Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Dynamics of Jasmine

The Dynamics of Jasmine

By John Kusumi 2011.2.27

At this time, it is not clear who were the originators of the first internet postings which called for a Chinese Jasmine Revolution. We cannot judge their stature; nor the rectitude of their intentions; nor even interview them to inquire about these matters, without knowing who they are.

But as a matter in general, there should logically be a world-wide impact stemming from the wave of people power sweeping away dictatorships in the Middle East.

During Egypt's uprising, there were fears that Tahrir Square would become a Tiananmen Square -- in other words, a bloodbath echoing that of 1989 in Beijing, when the military opened fire with live ammunition to take back the square from civilian pro-democracy demonstrators.

Chinese dissidents remember that time vividly, and they rightly leaned into watching the events in Egypt intently. Early feelings that "We've seen this movie before" changed into feelings of elation when the dictator fell. The army had not opened fire against the crowd of demonstrators! Tahrir Square escaped the fate of Tiananmen Square!

The Arab world had people who were beaten down and abused; and yet they had hope, plus new social media. Their country changed when they also overcame their fear about the dictatorship and the security forces.

The Arab world experienced a change. Instead of people being afraid of governments, suddenly the governments are afraid of people.

That is not a strictly Arab phenomenon, nor should it be. During this Jasmine time -- on the same day Mubarak left power in Egypt -- Governor Scott Walker of the U.S. state of Wisconsin threatened to call out the National Guard for use in the case of dissent in Wisconsin. He was introducing an unpopular rollback of the rights of labor unions.

The people of Wisconsin did not fear the National Guard. They stood up, and now America has more protestors in the streets than it has had in many years. Many labor unions have turned out their members to go to public rallies in all 50 states of the USA.

Similarly, the people of Beijing should not live in fear of Hu Jintao. Who elected him?


And so we come to the story of the efforts for a Chinese Jasmine Revolution. The first attempt was supposed to be Feb. 20, but the invitation only circulated on Feb. 19, which meant that very little time was allowed for the invitation to circulate. On Feb. 20, most Chinese had never heard of the calls for Jasmine gatherings.

It was absurd to promulgate an invitation with such short notice. It would have been wiser to announce a date with one, two, or three weeks to allow the word to get around, and to build up a sense of anticipation and suspense.

So the first Jasmine invitation was on short notice and with scant publicity. The publicity that it did receive was largely due to the government crackdown against it. The government was able to block the word Jasmine on the internet; and pre-emptively detain dissidents on Feb. 19; and increase police presence for Feb. 20. Also, some college students were warned to stay on campus.

The events of last weekend show how nervous the Chinese government is about any spread of the Jasmine Revolution into China. In previous weeks, they had blocked other search terms such as Egypt, Cairo, and Mubarak in their attempt to prevent Egyptian news from reaching China.

The government's over-reaction may have been ham-handed, but it was largely effective. While some tried to gather at the designated locations, the police presence inhibited any chanting or speech making.

The scene caused the more snarky journalists to pronounce dead any hopes of a Chinese Jasmine Revolution, but Chinese dissidents actually valued the occasion as a good start. "It's progress, and we're happy to have it," seems the logical dissident attitude.

Yes, it was progress. It yielded four new things: (1.) The name of the revolution. Prior to Tunisia's events, one might have expected a color revolution. Instead, it's a flower revolution. (2.) Plenty of publicity that reached mainstream news outlets and led to headlines like, 'Middle East domino effect reaches China.' The Chinese efforts gain a boost from the tie-in with the Middle East. (3.) A new government crackdown is keeping this matter in the headlines. (4.) The crackdown has over-reacted by kidnapping human rights lawyers and by charging other detainees with crimes. Therefore, the government side has taken prisoners, and the dissident side must demand the release of the Jasmine prisoners.

Jasmine is here to stay

The internet posters of Jasmine-for-China quickly issued a call to gather again this weekend, and to make these Jasmine gatherings a regular weekly occurrence. They simply updated their hashtag from #cn220 to #cn227, where 227 means Feb. 27.

