#IndexAwards2017: Rebel Pepper continues his work in the United States

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”86271″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Since the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards in April, Arts fellow Rebel Pepper has continued to publish cartoons and speak out against the Chinese government on limits on freedom of expression. Index caught up with him to ask how he has progressed and how the fellowship has affected his work.

Wang Liming, aka Rebel Pepper, moved to Arlington, VA, and now works for Radio Free Asia. He had been living in Japan since 2014, where he was on holiday and forced to remain following fears that he would be arrested if he returned to China. Rebel Pepper told Index that the job offer from Radio Free Asia and the prospect of a steady income was appealing to him and his wife. “The degree of freedom between the United States and Japan is similar for me,” Rebel Pepper said. 

Rebel Pepper told Index that he plans to stay in the United States for the long term because returning to China means certain arrest for him. For now, he and his wife are adapting to the new environment, language and culture. “I need time and patience to become familiar with all this,” he said.

Although he is now based in the United States, Rebel Pepper plans to continue his work, “as a political cartoonist, I still continue to speak out against the dark rule of the CCP,” he told Index by email. He attended an event on 4 June commemorating Tiananmen Square, along with the Inaugural China Human Rights Lawyers’ Day on 9 July. He continues to write his column in the Japanese version of Newsweek.

Index is working with Rebel Pepper to build a website which will feature his work. According to head of fellowship David Heinemann, Index is also giving Rebel Pepper guidance on digital security. With this platform and digital security training, Rebel Pepper will be able to reach fans in mainland China.

Rebel Pepper is pessimistic about the future of freedom of expression in China. “China has recently retreated to a darker era, continues to worsen and will eventually kill art, only propaganda – the so-called art can be survivor.” He believes the pursuit of freedom of expression in China is still important, saying “Liu Xiaobo’s death process has shown very clearly, why freedom of speech is so important.”

Rebel Pepper is one of many artists who has paid tribute to Liu Xiaobo, telling Index that his hope for non-violent protest in China is slim, and Liu Xiaobo’s death marks the end of the possibility of negotiating with the government. “Liu Xiaobo’s famous saying is ‘I have no enemies and no hatred.’ But the Communist Party of China proved that Liu was their enemy, all the Chinese were their enemies, and even their own internal cruel struggle.”

To the Chinese people, Rebel Pepper says “Please [be] ready to face the most evil king‘s rise, maybe you think it is the darkest era, but this is only the beginning.”

Additional reporting by Cassandra Allen[/vc_column_text][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1501084370949-878e4c43-a2f0-0″ taxonomies=”9021″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Chinese activist warned over launching website

A veteran Chinese pro-democracy campaigner based in Wuhan has been warned by state security police not to proceed with plans for a website aimed to promote “peaceful” reform. Qin Yongmin, who was freed from prison in November 2010 after serving a 10-year sentence for subversion, told Radio Free Asia he was surrounded by police last week as he came out of a computer store and taken to a police station. RFA reports:

“I had been planning to launch the ‘Peaceful Transition Advice’ website hosted overseas,” Qin said. “They told me that I absolutely could not do this.”

“They said that if I launched it in the morning, they would arrest me in the afternoon, and that they would pursue the harshest kind of punishment for me,” he said.
Police also questioned him about a meeting he held on Feb. 14 at a restaurant in Wuhan with two political activists from the Pan-Blue Alliance, a member of the writers’ group Independent Chinese PEN, and a number of petitioners, Qin said.

“They told me that meeting was the reason that they were very alarmed,” Qin said.

“We were on the second floor of the restaurant, and the police took over the entire third floor,” he said. “They told me that no matter where I went or whom I met with, they would know all about it.”

The report added that Qin had been placed under 24-hour surveillance by officials from his home district in Wuhan since his release, and subjected to searches of his home and confiscation of his keys and computer equipment. Fellow activists have said they have been forbidden from visiting the activist, who was involved in the 1981 Democracy Wall movement and attempted to register the Democracy Party of China in 1998.

Further blockages for Google in China

Yesterday Chinese users of the Google.cn search engine faced problems accessing results for normal terms such as “dog” or “home”. Although Google has redirected traffic to its uncensored servers in Hong Kong, internet users in mainland China still face the Great Firewall, which bans access to sites containing sensitive information. The glitch was caused by Google’s new coding which incorporated “gs_rfai” into certain search terms. The letters “RFA” was mistaken to be an acronym for Radio Free Asia, a site banned by the Great Firewall.