Sunday, February 20, 2011

Paranoid Chinese Autocrats Not Taking Any Chances

Even though calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" may be a spoof. Shows you how nervous an authoritarian regime can get.

China tries to stamp out 'Jasmine Revolution'

"BEIJING -- Authorities rounded up dozens of dissidents and cracked down on calls for a "Jasmine Revolution," which urged demonstrations in more than a dozen Chinese cities Sunday apparently modeled after the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping the Middle East.

The source of the call was not known and many activists seemed not to know what to make of it, even as they spread the word. They said they were unaware of any known group being involved in the request for citizens to gather in 13 cities and shout, "We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness."

The authoritarian government, always on guard to squelch dissent, appeared to be taking the threat of protests seriously and moved to stamp out the spread of the message that first appeared on U.S.-based Chinese-language website

More than 100 activists in cities across China were taken away by police, confined to their homes or were missing, the Hong Kong-based group Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. Families and friends reported the detention or harassment of several dissidents, and some activists said they were warned not to participate Sunday.

Police pulled Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong into a car and drove away, said his wife, Jin Bianling. She told The Associated Press by phone Saturday night that she was still waiting for more information.

On Sunday, searches for "jasmine" were blocked on China's largest Twitter-like microblog, and status updates with the word on popular Chinese social networking site were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with "political, sensitive ... or other inappropriate content."

however - "Some even wondered whether the call was "performance art" instead of a serious move in the footsteps of recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya. Su Yutong, an activist who now lives in Germany, said even if Chinese authorities suspect the call to protest wasn't serious, Saturday's actions showed they still feared it.

"If they act this way, they'll push this performance art into the real thing," she said in an email. "


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