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Hao, Alaa and fighting the feeling of hopelessness

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m feeling a little hopeless about Global Voices editor Hao Wu’s situation. We’ve written politicians, talked to the press, gotten great support from GVO fans and fellow bloggers, but it’s very hard to know if any of this attention has had any affect at all on the state security officials detaining Hao in Beijing.

The latest news we’ve gotten from his sister Nina is that her request for a lawyer for Hao has been formally denied. He’s no longer being “detained” – instead he’s “living under surveillance”. There’s no difference in practical terms – we don’t know where he is, he can’t leave where he’s being held, and his family can’t see him or communicate with him. The government can legally keep him “under surveillance” for only six months… then again, they detained him long past the legal limit under Chinese law.

Despite my sadness and frustration about Hao’s situation – and about my friend Alaa, who is being detained by Egyptian authorities in Cairo – I’m thrilled that the Global Voices community is starting to mobilize around the idea that we need to help protect and advocate for bloggers around the world. We are, unsurprisingly, starting with our own, trying to call attention to Alaa and Hao Wu’s situations… but we’re also trying learn what we can about what techniques do and don’t work, so we can help the next blogger who, inevitably, will be detained for something she does or writes. Please check out the new page our editor Rachel Rawlins has put together detailing some actions you can take to help Hao and Alaa… and let me know what you think we could be doing better, on Global Voices and elsewhere, to help get our friends released.

3 thoughts on “Hao, Alaa and fighting the feeling of hopelessness”

  1. I would suggest that you build a little button code for people to put on their sites to this page of Rachel’s, presuming it will be updated with new information.

  2. The news about the arrest and detention of Hao Wu in the PRC and Alaa in Egypt needs to be picked-up and hammered into the minds of people around the world by the MSM (broadcast, cablecast, and press). It needs to get the attention it deserves in the mainstream media, right alongside the TV commercials for holidays on the Red Sea Riviera and the slick ads about coming to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games.

    This is a great opportunity for the world’s journalists and editors, producers, publishers etc. to work together with bloggers around the globe on something that should be of importance to all of us. Namely, the right to free speech and assembly and the freedom of the press (citizen or professional media) from unlawful arrest and prosecution.

    If you want to get these bloggers released ASAP, then hit the people who are holding them where it hurts, in their rearend$$$ (aim for their wallets, not their buttocks). People everywhere need to be asking themselves, “Do I want to support regimes that do this to their own citizens?” I sure as hell don’t.

  3. Good call, Curt – we’ll add that to the queue. Looking forward to seeing you in CA in a couple of weeks and brainstorming further about things GVO could do on this topic.

    BRE, I agree that the key is to associate China and Egypt with human rights abuse as well as with the Olympics and the pyramids. One of the challenges re: China is that it’s almost too easy to fall into the Sinophobic economic arguments – China’s killing the US economy, the yuan needs to fall. I don’t actually agree with many of these arguments. But I do think it’s critically important for people to think about the human rights record of a country before purchasing products or services. It’s a bit of a balancing act, to get people to understand Hao’s situation and not turn it into a US/China debate… or at least it is in the US, with the current state of our politics.

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