洛城援港47人 圣莫妮卡海滩47分钟游行

2021年3月7日,洛杉矶香港人在圣莫妮卡海滩举办快闪游行,声援遭港府政治迫害的泛民主派47人,活动历时47分钟。(徐绣惠/大纪元)

洛城援港47人 圣莫妮卡海滩47分钟游行

【大纪元2021年03月08日讯】(大纪元记者徐绣惠圣莫妮卡市报导)为声援遭港府政治迫害按“国安法”颠覆国家政权罪被起诉的47名香港泛民主派人士,洛杉矶港人于7日(周日)下午两点在洛城旅游胜地圣莫妮卡海滩举办快闪游行活动,引发游客与当地民众关注。

2021年3月7日,洛杉矶香港人圣莫妮卡海滩举办快闪游行,声援遭港府政治迫害的泛民主派47人,活动历时47分钟。(徐绣惠/大纪元)

逾百名洛杉矶香港人身着黑衣、戴黄色口罩,手持“光复香港 时代革命”的旗帜游行,队伍从圣莫妮卡广场(Santa Monica Place)第三街游行至海滩,海外港人在海边拍摄了支持香港的大合照,希望鼓励香港手足,告诉他们:香港人一点也不孤单。

2021年3月7日,逾百位洛杉矶民众身着黑衣、戴黄色口罩参与游行支持香港。(徐绣惠/大纪元)

游行活动过程历时47分钟,以此铭记受香港政府、中共迫害的47人。协办此次活动的洛杉矶香港论坛成员林先生表示,全球共有十几个城市分别举行声援香港47人,除了美国,在欧洲、澳洲、加拿大等地都有活动,大多是在下午两点到三点以不同的形式进行,美西是时间最晚的一批。

2021年3月7日,洛杉矶香港论坛成员林先生呼吁香港、北京政府尽快释放47人。(新唐人电视台提供)

此次游行主要目的是针对香港、北京政府,要求港府停止逮捕行动,尽快释放所有的香港政治犯,更呼吁北京政府尊重香港“自治”,恢复当时所签订的原则,让香港社会重回正轨。同时也敦促美国政府可以给予香港人保护,让香港人可以寻求合法途径进入美国。

林先生表示,目前洛杉矶疫情仍未受控制,人们还不能在室内用餐,但仍有这么多旅洛港人愿意站出来支持,所以倍受鼓舞。他说:“虽然内心很沉重,但还是很受鼓舞。”他期待美国两党取得共识合作,对北京政府施予压力,同时联合世界其他盟友向北京政府施压,也提醒美国政府需留意2022年北京举办冬季奥运的相关问题。

周末圣莫妮卡海滩的游客众多,不少人遇到声援香港的游行队伍都停下脚步、拿出手机拍照。附近居民卡拉·冈萨雷斯(Carla Gonzalez)特别停下脚踏车,驻足拍摄游行队伍。她说:“中共政府不应以法规去限制人民的言论自由,这是人们最基本的权利。”冈萨雷斯很高兴看到美国的香港人可以上街游行,用行动捍卫自己权利,她表示会继续支持香港人,上网搜寻、了解香港发生的事情,她说:“我和香港站在一起。”

2021年3月7日,圣莫妮卡海滩附近居民卡拉·冈萨雷斯(Carla Gonzalez)表示自己与香港站在一起。(新唐人电视台提供)

台湾人公共事务会(FAPA)洛杉矶分会会长李贤群也特地参与此活动,他同时也是全美台湾人权协会会长,长年关注人权议题。李贤群说:“香港是台湾的兄弟,今天香港遭受中共迫害,台湾也在遭受中共的威胁,我们应该要将遭受中共迫害的小国家团结起来,中共真的是世界的祸源。”

2021年3月7日,台湾人公共事务会(FAPA)洛杉矶分会会长李贤群认为中共对世界完全没有贡献,只有破坏世界。(新唐人电视台提供)

李贤群发现其实不只有香港人、台湾人来参加这个声援活动,在人群中还有来自中国的反共人士。他说:“西藏、维吾尔族人都应该来参加。将来亚洲甚至全世界反对共产党的民族都一起来对抗中共。”

李贤群认为,此次全球疫情中共难辞其咎,他用《白蛇传》中放毒、卖药赚钱的桥段来比喻中共:“放毒的是它(中共),解毒的也是它(中共)”。李贤群说:“中共在这个疫情上据说赚了一百亿美元,这是一个可恶的国家,对世界完全没有贡献,只有破坏世界。”

前往声援香港的中国维权人士界立建当众撕毁中共五星旗,他的行动引发观众喝采。一名声援香港的西人受鼓舞,也上前动手撕旗,随即又有一位香港移民参与,三人联手将中共五星旗撕成碎片。

洛杉矶香港论坛成员龙哥说:“这47人被政府无理逮捕,这是不公平、不合理也不合法的,我们不知道走出来能不能帮他们,但希望出来发声,让更多美国人知道中共怎么迫害香港。”

目前香港人已无法再上街头发声,因为只要做一点小小的动作,就可能被港警以《国安法》抓捕,但龙哥认为全球各国都会支持争取民主的国家。他以这次中共禁止台湾凤梨出口为例,最后反倒让凤梨在日本卖得很好,因为有些日本人就是宁愿买贵一点的台湾凤梨,以表示对中共的抵制。他认为只要勇敢站出来发声,必然会有更多人支持,获取应有的关注,一点也不需要畏惧中共的威胁。

洛杉矶各界人士纪念李文亮 举办多种形式活动

今年2月7日,是中国新冠疫情“吹哨人”李文亮去世一周年的日子。美国洛杉矶各界不少民主活动人士和艺术家举办了形式各异的活动,对李文亮进行悼念,并对中国当局表达了他们的抗议。

2020年2月7日,中国武汉市中心医院眼科医生李文亮因感染新冠肺炎去世。李文亮在去世前,曾因在网上揭露疫情而被当地派出所“提出警示和训诫”。此后,他被人称为新冠疫情的“吹哨人”。今年2月上旬,在李文亮去世一周年之际,洛杉矶各界人士举行了一系列活动,对李文亮表达悼念之情,并向中国政府表达抗议。

2月6日,洛杉矶“视觉艺术家协会”(The Visual Artists Guild)在油管(YouTube)上公布了一段时长19分钟的英文视频,题为《李文亮医生逝世周年纪念》(Anniversary of Dr Li Wenliang Passing)。在视频中,“视觉艺术家协会”成员呼吁,在武汉的世界卫生组织成员应在李文亮去世一周年之际,对相关医院、实验室的所有记录进行研究,并采访当地的一线医护人员,从而使全世界能够找到真正战胜新冠疫情的办法。此外,“视觉艺术家协会”在视频中也呼吁中国政府释放独立调查武汉疫情的张展、陈秋实、方斌等公民记者。

“视觉艺术家协会”会长刘雅雅表示:“我们认为,中国政府应该让世卫的人,亲自和武汉的所有工作人员查病毒的来源,并亲自去看武汉的实验室。”

