Monday, February 26, 2007
Image: One of Gerardo Bravo's H5N1 art works
February 26, 2007 (CSN) -- The World Bank is now utilizing art produced by Gerardo Bravo while volunteering for the China Support Network (CSN) to raise awareness about the H5N1 virus, more commonly known as "Bird Flu." Bravo, an artist of Mexican heritage, used a combination of ancient and modern styles to create works of oil paint on gold leaf canvases. These depictions concentrate on prevention of risky behaviors that can lead to contraction of the disease and the threat of a global pandemic.
Bravo's work became a part of the World Bank Art Program after he contacted them about his avian flu series and offered to donate a piece to the Bank. Marina Galvani, the art Curator for the World Bank Art Program, says the works were chosen because of "the visual and emotional impact that Mr. Bravo's work has on staff is remarkable." She thinks they will have a positive impact on the people who view them and announced an installation of his entire series in the next few months. Galvani also said the World Bank Art Program believes "the use of artworks to talk about complex topics has been very successful in the past and we hope we will be able to educate people on a more pro-active preventive behavior on avian flu with the presentation of Mr. Bravo's series."
The project originated when CSN executive director Curry Kenworthy requested works from volunteer artists aimed at Bird Flu awareness and prevention. Kenworthy described Bravo as a "champion of the cause" who has produced numerous paintings. In response to the World Bank's adoption of Bravo's art, Kenworthy states that "I feel it is appropriate that his work is getting this kind of prominent attention."
The H5N1 virus has already left its imprint on Asia where millions of birds have been slaughtered and people continue to die by the dozens each year. It has spread across the world and has infected fowl in the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe, and Africa. While the disease is easily transmitted among fowls, it has not adapted enough to transmit among humans as well. But many specialists think it is only a matter of time before a case comes along that would trigger a global pandemic.
To delay or prevent that scenario, CSN's bird flu project has fostered awareness through non-traditional methods, such as paintings. CSN has also drawn attention to lack of government transparency in China and other countries as an H5N1 risk factor.
For more information about Bravo's bird flu art works or for permission to use the works in avian influenza prevention campaigns, contact the World Bank. For more information about Gerardo Bravo and his other works, see his home page.
Image: example of Ken Keegan's bird flu art set
The CSN bird flu project also offers a set of art works from Ken Keegan (example shown above) to be used in noncommercial bird flu prevention materials. For high-resolution images, contact CSN or Ken Keegan. Keegan requires attribution and an image of the resulting use for his records.
Desirae Clodfelter is a CSN news writer and a freshman at Furman University politically active in social justice issues.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
NEW YORK, NY -- The Falun Dafa Information Center disclosed Monday morning that 14-year-old Beijing native Youran Zhao has been successfully rescued, and is safe at this moment and unharmed, thanks to the tremendous efforts of U.S. homeland security officers and others. She is under the care and legal custody of her aunt and said to be recovering from the trauma. Zhao, as reported by [an earlier item in CSN news], had gone missing after declaring Saturday evening (around 5 PM) her intent to seek political asylum; she was on a tour of the northeastern U.S. with a group of students from China. She was said to be held against her will by Chinese tour leaders, acting on orders from China's notorious Public Security Bureau (PSB), sources had said. Harrowing events Sunday confirmed these allegations.
Federal authorities confirmed that Zhao, who practices Falun Gong, was missing from the tour group Sunday around noontime when several police apprehended tour chaperons on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tour chaperons refused to disclose Zhao's whereabouts, only insisting "She's not here" and that "other chaperons" had taken her somewhere. Investigators have since learned that the tour leaders, acting on orders from China's communist regime to kidnap her back to Beijing, had hastened her off to JFK Airport around 7:30 AM Sunday, seeking to put her on the first available flight to China; Zhao's tour group, which remained in Boston on tour, was not scheduled to depart until February 13.
Sunday afternoon U.S. Customs officials at JFK Airport successfully identified Youran and the two Chinese chaperons who were attempting to smuggle Zhao out of America via Air China. The two chaperons and Zhao were held until her guardian and aunt, Ms. Xiufen Zhang of New Jersey, could arrive. Zhao and Zhang left under the protection of airport personnel after witnesses identified men believed to be Chinese agents who had been following Zhao.
The Information Center wishes to express its gratitude to the many U.S. customs officials and police and others who assisted in this matter, and to call attention to the welfare of Zhao's family in Beijing, who have reportedly been threatened by PSB agents with jailing and banishment to China’s gulag system.
Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang, who was at the airport and assisted in the investigation, said Monday: "That Beijing's communist rulers feel threatened by a harmless girl who seeks only protection from religious persecution in a free, democratic country is a sad, and disturbing, reminder of the state of human rights in China today. If these are the actions they brazenly take on U.S. soil -- resorting to kidnapping -- one shudders to think how they treat believers inside China. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Zhao's remaining family in China, and call on media and rights groups to carefully monitor their situation."
