China: Missing lawyer located

Chinese authorities have told the US human rights group, the Dui Hua Foundation, that Gao Zhisheng – a human rights lawyer who has been missing for more than a year – is in Urumqi, Xinjiang. Zhisheng’s case has drawn international attention due to the unusual length of his disappearance. John Kamm, the foundation’s executive director, said the news was a “tentative step in the right direction toward accountability”, but many questions still needed to be answered such as “What is he doing there? How long has he been there?”

China: Dissident Liu Xiaobo’s prison term upheld

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s‘s appeal against a 11-year prison sentence rejected by a court in Beijing. Liu was convicted six weeks ago on charges of subversion, to widespread international condemnation. Roseann Rife, the deputy director for Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International said, “His harsh sentence is a stark reminder to the Chinese people and the world that there is still no freedom of expression or independent judiciary in China.” Read Liu’s final statement to the court.

The denial of  Liu’s appeal is another signal that China’s leaders are unwilling to tolerate greater pluralism.

Yesterday,  a 20-year-old factory worker who joined a banned political party because he was unhappy with one-party rule was sentenced to jail for 18 months. A court in Shenzhen found Xue Mingkai guilty of subversion of state power because he joined the US-based China Democracy party last April.

Increasing fears for missing Chinese dissident

There are increasing concerns about the whereabouts of missing dissident Gao  Zhisheng. The case is unusual because the Chinese authorities have refusedto divulge Gao’s whereabouts. Gao has vanished without  legal explanation, normally even in the most politicized cases, the Chinese authorities  comply with their own criminal procedure laws.  The only comment came two weeks ago from Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, who said that Gao “is where he should be.” When asked again last Tuesday, he offered a smile and said: “Honestly speaking, I don’t know where he is. China has 1.3bn people and I can’t know all of their whereabouts.”

Burma: joined-up reporting

Fergal Keane

Recently returned from Rangoon, Fergal Keane reflects on how new and old media worked together, allowing brave dissidents to break the Burmese junta’s censorship

This is the story of how new and old media combined to beat the censors in Burma, a narrative of how cyberspace, along with one of the BBC’s most venerable outlets and some old fashioned undercover work challenged a repressive regime’s attempts to destroy independent journalism. Since then there has been a crackdown and the “bamboo curtain” has been lowered once again. But not for long I believe.