This time the gatherings have advance notice, and a week of publicity in the run up. There has been time for endorsements to come from pro-democracy groups of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and from Chinese dissident quarters both domestic and international.

In addition, there is the dynamic seen in Item #4, above. We are reminded about how the Tibetan uprising started in 2008.

Every March 10 is Tibetan uprising day, the anniversary of the 1959 occasion which caused the Dalai Lama to go into exile.

But, the uprising in 2008 is known as the 3.14 incident. Why the discrepancy?

Tibetan monks went out to have their usual commemoration of March 10. On that day, the Chinese authorities arrested or detained some monks. Therefore, it was incumbent upon the Tibetan monks to go out again on March 11 to say, "Release our prisoners! Give us our men back!" At that demonstration, more monks were detained or arrested. So, it was incumbent upon the Tibetan monks to go out again on March 12 and say, "Release our prisoners! Give us our men back!" At that demonstration, more monks were detained or arrested. That led to more of the same on March 13. Violence on March 14 only broke out after the Chinese government had been squeezing them incrementally harder for the prior four days.

Right now, Jasmine has the same dynamic. The Chinese government has taken prisoners, and it is incumbent upon the human rights community to demand their release. This week, the Jasmine protestors have more to protest than they did last week. And any new ham-handed abuses of this week will compound into the grievances of next week.

A lot of Chinese dissidents may have been caught unaware, when internet calls for Jasmine popped up on Feb. 19. The calls were promulgated anonymously, and not under the names of long standing groups.

Some people would have felt better, or more confidence, if the call said it was from "The Wei Jingsheng Foundation, the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coaltion, the Federation for Democracy in China, the China Democracy Party (various branches), the China Peace and Democracy Federation, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements, the Party for Freedom and Democracy in China, Initiatives for China, the Tiananmen Mothers, and the signers of Charter 08."

That's a list of groups, and one could add Beijing Spring, the Free China Movement, the Tiananmen Generation Association, the IFCSS (Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars), the LRF (Laogai Research Foundation), and the CIG (China Interim Government).

But really, the overseas dissidents in exile have not had enough unity to put all of their names on one call. [Note: Tiananmen Mothers and Charter 08 are domestic, not exile groups.] The above is an interesting signature list, but it seems unlikely that we will see them all together on the same page, except here.

It no longer matters where the call came from, originally. Jasmine is happening, and the situation draws into it every human rights group that would call for the release of the Jasmine prisoners / detainees. It is fully predictable that even the U.S. State Department must call for the release of those dissidents, and soon we will hear Congressmen on the floor of the House of Representatives calling for their release.

While the original call for Jasmine was anonymous, it drew the response from the Chinese goverment, and then the imprimatur of all the news wires, newspapers, and media organizations that began to report it.

As a result, the Jasmine period in world history sees "people power" standing up against governments world-wide, whether we speak of the Middle East, or China, or the United States.

In fact, there is a Jasmine uprising happening in Iraq, the place where the United States invaded and installed the current government. People power may sweep away the puppet government of Iraq, but that is a profound humiliation for the United States, which thought that it was the occupying power!

Perhaps Jasmine entails a domino effect for dictators; and for the United States, it represents "the emperor's wardrobe malfunction."

In earlier writing for the China Support Network, I have previously called for Hillary Clinton to resign as the U.S. Secretary of State.

At this time, the China Support Network demands that Beijing:

- Stop the Jasmine crackdown;
- Release the Jasmine detainees, and all prisoners of conscience;
- Lift all restrictions on dissidents, allow the exiles to return to China;
- Meet the demands of Charter 08;
- Meet the demands of the Tiananmen Mothers.

The above five demands are intended for a reasonable Chinese government. In the alternative, if the government will not be reasonable, then we have only one demand:

- Hu Jintao, step down!

Internal movement controversy

2002 and 2003 was the winter of discontent for Chinese dissidents. Bill Clinton had started unquestioned free trade with China, and network TV news anchors in the U.S. had basically "turned off the microphone" for Chinese dissidents. September 11, 2001 was a fresh memory, and the War On Terror overshadowed all else in mainstream news.