CSN has reposted this from FDI (the Falun Dafa Information Center).
Monday, February 19, 2007
Last year, it was announced that a NFL exhibition game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will occur in Beijing on August 8, 2007. This year a reminder came during the global television broadcast of Super Bowl XVI.
The deal was struck between the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol and the Communist government of China.
At the press conference announcement on September 24, 2006, the parties illustrated their enthusiasm for the huge and unprecedented event. Everything was all very exciting. It will be the first NFL game in China; it will be played at the Worker’s Stadium; and it will occur exactly one year before the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
But, the parties did not veil their intentions. It was all business. NBC and its parent company, General Electric, were furthering their business partnership with China. The National Football League, a limited liability company, was setting the groundwork for a successful expansion into China. Robert Kraft, the founder, owner, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, a holding company with interests concentrated in paper & packaging, manufacturing, sports & entertainment, and real estate development, was representing his long-standing business relationship with China.
The NFL has already made the necessary business moves by creating www.nflchina.com, opening an office in Shanghai and finalizing a deal that will allow CCTV to broadcast Sunday Night Football live in a partnership with NBC starting this season.
China stands to gain publicity for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games by trumpeting the Olympics countdown and showing off one of their communist venues, the "Worker’s Stadium." The China Bowl serves as yet another layer of international legitimacy and support for the atrocities and human rights violations the Chinese Communist government commits everyday.
According to Kraft, "over the next two to three decades, they're (Chinese) just looking for things American." However, the Communist Party will see to it that this not include democracy and human rights.
The game will broadcast live on NBC, August 8 at 8:30 a.m. (EST). I appeal to Americans to boycott this game and voice their concerns to the beneficiaries.
Demetrius Klitou is a member of the China Support Network board of directors.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Girl “In Imminent Danger”
NEW YORK, NY -- The Falun Dafa Information Center has learned of the kidnapping Saturday of a young Beijing girl, Youran Zhao (pronounced “yo-ron jow”), at the hands of a Chinese delegation while visiting the northeastern United States with a study-tour group. Zhao, 14-years old, disappeared sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday noon after declaring her intent to seek political asylum. Zhao practices Falun Gong, which is subject to severe human rights violations in China. Human rights attorneys are seeking immediate intervention from federal agencies. The Information Center believes Zhao is in imminent danger, and is calling for urgent help in locating her and securing her safety.
Zhao was last seen while on the campus of West Point Academy Saturday around 5:00pm with her Chinese school group, which is touring the northeastern U.S. with the stated intention of visiting colleges, practicing English, and sightseeing through Feb. 13. Zhao sought to break from the group and enter into the custody of her aunt, Ms. Xiufen Zhang – a resident of New Jersey. Zhao's parents had authorized Ms. Zhang to serve as her legal guardian and assume custody of her in the U.S., where she would be free of threat of religious persecution. Ms. Zhang was formerly granted power of attorney by Zhao's parents as well.
Sunday morning around noontime, the study group was greeted by five or six police cars upon arriving at MIT as part of its tour. Police searched for Zhao but reported she was nowhere to be found, having been removed from the group. Police had been informed by U.S. Immigration that Ms. Zhang did indeed have power of attorney over Zhao. The Chinese group's leaders have refused to reveal information of Zhao's whereabouts to police, sparking fears that Chinese authorities are now holding her captive, and seeking to hastily remove her to China where she could be punished. Zhao's family tell the Information Center that Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) agents threatened the family prior to Zhao's departure for the U.S., declaring that were she to seek asylum, family would be arrested and sent to China's feared gulag system. Security agents had been surreptitiously listening to the family's phone conversations and reading its email communications with Ms. Zhang in the U.S., they report.
Despite her young age, should Zhao be forcibly returned to China she would certainly face persecution. Since the banning of Falun Gong in 1999, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens, if not millions, have been thrown into labor camps merely for practicing Falun Gong. Teenagers are no exception: the first documented Falun Gong death owing to torture and abuse was that of Ms. Ying Chen, who was 17 years old. According to Chen's mother, a PSB official admitted to hand-cuffing Chen to a rack and beating her. The same official revealed that two additional children had been hand-cuffed and not allowed to eat or drink, along with Chen. According to Mr. Youling Chen, a former Chinese Embassy official who defected in 2005, Chinese authorities have previously kidnapped foreign nationals back to China for punishment. Communist authorities consider defections or asylum a blow to the Party's esteem.
CSN has reposted this from FDI (the Falun Dafa Information Center).
Monday, February 5, 2007
Since the publication of the Nine Commentaries, we've been watching the struggle between two mighty forces in China.
On the one hand, the newly-refurbished democracy movement has surged. The Nine Commentaries and the Epoch Times have made an unprecedented sweep throughout the world and even through China's mainland, while the Communist Party withdrawal movement has racked up millions of signatures. New Tang Dynasty Television broadcasts real news into Chinese homes. Protests within China have continued to grow. This is a good time for the movement.
