Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Gujarat's Suspended IAS Officer Pradeep Sharma Arrested

Pradeep Sharma, a senior Gujarat bureaucrat who was suspended in 2010, has been arrested in a corruption case. Mr Sharma has, in court and elsewhere, claimed that he is being persecuted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state for exposing that as Chief Minister,  Mr Modi violated the law with assistance from his close aide Amit Shah, who served as his Home Minister, to reportedly spy upon a young woman architect.  

Mr Sharma faces six criminal cases in Gujarat. He has unsuccessfully tried to convince the Supreme Court to order that the investigations against him be transferred from the Gujarat police to the federal CBI to ensure that he is given a free trial.  

The top court has ordered him to delete what is described as "scurrilous" allegations against Mr Modi listed in his petition. Judges have also refused to permit him to travel to the US to meet his wife and son, who are American citizens. Mr Sharma, 59, was suspended by the government in 2010 after he was arrested on corruption charges; he was later granted bail.

He has asked the Supreme Court to investigate allegations that in August 2009, Mr Shah, as Home Minister, ordered Gujarat's top police officers to spy upon a woman architect on the orders of Mr Modi -a claim the BJP has emphatically denied. The party says the woman's family requested the state government to ensure her safety - a stand backed in writing by the woman's father ahead of the national election, when the Congress tried to turn "snoop-gate" into a campaign issue against Mr Modi.

Mr Sharma claims that he has taped conversations between Mr Shah and a senior police officer that prove the law was violated to tail the woman. He also says he is being targeted because his brother, senior police officer Kuldeep Sharma, took on the Modi government by refusing to participate in alleged cover-ups for extra-judicial killings.


Snoopgate and the Gujarat Model of Governance

The BJP and Justice, Chapter 2: Ishrat Encounter Cop Reinstated // Muzzafarnagar Riot accused becomes Union minister

China's official position: one man one vote will lead to civil war

NB - The deputy director of China's National People's Congress Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee, Li Shenming, wrote in the People's Daily: "In today's China, engaging in an election system of one-man-one-vote is bound to quickly lead to turmoil, unrest and even a situation of civil war." - If this is correctly reported, it must the official position of the CPC. In which case socialists all over the world are obliged to consider the status of democracy in the theory and practice of the communist movement as it exists today. 

Here is an assessment of Chinese Communist culture: 
The Crises of Party Culture: by Yang Guang DS
(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters extended a blockade of Hong Kong streets on Tuesday, stockpiling supplies and erecting makeshift barricades ahead of what some fear may be a push by police to clear the roads before Chinese National Day. Riot police shot pepper spray and tear gas at protesters at the weekend but withdrew on Monday to ease tension as the ranks of demonstrators swelled. Protesters spent the night sleeping or holding vigil unharassed on normally busy roads in the global financial hub.
Rumours have rippled through crowds of protesters that police could be preparing to move in again on the eve of Wednesday's anniversary of the Communist Party's foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. "Many powerful people from the mainland will come to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government won't want them to see this, so the police must do something," Sui-ying Cheng, 18, a freshman at Hong Kong University's School of Professional and Continuing Education, said of the National Day holiday. "We are not scared. We will stay here tonight. Tonight is the most important," she said.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hong Kong surprises itself with the exuberance and spontaneity of protests

"If you don’t stand up today there’s no tomorrow” 