Those were times when the China Support Network was almost the only place where one could turn for news and information of the Chinese democracy movement and human rights abuses in China. Because no one else covered this news beat, the China Support Network (CSN) was very vigorous about publishing any and all relevant news that we could find in English.

Imagine a time with no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube, and no Epoch Times (Dajiyuan). Capitol Hill legislative aide Joel Segal praised the CSN, saying, "If it weren't for CSN updates, I wouldn't know what was going on."

Things changed in 2004. The Epoch Times launched its English edition. They had more sources, a larger staff, and they were deeply plugged in to the Falun Gong.

As the Epoch Times began to become "the newspaper of record" for human rights and Chinese dissent, the CSN dialed down to a slower pace of publishing. We have been happy that the Epoch Times is on the scene and covering the news beat of Chinese dissent.

There have been times when the Epoch Times raised an eyebrow on my part. For example, they provided a lot of coverage when disgruntled constituents began to demonize and villify John Liu, a New York politician. I never completely understood the basis of the campaign against Liu.

(Is he a politician that's not listening to the people? 308 million people might say, "Welcome to America." However, unless there is election fraud, then he is duly elected to do his job as he sees fit. To be inattentive, or even to take a different side in a controversy, is not a crime in America.)

For one internal movement controversy, I clearly take the side of the Epoch Times. In 2006, they reported about forced organ harvesting, with just-in-time executions for Falun Gong practitioners who became the unwilling sources of organs removed for profitable transplant surgery.

The Kilgour-Matas report was a study that was later released. It was absolutely impeccable, from towering figures in the Canadian human rights community. Based on careful research and investigation, it concluded that yes, indeed, this crime of organ harvesting was indeed happening in China. And subsequent to its release, even more evidence appeared to corroborate the claim.

Prior to its release, Chinese dissident Harry Wu had expressed his skepticism about organ harvesting at the Sujiatan facility where it was first reported. That skepticism, together with a cursory inspection by the U.S. State Department, became the basis for the mainstream media to write off these reports as discredited.

I knew that (a.) three weeks had passed between the initial report and the show tour that was given to the U.S. State Department. There was plenty of time for the Chinese government to remove evidence from Sujiatan. And (b.) plenty of sources away from Sujiatan were providing evidence that the practice was occuring at dozens of other sites in China.

The mainstream media chose to err on the side against the Epoch Times and the Falun Gong practitioners who cried foul. That also means they erred on the side of believing communists, dictators, tyrants and thugs, while the latter committed systemic murder that will be remembered as crimes against humanity.

I have no doubt that history will reveal that the Epoch Times was right, and the mainstream media was wrong. (And, there is a death toll associated with the media silence on this matter.)

It was very dismaying that Harry Wu chose to very quickly condemn the reporting, before the Kilgour-Matas report was even released. In fact, because his own Laogai Research Foundation was documenting other cases of prisoner organ harvesting, it would have been smarter for Wu to "make hey" out of this story. It could have brought to light more of his own research about China's Laogai.

This was dismaying, and I don't know whether there has ever been a meeting of the minds that heals the rift between Falun Gong and Harry Wu. For the China Support Network, we stood with the Epoch Times and still do so. Organ harvesting remains a strong story and a hideous atrocity of the Communist Party, comparable to Nazi medical experiments that were performed on unwilling prisoners in World War II.

But now, a new matter has dismayed me -- in its English edition, a headline says, 'Jasmine Revolution in China a Trap, Say Analysts.'

I believe that assessment is premature, unhelpful, and moot. The article under your hands presents 'The Dynamics of Jasmine.'

Such a large number -- a wide array -- of dissident groups have been drawn in that, as noted above, "It no longer matters where the call came from, originally." Even on the short notice for Feb. 20, sympathy protests broke out in Hong Kong and New York. Endorsements or echoing or retweeting have come from many quarters, even the former ruling party in Taiwan, the DPP.

This means that, regardless of where the first call came from, many many people are "all in" for having a Middle East-style Jasmine Revolution in China. As this matter escalates, the Epoch Times must either come around, or else begin to appear like the odd man out.

