Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng to leave New York University amid claims of Chinese government pressure

chen-guangchengChinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has confirmed allegations that he was booted from his post at New York University, thanks to pressure from Chinese authorities on the university.

“As early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University,” Chen said in a statement released today.

The university is currently planning to launch a campus in Shanghai in the autumn — and according to the New York Post, Chinese officials tied to the project were unhappy with Chen’s presence at NYU. The blind activist and self-taught lawyer joined NYU as a student in its US-Asia Law Institute in May 2012, following a heroic escape from house arrest to Beijing’s US Embassy last year.

Chen also warned that that pressure from China’s ruling party in US academic circles is “far greater than what people imagine”, adding that “academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”

NYU has rejected Chen’s claims, saying that his fellowship was always planned to be a year-long one, and that “its conclusion have had nothing to do with the Chinese government.”

Chen, a vocal critic of China’s one-child policy and forced abortions, was placed under house arrest in 2005 after bringing a class-action lawsuit against the authorities of Linyi, a city in the eastern province of Shandong for its enforcement of the policy. He was eventually given a four year and three month jail sentence on charges of disturbing public order in 2006. He was released in 2010 and placed under house arrest once more, before his escape last year.

Sara Yasin is an Editorial Assistant at Index. She tweets from @missyasin.

Journalist censured over response to Lara Logan’s assault

by Emily Badger

When CBS News announced earlier this week that chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been hospitalised for a brutal sexual assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square last Friday, journalists across the nightly news and blogosphere were appalled. Some also expressed the faint hope the news might help remove the stigma female journalists face in acknowledging such encounters. An even bigger shock, though, came the next day, as left-leaning journalist Nir Rosen tweeted the reaction that he quickly came to regret.

“lara logan had to outdo anderson. where was her buddy mccrystal?” Rosen tweeted, referring to CNN broadcaster Anderson Cooper’s report that he’d been punched in the face in Cairo two weeks ago. Logan had earlier criticised a controversial Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, who was later relieved by President Obama for his own intemperate remarks.

Then, Rosen added:

“jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.”

He later took down the tweets – but not before some conservative news sites snapped screen shots of them for posterity. “I thought, it’s just silly social media,” a chastened Rosen told media blog FishbowlDC, by which time it already was too late. New York University announced that Rosen would resign as a fellow with the Center on Law and Security.

“Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line yesterday with his comments about Lara Logan,” the programme’s executive director, Karen J. Greenberg, said in a statement. “I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologised, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.”

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg called Rosen’s history of incendiary comments “deeply pathetic.” Salon scolded: “Apparently he still hasn’t remembered that sexual assault isn’t great joking around material.” Mother Jones, to which Rosen has contributed, said he “completely lost his mind today and forgot that “joking” about rape falls into the category of NOT EVER FUNNY.” Cooper, for his part, confronted Rosen personally on his show on Wednesday night.

Rosen has now attempted to explain his position in an article for Salon. He described what he wrote as “a disgusting comment born from dark humour…developed working in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Lebanon—and a need to provoke people.” He also pointed out the apparent double standards which allow “racist right-wing pundits (to) say whatever they want on serious platforms.”