“Did you ever think you would see anything like this in Hong Kong? I never thought I would see anything like this in Hong Kong,” a resident marvelled as we rounded the corner of the flyover and saw for the first time just how many people had flowed into the roads around the government offices at Admiralty.
Hong Kong is no stranger to large-scale protests pushing back against Beijing: huge numbers took to the streets over controversial security laws in 2003 and plans for compulsory “patriotic education” two years ago – on both occasions prompting backdowns, though few expect a similar outcome this time.
Nor was Sunday night exactly chaotic, despite the bursts of teargas from police and the impromptu protests that sprang up at fresh locations. There were first-aid stations, litter-collection points and frequent bursts of applause: for people delivering water, or police helping an unconscious protester. The crowds swarmed around small numbers of officers repeatedly, trying to stop them moving in, but held their hands in the air to indicate they intended no malice. Upturned umbrellas blossomed across sections of the crowds to ward off pepper spray and more teargas.
In many ways it was a very Hong Kong protest, down to the protesters who politely explained that they would not be present the next day as they needed to go to work.
But the resident saw something unique in the exuberance and spontaneity of the peaceful crowd – preempting plans to launch the civil-disobedience movement on Wednesday, a national holiday – combined with the tough tactics of the police. It is the first time officers have fired teargas in Hong Kong for almost a decade.
Whether Sunday’s events will do anything to shift the views of the many people here who think of Occupy Central as inconvenient or ill-judged remains to be seen. Many protesters acknowledged that large sections of the region’s population remain politically conservative and more focused on maintaining economic stability than fighting for rights.
“You never see Hong Kong people grouping together; they always want to work and earn money,” said Melissa Lam, a 27-year-old sales assistant.
She had never protested before, but the police reaction to the students made her feel she had to act.
“I was watching TV while I ate dinner and when I saw what the police did I almost cried. My family said: You don’t have to go there – you can’t do anything in front of China; you can’t change anything ... But I think I had to come. There’s no excuse. If you don’t stand up today there’s no tomorrow,” she said.
In theory the protests are about whether the universal suffrage promised to Hong Kong will be delivered or not. Beijing says that one person, one vote for the next chief executive, marks a step forward; its critics say the restrictions on candidates are so tight as to make that meaningless.
In reality, most here seem to see the protests as being about whether the region can retain its independently minded identity: about defending its rights and culture, rather than advancing them.
“We want to protect the democracy of Hong Kong,” said Templi Wong, 17.
Fifty-year-old businessman Lawrence Ku added: “Hong Kong’s freedoms have been getting less and less since the handover. We just want to have the freedom like before.”
Ku said he also feared that an influx of mainland migrants meant that soon “Hong Kong won’t be Hong Kong”, reflecting a widespread and growing sentiment.
The protesters are determined to maintain the rights and liberties unimaginable to their counterparts on the mainland. There was alarm that 17-year-old student leader Joshua Wong was held for more than 40 hours without charge – but a high court judge ordered his unconditional release on Sunday, telling police that the Scholarism leader had been held for an “unreasonably” long time. He urged the police to treat two other student leaders fairly; Lester Shum and Alex Chow were reportedly released not long afterwards.
Officers unfurled signs warning that they would fire teargas before doing so. Officials stressed that riot officers, though equipped with rubber bullets, had not used them.
But the sight of police wearing helmets and respirators was unfamiliar and chilling in itself to many, even before the canisters were deployed.
Hong Kong has often shown its spirit most forcefully when it feels under pressure from Beijing: now it is doing so again. Yet this time it faces an increasingly assertive leadership on the mainland which, thanks to China’s economic growth, no longer needs to be as careful of the financial centre as it once was. The real battle is not over the 2017 election as much as the region’s long term expectations and aspirations.

‘रिवोल्यूशन हाइवे’ ka Hindi sanskaran ab uplabd hai // Revolution Highway has been published in Hindi

‘रिवोल्यूशन हाइवे’  बेचैन दशक के नाम से विख्यात, पिछली सदी के सातवें दशक की स्मृतियों के गंभीर, विचारोत्तेजक और संवेदनशील मंथन का आख्यान है। नक्सलबाड़ी का किसान-विद्रोह, उस विद्रोह में बुद्धिजीवियों, छात्रों की भागीदारी, बांगलादेश का जन्म, वियतनाम युद्ध और  विश्वव्यापी छात्र-असंतोष इस आख्यान की पृष्ठभूमि में है।

नक्सलवादी आंदोलन के उस दौर में लेखक की व्यक्तिगत संलग्नता जहाँ इस उपन्यास को  सर्जनात्मक संस्मरण की विश्वसनीयता देती है, वहीं समूचे घटनाक्रम पर नैतिक पुनर्विचार का साहस ‘रिवोल्यूशन हाइवे’ को एक वैचारिक चुनौती के धरातल पर भी ले जाता है।  यह कथा हिंसा-अहिंसा, इतिहास-राजनीति, सही-गलत, वर्तमान-भविष्य के यक्ष-प्रश्नों से जूझती बैचैन आत्माओं की कथा है।

