobo.




























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