Blind Chinese human rights defender still under house arrest


ChinaAid (www.chinaaid.org ) reports that after blind human rights defender Chen Guangcheng was recently interviewed by a Chinese radio reporter, media lost direct contact with him and his wife, reports Michael Ireland, chief correspondent, ASSIST News Service.

However, says ChinaAid, one of their friends, Zeng Jinyan, mentioned in her blog that she had contacted Chen and his wife on September 23. Since that date, there has been no word from them.

Radio Free Asia reporter Zhang Min interviewed Chen on September 13 and provided the information to ChinaAid.

Since then, ChinaAid reports, family friend Zeng Jinyan wrote in her blog, “Chen Guangcheng’s mother-in-law recently visited Chen in his home. When she arrived, she was physically searched by government-paid guards keeping Chen’s family under house arrest. A few days before, on the September 20, the local communist leader of the town invaded Chen’s home with at least 4 policemen and over 20 guards. They stayed there for six hours.”

ChinaAid says the guards on watch currently have free rein of Chen’s house, intruding any time they wish. Not only have they invaded the family’s privacy — they also threatened them, saying, “Don’t you really know who holds your little life in their hands?”

ChinaAid went on to add that the local government forced Chen to cut off all external communications. The guards do not allow Chen or his wife out of their house. The family relies on Chen’s 78-year-old mother, the only one who is allowed to go out, to buy their food. The guards have even forbidden Chen’s 5-year-old daughter from going to school.

ChianAid explained that Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng, both Christian human rights defenders who continue to suffer for their work, were nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The award was made on October 8, 2010, to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was honored for "Struggle for Fundamental Human Rights." He was given the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights" — a prize that enraged the Chinese government, which had warned the Nobel committee not to honor him. China officially denounced the award as "Blasphemy."

In a year with a record 237 nominations for the peace prize, Liu had been considered a favorite, with open support from winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and others.

In the case of Guangcheng, ChinaAid "insists that the local authorities cease their invasive control of Chen and his family," and asks concerned Christians to join them in praying for their freedom and safety.

ChinaAid had also prayed the Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded to Chen Guangcheng or Gao Zhisheng, who have both suffered under the hands of Chinese authorities.

ChianAid had earlier said: "Such an award would be an incredible encouragement and source of hope to every human rights lawyer in China."

Report from the Christian Telegraph

Maldives: Almost no religious freedom for migrant workers


Just as Maldivian citizens do not have the right to religious freedom – Sunni Islam in the state-approved form is the only permitted faith – migrant workers too are denied this right, reports Odd Larsen, Forum 18 News Service.

The Maldives prevents the import of non-Muslim books and other religious items, for example by searching foreigners’ luggage for “un-Islamic” materials. Migrant workers are banned from practising non-Muslim faiths even privately, while the lack of privacy in which many live makes it almost impossible to worship “unnoticed by locals”, as one migrant worker put it to Forum 18 News Service.

Some 80,000 migrant workers – mostly Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus from South Asia – make up about a quarter of the country’s population, but are mostly in low-status jobs and find it difficult to challenge human rights violations.

The government has not acted on United Nations recommendations to grant migrant workers religious freedom. The International Labour Organisation – which the Maldives has just joined – told Forum 18 that “although freedom of religion may not exist in Maldives, migrant workers can count on ILO protection when it comes to rights at work and working conditions.”

Report from the Christian Telegraph

Sales People


I have a real problem with salespeople, whether they be those that ring you on the phone or harrass you at the front door of your home. This type of real-life SPAM is just too much for me. I really have it in for it. If I want to buy something, I’ll go to your shop, give you a call or visit your online shop. I don’t need the hassle of a commercial invasion of my privacy.

Thankfully now you can get your name on a register in Australia – set up by the Australian Government – to say you don’t want telephone sellers ringing you at all hours of the day. They are supposed to listen to that. The likely scenario is that I’ll be getting increased stormtroopers at the door as a result of the register. I had my first vacuum cleaning contractor taking up that option today (they used to phone).

With the register, there are so many exceptions to the ban on people ringing those who have added their name to the register, you wonder if there is really any point to it in the long run. Why would anyone enjoy the prospect of political parties ringing you to try and convince you to vote for them – this is allowed because it is in the public interest. I have no interest in a politician ringing me and saying, ‘I’ve taken this extraordinary … (as John Howard did in the last election).’ I’m sure we will hear him trying to convince us why it is in the public’s best interest to return the government in the coming election via my telephone. If I have to ring message bank to hear that I wonder if he will be pay the bill as I didn’t ask for the disturbance? Unlikely, as the money raised from such ventures has gone to pay for his advertising via this medium in the past anyhow – you can’t win. Perhaps I can give him a call and explain to him why I have taken the extraordinary step to call him at his residence when he is relaxing at home and let him know how much I dislike many of his policies ~ I don’t think he would see the irony somehow. He certainly didn’t enjoy the ‘Chaser’ team replaying his message to him everywhere he went one day recently.

Salespeople – give us a break.