(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF press release announcing an e-mail campaign to support Chinese cyber-dissidents and to protest against the censorship of the internet in China:
**For background on the Qi Yanchen case see IFEX alert of 3 September 1999; for the Lin Hai alet see IFEX alerts of 20 January 1999 and 9 December 1998**
Email campaign against internet censorship in China
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Reporters Sans Frontières is launching an email campaign in protest at the Chinese government's control of the internet and repression of dissidents who use it. The first email, containing the Chinese translation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which protects freedom of expression), will be send to five official addresses by Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng from a cybercafé in Paris at 10.30am (08.30 GMT) on 30 September.
Since the start of the year, the internet control policy introduced by the Beijing government has developed into repression of dissidents who use the internet. On 2 September, Qi Yanchen, an activist with the dissident Union for the Development of China, was arrested by police in Poutou, Hebei province, as he was about to print and distribute VIP Reference, a newsletter on human rights and the Chinese democratic movement which is available by email and on a web site run from the United States. The editor of VIP Reference said Qi Yanchen could face a ten-year prison sentence for "subversion". On the day of his arrest, the Beijing Public Security Office had issued a directive asking the police and communist party officials to be "extremely vigilant" about Chinese people liable to visit "hostile" web sites.
In January 1999, Lin Hai, a Shanghai computer programmer, was sentenced to two years in jail for supplying VIP Reference with 30,000 email addresses so that the newsletter could be more widely distributed in China.
The Chinese authorities control internet access by forcing users to register with their local government security office and by installing filters to block access to "subversive" sites. Reporters Sans Frontières recently included China in its list of the 20 worst enemies of the internet worldwide.
To support the two dissidents and protest at Beijing's internet policy, simply go to Reporters Sans Frontières' web site (www.rsf.fr) on 30 September at 08.30 GMT, copy the file containing the message from our home page and send it to five addresses given by RSF.