‘रिवोल्यूशन हाइवे’  भीतर-बाहर के  द्वंद्वों में व्याप्त जीवनानुभव और मोहभंग पर विचार-पुनर्विचार के जरिए अर्जित होने वाले विवेक की कथा है।

प्रतिशोध से पगलाया, विवेक-मणि से वंचित अमरता का अभिशाप ढो रहा  अश्वत्थामा इस आख्यान की मूल वेदना का रूपक है, उपन्यास एक तरह से अश्वत्थामा की आत्मा की शांति का अनुष्ठान भी है।

-पुरुषोत्तम अग्रवाल।  


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Democracy Protests In Hong Kong Turn Violent // Cops, Protesters Clash In Huge Hong Kong Demonstrations - Photos

HONG KONG, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Violent clashes between Hong Kong riot police and students galvanized tens of thousands of supporters for the city's pro-democracy movement and kick-started a plan to lock down the heart of the Asian financial center early on Sunday.
Leaders and supporters of Occupy Central with Love and Peace rallied to support students who were doused with pepper spray early on Saturday after they broke through police barriers and stormed the city's government headquarters. "Whoever loves Hong Kong should come and join us. This is for Hong Kong's future," publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of China's communist government who has backed pro-democracy activists through publications that include one of the city's biggest newspapers as well as donations, told Reuters. Occupy demanded that Beijing withdraw its framework for political reform in the former British colony and resume talks.

Hong Kong students begin democracy protest - Chinese people struggle for democracy
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as "one country, two systems." that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Universal suffrage was set as an eventual goal. But Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city's next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down Central, Hong Kong's financial district. China wants to limit elections to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.
"It's high time that we really showed that we want to be free and not to be slaves ... we must unite together," Cardinal Joseph Zen, 82, formerly Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, told Reuters. This demonstration, which has drawn thousands of protesters armed with goggles, masks and raincoats in preparation for a violent confrontation with police, is one of the most tenacious acts of civil disobedience seen in post-colonial Hong Kong.
Roads in a square block around the city's government headquarters, located in the Admiralty district adjacent to Central, were filled with people and blocked with metal barricades erected by protesters to defend against a possible police crackdown.
Some of Hong Kong's most powerful tycoons have spoken out against the Occupy movement, warning it could threaten the city's business and economic stability. The latest protests escalated after demonstrators broke through a cordon late on Friday and scaled perimeter fences to invade the city's main government compound in the culmination of a week-long rally to demand free elections. Student leaders said about 80,000 people participated in the rally. No independent estimate was available.
The clashes were the most heated in a series of anti-Beijing protests that underscore the central government's challenge to stamp its will on Hong Kong. Some observers have likened the protests to those that culminated in the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy students in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Police arrested more than 60 people, including Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old leader of student group Scholarism, who was dragged away after he called on the protesters to charge the government premises. He was still being detained early on Sunday, along with fellow student leaders Alex Chow and Lester Shum. His parents said in a statement the decision to detain him was an act of "political persecution."
Wong has already won one major victory against Beijing. In 2012, he forced the Hong Kong government to shelve plans to roll out a pro-China national education scheme in the city's schools when the then 15-year-old rallied 120,000 protesters.
Students issued rallying cries during the protests, calling for their leaders' release. But divisions between the students and Occupy quickly emerged as arguments broke out and some students accused the civil disobedience movement of hijacking their protest. "I came here tonight to support the students, but now I feel like I've been used ... They made that decision without asking us," said Sharon Choi, 20.
Occupy organizers had previously indicated they planned to blockade the financial district on Oct. 1, China's National Day holiday. The rally will now take part in the Admiralty district to build on the momentum of week-long student rallies and protests in the area.
"Rather than encouraging the students to join, we are encouraged by the students to join," said Benny Tai, one of the three main organizers of the pro-democracy movement.
"We are touched and moved by the work of the students." 

