Saturday, December 22, 2007

PEN Mightier Than the Sword in China?

According to the Agence France-Presse, a global news agency, Chinese police have tried to disrupt an awards ceremony organized by PEN, an International Agency that advocates freedom of expression. Two writers have been detained by police as the Chinese government moves to keep control of dissent as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach. According to a press release from PEN Canada, there are now 41 Chinese writers who have been wrongly imprisoned.

Li Jianhong, who was due to receive an award at the ceremony, is under house arrest. Liao Yiwu, who was to receive the Freedom to Write Award, was detained and was scheduled to be returned to his home. Many of the 40 people who had been invited to the ceremony received warnings from police not to attend.

Visit PEN Canada's Web Site for more information on PEN's campaign and other censorship issues.

In an unrelated story, the Washington Post highlights the story of Chen Yuhua, a Chinese resident who is suing the Beijing Municiple government over the removal of his Internet post about dogs. He has been careful to follow procedure exactly. His is a bold challenge to the atmosphere of the control of information. His post was an attack on regulations barring any dog over 14 inches high and restricting each family to only one dog. This is only the second time someone has gone to court to sue over censorship.

It is believed that more than 30,000 censors monitor the Internet using technology to block sensitive sites. A list of keywords used to filter Internet content in China was obtained by the Washington Post back in 2005. Of the 236 words, 18 are obscenities. The rest are related to politics or current affairs.

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