As a matter of editorial judgment, I believe the China Support Network called it correctly when we supported the organ harvesting story. And at this time now, I believe that we are correct to be in alignment with those dissidents who are calling for a Jasmine Revolution to occur in China, now.

Before there was an English Epoch Times (ET), the China Support Network was "the newsletter of record" for Chinese democracy. If ET is falling off the wagon, then that will prompt the CSN to increase its own publishing pace, to continue our best efforts of keeping the story straight for Chinese democracy.

Perhaps the Epoch Times should issue an editorial to clarify where it stands.

# # #

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More calls for Jasmine protests in China

(Repost:) While the Jasmine Revolution is making its way to China, the following open letter, ostensibly from the still-anonymous organizers, has been translated into English and republished by Human Rights In China.

[Note: Elsewhere we have seen an internet posting that urges Beijingers to go to Tiananmen Square, and that expanded the list to 18 cities across China, and the days to include both Saturday and Sunday. The message below is closer to the earlier calls, naming McDonalds in Beijing, 13 cities across China, and protests to occur on Sundays.]

Open Letter to the National People’s Congress
from the Organizers of the Chinese Jasmine Rallies

[English Translation by Human Rights in China]

First, we would like to thank every participant of the Jasmine Rallies. Your participation has already made the authoritarian government very nervous. Your presence has made the Chinese government understand that they must choose between these two paths:

The Chinese government will genuinely fight corruption and accept the supervision of the people.

Suppress popular protest, continue corruption, and continue to refuse the supervision of the people.

Every Chinese person with dreams hopes that China will become prosperous, rich, and powerful, that the people will not have to worry about food and clothing, that the government is upright and honest, and that the judiciary is impartial and just. But twenty years have passed [since the 1989 Democracy Movement], and what we are witnessing is a government that grows more corrupt by the day, government officials who collude with vested interests, and a citizenry that has not benefitted from the reform, opening up, and economic development. On the contrary, the people have to endure high goods and housing prices, and do not have health care, education, or benefits for the elderly. And what about ten years from now? Will we face a government even more corrupt? A judicial system even more opaque? Will vested interests give up their vested interest?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: So much public housing has been sold to individuals, so many state-owned enterprises and so much land have been sold, and nearly all state-owned property has been sold off. But where has all the money from these sales gone? It goes without saying that state-owned property belongs to the entire people. But what did the people get? Led by an authoritarian regime, the opaque process of privatization has made a small number of people rich, but what did the vast number of ordinary people get?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: When Japan, Korea, and Taiwan were in the process of industrializing, they were able to make the overwhelming majority of their people prosperous. Why is it that during China’s industrialization the ordinary people are becoming poorer? Why is it that in just the last few decades China has gone from being a country with the smallest gap between the rich and the poor to one with the largest? It is because the unfair system has made a small number of people incredibly wealthy, and the vast majority of people remain poor.

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: Every year the government uses public money to eat and drink, buy cars, visit foreign places, and raise salaries for officials; yet it doesn’t have money to spend on health care, education, benefits for the elderly, or other basic needs. The vast majority of Chinese people do not have basic health care, education, or benefits for the elderly. Not to mention Europe, America, Japan, or Korea; our welfare system is far behind those of India, Russia, or Brazil. When other countries use the majority of their tax money for the welfare of their people, where does our tax money go?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: At present the renminbi ranks first among world currencies in terms of quantity in circulation. This serious “over-issuing” of currency has brought about a vicious cycle of inflation inside China. The excessive printing of currency is recklessly diluting the value of the people’s wealth. Because the renminbi is not an international currency, it is China’s ordinary citizens who are out of luck. The meager income of China’s ordinary people must support goods and housing prices similar to those in Europe and America. On the one hand the government excessively prints money, and on the other hand it uses administrative means to keep housing prices low is this some sort of mockery?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: It is a matter of course that officials, when disclosing their wealth, should accept the supervision of the people, and that the government, when publishing details of tax revenues, should accept the supervision of the people. However, the Chinese people have no such power. We have been waiting for decades. Even if we wait for another ten years, we will not be able to get this kind of power. Should we keep on waiting? Are you willing to wait another 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

In short, without pressure from the people, absolutely no authoritarian government would take the initiative to respect the people or accept the people’s supervision. What we need to do now is to put pressure on the Chinese ruling party. If the party does not conscientiously fight corruption and accept the supervision of the people, then will it please exit the stage of history. We call upon each Chinese person who has a dream for China to bravely come out to take an afternoon stroll at two o’clock on Sundays to look around. Each person who joins in will make it clear to the Chinese ruling party that if it does not fight corruption, if the government does not accept their supervision, the Chinese people will not have the patience to wait any longer.