Environment Support Group Press Release: High Level Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests & Climate Change walks out of Public Consultation in Bangalore

High Level Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change walks out of Public Consultation in Bangalore

The High Level Committee headed by Mr. T. S. R. Subramanian, former Union Cabinet Secretary, constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change to review environment, pollution control and forest conservation laws, invited the public at large for a consultation between 12 and 1.30 pm today (27th September) at Vikas Soudha, the high security office complex of the Government of Karnataka. Advertisements to this effect had been issued by the Karnataka Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment in various newspapers on 21st September 2014, followed up by various press releases inviting the public to interact with the Committee.

When various individuals and representatives of public interest environmental and social action groups turned up for the meeting, the police prevented their entry at the gates. It was only following a spot protest that the police consented to allow them to participate in the consultation. Despite this indignifying experience, all who gathered proceeded to the meeting hall with the intent of engaging with the High Level Committee.

The meeting commenced with introductory remarks by the Chairperson Mr. Subramanian. Broadly, he shared that the intent of the Committee was to hear views from across India on the type and nature of changes that were required in the environmental and forest protection laws. He stated that the Committee had the mandate of the Government to propose necessary changes that would help improve the quality of life and environment. But he said the need to ensure develop was primary, as the country was very poor (over 80% were poor he claimed) and thereby it is found essential to streamline environmental clearance processes that thwarted growth. 

Mr. Subramanian also shared that it was a matter of concern to the Government that several development projects were getting mired in litigation on environmental grounds, leading to needless delays. Concluding his introductory remarks he shared that the Committee is not in any manner guided by the Ministry and their recommendatory report would be submitted to the Union Government. The Committee's proceeding, he clarified, were not open to the public, unless the committee decided to engage with the public. Responding to a question, Mr. Subramanian said that nothing that was submitted to the Committee would be shared with anybody, and that only the report would be submitted to the Government. Mr. Subramanian also said that the Ministry never proposed a public consultation exercise, but he had suggested this should take place.

Mr. K. N. Bhat, Senior Advocate and a member of the Committee, shared that there were a variety of submissions the Committee had received and each of this would be considered. He aired that environment and development should go side by side and the objectives of the laws if not found sufficient to address current needs, need for their review exists. The industry in particular, he said, had raised concerns over delays in environmental and forest clearances when the Committee met with them.

On these introductory notes Mr. Subramanian asked the members of the public to suggest changes to the existing environmental law framework. Officials assisting the Committee did not provide any rationale for the Ministry proposing changes to existing laws. The Committee also did not have any procedure, excepting online submissions of opinions on the Ministry's website (limited to 1000 words).

When the turn of the public came, a submission was made by the Karnataka Planters Association about procedural difficulties in securing forest clearance and conforming with pollution control norms, and sought amendments for the benefit of plantations. Thereafter, Mr. A. C. F. Anand, an RTI Activist, suggested that all environmental laws must be translated so that it would be understood by all and thus the compliance rates improved.

Speaking next, Mr. Leo F. Saldanha of Environment Support Group requested the Committee to address the basis for its functioning, and whethere the TOR constituting the Committee was sufficient for such a massive and onerous task that involved fundamentally reviewing all environmental laws that were intricately linked to Right to Life, Clean Environment and Livelihoods. He sought to know what it meant, as is main TOR, “"(t)o recomment specific amendments needed in each of these Acts so as to bring them in line with current requirements to meet objectives". 

Mr. Subramanian responded that neither he nor any other members of the Committee were influenced by the TOR in any manner and that they worked per their own understanding of the mandate given to them by the Government. But when Saldanha pressed to know how a Committee consisting of high ranking former civil servants, a former Judge and a Senior Advocate could at all have agreed to such vague terms, Mr. Subramanian reacted dismissively. He claimed that this was a non-substantive issue and sought to move on to hear others. 

Saldanha argued that it is disturbing that Mr. Subramanian unilaterally rules a legitimate concern over vague and weak TORs as being of trivial concern, when, in fact, it would have been fit and proper for the Committee to have first explained in the interest of public accountability and transparency how they found the terms rationale and acceptable to them. And in case the terms were acceptable, then the High Level Committee, unshackled as it were by the bureaucratic norms of the Ministry, could have provided a clear note on the nature of the reforms being considered and also explicated on the procedure of consulting and receiving criticisms from various sectors, peoples, regions, geographies, etc.