2月7日,约三十人在下午3时聚集在中国驻洛杉矶领事馆门前,进行了纪念李文亮及要求中国当局释放香港壹传媒创办人黎智英的示威活动,整个活动持续时间约为一小时。该活动由两名中国民主党成员发起,参加者包括来自中国大陆及香港的各界人士。活动参加者手持写有“纪念李文亮医生”、“纪念李文亮,释放黎智英”、“释放公民记者张展”、“释放公民记者方斌”、“光复香港,时代革命”等字样的标语,呼喊口号,并发表多篇现场演说。

本次活动发起人之一闫涛向记者介绍了活动的用意:“2月7号是李文亮逝世一周年,我们想抗议中国政府打压‘吹哨人’,这是其中一个目的。另外一个就是马上要过春节了,香港的民主人士,尤其是像黎智英这种年事已高的,我们想要求中国政府马上把他们释放,让他们回家过年。”

活动的另一位发起人刘佳鑫则表示:“这个活动大概有三十人左右参加,因为是疫情期间嘛,所以没有邀请那么多人来,都是自愿原则。”

现居洛杉矶的香港民主派政党“人民力量”成员陈先生也参加了本次集会。在介绍他参加本次活动的目的时,他说:“最主要,我们要给大陆施加一点压力,逼使他们释放香港所有政治犯,黎智英、黄之锋、周庭、谭德志。因为在这次运动中,共产党在秋后算账,逼得香港人现在移民的移民、逃亡的逃亡。我们一定要给中共施加多一点压力。”

除上述活动外,“视觉艺术家”还在近日对旅英作家马建进行专访,听他分析了《武汉日记》作者方方持续遭到人身攻击的原因。在访谈中,马建表示,方方在一年以来不断遭受攻击,与中国当局鼓吹民族主义有关:“攻击方方的其实是民族仇恨。习近平的中国梦是建立在八国联军打败了中国的耻辱之上的,就像纳粹的崛起起源于一战失败的耻辱一样。当巴黎有人抗议在北京举办奥运时,那些中国画家如王广义等等,就成群结队地站出来痛诉西方文明世界,拒绝去法国参展。”

自由亚洲电台特约记者孙诚旧金山报道 责编:嘉远 网编:瑞哲

2020回顾:新冠疫情是最敏感词

多灾多难的2020年终于过去了。由于新冠疫情仍然肆虐全球,知道大家的心情和以前的新年并不一样。

今天的《网络博弈》节目我们给大家回顾一下过去一年《网络博弈》节目的重要内容。

2020年从中国打压李文亮吹哨开始

相信大家还记得2020年新年是怎样开始的。2020年的新年是在湖北武汉中心医院眼科医生李文亮有关新冠疫情的吹哨被武汉警方定为是“谣言”受到训诫开始。

李文亮最早于2019年12月30号在大学医学校友微信群里披露发现不明肺炎,提醒大家小心。几天之内,李文亮被单位领导谈话、被武汉警方训诫。2020年2月7号,34岁的李文亮因感染新冠疫情去世,引发全球悼念。

李文亮去世之后,迫于民间压力,中国国家监察委调查组3月19号发表调查报告,要求武汉警方撤销对李文亮的训诫。美国时事评论人吴建民在3月25号的《网络博弈》节目中分析了网友为何对中国这个官方报告非常不满。

多少个“李文亮”被整肃

中国各地采取严厉措施,打压网上有关新冠疫情的信息,因发布疫情受打压的何止李文亮一个人。很多在微博微信上无意中议论新冠疫情的普通民众也遭到整肃。

2020年2月5号,我制作的《网络博弈》题为《疫情当前,公安处置了多少个李文亮》。在这期节目里,跟踪中国网络审查情况的王先生透露,据他根据中国官媒报道、官方网站和私下渠道了解到的信息,新冠疫情在中国爆发刚刚几个星期,各地因在社媒和网络平台因谈论疫情被公安处置的案例已经超过200多个。

据王先生的统计,2020年前6个月,中国至少有546人因谈论新冠疫情遭到惩罚,受惩罚方式有拘留、判刑、传唤、失去工作等。王先生把每个案例当事人的名字和消息来源都发布在美国推特网上。

这其中除了李文亮、北京律师陈秋实和武汉公民方斌、原央视主持人李泽华以外,多数都是无名之辈。被捕的原因多数是因为在社媒上随便议论了新冠疫情,结果祸从口出,被司法机关指责为“散布谣言”、“寻衅滋事”。王先生在8月19号的《网络博弈》节目中表示,这些案例其实都是因言获罪的案子。

任志强批“一尊”入狱获刑18年

2020年的《网络博弈》我们重点报道了一些备受舆论关注的因网络文章而入狱的个案。

一个是中国网络大V、已经退休的原北京市华远集团董事长任志强案。任志强2020年3月中旬失踪后,他的名字在中国网络上成为网络删帖的敏感词。一篇作者署名为“任志强”、批评中国领导人处理新冠病毒肺炎疫情反应的文章在中国全网删除。这篇文章标题为《剥光衣服坚持当皇帝的小丑》,它猛烈抨击中国隐瞒新冠病毒肺炎疫情、官媒虚假宣传吹捧中国领导人、打压民间吹哨人言论,并暗指中国领导人习近平为“剥光了衣服坚持当皇帝的小丑”。

《网络博弈》节目详细报道了这篇文章的内容。2020年9月22日,任志强被以“贪污罪、受贿罪、挪用公款罪、国有公司人员滥用职权罪”获刑18年。

一位旅居美国洛杉矶、笔名为“一剑飘尘”的华人企业家、作家和时事评论人士3月底在推特网上参与联名呼吁中国释放任志强的活动。他在4月1号的《网络博弈》节目中谈到了他为什么支持任志强这样中国体制内的一个知名企业家。

许章润被抓数日,罪名令人哗然

另一个是清华大学法学教授许章润7月6号在北京被捕事件。北京抓许章润的理由是涉嫌“嫖娼”,引起舆论哗然。我们《网络博弈》节目7月8号报道,中国微博、微信和百度上将许章润消息封锁屏蔽。

海外舆论普遍认为,许章润被抓是因为他最近两三年写多篇激烈批评习近平倒行逆施的文章,包括2020年5月21日发表的文章《世界文明大洋上的中国孤舟——全球体系背景下新冠疫情的政治观与文明论》。这篇文章犀利指出新冠疫情使中国在全球处于孤立局面,呼吁中国进行制度改革。这些文章在中国网络上都遭到封禁。许章润7月12号获释。

旅美分析人士秦鹏在2020年7月8号的《网络博弈》节目中表示,中国以“嫖娼”罪名诬陷一个有良心的知识分子,实在令人吃惊。

质疑良心企业家孙大午案评论遭删除

2020年11月11号,中国知名私营企业家、大午农牧集团创办人孙大午被抓,中国社媒上有质疑孙大午公司被警方控制属违法的声音。11月18号,《网络博弈》报道,中国社媒上这类质疑微博遭删除。官方指控大午集团孙大午等人涉嫌寻衅滋事、破坏生产经营等违法犯罪。外界分析,孙大午被抓显示,中国打压有良心的企业家。

《网络博弈》报道了孙大午的被禁文章《面对恐怖你能怎样》一文的内容。把这篇文章翻译成英文的美国的改变中国网站创办人曹雅学女士在《网络博弈》节目中表示,孙大午是中国罕见的、在自己的企业里试图推行民主宪政理念的人,这次被抓部分原因也是因言获罪。