However, China's Communist leaders still exercise their complete power and control over the population. Moreover, the tyrants enjoy almost universal support from the world's governments for the Party's policies and politics. They are wined and dined by the gullible leaders of free nations, who speak in favor of the One China Policy and praise China's progress. They have a growing arsenal of weaponry enriched with foreign technology. With the help of Western corporations, they are able to keep the lid on information and free speech on the internet, while censorship and control in media and daily life continues. The Western media presents a softened view of China's government that is quite positive when compared to the real thing. Finally, the enormous global trade continually pours money into the CCP's pockets. These bad boys are not hard up for cash.
In the democracy movement and among those who support it, I believe the latter advantages of the regime may be underestimated and overlooked as we celebrate the triumphs of the dissidents. We continually hear rhetoric about the imminent fall of the Communist Party. We say "goodbye" to the totalitarian government and hear it described as a weakened structure that will crumble at any moment. We cheer on the events and milestones in our movement and confidently expect a new flag to fly over China soon.
It's only natural to cheer our cause and look forward expectantly to victory. But are we still careful in taking the best approach? Could we be celebrating our victory too soon? Are we covering all the bases and continuing to assess all the needs that must be met and considerations that must be taken into account in order to ensure the outcome of this mission?
In fact, looking objectively at the two sides, I would be forced to admit that the CCP has about as many things in its favor as it has stacked against it. Global political support, continued firm control over the population, ever-increasing military abilities, economic growth with a huge infusion of cash, space excursions aided by Western investors--none of these are trifling matters to be ignored. While the recent achievements of the democracy movement have been outstanding and we have great reason for hope, there is still the other side of the scale to be considered, and the weight on that other side is significant.
As you know, the Communist Party has at least one more card up its sleeve. That is war, which helps to divert the attention of the population to outside enemies rather than the oppression at home. The Party has invested enormous effort and expense into preparing for war. It has created legislation justifying an invasion of Taiwan. It has focused on asymmetrical tactics and technology upgrades in order to face off with America's military might, so that Assassin's Mace and Unrestricted War are now part of our vocabulary. Even leaked documents, if genuine, confirm that war is important for maintaining power and that serious war plans are currently underway. Chinese officials have repeatedly made threatening statements about Taiwan and the U.S., and China's media have also carefully maintained a high level of anti-Japanese hostility in the population.
From all indications, war is a very real possibility. It seems that if the CCP continues in power, one could reasonably suppose that conflict is just a matter of time, depending on the Communist Party's sense of need and readiness. If we accept this assumption, then ultimately we are faced with the question of democracy or war. Which will happen first? That's the million-dollar question.
There are a number of possible scenarios for a war between China, Taiwan, and the United States. Some are worse than others. But in any case, whether conflict is more limited or more widespread, it's beyond doubt that such a war would be very costly. The Communist Party is prepared to sacrifice many more lives to reach its objectives than the level of casualties which Western powers would deem acceptable. China's military will choose the time and place of conflict. And it has recently acquired technologies and tactics which may prove challenging for an opposing force. Perhaps the Chinese leaders overestimate their own abilities, and perhaps not. Either way, if they undertake a war it will not end without a great loss of life and expense, or a great loss for freedom, or both.
Added to the very high cost of the military action itself are the future consequences for the Chinese people if war succeeds in strengthening and prolonging Party rule, as the Communists hope. Of course it's a gamble, but tyrants are willing to take risks because the stakes are high--they have everything to gain and nothing to lose, since democratization could expose them to criminal charges and take away their wealth and power. If they succeed, how many more decades will China's people live without freedom? What impact will this have on the rest of the world? Will tyranny diminish in this century, or will it grow? Such possibilities don't bear thinking about, and we tend to shrink away from even considering them, but we must keep them in mind, because they are real dangers.
To the democracy movement and to the people of China who desire freedom, I pose this unhappy truth: China must have democracy, or we will bear the cost and uncertain outcome of war. Which will prevail? I urge this movement and the Chinese people to redouble their efforts for the peaceful liberation of the world's most populous nation. We must not become complacent and trust that our current efforts and strategies are sufficient and that victory is assured. That could be a fatal mistake. I hope to see new, innovative, and far-reaching strategies and efforts as people realize the extreme urgency of the times. The struggle for freedom must rise to an even higher level if it is to succeed.
To struggle for success implies a negative possibility, but let me say it clearly and explicitly: we could fail. The efforts for freedom, as spectacular as they are, could fall short, and tyranny could continue in China while a war is waged with terrible consequences. No one can afford to blindly believe that winning is assured. We must face the reality that this current situation could still lead to a tragic outcome if intervention is not sufficient, and we can't allow that to happen. It will require the utmost efforts within our ability to ensure the success of this cause. Nothing less will suffice. All those who support freedom in China should renew the struggle with every bit of ingenuity and strength they can muster.