Mr. Vinay Sreenivasa of Alternative Law Forum submitted that the process by which the Committee was conducting the consultation was rather opaque. The vague TOR and the fact that the Committee was constituted by a Government that sought to belittle the importance of the National Wildlife Board and rush pet projects through the clearance mechanism, seemed to suggest the entire exercise appeared to be merely ritualistic. Ms. Aruna Chandrasekhar of Amnesty International - India sought to know what specific amendments were being proposed or demanded by industry/corporate sectors, and requested the Committee put it all out. But Mr. Subramanian waved away this request too.

Prof. Puttuswamy wanted to know how a High Level Committee sought to improve environmental laws when notifications of Ministry were being issued to dilute the laws. To which Mr. Subramanian responded saying he is not a “Postman” for the Ministry. Ms. Priti Rao, meanwhile, asked for decentralised solid waste management. Mr. Vijayan Menon shared that even though he was not an official, he had walked into the Committee's immediately preceding engagement with Government officials where a clear set of amendments were being proposed. He expressed surprise that this presentation was not being made for the benefit of the general public.

Ms. Bhargavi Rao of Environment Support Group wanted to know how law could be reformed when forest officials are unaware of biodiversity protection laws that had been passed over two decades ago and asserted that this rushed exercise in reviewing environmental laws had all the trappings of making light of people's fundamental rights and concerns. Justice A. K. Srivatsav (Retd. Judge of the Delhi High Court) and a Member of the High Level Committee stated at this juncture that the public must have confidence in a Committee in which a senior retired Judge is a member. 

By which time Mr. Subramanian had remarked several times that the public was wasting the Committee's time and there was no point continuing with this procedure. Several who had gathered protested such an assessment by the Chairman of the High Level Committee. Mr. Srinivas of Mavallipura sought to speak, saying he represents a community impacted by mal-development and waste dumping in his village, and he too was brushed aside.

At this point, Mr. Subramanian got up and said “We will end the joke here!” and walked out. He was followed by the rest of the Committee.

When Mr. Subramanian walked out, it was 1 pm. Members of the common public who had travelled great distances to engage with the Committee protested Mr. Subramanian taking them for granted and dismissing their views as of trivial concern. They demanded that the Committee return to hear the public and as advertised remained in the Hall till 1.30 pm. Neither did the High Level Committee return, nor did any official of the Ministry of Environment and Forests or Karnataka Environment Department come back to explain to the public why the High Level Committee had behaved in this manner. In fact, throughout the engagement with the public, not one Karnataka Government official was present in the Hall.

The undersigned are deeply disturbed by the manner in which the T. S. R. Subramanian headed High Level Committee has treated this public consultation process. The undersigned demand that the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change call off this exercise as it has all the markings of being a ritual exercise. In its place the undersigned demand that the Ministry must constitute a Committee that has a clear rationale for reform and Terms of Reference that are democratic, consultative and transparent. In particular, the following demands are made:

  1. Environment Ministry must first come out with a White Paper discussing the nature of the reforms that it proposes in environmental, forest conservation and pollution control laws.
  2. On the basis of such a Paper, an accessible Committee must be constituted that would hear peoples responses across the biologically, culturally and linguistically diverse country and also from various sectors equally.
  3. The membership of the Committee should be so constituted that it would reflect diverse concerns and sectos, and in particular ensure that members conversant with tribal and human rights, environmental management, conservation biologists, biodiversity, risk assessment, planning, etc., and not merely ex-bureaucrats or members of the legal fraternity were included Particularly important is the need to ensure there is adequate representation of women on the High Level Committee, which presently is constituted only of men.
  4. The process of the consultation to be followed has to be meaningful and conform with Principle of Prior and Informed Consent, even if this is not a consenting process.
  5. The timeline for the Consultation mechanism for such a critical review has to be reasonable as laws sought to amended, or tweaked, fundamentally affect theRight to Life and Livelihoods, and Right to Clean Environment.
  6. The entire process has to be transparent, all meetings must be recorded publicly, none of the deliberations must be in camera (as it appears to be the case now)and all proceedings, submissions, minutes and reports must be in the public domain.
  7. Adequate facilities must be made to ensure that anyone interested can participated with dignity and without being inhibited by language or geographical location. To ensure this, the process must be devolved by enlisting the support of State and Local Governments.