女公民记者张展获刑4年

去年我们的节目还关注了上海女公民记者张展一案。来自陕西、在上海工作的女公民记者张展于5月14号被捕,12月28号在上海被以“寻衅滋事”的罪名判处4年刑期,原因是她在今年2月至5月期间,在遭到中国封禁的美国油管网上发视频,批评武汉隐瞒疫情信息。张展在被关押期间,绝食数月,显示不屈服、不认罪的倔强。

12月30号的《网络博弈》节目以《张展,你好好活着》为题,报道了国际社会对这位37岁的女公民记者的关注,播出了张展2020年2月至5月期间在美国油管网上发出的视频片段。

特朗普致WHO公开信遭微博百分之百删除

中国不仅在网络和社媒上试图消除中国人所写的批评政府的声音,也封锁屏蔽美国政要发表的涉及中国或者针对中国的言论。

美国总统特朗普5月18号发表致世界卫生组织总干事谭德塞的公开信,批评世界卫生组织在新冠疫情信息发布上没有表现出脱离中国影响的独立性,在中国对疫情信息不透明度情况下还表扬中国透明。

《网络博弈》节目6月3号报道,据美国一家舆情公司研究发现,特朗普这封公开信在中国社媒新浪微博上百分之百遭到删除,即网友转发一次,就删除一次。《网络博弈》节目报道了特朗普这篇公开信的全文。《网络博弈》节目还播出了美国一家生物医学信息公司创办人陈贤丰博士关于中国为何删除特朗普总统这封公开信原因的分析。

美国国安官员中文演讲遭删

202年5月4号,中文名字叫“博明”的美国白宫副国家安全顾问马修.波廷格先生在一所大学网络视频研讨会上发表中文视频演讲,谈五四运动的意义和美中关系。介绍这个视频的网友文章在中国微博微信上被封禁。

这个视频在全球华人圈引起轰动,因为他以全新角度谈到五四运动的意义,特别是中国历史书从来不提的中国外交官张鹏春对起草《世界人权宣言》所做出的贡献,令全球华人耳目一新。5月6号的《网络博弈》播出了博明中文演讲片段。

中国是囚禁记者最大监狱

过去一年,《网络博弈》节目及时追踪中国民众翻墙到海外网站表达跟中国官方论调不同观点的情况,包括中国家喻户晓的原央视《实话实说》节目主持人崔永元在中国沉寂1年多之后,于5月初在美国推特网和油管网视频中现身,评论时事,支持出版《方方日记》的方方。

最后,在圣诞节前夕,《网络博弈》节目报道了为什么美国纽约非政府组织保护记者委员会再次把中国称为囚禁记者的最大监狱。经过这个非政府组织证实,截至2020年12月,中国有47位新闻工作者被关押。

监管自由亚洲电台的美国全球媒体总署CEO迈克尔.帕克先生在接受我的采访时表示,中国出现这种情况,并不令人感到吃惊。他鼓励自由亚洲电台听众继续收听我们的节目。

好的,听众朋友,今天的《网络博弈》节目为您总结了过去一年我们播出的节目内容,这些内容是过去一年中国封锁网络和社媒言论审查的记录。

新的一年,我们继续监督中国网络审查状况。

祝各位新年快乐!

Photos: Hong Kong Protesters Return to the Streets

PostBy: 殷楚楚-chuchu yin

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens filled the city’s streets for a second weekend of protest against a controversial extradition bill that would allow authorities to send suspected criminals to China. The demonstration took place despite an earlier statement from Chief Executive Carrie Lam indicating that the proposed bill would be suspended indefinitely. Marchers were calling for Hong Kong’s leadership to step down and for a full withdrawal of the extradition bill. Organizers claim that more than 2 million people took part in the march in Hong Kong on Sunday.

A protester clenches his fist as hundreds of thousands of people march on the streets to stage a protest against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

People pay their respects at the site where a man fell from a scaffolding at the Pacific Place complex while protesting against a proposed extradition bill, in Hong Kong, on June 16, 2019.

A man takes a selfie with a protest poster before sticking it to the wall of a walkway near the Legislative Council ahead of a speech by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on June 14, 2019.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, holds a press conference in Hong Kong on June 15, 2019. Lam said she will suspend a proposed extradition bill indefinitely in response to widespread public unhappiness over the measure, which would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in mainland courts.

This general view shows thousands of protesters gathered ahead of the start of a new rally against a controversial extradition-law proposal in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Protesters in a subway station, photographed on their way to the rally in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019

Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration demanding that Hong Kong’s leaders step down and withdraw the extradition bill, on June 16, 2019.

A large banner protesting against the extradition bill that reads “Fight for HK,” hung by pro-democracy protesters above Hong Kong on June 16, 2019

Protesters march on the streets against an extradition bill in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Protesters hold placards as they prepare to demonstrate against the now suspended extradition bill on June 16, 2019.

A woman takes pictures from a rooftop as protesters march on a street below on June 16, 2019. 

An overhead view shows thousands of protesters marching through the street in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Marchers continue to protest an extradition bill on June 16, 2019.

Protesters march through the streets of Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Protesters hold banners and shout slogans as they fill the streets of Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Protesters dressed in black take part in a new rally against a controversial extradition-law proposal in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Protesters march in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Demonstrators gather along a police barricade on June 16, 2019.

A protester with a mask gathers with others near the Legislative Council as they continue protesting against the unpopular extradition bill in Hong Kong early on June 17, 2019.

A protester holds a flag of Hong Kong between police and demonstrators outside the Office of the Chief Executive in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.

Mourners hold candles during a vigil for a protester who died the previous night during a rally in Hong Kong, on June 17, 2019.

Protesters gather along a road after taking part in a march and rally on June 16, 2019. 

A helmet and messages of support for the protest against a proposed extradition bill are seen displayed in the early morning in Hong Kong on June 17, 2019.

Barricades, placed in an underground tunnel by protesters, photographed after a demonstration against the now suspended extradition bill on June 17, 2019

Hong Kong Is on the Frontlines of a Global Battle For Freedom

PostBy: 殷楚楚-chuchu yin

Protesters throw back a tear gas canister fired by police during a rally against an extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12.

Hong Kong Is on the Frontlines of a Global Battle For Freedom

By Feliz SolomonJune 12, 2019 9:00 PM EDT

The crowds weren’t just equipped for a storm, they were counting on one. When rain started to fall on the tens of thousands of mostly young people amassed around Hong Kong’s legislature on the morning of June 12, umbrellas popped open with loud shouts of “Ga yau!” — a Cantonese cheer meaning “Add oil,” as to a fire. Within hours, the flimsy canopies were flipped sideways and turned into makeshift shields against tear gas and pepper spray fired by local police. They proved less reliable against rubber bullets, however, and might offer no protection at all against the authoritarian forces that loom over the entire island.

But the point was to try.