We do not necessarily have to overthrow the current government. As long as the government fights corruption, the government and officials accept the people’s supervision, the government is sincere about solving the problems regarding judicial independence and freedom of expression and gives a timetable, we can give the ruling party time to solve the problems. We can call a stop to the strolling activities. We have been waiting for decades, if the government is sincere about solving the problem, we do not mind waiting a little longer. However, if the government is not sincere about solving the problems, but only wants to censor the Internet and block information to suppress the protests, the protests will only get stronger. As more and more people find out about “jasmine rallies,” there will definitely be more and more Chinese people joining in.

We don’t care if we implement a one party system, a two party system, or even a three party system; but we are resolute in asking the government and the officials to accept the supervision of ordinary Chinese people, and we must have an independent judiciary. This is our fundamental demand.

We do not support violent revolution; we continue to support non-violent non-cooperation. We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear.

China belongs to every Chinese person, not to any political party. China’s future will be decided by every person. We ask that the government and officials accept the supervision of the people, that the details of tax collection be published, and that taxes are genuinely "collected from the people, and used for the people." These basic requests are not the least bit excessive. For our country’s future, for the fundamental rights of our children and future generations, please bravely come out. The Chinese people’s thirst for freedom and democracy is unstoppable (as Wen Jiabao said during an interview on CNN).

If you are unable to participate in the strolls, please tell every Chinese person near you: We need an upright and honest government. We need the right to supervise government tax collection. We need the right to scrutinize officials’ wealth. We need the right to publicly criticize the government. These are the fundamental rights of every Chinese person. Please tell every Chinese person near you: Non-violent non-cooperation is the only path for Chinese democratization. Please use word-of-mouth to break through the news blackout and come show your support.

The Chinese people rely on themselves to fight for their rights. We should not even dream that an authoritarian regime would take the initiative to award us these rights. Please join us in non-violent non-cooperation to make the Chinese government respect the basic rights of the Chinese people.

Time: Every Sunday starting on February 20, 2011 at 2 pm. (If the Chinese government is sincere about solving problems such as corruption and public supervision, we will send out a notice stopping the action.)

Rally Locations:

Beijing: in front of the McDonald’s on Wangfujing Street

Shanghai: in front of Peace Cinema at People’s Square

Tianjin: below the Drum Tower

Nanjing, (Jiangsu Province): the entrance of Silk Street Department Store at the Drum Tower Square

Xi’an, (Shaanxi Province): the entrance of Carrefour on Beida Street

Chengdu, (Sichuan Province): under the Statue of Chairman Mao at Tianfu Square

Changsha, (Hunan Province): the entrance of Xindaxin Building at Wuyi Square

Hangzhou, (Zhejiang Province): the entrance of Hangzhou Department Store at Wulin Square

Guangzhou, (Guangdong Province): in front of the Starbucks at the People’s Park

Shenyang, (Liaoning Province): in front of the KFC at North Nanjing Street

Changchun, (Jilin Province): in front of Corogo Supermarket at Democratic Avenue of West Culture Square

Harbin, (Heilongjiang Province): in front of Harbin Cinema

Wuhan, (Hubei Province): in front of the McDonald’s at Jiefang Avenue and the World Trade Plaza

People who are in cities not listed here, please go to the central square of your city.

We ask websites to help spread this statement, thank you!

One of the organizers of China Jasmine Rallies (Posted on Boxun by a friend on February 21, 2011.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Liberate Libya, Bahrain, China +

A call to liberate Libya, Bahrain,
China, and Mainstream journalism!