Mr. Leo Saldanha; Environment Support Group, leo@esgindia.org. Cell: 9448377403
Mr. Vinay Sreenivasa; Alternative Law Forum. Cell: 9880595032
Ms. Bhargavi Rao; Environment Support Group; 
bhargavi@esgindia.org Cell: 9448377401
Ms. Aarthi Sridhar; Dakshin Foundation, aarthi77@gmail.com
Cell: 9900113216
Mr. Vijayan Menon; menonvij@gmail.com
Mr. Davis Thomas; Environment Support Group; davis@esgindia.org
Cell: 9036180914
Ms. Swapna; sapna.sb@gmail.com
Ms. Priti Rao; priti007@yahoo.com
Ms. Padma Ashok; Save Tiger, padmaashok@gmail.com
Mr. Ashok Hallur; ashokhallur@gmail.com
Mr. Rajeev Mankotia; rmanikoth@gmail.com
Mr. Sandesh Udyawar; sandeshudyawar@gmail.com
Ms. Marianne Manuel; Dakshin Foundation, marianne.manuel88@gmail.com
Ms. Shivani Shah; Greenpeace; shivani.shah@greenpeace.org
Mr. Sohan Pavulari; sohan_pavuluri@yahoo.com
Ms. Sangeetha Kadur; sangeetha.kadur@gmail.com
Mr. Bhaskar Bhatt; muggymach3@basejumper.com
Mr. Rohan Kini; rohan.kini@gmail.com
Mr. K.N. Somashekar; cmd_vilinfra@rediffmail.com
Mr. A.C.F. Anand; acfanand@gmail.com
Ms. Shashikala Iyer; Environment Support Group; shashi@esgindia.org
Mr. Leon Louis; Environment Support Group; leon@esgindia.org
Mr. Mallesh K.R; Environment Support Group; mallesh@esgindia.org

Mr. Prashanth; Environment Support Group; prashanth@esgindia.org

Environment Support Group
[Environmental, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives]
1572, Intermediate Ring Road
Banashankari II Stage
Bangalore 560070
Tel: +91-80-26713559~61
Voice/Fax: +91-80-26713316
Email: esg@esgindia.org
Web: www.esgindia.org 

Friday, 26 September 2014

This Family Nightmare Is The Price Of Political Expression In China - ChinaFile By Zeng Jinyan

