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400 fathers!! - 29 juin 2007

I'm temporarily getting out of hibernation, as something important is happening in China.

400 fathers whose children work as slaves in Shangxi published a desperate letter on the Internet (another set of translations: on China Digital Times and on Le journal d'un Chinois). They also contacted the local tv station, and one reporter, Fu Zhengzhong, decided to follow the case. From him, we get the pictures and the movies. For that, the reporter has received death threats. Read how he describes his experience in uncovering the illegal child laborers In Shanxi.

The goverment could not do much against the images, so it polished its answer, and claimed victory over the bad brick kilns owners:More than 460 rescued from brick kiln slavery. That was what ended up being reported in the foreign media, e.g. BBC: Mass rescue of 'slaves' in China. Unfortunately, the reality wasn't that great: children are still missing. A second letter by the same 400 fathers was published online. This time, the government has a faster reaction and only the good parts of the letter were translated into english by the China Daily and Sina: 400 fathers call for more help to save slave-kiln kids. And the chinese version is slowly being removed from forums.

And the images are also controlled: as one contributor to Tianya reports that chinese channels broadcasted abroad are cleaned. Strangely, the thread was closed just after that message. (Check Wikipedia for background info on Tyana a popular online forum.)

6月25日,从北美的麒麟电视网上收看了有关于黑窑案的“真情”节目后感触良多,其中一点是体会到国内媒体采访对促进和谐社会建成的重要性。谁知6月27 日即接麒麟电视网通知从即日起停播湖南卫视一切节目,其他卫视如北京卫视,上海卫视也将于今日起停播。停播理由为应国家有关部门的指示,要对所有向海外播放的节目进行调整,具体重播日期未定。我仅以小人之心度君子之腹,把此次停播于湖南卫视之大胆节目联系起来。在此,仅期望“有关部门”不要封杀海外华人了解国内动向的新闻渠道。常言说,若要人不知,除非己不为,在这互联网通行的时代,想要通过封杀几家媒体来阻止丑闻的传播是不可能的了。“有关部门”与其做此无用工,不如化点力气在如何防止和根除黑窑

On June 25th, I watched the "ZhenQing (true feelings)" program about the black brick kilns on North American TV network Qilin, and it make me think, a lot. Especially I understood the media's role in buildng a harmonious society. But god knows that on the 27th, Qilin received order to stop all programs from Hunan Satellite Channel (the channel that produced "ZhengQing"). Other satellite channels like Beijing and Shanghai are also stopped today (29th). The reason:the ministry from the central government are "re-adjusting" all programs broadcast overseas.

Thanks to China Digital Times, we got A Notice from the Central Government to Censor News Related to Shanxi Brick Kilns Event

Regarding the Shanxi “illegal brick kilns” event, all websites should reinforce positive propaganda, put more emphasis on the forceful measures that the central and local governments have already taken, and close the comment function in the related news reports. The management of the interactive communication tools, such as online forums, blogs, and instant messages, should also be strengthened. Harmful information that uses this event to attack the party and the government should be deleted as soon as possible. All local external communication offices should enhance their instruction, supervision and inspection, and concretely implement the related management measures.

So that's why I ended up back behind the screen, and posting this.

Dear search indexing bots, here is the full second letter, both in Chinese and in English: We are the fathers of the 400 unfortunate kids who were sold to back brick kilns as hard labourers....

On June 11th, just when the big and small media in China are uncovering and criticising the illegal detention of workers in the black brick kilns in ShanXi province, 8 of us were still looking for our sons in Linjin village, Linjin county, in Yuncheng city. Under the threat of some of the brick kilns owners', like "don't let the people from Henan come in, if they ever come again, kill them all", we asked for help from the local police station. In the company of the director of the police of Linjin Village (Police number 092703), we went into the kilns to look for the children. On the way we ran into a kiln owner Yao Xishan, with car license number OM061. He pointed his finger at the nose of the police director and yelled: "Who allows you to let them ride in your car? Get them off quickly". Under the instruction of Yao, the director made us off the car. In the morning of June 13rd, we rescued 23 children by ourselves overcoming many difficulties. When we went to the police station in Linjin village to go through legal procedure, the police refused to let us take the children with us. They even did not allow us to ask the kids of their family contacts. One mother was even rudely pushed around by the police! We are afraid that the children will be sent back to the tiger's den, so we talked the police into promising emptily, "We will take the responsibility to send the children home". But no one knows where they sent the children.

