It was a trick that they thought would fool the censors, at least for a while. Rebellious Chinese bloggers, determined to continue writing about the arrest of artist Ai Weiwei even after his name was blocked by Internet watchdogs, started writing "Ai Weilai" instead of the artist's real name on their microblogs and in Internet forums. The term resembles Ai's name, but translates literally to "love the future." One user wrote: "We love the future and we need the future." But the ploy didn't help. The post was removed from the Internet.
With , the Chinese government has clearly demonstrated what the future holds for others who follow the artist's example. Ai was merely the most prominent victim of the regime in recent weeks -- he wasn't the first and he wasn't the last. Yet these heroes in the shadows don't spark diplomatic scandals. Even the majority of Chinese people know little about the courage of these few.
Human rights groups such as the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) describe this as the authorities' toughest crackdown since 1998. Between mid-February and the end of last week, 30 people were detained, according to CHRD's figures. In addition, around 20 have disappeared, five were arrested and three were sent to labor camps for "reeducation."
The above-mentioned numbers only refer to incidents relating to the crackdown that the Chinese authorities launched following in China. The regime has also acted against religious groups. For example, security forces recently detained more than 100 members of an underground church in a single day.
These are the actions of a government with unbridled power. One day the authorities detain activist Ni Yulan -- who is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of being tortured -- another day they sentence critic Liu Xianbin to 10 years in prison. Then they warn Zhao Lianhai, who fought for an investigation into the 2008 milk powder scandal, that if he doesn't stop speaking out, he's going back to prison. Zhao had dared to describe in a newspaper interview how he had been force-fed through the nose with a milk powder solution. He had also called for Ai Weiwei's release.
Beijing's demonstratively hard-line approach can be seen in its methods as well. Family members wait desperately for some sign of life from those who have gone missing, but unlike in the past, the government goes weeks without offering any explanation of these individuals' whereabouts. It makes no effort to even maintain an appearance of due process.
One lawyer at a prominent Beijing firm told American diplomats that breaches of the law had increased continuously since 2008. In a diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the US Embassy quoted the lawyer as stating that China had entered its worst-ever period of abusing legal rights.
Read the entire article in Der Spiegel here
The Western democratic countries have been much too mild in their criticism against China´s human rights violations. And the reason is clear: the economic ties with China are considered too important. This lack of courage is shameful!