The protests were hardly the first in the former British colony since it was handed over to China in 1997. The specter of greater control by communist authorities on the mainland had driven Hong Kongers onto the streets in 2003, 2012 and 2014. But this time, the numbers were greater than ever before and the escalation carried at least the sense of a showdown.Photograph by Kin Cheung—AP

The specific issue at hand was a bill that would allow the extradition of fugitives to stand trial in mainland China. The legislation, fast-tracked by the city’s leadership, is widely seen as a threat to the unique freedoms this city of 7 million enjoys. Under the terms of the handover, Hong Kong has operated under a customized model called “one country, two systems,” which gave it a 50-year period of effective self-rule, even though it is part of China. Its history as a lucrative colonial port town left a liberal legacy unique in the People’s Republic.

Hong Kongers have long lived a freer, more cosmopolitan lifestyle than most Chinese, and prejudice against mainlanders is pervasive. Free speech and an independent press are enshrined in the Basic Law that has governed the city since the handover. They’re proud of their distinct cuisine and language, speaking Cantonese rather than the Mandarin more common in greater China.

But critics fear that China’s encroachment may bring an end to all that. Beijing might use the law to nab opponents and submit them to its notoriously opaque justice system, they say. The risk could extend beyond residents, even to visitors who pass through the city’s transit hub. “If Hong Kong’s extradition bill becomes law,” says Sean King, a former U.S. diplomat in Asia and currently senior vice president for the consultancy firm Park Strategies, “I’d think very carefully about visiting again anytime soon.”

In other words, the contest for Hong Kong reflects the stakes for the larger world that China seeks to lead.

The rise of Beijing has been the major global story of the new century. But the very breadth of that ascent and the bland labels of the areas where it has edged toward dominance — trade, infrastructure, finance, tech — have served to mask the nature of the system China brings with it. That system is control.

On the mainland, the system appears to go unchallenged, because control is almost total and cast as conformity. Along with a surveillance state, China’s Communist Party has worked to impose a singular vision of Chinese identity in territories where diversity once thrived. In the far western province of Xinjiang, authorities have detained more than a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in concentration camps where they are forced to adopt secular Chinese customs. In Tibet, the party is systematically erasing a rich Buddhist heritage. President Xi Jinping has revived nationalism as a unifying force, in step with a rising tide of authoritarians around the globe that U.S. President Donald Trump has in many cases embraced.A police officer pepper-sprays demonstrators during a protest against the extradition law proposal on June 10.A police officer pepper-sprays demonstrators during a protest against the extradition law proposal on June 10. Lam Yik Fei—The New York Times/ReduxDemonstrators overturn metal barriers on June 10, as protests against the extradition law turn violent.Demonstrators overturn metal barriers on June 10, as protests against the extradition law turn violent. Lam Yik Fei—The New York Times/Redux

Now it appears to be Hong Kong’s turn to feel the heat of a greater power forcing it into conformity — but China’s freest city won’t give in without a fight. Hong Kong has a long history of mass demonstrations. Significantly, just days before the protests erupted, it was host to one of the largest-ever vigils for the victims of Beijing’s bloody 1989 crackdown on democracy activists at Tiananmen Square. It’s the only place on Chinese soil where the massacre is openly commemorated, while government censors try to wipe it from mainland memory. The spirit of the protests snuffed out 30 years before helped inflame the demonstrations seen in Hong Kong.

“We’re furious, we’re angry, some of us are afraid — but we’re here anyway,” says Laurie Wen, a 48-year-old writer who joined this month’s protests. “The thing that infuriates us the most is pointing to the sky during the day and calling it night.”

Read more: ‘I’m in Prison Because I Fought For My City’s Freedom. Hong Kong’s Extradition Law Would be a Victory for Authoritarianism Everywhere’

Hong Kong’s fresh wave of civil disobedience began with a murder. In February 2018, a pregnant 20-year-old woman from Hong Kong was killed by her boyfriend during a trip to Taiwan. The suspect, Chan Tong-kai, then 19, flew back to Hong Kong and has since been jailed for lesser crimes. Unable to prosecute the Hong Kong resident for a murder beyond the city’s jurisdiction and without legal grounds to send him to Taiwan, the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, pushed for a bill that would allow Chan to be extradited.

But the legislation raised alarm bells. Hong Kong’s courts and Lam would have the authority to transfer suspects to jurisdictions with which the territory has no extradition agreement — not just Taiwan but also mainland China. This presents a threat not just to criminals but potentially to anyone whose behavior offends the Communist Party leadership, from human-rights advocates to business executives.Police officers stand guard during a protest on June 12.Police officers stand guard during a protest on June 12. Billy H.C. Kwok—Getty Images

That helps explain why an unusually diverse assemblage of lawyers, students, stay-at-home moms, business-people and others joined the protests against what they see as an existential assault on their rights. On Sunday, June 9, a two-mile stretch of a central avenue was filled with column after column of protesters in a uniform of plain white T-shirts. From above, the mass of slow-moving city dwellers looked like a giant snake sliding through a forest of skyscrapers and wrapping its jaws around Hong Kong’s legislative headquarters.

If the estimates are even close to accurate, the march was the largest protest in the city’s history; organizers say more than a million people — one-seventh of the population — flooded the streets with chants of “No extradition to China!” and “Carrie Lam, step down!”

The reality is, China already feels empowered to grab its adversaries from Hong Kong soil. In 2015, five book-sellers peddling salacious volumes about mainland politics disappeared; all five eventually resurfaced in China. In 2017, a Chinese tycoon was abducted by secret police from one of the city’s luxury hotels. But the extradition bill would render what are now noteworthy exceptions into something entirely routine; if the option to legally extradite people is on the table, Beijing will use it, critics say.Tear gas is released during a protest on June 12.Tear gas is released during a protest on June 12. Billy H.C. Kwok—Getty ImagesProtesters raise their hands during a protest on June 12.Protesters raise their hands during a protest on June 12. Billy H.C. Kwok—Getty Images

Chinese officials have spoken out in full support of the legislation, but Lam steadfastly denies that the amendments were Beijing’s idea. “This bill was not initiated by the central people’s government. I have not received any instruction or mandate from Beijing,” Lam told reporters at a press conference on June 10. “We were doing it, and we are still doing it, out of our clear conscience and our commitment to Hong Kong.”

Though Lam’s critics describe her as a “puppet” of the mainland, her protests illustrate the importance of maintaining at least the pretense of independence. The Hong Kong government is still haunted by the massive protests of 2003, which forced it to back down on national-security legislation outlawing sedition and criticism of the Chinese government. Scrapping the bill was perceived as an admission that the government knew it was wrong, and Lam is fearful a repeat would destroy both Beijing’s trust in her loyalty and her legitimacy at home. The last time Hong Kongers took to the street in great numbers, in the 2014 student-led occupation of the financial district that became known as the Umbrella Movement, the authorities here and in Beijing refused to grant concessions. Many student leaders were jailed, and some remain behind bars. If Lam gives in now, Hong Kong will have proved that throngs in the street still have currency in the final free enclave of China.Protesters walk through a cloud of tear gas on June 12.Protesters walk through a cloud of tear gas on June 12. Billy H.C. Kwok—Getty Images

This time, unlike in 2014, the protests have taken on a more violent tenor. On the streets, clashes broke out after some demonstrators hurled bricks and bottles at police. The first clouds of tear gas exploded into the crowds just before 4 p.m. on June 12, sending panicked protesters and journalists fleeing for the safety of malls and parking garages. But the demonstrators are defiant, vowing to defy the government until the legislation is dead in the water.

