Strong reactions in China to the imprisonment of a Chinese activist. Russian web users campaign online for more government transparency. And 50 cent takes part in a video by the latest web sensation.
AN ACTIVIST JAILED IN CHINA
Zhao Lianhai has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison after campaigning for compensation for the victims of the melamine tainted milk. This 38 year old man created this Internet forum after the scandal broke out in 2008; providing information to parents, who like him, had seen their children fall ill. He quickly became a leading figure for these families in their campaign to take the compensation claims to court.
The Chinese blogosphere was captivated by his trial, where he stood accused of disturbing public order. Several dozens of activists gathered around the Beijing court where he was being tried, to call for his liberation.
Web users are outraged by his prison sentence. Many Twitter users have expressed their disappointment with their country’s justice system on the micro blogging site which is not subject to Chinese censorship law.
They are circulating Zhao Lianhai’s speech for the defense. In this document he says it was his citizen’s duty to fight for the victims of the tainted milk.
And in this interview, available online, Zhao Lianhai’s lawyer says his psychological state has severely deteriorated after just one year behind bars. He says the activist is ready to go on hunger strike in protest of his prison sentence.
In the meantime, web users are mobilizing support for his family. A bank account number is circulating from blog to blog, so that web users can make donations. The fund should help cover his wife and son’s living costs until he is freed.
RUSSIAN WEB USERS ASK FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY
In view of the increase in scandals involving abuses of power, corruption and embezzlement from public funds, and the lack of interest shown by traditional Russian media, the local blogosphere is asking the government for more transparency. These individual and collective efforts have already had a real impact on the country’s politics.
Russia’s Ministry of Health released an invitation to tender for the creation of a social network for medical information but it has recently been cancelled following pressure from the web. Numerous bloggers had been left surprised by the conditions in which the deal was closed and suspected an illegal agreement. The online campaign also led to the resignation of Oleg Simakov, the director of the operation.
Another significant success for web users in recent months has been the dismissal of this official who was caught on film ordering students to kiss his feet whilst doing press ups. The official did everything he could to stop these scandalous images being released online, including stopping Internet development projects in the region.
Numerous collaborative projects have been launched on the Russian web this year, aimed at gaining more transparency. Democrator.ru helps citizens prepare petitions and official requests for the authorities, as well as publishing their replies. And the site Taktaktak.ru introduces citizens and lawyers to facilitate discussion of various problems.
And in response to this growing online activism, several official schemes are slowly starting to emerge. This is the case of rosspending.ru a site launched in July that provides clear information on government spending and agreements.
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VIDEO OF THE DAY
Keenan Cahill is an American teenager who has gone from unknown to web sensation in just a few weeks. This is all thanks to his lip synching in front of a webcam. For his latest video, the young man took on the 50 cent track “Down on me”. And in the middle of his performance, surprise, in comes the artist himself and starts to sing and dance along with Keenan.