The essay that follows was written by Zeng Jinyan, whose husband, Hu Jia, has been prominently involved in activism around environmental issues, AIDS, and human rights in China over the past decade and a half and is a winner of the European Parliament’s Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. From 2008 to 2011, he served a three and a half year prison sentence for inciting state subversion. Since his release, he has lived under varying degrees of surveillance and house arrest in his apartment in Beijing. He continues to write and is an active presence on Twitter. Zeng and Hu separated in 2012, and Zeng now lives in Hong Kong with their six-year-old daughter.
* * *
Baobao: “Fuck!”
Me: “Where’d you learn that word?”
Baobao: “Daddy’s good friends said it!”
Me: “Which good friends?”
Baobao: “Two of Daddy’s friends who stay in the same hotel with us, the ones who sleep in the rooms on either side of ours.”
I was silent for a moment. Okay, I said finally: “Next time Daddy’s friends say that, tell them they shouldn’t say such vulgar things when kids are around.”
My daughter, who’s almost seven years old, went back to her play.
I didn’t tell her that Daddy’s “friends” are actually plainclothes cops from state security -- guobao -- sent to keep watch over her father, preventing him from taking her out to see friends. Neither did I tell her that these “friends” had been part of our lives ever since she was in the womb. It was impossible to explain to her why her mommy and daddy, who loved each other very much, are now separated. In the two years since she and I moved to Hong Kong, spending holidays with her father in various hotels in cities across mainland China has become a routine for her. Daddy’s “friends” come and go, sometimes dropping in and out, sometimes completely dominating the schedules of these holidays.
Her father has no choice; if he didn’t accept their presence, he’d have no way to watch his daughter grow. He couldn’t give her rides on his shoulders, couldn’t keep pace with her as she learns rudimentary English, couldn’t laugh at the funny stories she tells in Cantonese, and couldn’t answer her when she asks: “Why can’t Daddy get the papers he needs to come to Hong Kong?” At the end of almost every holiday, Daddy’s “friends” usually disregard the injunction not to get too familiar with her, and hug her, take her picture, give her presents. Some of these she cherishes, like the little stuffed bear she won’t let go of; others her mom has to confiscate: a pair of pink child-sized high-heeled shoes, big bowls of ice cream, huge piles of chocolates.
Cozy and content, my daughter falls asleep to the sound of her father reading her bedtime stories, slipping off into dreams of Journey to the WestThe Magic School Bus, Pippi Longstocking... Each time, she spends a dozen nights or so in a hotel. Meanwhile, I stay in contact with relatives and friends who live in the same city so that if, god forbid, anything should happen, they could immediately whisk her back to my side. At the same time, I keep tabs on how my daughter is feeling by looking at pictures and listening to voice messages sent via mobile phone. I do my best to ensure that at this tender age my daughter doesn’t sink into angry indignation or get pulled into politics, that she has the foundation of a basically happy childhood. After her father was violently attacked in July, I had to ask him not to reveal the exact itineraries or locations of their holidays together. Hu Jia has stuck by this agreement.
Political oppression is only the beginning of the dangers to which Hu Jia has been subjected. Since 2004, in addition to serving jail time, he’s been under constant surveillance by state security. He has been threatened, violently harassed, put under house arrest, abducted, and followed. At the end of May 2014, secret police showed up at the home of Hu Jia’s parents and told them that their son would soon be detained, and when his 76-year-old mother begged to see him in order to give him rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival, they refused, saying, “Arrangements have already been made, and it’s too late to visit him.”
We made phone call after phone call, trying to alleviate some of the anxiety he was feeling, cooped up alone in his room while under house arrest. I promised that even though we are separated I will remain legally married to him, and that in the event that he is sent to jail again I will manage all the legal proceedings, his friends will appeal for his release, and I will care for his parents and our child. We understood that he might be arrested at any time, and all we could do was stay prepared. Right now he lives an agonizing existence, which I can only compare to being roasted on a spit -- the conditions are in some ways harsher than jail. Every day he must fight for the right to leave his house. Sometimes the struggle pays off, and he’s able to walk around outside while accompanied by plainclothes police. Sometimes the restrictions enrage him, and he resists physically. But in the end, all he can do is go back to his apartment in BOBO Freedom City in Beijing, accept the absolute helplessness of his situation, and try not to exhaust himself.
But the greater direct danger comes from the public: bystanders who are powerless to help, idle onlookers who act as accomplices, or crazy people.. read more:
See also
Hong Kong students begin democracy protest - Chinese people continue struggling for democracy 
The Crises of Party Culture: by Yang Guang
The crises of Party culture become clear with a single glance. The CPC is called the ruling party, yet it operates according to secret party rules: this is an identity crisis. Its formal ceremonies and slogans are like those of an extremist church, and it has long lost its utopian doctrine that stirred the passion of the people: this is an ideological crisis. It tells beautiful lies while accepting bribes & keeping mistresses: this is a moral crisis. The totalitarian system is in the process of collapsing, yet political reform is not in the foreseeable future: this is a political crisis. It has corrupted traditional values & also rejected universal values, rendering Party members & government officials at a spiritual loss: this is a crisis of values.