The business and diplomatic communities have answered the call to support them. More than 100 local businesses committed to joining a labor strike on June 12 — an extremely rare event in Hong Kong — fearing the law could even endanger investors and government employees transiting through Hong Kong.

The government has already shown itself willing to punish private companies for offending Beijing; last year, Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was denied a working visa after chairing a talk by a pro-independence activist.

Protest leaders have shown no sign of backing down. “We ask everyone to continue staying here to support the demonstration,” Claudia Mo, a lawmaker with the pro-democracy Civic Party yelled to cheering crowds shortly before they were dispersed. “During Occupy Central in 2014, we said, ‘We will be back.’ Today, we say, ‘We are back!’”

Read more: ‘Hong Kong Was My Refuge, Now Its Freedom Is at Stake’Police advance toward protesters outside the government headquarters on June 12.Police advance toward protesters outside the government headquarters on June 12. Dale De La Rey—AFP/Getty ImagesDemonstrators transport bricks at a protest site on June 12. Police said some protesters threw bricks at officers.Demonstrators transport bricks at a protest site on June 12. Police said some protesters threw bricks at officers. Lucien Lung—Riva Press/Redux

The rift between Beijing and Hong Kong has now been widening for 22 years, and every attempt by the central government to bring Hong Kong further into its fold has triggered panic and protest. This in turn has deepened Beijing’s distrust of Hong Kong, which it sees as disloyal and subject to foreign interference.

News about the latest protests is being heavily censored in China, where state-controlled newspapers have blamed the unrest on “foreign forces” meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs — but experts say it is China’s own interference that may be further alienating its rogue territory.

“By forcing the issue in such an aggressive and abrupt way,” says James Millward, a professor of history at Georgetown University, “China can actually be creating a population in Hong Kong that will dig in and actually redefine itself in opposition to the mainland even more than it has so far.”Protesters shout after police fired tear gas on June 12.Protesters shout after police fired tear gas on June 12. Anthony Wallace—AFP/Getty Images

That risks putting the two sides on a more overt collision course. At best, more sustained opposition to Beijing will lead to political deadlock. At worst, it could lead to punishment in whatever form it deems fit.

Beijing’s tolerance of Hong Kong ultimately comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, and the city may be becoming more trouble than it’s worth. In 1993, four years before the handover, the coastal enclave was China’s cash cow — a financial gateway between East and West. At the time, the city accounted for roughly 27% of China’s GDP. But 26 years later, the mainland is awash in mercantile centers made in its own image and Hong Kong accounts for only about 2.9% of the Chinese economy.

“Uncomfortably for Hong Kongers, and everyone who loves Hong Kong, the city finds itself on the front lines of a global battle between a resurgent Chinese Communist Party and a world that adheres to liberal democratic values,” says Ben Bland, director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute and author of Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow. “The systems maintained by these two blocs are incompatible when pressed up against each other.”Police rest on a street during a rally near the government headquarters on June 12.Police rest on a street during a rally near the government headquarters on June 12. Dale De La Rey—AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s freedoms currently allow it to fight back in ways that other parts of China can’t, but for how long? The state is becoming only more pervasive. -Xinjiang is seen by many as a laboratory for wider application of invasive surveillance. Human-rights groups have reported police methods for harvesting data from Xinjiang residents from phones and ID cards and using it to track and detain supposed threats to public order. “Many people think that Hong Kong may be the next place where it gets rolled out,” says Millward of Georgetown. In the meantime, the memory of Tiananmen — where public protest was ultimately met with tanks and fusillades — is as vivid as it is chilling in Hong Kong.

Like many youths who joined the latest protests, high school student Rachel Liu grew up in a political state scheduled to expire within her lifetime. At 15 years old, she’s tasted the freedom that Hong Kong offers and is afraid of the change an increasingly authoritarian Beijing will bring to the only home she knows. “There are so many officials in China, and they have so much power,” she said. “Even if this amendment doesn’t pass, there will be other amendments, other laws in the future that will bring Hong Kong more and more under China’s control. There’s nothing more important than this movement right now.” — With reporting by Laignee Barron, Aria Chen, Amy Gunia, Abhishyant Kidangoor and Hillary Leung/Hong Kong and Charlie Campbell/Shanghai

六四「最後的秘密」 香港出版中共機密文件再揭權力內幕

PostBy: 殷楚楚-chuchu yin

「六四」資料照片

1989年6月3日深夜至4日凌晨, 中共下令軍隊鎮壓學生民主運動,用武力驅趕佔領北京天安門廣場的大學生,造成至少數百人傷亡。

如何收拾殘局和中共有關「六四」問題的決策內幕一直是中共的最高政治秘密,民間對事件真相追求的努力一直沒有停止,黨內文件不斷以各種渠道公布出來。

「六四」30週年之際,香港新世紀出版社出版《最後的秘密——中共十三屆四中「六四」結論文檔》,公布關於「六四」事件的又一批黨內機密文件,展現「六四」鎮壓後,中共「統一思想」的過程,揭露高層權力運作的機制。

6月19日至21日中共中央政治局擴大會議在北京召開,多位中共元老在會上做了講話或書面發言,隨後,中共十三屆四中全會在西郊賓館召開,489名中共黨內元老和最高級別官員出席。政治局擴大會議上產生的文件,以中央文件的形式下發。這是中共最後一次、也是唯一一次以中央全會的形式對「六四」事件定下結論。

「最後的秘密」

「六四」軍隊開槍20天後,於6月23-24日召開的此次中央全會的主要議題是支持鄧小平的開槍決定,用中央全會的形式,撤銷趙紫陽的總書記職務, 強化 「4.26 社論」對「八九學運」的定性,並集體「學習」鄧小平關於「六四」事件的數個講話和時任總理李鵬關於撤消趙紫陽職務的報告。

數天前舉行的中共政治局擴大會議上的元老講話和高官發言以機密文件的形式發給參會官員,在會議結束時全面回收以確保對外保密。

《最後的秘密》一書收錄了十三屆四中全會下發的27份文件, 共209頁。包括陳雲、楊尚昆、李先念、薄一波、王震、聶榮臻、萬里、彭真、胡啟立、芮杏文等17名中共元老和高官口頭講話和書面表態會議記錄。

鄧小平5月31日和6月16日與高級領導人的談話記錄,以及北京市委李錫銘、市長陳希同和公安部長王芳的報告也在新書文件中。

這些從未公開的內部資料揭露了中共高層政治內幕。深入分析這批珍貴史料,可有助了解中共政權面臨合法性危機時,身處中國最高權力小圈子的中共官員,如何主動或被迫懺悔、站隊和表態,支持鄧小平,批判趙紫陽。

《最後的秘密》

「冒險」出版過程與真實性核實

銅鑼灣書店事件之後,香港的政治類圖書出版業幾乎停滯,獨立出版人面臨極大政治和生存壓力。

在嚴格保密的情況下,新世紀出版社耗時數月對《最後的秘密》一書中披露的文件來源做了考證和說明, 表示本書中的文件由27份文本組成,共209頁,全部來自「六四」天安門事件之後兩次中共高層會議,即北京市委第六屆全體擴大會議和中共十三屆四中全會。但從文件編號缺失5份可看出,本書涵蓋文件並非十三屆四中全會文件的全部。目前估計,缺少中共政治局常委喬石、田紀雲和姚依林的講話。