By John Kusumi

February 20, 2011 (Sunday) was not a slow news day. Uprisings and/or crackdowns were reported in Bahrain, Libya, China, Djibouti, Morocco, and Madison, Wisconsin. There may still be protest/uprising action happening in Algeria, Iran, and Yemen, but it didn't cross my desk Sunday. I did notice that sympathy protests happened in Hong Kong and New York.


Libya must be liberated. Even by Washington standards, this is an easy call. Everybody should lean into giving the full measure of their support to the pro-democracy dissidents who are trying to change Libya for the better. They want to get out from under their despotic tyrant, Moammar Gadhafi.

Recent days have included the news of protest/uprising action and the brutal, deadly crackdown that the tyrant meted out in reply. To me, however, the kicker is this headline:

"Libyan security forces open fire on mourners at funeral for anti-gov't protesters in Benghazi again."

Think of that! In Libya, they can't mourn their dead. They can't go to a funeral, because government thugs are there to mow down any bereaved friends and relatives who have the temerity to think that their deceased loved one deserves recognition.

This is inhuman by any standard. Now reiterating my point, Libya must be liberated.

With my point already made, it remains to note that Sunday's action in Benghazi, Libya was more than a crackdown: it was a massacre. The following tweet, seen Sunday, was poignant and should pull at anyone's heart strings:

"Massacre in Benghazi, Gaddafi is using missiles, killing libyans, help us, help us, help us "

Once again, this is inhuman by any standard.

A group of the Chinese democracy movement, 'Coalition for Citizens Rights' plans to hold a sympathy protest for Libya, condemning that massacre, outside the United Nations (in New York) on Tuesday at 2p.m. (The China Support Network will co-sponsor. All are welcome. It's at the Dag Hamarskjold Park location: 47th St./1st Av.)


Bahrain had its own massacre two days earlier. It filled the hospitals to overflowing, according to the voice of a Dr. Ghassan at Salmaniya Hospital, as heard in this clip from Al Jazeera:

Once again, this is inhuman by any standard. That's not the end of it. Today on Facebook, there appeared a message which says:

"I'm a 16 year old teanager.. We live in fear and pain in bahrain
Our peaceful protest of more than 50,000 if not more got attacked at
night by the bahrain army..
70 people have been missing.. No one knows about them but one
was found brutaly killed and cut into pieces
Also women and children went missing
There was over 600 casualties and 8 martyrs..
The minister of health is covering it up, and not allowing to send
ambulances.. And even if sent it isn't allow to help people
Instead they get beaten up
Its a msacre wats happening here.. The bahrain media wants to have
a media blockout.. 14 reporters r still at the airport..
Also.. The bahrain tv r spreading wrong facts.. And covering up the
masacre and creating plays
I wish you could help us because we really do need help.."

There is something else to say about Bahrain and U.S. foreign policy. Rumors say that the Saudis are ready to dispatch troops "to help" the regime in Bahrain. Frankly, that would never happen unless it was green lighted from Washington, DC. If the Saudis move into Bahrain, that will be as proxies. It's really Washington moving into Bahrain, but letting the dirty work be done by Saudis, who are a puppet state of Washington.

Is the United States, via proxy, about to stomp into Bahrain to further harm these injured people?

As a human rights group, the China Support Network calls upon Obama, Biden, and Clinton to refrain from any assistance to the Bahrain regime and indeed to veto any Saudi move to back up that regime. With fresh blood on its hands, the Bahrain regime has crimes against humanity for which it must answer.

Once again, this is inhuman by any standard. The al-Khalifa ruling family must go. Bahrain must overcome its tyranny. Freedom is the order of the day, and as mentioned in the headline, this is a call to liberate Bahrain.

If the Obama group actually reads this tract, I would repeat words from a former CIA analyst: "Globalisation and improved communications now make possible what once was easily silenced. If regimes are to survive, they must draw a new contract with their peoples."

In light of that, you [Obama folks] might want to dial back or dial down on your own crimes against humanity. Take that as a tip from a human rights group and member of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. Together with the ICC, the China Support Network frowns on genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.