Micah White - Clicktivism is ruining leftist activism

A battle is raging for the soul of activism. It is a struggle between digital activists, who have adopted the logic of the marketplace, and those organisers who vehemently oppose the marketisation of social change. At stake is the possibility of an emancipatory revolution in our lifetimes.
The conflict can be traced back to 1997 when a quirky Berkeley, California-based software company known for its iconic flying toaster screensaver was purchased for $13.8m (£8.8m). The sale financially liberated the founders, a left-leaning husband-and-wife team. He was a computer programmer, she a vice-president of marketing. And a year later they founded an online political organisation known as MoveOn. Novel for its combination of the ideology of marketing with the skills of computer programming, MoveOn is a major centre-leftist pro-Democrat force in the US. It has since been heralded as the model for 21st-century activism.
The trouble is that this model of activism uncritically embraces the ideology of marketing. It accepts that the tactics of advertising and market research used to sell toilet paper can also build social movements. This manifests itself in an inordinate faith in the power of metrics to quantify success. Thus, everything digital activists do is meticulously monitored and analysed. The obsession with tracking clicks turns digital activism into clicktivism.
Clicktivists utilise sophisticated email marketing software that brags of its "extensive tracking" including "opens, clicks, actions, sign-ups, unsubscribes, bounces and referrals, in total and by source". And clicktivists equate political power with raising these "open-rate" and "click-rate" percentages, which are so dismally low that they are kept secret. The exclusive emphasis on metrics results in a race to the bottom of political engagement.
Gone is faith in the power of ideas, or the poetry of deeds, to enact social change. Instead, subject lines are A/B tested and messages vetted for widest appeal. Most tragically of all, to inflate participation rates, these organisations increasingly ask less and less of their members. The end result is the degradation of activism into a series of petition drives that capitalise on current events. Political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links. In promoting the illusion that surfing the web can change the world, clicktivism is to activism as McDonalds is to a slow-cooked meal. It may look like food, but the life-giving nutrients are long gone.
Exchanging the substance of activism for reformist platitudes that do well in market tests, clicktivists damage every genuine political movement they touch. In expanding their tactics into formerly untrammelled political scenes and niche identities, they unfairly compete with legitimate local organisations who represent an authentic voice of their communities. They are the Wal-Mart of activism: leveraging economies of scale, they colonise emergent political identities and silence underfunded radical voices.
Digital activists hide behind gloried stories of viral campaigns and inflated figures of how many millions signed their petition in 24 hours. Masters of branding, their beautiful websites paint a dazzling self-portrait. But, it is largely a marketing deception. While these organisations are staffed by well-meaning individuals who sincerely believe they are doing good, a bit of self-criticism is sorely needed from their leaders.
The truth is that as the novelty of online activism wears off, millions of formerly socially engaged individuals who trusted digital organisations are coming away believing in the impotence of all forms of activism. Even leading Bay Area clicktivist organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to motivate their members to any action whatsoever. The insider truth is that the vast majority, between 80% to 90%, of so-called members rarely even open campaign emails. Clicktivists are to blame for alienating a generation of would-be activists with their ineffectual campaigns that resemble marketing.
The collapsing distinction between marketing and activism is revealed in the cautionary tale of TckTckTck, a purported climate change organisation with 17 million members. Widely hailed as an innovator of digital activism, TckTckTck is a project of Havas Worldwide, the world's sixth-largest advertising company. A corporation that uses advertising to foment ecologically unsustainable overconsumption, Havas bears significant responsibility for the climate change TckTckTck decries.
As the folly of digital activism becomes widely acknowledged, innovators will attempt to recast the same mix of marketing and technology in new forms. They will offer phone-basedalternate reality and augmented reality alternatives. However, any activism that uncritically accepts the marketisation of social change must be rejected. Digital activism is a danger to the left. Its ineffectual marketing campaigns spread political cynicism and draw attention away from genuinely radical movements. Political passivity is the end result of replacing salient political critique with the logic of advertising.
Against the progressive technocracy of clicktivism, a new breed of activists will arise. In place of measurements and focus groups will be a return to the very thing that marketers most fear: the passionate, ideological and total critique of consumer society. Resuscitating the emancipatory project the left was once known for, these activists will attack the deadening commercialisation of life. And, uniting a global population against the megacorporations who unduly influence our democracies, they will jettison the consumerist ideology of marketing that has for too long constrained the possibility of social revolution.