出版人鮑樸對BBC中文說:「稿件接收時中間人和最終來源為了安全,保密身份,因此來源不能作為出版的條件。是否決定出版最重要的是看稿件的內容,材料必須經過考證和認證,確認文件的真實性。」

出版社稱除了對原始圖像做了少許技術處理,「沒有對文本進行任何選擇、刪除或更改」。身份未知的中間人向出版社的編輯提供了USB數字存儲裝置,原始文件中文字的缺陷沒有加以修復,但出版社編輯發現,這些文件已經做了一些數字處理,比如刪去了文件的編號和絶密標記。

據了解,文件被中共黨內姓名不詳的某高級官員複製並保存了多年,所有文件通過中介人提供,「沒有附加或口頭傳達任何解釋或說明」。

但BBC中文無法獨立對文件進行核實。

此書的重要意義在於可為之前面世的自傳文獻和其他官方文本,形成相互佐證,揭示在中共如何克服黨章程序上的限制,強行罷免趙紫陽,合法化武力鎮壓學生運動,並在開槍後統一思想,為接下來中共的權力體系布局。

本書也成為《改革歷程》和《李鵬六四日記》之後,民間獲得的解讀中共權力幕後高層運作的又一重要歷史文獻。

陳雲講話

高官發言:「國內外敵人——該殺的殺,該判刑的判刑」

引人注目的是,在黨內資歷高於鄧小平的元老陳雲未出席會議,以書面的形式提交兩句話:「一、趙紫陽同志辜負了黨對他的期望。二、我同意中央對趙紫陽同志的處理」。陳雲並未明確表示支持鄧小平使用軍隊鎮壓的決定。

87歲的退休元帥徐向前說,學運的根本目的是「妄圖推翻中國共產黨的領導,顛覆社會主義的中華人民共和國,建立一個反共反社會主義的、完全附庸於西方大國的資產階級共和國」。

對於如何處理「敵人」,81歲的前軍人和國家副主席王震言辭最為激烈,如果「鎮壓反革命暴亂就此完結,我很不贊成」。似乎沒說過癮,王震又提交了一份書面講話(王震是唯一有兩份發言稿的人),細數具體措施:「該殺的殺,該判刑的判刑,勞改、勞教一大批……戴了帽子的,勞改勞教的,一律吊銷城鎮戶口,送到偏遠地區,強制勞動。」

王震強調,「這次我們的方針是,一個不放過,一個不擴大。否則,不足以顯示人民民主專政的威力。」

王震將趙紫陽重用或支持的改革派稱為「像(注:原文)林彪那樣的大小艦隊」。他說這些人「控制一大批輿論工具,到處搞政治性沙龍、演講和集會,甚至鑽進黨和國家的核心部門,佔居重要崗位」。

王震用語強硬,接連兩個四字詞語和一連串並列短語描述他認為的嚴峻形勢:「(他們)上下勾連,內外串通,長期以來進行思想的、輿論的、組織的凖備和精心策劃……發動利用社會上的流氓政治團伙和地主官僚、封建軍閥反動階級殘餘及社會渣滓,企圖以動亂直至暴亂,達到推翻中國共產黨(的目的)。」

針對「國外敵人」,宋平說:「美國多方插手,『美國之音』每天造謠、煽動,唯恐中國不亂。」王震逐個列出了他所認為的海外勢力如何影響學運:金錢收買、思想文化滲透、派遣特務、盜竊情報、製造謠言、挑起動亂、扶植內部敵對勢力等,「除了直接出兵,什麼都用上了」。

被鄧小平臨時授命,取代趙紫陽的江澤民, 以總書記的身份發言,借著對其上任起關鍵作用的《世界經濟導報》事件,指責趙紫陽「採取資產階級政客的態度」。

江澤民含糊了鄧小平和保守派之間的分歧,向鄧效忠,為自己在黨內權力之路獲得平衡。 他的講話文件中表示,「鄧小平同志等老一代革命家健在,一般的工作,我們絶不打擾他們, 但是遇到重大問題,我們還是可以隨時向小平同志請教,聽取其他老一輩革命家的意見」。

趙紫陽
圖像加註文字,實質上已被軟禁的趙紫陽參加了政治局擴大會議,但沒有被安排發言(趙紫陽資料照片)。

實質上已被軟禁的趙紫陽參加了政治局擴大會議,但沒有被安排發言。兩天的會議時間,主要請所有參加會議的黨內元老和中共最高官員逐一發言,表態批判。 鄧小平只在第二天出席。 

據趙紫陽在其《改革歷程》一書中記錄,他堅持在最後進行自辯發言,發言時,與會者「面部緊張,急躁不安」。

正式表決時,據趙回憶,鄧小平說,「到會的人,不管是不是政治局成員,都有權參加表決」。 黨內元老李先念接著說,「這是李鵬給大家的權利(因為李鵬是會議主持人)」。

在趙紫陽看來,這些十分「滑稽」的程序卻意在「以勢壓人」。除趙之外,全體舉手贊成。這場看似合法,但實際無視《黨章》的會議,試圖使中共鎮壓八九學運合法化。

。

被迫認錯:「輿論失控」因趙而起

《最後的秘密》涵蓋的機密文件還包括因反對鎮壓而遭到撤職的政治局常委胡啟立,以及主管宣傳的芮杏文和統戰部部長閻明復。他們承認,在危機時執行了趙紫陽的指示。這暴露出黨內80年代對新聞與文藝自由的不同路線。但不少「六四」研究者認為,他們的認錯是迫不得已。

閻明復在講話中說,自己在「八九」學運期間經歷了從「比較清醒」到「嚴重模糊、矛盾重重」的過程。但5月19日戒嚴大會後,聽了彭真、楊尚昆、李鵬、喬石的談話,「特別是聽了傳達小平同志重要講話,才又重新有了比較清醒認識」。

「八九」學運期間,5月20日北京戒嚴前,中國的新聞工作者爭取到了極為短暫的新聞自由。在刊發黨內宣傳講話的間隙,得以客觀、公正地報道學運。

胡啟立的講話為此提供了事實依據。他說,「十二日,我按照紫陽同志的批示,向首都各大新聞單位主編傳達了他的講話」。他被迫承認,這次傳達是「向新聞界燒了一把火」,令「錯誤的輿論導向」出現。

芮杏文也表示,他向首都新聞單位負責人傳達了趙紫陽的批示,因而「給新聞單位負責人鬆了綁,使新聞宣傳決了口,輿論失控越來越嚴重,直至完全失控」。

文藝思想上,芮杏文提到趙紫陽與鄧小平的不同政策。他說,鄧小平的出發點是,「黨對文藝工作要按照文藝創作規律來管,不要亂管,不要亂干涉」。而趙紫陽則認為「少管、不管」。

揭秘的意義

基於此套機密文件和其他資料,對本書做了深入史料考證的「六四」親歷者和旅美作家吳禹論接受BBC獨家採訪時說:「新書完整呈現了一套罕見的歷史資料,揭示了中共高層運作機制。在危機時刻,正是這種機制,完全無視任何事實、意識形態、一切法律或規章制度, 而確保獨一無二的最高領袖掌握權力。這是中共執政的法寶。」

另一位為此書做了導言的美國政治學者黎安友評價:「本書所刊登的文件闡述了中共官方對鄧小平10年改革,1989年危機以及之後黨的方針的看法。 這一立場在其後三十年基本上保持不變, 並是現今習近平領導的共產黨的指導思想。」

「這些黨內學習材料對了解和研究中國黨內高層政治規則,1980年代高層嚴重政策分歧導致幾近崩潰的困境、以及今天仍然面臨的問題,提供了十分難得的機會。這些文件也為了解習近平治下當今共產黨領導心態提供了獨特的視角」。

Liu Xiaobo: The man China couldn’t erase

PostBy: 殷楚楚-chuchu yin

“There is nothing criminal in anything I have done but I have no complaints.”