Speaking of genocide and crimes against humanity, let's talk about Communist China. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have certainly encouraged hope in the community of Chinese dissidents, and illuminated a way in which people power (plus online connectivity) was able to organize in the face of a tyrant; overcame fear; and was victorious in 18 days without a Tiananmen-style massacre perpetrated by the army.

This is absolutely a pattern and model for Chinese dissidents to follow. Over the weekend just now, some dissidents indeed tried to follow just that formula.

The efforts to organize a Jasmine Revolution for China are the subject of conflicting reports. This first appeared either ten days ago, or else Thursday Feb. 17, depending upon the news source you read. In any case, on Saturday Feb. 19, organizers released a very specific plan for Feb. 20.

The plan named 13 Chinese cities and gathering places, directed participants to appear at 2p.m. on Sunday, and to shout specific slogans, namely: "We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness, we want justice, start political reform, end one-party dictatorship, bring in freedom of the press, long live freedom, long live democracy."

This was bold on the part of dissidents, but the regime was swift in its pre-emptive suppression. Indeed, much is learned from the Chinese government's over-reaction.

A synopsis by Bloomberg News said, "The Chinese authorities responded by arresting some human rights lawyers, shutting university students in their campuses, banning the use of keywords on mobile phone messages and with an overwhelming security presence, according to reports in foreign media.

"Television footage yesterday showed police clashing with small numbers of demonstrators in Beijing and Shanghai, with several protesters struggling as they were bundled away into custody."

The Bloomberg synopsis doesn't do justice to this story, but here at the China Support Network, we'll fill in some more.

They swooped in with a pre-emptive dragnet. Some dissidents were taken away; others were kept under house arrest. The total receiving such treatment exceeded 100, according to the Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In still other cases, dissidents were warned against attending, or questioned about it.

The word "jasmine" was blocked by internet filters. Service was suspended in Beijing for multi-recipient text messages, according to the AP. Reports say that a heavy police presence cordoned off the 13 protest sites.

Twitter users and the activist Wan Yanhai also reported that university students were told to stay on campuses and away from trouble.

With all of the above as prelude, Sunday's protests were sparsely attended and anti-climactic. Activity was reported in Beijing and Shanghai, but in the other cities the police presence seemed the only response to the internet calls, which used these hashtags:

#cn220, #jasmine, #freeChina, #cnJasmine

Sympathy protests broke out in Hong Kong and New York. How to take this news, and analysis thereof, can be debated. My group, the China Support Network, did not organize these protests, but we declare solidarity with China's Jasmine Revolution. We call for the liberation of mainland China from its Communist Party oppressors.

Furthermore, we demand the release of all of the Jasmine detainees who were rounded up in the pre-emptive sweep. This echoes the same demand that was made at the Hong Kong protest on Sunday.

The hardline dissident group, China Interim Government, is demanding that Chinese president Hu Jintao step down. China Support Network declares its solidarity and repeats the call: Hu Jintao, step down!

How to spin the news can always be debated. I've noticed that the snarkiest journalists are the fastest ones to file their stories. We don't yet have large crowds marching in the streets, and for that some journalists are already writing off China's Jasmine Revolution. Who's side are they on? Clearly, they are on one side of the battle, and it is the anti-democracy side.

There is a cautionary tale to be told about Richard Spencer of the UK Telegraph. On Jan. 16, his headline said, "Tunisia: Why the Jasmine Revolution won't bloom."

His subheadline said, "Friday's coup in Tunisia sent shockwaves throughout the Arab world. But don't expect it to herald an era of democratic reform."

Spencer said that "It is easy to laugh now," because Tunisian dictator Ben Ali had predicted the demise of Hosni Mubarak, and now instead of Mubarak it was Ben Ali who had just been driven out of power.

We could ask the question, "Who is laughing now?" Is it Ben Ali who has egg on his face, or is it Richard Spencer, who reported with near-metaphysical certitude that the Jasmine Revolution would not spread to Egypt?

My cautionary tale reveals that "the Jasmine Revolution" has been written off as dead before; but, simply because a journalist files such a story does not mean that the story will stick. Journalists should think long and hard before trying to pronounce the demise, or the end, of the Chinese pro-democracy movement.