The other things that is not well reported is the latent furor that this case generated among everyday chinese citizens: for exemple, a discussion on Tianya, about the first letter generated 66 pages of comments ([1], first comment on june 8 to [66], last comment on june 18) before the comments were closed.

Some extracts:




Our country is covered by boils,
but the government dressed itself with luxury clothes
from time to time a piece of fabric is torn
the government apply some medicine right away

Now we must put down everything we are doing
work hard to reveal all those boils
and expose them to the sun



There are only things you can't imagine,
There is nothing that can't happen
My poor innocent kids,
why the most horrible things always happen to you!
China, how long is your journey?
How long are your people going to be truly happy?

Another reaction was from people to go to Shanxi and try to help, they call their initiative Blue Ribbon. Some recounts of netizens:

另有一个砖窑,在芮城县,学张乡,阳院大队,良庄村,有当地人反映说这是当地公安局长开的窑,而且公安局长对家长们说过:没有我的单,谁都不准进去。    此外当找孩子的家长们见到他们的老乡,窑主一来孩子就不敢说话的情况数不胜数。
Also there is a such such place. The locals said that the brick kiln belonged to the head of the police. And the county police chief said that without his approval, no one can get in. And many parents saw kids from their home village. But when the kiln owners showed up, the kids did not dare to speak. Such incidents were too many.

I joined Blue Ribbon on June 17th. My main purpose to join is to show I care. At that moment I can think of the following: 1) to help the parents finding their kids; 2) if the government is making a big splash there, then we can comfort the kids that have been found, and with related professionals, helping the kids getting out of the trauma.

On the June 21st, we were in ShanXi YongJi. The officer who is in charge of receiving the retarded told me in person that there were more than 100 retarded rescued from YongJi alone. But on June 23rd, many media reported that 359 people rescued, among them 65 are retarded. When I read that, I grinned, because there are more than 100 in Yongji alone, and I know that.
Now, I said the number, but everyone, you believe me or the big media?

And a group of 700 lawyers has volunteered to defend the victims without charge. qq.com gives some details:

ShanXi: Lawyer association of Migrant Worker Rights was founded in May 2007, with funding from UNDP and China Lawyer Association. Its mandate is to provide legal assistance for migrant worker.

Now, if you prefer the Internet will save the world angle, it's also an interesting case of Citizen journalism vs the Chinese censors. Elsewhere in China, a successful flash mob action in China: Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese

The delay marked a rare instance of public opinion in China rising from the streets and compelling a change of policy by Communist Party bureaucrats. It was a dramatic illustration of the potential of technology -- particularly cellphones and the Internet -- to challenge the rigorous censorship and political controls through which the party maintains its monopoly on power over China's 1.4 billion people.

"I think this is a great precedent for China," said Zhong Xiaoyong, a Xiamen resident who, in his persona as the blogger Lian Yue, wrote extensively on efforts to stop construction of the factory.

En français, la couverture de la seconde lettre est un peu meilleure, parce que une traduction française intégrale de la seconde lettre Sauvez ces enfants esclaves! SOS!!! se trouve sur Jardin de liberté et dans un article de Rue89, (Pierre Haski était le correspondant en Chine de Libé) Nous nous agenouillons devant le pouvoir. Sauvez nos enfants!. Comme le note Pierre Haski, la lettre diffusé sur l'Internet, mais qui a été edulcoré dans les médias chinois mérite une lecture.

And in case you came here for the wrong reasons, please enjoy these misceallenous links: some wardrobe malfunction: Yumiko 露點, one way to bypass YouTube being blocked by the government, I meant, one way to download video from YouTube is to just add KISS. And for the geek in you, mod_atom (let's hope Mr. Bray check his referrers)

29 juin 2007 Clés: