China Frees Jailed Dissident With Terminal Cancer
Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo has been released from prison on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Mr. Liu, a human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 on subversion charges for calling for greater democracy. His lawyer says he is being treated in a hospital in northern Liaoning Province after being diagnosed a month ago. His wife Liu Xia has been under house arrest since her husband won the award in 2010 but has never been charged. Liu Xiaobo, 61, was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. The Chinese authorities have never explained why they have restricted his wife’s movements. Most people in China have never heard of Liu Xiaobo due to the censorship of discussion about him here. That it could take a month for news of his release to become public gives an idea of the level of sensitivity. It also shows that his transfer to hospital is by no means a guarantee that his friends and family will be able to visit.
China Charges Labor Activist For “Picking Quarrels”
Chun Han Wong and Josh Chin, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A Chinese activist who for years has documented worker unrest faced charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on Friday, in a trial seen as a bellwether of Beijing’s approach to containing labor tensions. A former migrant worker, Lu Yuyu roamed around China with his girlfriend, collecting information about public protests that he then tallied online. The detention of the couple last year closed a rare window on social unrest in China by putting a key provider of such data out of commission. The court is likely to find Mr. Lu guilty and accept the prosecutors’ suggestion despite the activist maintaining his innocence in court. “Picking quarrels” is a vague legal term that authorities have used to prosecute dozens of activists and political dissidents since Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012. Many of the accused have been released on China’s equivalent of bail after confessing. Nearly all who declined to confess have been convicted and sentenced to prison.
Is A Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It?
Ian Johnson, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Across China, millions of people have begun participating in faith-based organizations like Fo Guang Shan. They aim to fill what they see as a moral vacuum left by attacks on traditional values over the past century, especially under Mao, and the nation’s embrace of a cutthroat form of capitalism. Many want to change their country—but unlike political dissidents or other activists suppressed by the Communist Party, they hope to change Chinese society through personal piety and by working with the government instead of against it. And for the most part, the authorities have left them alone. Fo Guang Shan is perhaps the most successful of these groups. While the government has tightened controls on most other foreign religious organizations, Fo Guang Shan has flourished. It has done so, however, by making compromises. The Chinese government is wary of spiritual activity it does not control—the Falun Gong an example—and prohibits mixing religion and politics. That has led Fo Guang Shan to play down its message of social change and even its religious content, focusing instead on promoting knowledge of traditional culture and values.
China Races To Find Landslide Victims
Trefor Moss, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Nearly 100 people remained missing after a deadly landslide in an area of southwestern China that had been the focus of geologic concern since a devastating 2008 earthquake. Sichuan province authorities said Sunday that more than 3,000 rescue workers were combing through the rubble after the landslide swept through the remote mountain village of Xinmo in Maoxian county Saturday morning, swallowing 62 homes. Authorities said there was little chance of finding any survivors, citing the depth of the layer of fallen rock. Amid the confusion of the emergency rescue operation, authorities in Sichuan said that 10 people were confirmed dead and 93 were missing, downgrading the number of recovered bodies released by state media Saturday.
North Korea Calls Otto Warmbier’s Death A “Mystery,” Casts Itself As “Biggest Victim”
Simon Denyer, THE WASHINGTON POST
North Korea said Friday that the death of American tourist Otto Warmbier was a mystery, denying that he was tortured and casting itself as the “biggest victim” of the affair. In its first public reaction to Warmbier’s death, a Foreign Ministry spokesman also tried to shift blame onto the administration of President Barack Obama, blaming it for refusing to have a dialogue with Pyongyang and claiming it had never officially asked for Warmbier’s release. “The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week after his return to the US in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency. “To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident.”
North Korean Restaurants In China Close Amid Regional Tensions
RADIO FREE ASIA
North Korean restaurants in eastern China’s Shandong province are folding amid a downturn in business from South Korean and Chinese customers, who sources say are avoiding the eating establishments due to ongoing political tensions in the region. The sources told RFA’s Korean Service that the shuttering of North Korean eateries is representative of a wider trend throughout China, as the restaurants—already known for high prices, poor food, and middling entertainment—struggle to bring in diners increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang’s belligerent foreign policy. The sources told RFA that unless North Korea reevaluates its foreign policy, the country’s remaining restaurants in China are also sure to face financial difficulties. Restaurants in Chinese cities near the North Korean border also suffered downturns last year as North Koreans working in cross-border trade began to avoid them, fearing that agents of the regime would watch them there and monitor their movements.
Tibetan Cuts Own Throat In Lhasa Freedom Protest
RADIO FREE ASIA
A Tibetan man called out on Friday for freedom for Tibet before cutting his own throat in a solo protest outside Lhasa’s famous Jokhang temple. No details were available on whether the man had died or been detained following his 10:00 am protest. “But he is unlikely to have survived,” a source said. “When police arrived on the scene, they immediately covered the place with blue sheets so that no sign of the incident was visible,” he said. By 4:00 pm, no evidence of the protest remained, a second source in Lhasa told RFA. “Tibetans were still coming to the Jokhang to pray and receive blessings, and people in the area nearby were behaving just as always,” he said. The protest was the second incident of its kind to be reported from the Jokhang, an important Tibetan pilgrimage site, in recent years. In May 2012, two young Tibetans, believed to be monks, set themselves ablaze outside the temple in a protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.
Ukraine Says Two Soldiers Killed Despite Cease-Fire
RADIO FREE EUROPE
The Ukrainian military has said that two soldiers were killed and two wounded in the eastern part of the country despite a cease-fire that began on June 23. In a statement posted on Facebook on June 24, the military accused anti-government rebels of firing artillery rounds in both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The statement did not provide details about the casualties. The two sides and representatives of Moscow and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on the cease-fire on June 21. It is intended to last until August 31 to allow locals to harvest crops. Representatives of the Russia-backed rebels on June 24 accused government forces of violating the cease-fire 10 times, adding that information about the purported violations had been sent to the OSCE monitors. The conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it began in early 2014, shortly after Moscow annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
Professor Said Otto Warmbier “Got What He Deserved”
Melissa Klein, THE NEW YORK POST
A University of Delaware professor is under fire for saying that the college student who died after being held prisoner in North Korea “got exactly what he deserved.” Calls are mounting for the university to fire adjunct anthropology professor Kathy Dettwyler, who reportedly wrote on her personal Facebook page that Otto Warmbier was “typical of a mindset of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes. These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade. His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. And of course, it’s Ottos’ parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives,” Dettwyler wrote, according to a report in The News Journal of Wilmington, DE. The university released a statement saying that Dettwyler’s comments “do not reflect the values or position” of the college.
Hundreds Gather To Hear Dalai Lama Speak
Kiana Cole, THE BOSTON GLOBE
Hundreds of visitors gathered early Sunday morning outside the Sheraton Boston Hotel waiting to hear the Dalai Lama speak. Some had been waiting in line at least an hour before the doors opened a little before 8 am and most were wearing traditional Tibetan-style dress, in bright pinks and reds. “It’s amazing,” said Seth Monk, 34, from Andover. “He’s very wise, very caring and compassionate.” Monk, who said he was a monk for eight years, said he has seen the Dalai Lama before and is excited to feel the energy of the crowd. Most of the Dalai Lama’s message, Monk said, will be in delivered in Tibetan. People of all ages came to the hotel on Dalton Street to see the Dalai Lama, some bringing young children in strollers and others accompanying elders. Tenzin Dahnzay, 18, who is from India, said she hopes the Dalai Lama will speak about how to keep Tibetan culture alive outside of Tibet. “I’m off to college soon, so I wanted to hear what he has to say before I go,” she said.
Venezuela’s Shortages Spur Perilous Sea Journeys
Kejal Vyas and Sara Schaefer Muñoz, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Struggling to find basic staples in her own country, Mariana Revilla and five neighbors took to crossing a treacherous 60-mile gulf under the cover of night to the island of Trinidad. On her last trip, they made a good haul, securing seven tons of flour, sugar and cooking oil from the former British colony in exchange for fresh shrimp from home. But on the way back their rickety 46-foot boat capsized, leaving Ms. Revilla and her companions clinging to the wreckage for nearly two days before she and two others ran out of strength and drowned, according to survivors. As Venezuela’s economy crumbles, an increasingly desperate people are doing all they can to get food and medicine despite great peril. Venezuelans make trips as long as 10 hours to hawk shellfish, plastic chairs, house doors, ceramic pots and even exotic animals like iguanas and brightly feathered macaws. They are exchanged for basic goods—rice, detergent, diapers—that Caracas is increasingly unable to provide. “This is savage capitalism,” town councilman Guillermo Mendoza said. “The role of the government in this is to just keep quiet.”
Venezuelan Soldier Shoots Protester Dead In Airbase Attack, Minister Says
Andreina Aponte, REUTERS
A Venezuelan military police sergeant shot dead a protester who was attacking the perimeter of an airbase on Thursday, the interior minister said, bringing renewed scrutiny of the force used to control riots that have killed at least 76 people. At least two soldiers shot long firearms through the fence from a distance of just a few feet at protesters who were throwing rocks, television footage showed. One man collapsed to the ground and was carried off by other protesters. Paramedics took at least two other injured people to a hospital, a Reuters witness said. “The sergeant used an unauthorized weapon to repel the attack, causing the death of one of assailants,” Interior minister Nestor Reverol said on Twitter. He said the air force police sergeant faced legal proceedings. The protesters who attacked the fence outside La Carlota airbase in the wealthy east of Caracas had earlier burned a truck and a motorbike when security forces firing rubber bullets broke up a march destined for the attorney general’s office.