This movement has people who are "still here" from 1989. The China Support Network was a response group to the atrocity at Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Square student leader Wang Dan remains on the scene. Interviewed in Taiwan, he can spin this story like a pro. (Perhaps, with over 20 years' experience in the field, we should allow that he is a pro.)

His interview published by Taiwan's CNA news wire allowed that the revolution did not materialize on Sunday. But, Wang is quoted saying, "The Chinese Communists were indeed frightened this time... Why does a government, which has more information than its people do, believe more than its people that mass protests are likely in China these days?"

He assessed Sunday's campaign as "a very successful 'test and drill' for the future gathering of 'true people power.'"

Writing in the Australian, Leo Lewis said that some people "hailed the day's activities as a useful dry run and suggested that protesters should meet every Sunday."

The New York Times found a Beijinger named Cui, who said that he was not disappointed by the outcome:

"He predicted that many people, emboldened by the fact that an impromptu gathering had coalesced at all, would use social networking technology to stage similar events in the future.

"'It's very difficult to do this in China, but this is a good start,' he said. 'I'm thankful to be able to participate in this moment in history.'"

Mainstream journalism

Above, I wrote a cautionary tale with the example of Richard Spencer, who didn't expect to see a post-Mubarak world when he filed his story on Jan. 16. Journalists can be caught out by their near-metaphysical certitude that received wisdom and outdated rules of thumb can never fail them.

Today, Melissa K. Chan was heedless of my cautionary tale. With her feet on the desk, she tapped out an article titled, "Call me if there's a revolution." She explained that her friend, another journalist, was headed out to central Beijing, but she decided not to go. "Pretty certain nothing would happen," she explained, she didn't want "a waste of my Sunday afternoon."

If that isn't bad enough, within her article Ms. Chan proceeds to telegraph her attitude. An entire section begins, "Here's why I think China won't be having a revolution anytime soon." She then proceeds to regurgitate some hackneyed cliches of received wisdom, faulty rules of thumb, and flawed interpretation of history.

I believe that Al-Jazeera should recall or reassign Ms. Chan, or that she should recuse herself from any future reporting on the Chinese democracy movement.

It is exceedingly clear, in advance of future pro-democracy coverage, that Ms. Chan is biased against the movement. Her absence is not to be missed. For all I care, she can stay in a nail salon for the duration of the revolution. In between pedicures, perhaps she can try some more of her feet-on-the-desk journalism.

When I consider the Melissa Chans of the news world, I wonder, "How much does the Communist Party pay you to ignore the human rights abuse of the Chinese democracy movement? Is that amount more, or less, than what they pay you to ignore the human rights abuse of the Falun Gong on a weekly basis?"

There is a Beiijing Foreign Correspondents' Club, and all of them ignore the human rights abuse of the Falun Gong on a weekly basis. If the long arc of history bends toward justice, then at some point they will be exposed for being tacitly complicit, and silent accessories to the crimes against humanity that have been committed by the Chinese Communist Party in twelve years of the Falun Gong crackdown.

Are they journalists? Or are they press release rewrite analysts? In order to report from Beijing and preserve their access in the Beijing power structure, they have made a pact with the devil. Sold out and soulless, they have abdicated a fuller version of journalism. They have kept Western audiences in the dark about the full extent and scale of the genocide against Falun Gong.

They have served their Communist masters in Beijing. (And the home office overseas never thinks to ask after the Falun Gong.) But they have not served the right side of history, nor the public's right to know. What is the final epithet that I can write in this space? Perhaps I will let them choose from two alterate endings. They may be "filthy sub-human scum." Or they may be "paragons of moral cowardice and trite reporting."

Either way, there is something profoundly foul at the Beijing Foreign Correspondents' Club, and I wouldn't want to be them; nor within smelling distance of that abominable hell hole. I would challenge them simply to tell me: What is the current death toll in the Falun Gong crackdown? And how many people died while you were withholding that number from the public?

If the revolution succeeds, we will soon learn the answers to these interesting questions.

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