So stated Liu Xiaobo in court in 2009, and in the eight long prison years between then and now, he refused to recant his commitment to democracy. No wonder China’s leaders are as afraid of him in death as they were in life.

The Chinese Communist Party was once a party of conviction, with martyrs prepared to die for their cause, but it’s had nearly 70 years in power to become an ossified and cynical establishment. It imprisons those who demand their constitutional rights, bans all mention of them at home and uses its economic might abroad to exact silence from foreign governments. Under President Xi, China has pursued this repression with great vigour and success. Liu Xiaobo is a rare defeat.

Beijing’s problem began in 2010 when he won a Nobel Peace Prize. That immediately catapulted Liu Xiaobo into an international A-list of those imprisoned for their beliefs, alongside Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Carl von Ossietzky.

The last in that list may be unfamiliar to some, but to Beijing he’s a particularly uncomfortable parallel. Carl von Ossietzky was a German pacifist who won the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize while incarcerated in a concentration camp. Hitler would not allow a member of the laureate’s family to collect the award on his behalf.

Liu Xiaobo was also serving a prison sentence for subversion when he won the peace prize. Beijing would not let his wife collect the award and instead placed her under house arrest. Liu Xiaobo was represented at the 2010 award ceremony in Oslo by an empty chair and the comparisons began between 21st Century China and 1930s Germany.

The empty chair with Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize on it
While in jail, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. An empty chair was left for him at the ceremony

Strict censorship is another shared feature of both cases. Mention of Carl von Ossietzky’s 1935 Nobel peace prize was banned in Nazi Germany and the same is true of Liu Xiaobo’s award in China today. For a time China even banned the search term “empty chair”. So he has been an embarrassment to China internationally, but at home few Chinese are aware of him. Even as foreign doctors contradicted the Chinese hospital on his fitness to travel, and Hong Kong saw vigils demanding his release, blanket censorship in mainland China kept the public largely ignorant of the dying Nobel laureate in their midst.

Selective amnesia is state policy in China and from Liu Xiaobo’s imprisonment until his death, the government worked hard to erase his memory. To make it hard for family and friends to visit, he was jailed nearly 400 miles from home. His wife Liu Xia was shrouded in surveillance so suffocating that she gradually fell victim to mental and physical ill health. Beijing punished the Norwegian government to the point where Oslo now shrinks from comment on Chinese human rights or Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel prize.

An undated handout photo made available through the twitter account of Guangzhou-based activist Ye Du, shows Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (L) with his wife Liu Xia, at an undisclosed location.
Liu Xiaobo (left) is seen here with his wife Liu Xia (right) in this undated photo

But in death as in life, Liu Xiaobo has refused to be erased. The video footage of the dying man which China released outside the country was clearly intended to prove to the world that everything was done to give him a comfortable death. The unintended consequence is to make him a martyr for China’s downtrodden democracy movement and to deliver a new parallel with the Nobel Peace Prize of 1930s Germany.

Liu Xiaobo was granted medical parole only in the terminal stage of his illness, and even in hospital he was under close guard with many friends denied access to his bedside. Nearly 80 years ago, Carl von Ossietzky also died in hospital under prison guard after medical treatment came too late to save him.

Comparisons with the human rights record and propaganda efforts of Nazi Germany are particularly dismaying for Beijing after a period in which it feels it has successfully legitimised its one-party state on the world stage. At the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, no world leader publicly challenged President Xi over Liu Xiaobo’s treatment. With China increasingly powerful abroad and punitive at home, there are few voices raised on behalf of its political dissidents.

Liu Xiaobo was not always a dissident. An outspoken academic with a promising career and a passport to travel, until 1989 he’d led a charmed life. The Tiananmen Square democracy movement that year was the fork in his path. After the massacre on June 4th, the costs of defying the Party were tragically clear to all.

Most of his contemporaries, and of the generations which followed, judged those costs too high. They chose life, liberty and a stake in the system.

Liu Xiaobo was one of the few who took the other fork. He stayed true to the ideals of 1989 for the rest of his life, renouncing first his opportunities to leave China, and then, repeatedly, his liberty. Even in recent years, his lawyers said he had turned down the offer of freedom in exchange for a confession of guilt.

‘If you want to enter hell, don’t complain of the dark….’

Liu Xiaobo once wrote. And in the statement from his trial which was read at his Nobel award ceremony alongside his empty chair, Liu Xiaobo said he felt no ill will towards his jailers and hoped to transcend his personal experience.

No wonder such a man seemed dangerous to Beijing. For a jealous ruling party, an outsider with conviction is an affront, and those who cannot be bought or intimidated are mortal enemies.

But for Liu Xiaobo the struggle is over. The image of his empty deathbed will now haunt China like the image of his empty chair. And while Beijing continues to intimidate, persecute and punish those who follow his lead, it will not erase the memory of its Nobel prize winner any more than Nazi Germany erased its shame 81 years ago.

Reporter’s Notebook: Uighurs Held For ‘Extremist Thoughts’ They Didn’t Know They Had

PostBy: 殷楚楚-chuchu yin

Uighurs at a detention facility in Kashgar study Mandarin. They also study Chinese law and a variety of vocational skills. NPR visited the facility as part of a Chinese government-sponsored tour.Rob Schmitz/NPR

When it comes to Chinese authorities’ eagerness to manage perceptions of the way they treat Muslim citizens in the Xinjiang region, it would be hard to beat a recent musical performance staged for an audience of foreign journalists.

On the fifth day of a government-sponsored media tour last month, at a detention facility in the far-western city of Kashgar, two dozen Uighur detainees belted out the American children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”

The group of adults, some as old as 40 and dressed in colorful ethnic Uighur costumes, stumbled over the English lyrics. From the front of a classroom, their teacher guided them to stand up, sing and — at the song’s cue — clap their hands in unison: an attempt to show the visiting group of skeptical reporters that, despite the circumstances, they were living up to the lyrics.

It was a tough sell. The detainees have been locked away for months — for being, as authorities put it, “infected with extremist thoughts.” The U.S. and United Nations estimate that China has detained hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslims in internment camps in the vast, predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Some who have been released and managed to flee China have described these places to NPR as concentration camps where authorities brainwash detainees with Communist Party doctrine. Some claim they were tortured.

In Kashgar, students walk toward a dormitory on the campus of a detention facility for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.Rob Schmitz/NPR

China’s government calls these places “vocational training centers.” Last month’s media tour at two of the camps displayed a choreographed attempt to change a narrative that is spinning out of Beijing’s control.

Mejit Mahmut, the ethnic Uighur principal of what authorities call the Kashgar Vocational Education and Training Center, insists that the 1,500 students under his watch, most of whom are Uighur, are treated well and are free to return home to their families on weekends.

“People here have been infected by extremist thoughts,” says Mahmut. “They broke the relevant laws, but their crimes are so minor that they are exempted from criminal punishment. The government wants to save and educate them, converting them here at this center.”

Mahmut says detainees spend their days taking classes in Mandarin (which many of them don’t speak) and Chinese law (to understand the laws they allegedly broke) and learning vocational skills that can lead them into careers as tour guides, online retailers or electricians. Mahmut says the Kashgar government “has proof” that it has been able to prevent terrorist activities through this type of training.

Uighur detainees at a detention facility in Kashgar take vocational classes. All the detainees in this class admitted to having been “infected with extremist thoughts.”Rob Schmitz/NPR

When pressed, he’s not able to offer evidence of this. Instead, he explains how students ended up at his facility.

“Some believed extremist ideas like killing nonbelievers would result in them going to heaven, so they participated in some activities that undermined social stability,” he says. “Others overgeneralized the concept of halal,” he says — what is permissible under Islamic law.

“They considered many things un-halal,” he continues. “They believed government-issued IDs, money and daily appliances were from nonbelievers and therefore un-halal. This is a major problem, and they were reported to authorities by their neighbors, and then police will talk to them to tell them what they’ve done wrong.”

Mahmut says students stay in the facility he oversees for an average of eight months and can leave after doing well on exams. But none of the several detainees the government made available to NPR said it was clear when they could return home.

Ayiguyi Abdel-Rahman, a 30-year-old mother of two, says she has been detained for 10 months. Taking a break from her Chinese law class to talk with NPR, she says she doesn’t know when she’ll get out.

When asked why she had been detained, she responds, “I have serious extremist thoughts” — echoing nearly every detainee who spoke with NPR. “I made my children participate in religious activities from a young age. And I didn’t let them sing and dance in a cultural entertainment activity. I interfered with their personal freedom.”

Abdel-Rahman, dressed in a white T-shirt and a pink hoodie, says she also sent welfare checks back to the government because she didn’t think they were halal. She didn’t allow her children to watch TV cartoons for the same reason. “I’m very grateful for the [Communist] Party and the government for giving me such a good opportunity to study,” she says. “I’ve learned what I should and what I shouldn’t do, what is legal and what is illegal, what is religion and what is extremism.”

Abdel-Rahman’s 25-year-old classmate Yusu Pujiang has been in the facility for eight months and had to quit his job as a salesman to live there. One reason for his detention: “I forced my wife to stay home and not work,” he tells NPR. “I didn’t think the money women earned was halal. My neighbors reported me to the authorities.”

Pujiang says police also looked through his phone and saw that he had viewed online videos showing Osama bin Laden training al-Qaida members.

Mejit Mahmut is the principal of the Kashgar Vocational Education and Training Center, a facility with 1,500 residents, most of them Uighur. “People here have been infected by extremist thoughts,” he says. “The government wants to save and educate them, converting them here at this center.”Rob Schmitz/NPR

“I didn’t know I was breaking the law,” says Pujiang. “I made a big mistake. But the party and the government thought I was a victim, so they’ve given me a great opportunity to correct my behavior.”

Prior to their incarceration, none of the detainees NPR interviewed had understood that what they had done was against the law, and they didn’t understand that their thoughts qualified as extremist according to Chinese authorities’ definition.

“When the students arrive here, they don’t know what extremist thoughts are,” says Hei Lili, a teacher at another detention facility in the city of Atushi. “They learn that here in this facility. Most people in southern Xinjiang don’t understand Chinese. They don’t know much about China’s laws either. They’re uneducated and unskilled.”

This raises the question that many human rights advocates are asking: Why is it fair to detain Muslims for acting on what the state considers “extremist thoughts” if they don’t know what that means?

This question is posed to Du Bin, division chief of the Information Office of China’s Office of the State Council, the only Chinese official on the media tour who’s willing to speak on the record. His response: “If we only seek justice through due process, as in only punishing terrorists after they fired shots and hurt victims, let me ask you, ‘Is seeking justice in procedure still meaningful?’ If we take the appropriate actions and stop the attacker before he makes his move, we save the lives of the attacker, his family, and at the same time, we ensure the safety of victims.”

Du’s justification for interning Muslim minorities in Xinjiang for “extremist thoughts” seems reminiscent of the plotline for the 2002 sci-fi film Minority Report, and he makes it clear to the foreign journalists on the tour that his opinions are his own, not those of the government agency he works for.

“Take the Sri Lanka and 9/11 attacks as examples,” Du continues. “What’s the point of ensuring justice after due process, when all the victims have been killed? That’s why I’m emphasizing the preventative measures the Chinese government takes. It’s proven that this measure is the key to fight terrorism.”

When asked to clarify if he’s saying the Chinese government is detaining those who are about to commit crimes, Du hedges. He reiterates that if people are showing signs of breaking the law, local authorities will decide whether they need to be detained under the region’s so-called “de-extremification” laws.

Du says detaining and educating them and providing job skills are all necessary to help the Xinjiang region achieve a national goal of eradicating poverty by 2020.

When pressed to provide the exact number of people inside Xinjiang’s network of detention facilities, Du explains why he won’t.

“If the Chinese government gives you an exact number that can endure the test of time after conducting a strict census, other countries would say we detained too many people in ‘concentration camps,’ ” he says. “If we give you a small number, you would say the Chinese government is lying, right? We’re in a dilemma.”

No matter the numbers, the situation for Muslims inside the detention camps is grave, says Serikjan Bilash, director of the Kazakh human rights group Atajurt. The group has collected more than 1,000 testimonies from families of those who have been detained. Many of them have fled across China’s northwestern border to Kazakhstan.

“These so-called study centers are prisons,” Bilash told NPR last October in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city. “They’re hell. It’s we in Kazakhstan who are disclosing what is happening in Xinjiang. We aren’t afraid to speak up because Kazakhstan is more democratic than China.”

Bilash may have spoken too soon. In March, just five months after NPR interviewed him, Kazakh authorities detained him on suspicion of “inciting ethnic hatred.” Police conducted a raid on Atajurt’s Almaty office. Bilash remains under house arrest. Kazakhstan’s government is an ally of Beijing and has positioned itself as “the buckle” in China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, its global trade and investment campaign.

Back in Kashgar, as authorities finish up their tour of the Vocational Education and Training Center, they offer journalists a look inside a student dormitory. The detainees say they sleep six to a room in comfortable accommodations. But in one corner of the complex, there is writing etched into a wall. It looks like someone has tried to paint over it, but the message is still legible. The first line: “This room is excellent.” Then, underneath: “Bear with it, my heart.”