New China viral and appeal for detained cyber-dissident

We released the second of our viral animations on the China Olympics today, highlighting the repression of peaceful protesters (using the medium of cute animated animals). You can see and download the films, and get the code to embed them on your site here.

For the first time we gave the content as an exclusive to ITN ON to distribute online, which seems to have done a great job, getting them on the Yahoo! and MSN sites, both quite tricky ones for us to crack usually. I hope I’ll be making the trip down to their Gray’s Inn Road office more frequently in the future. What I’m really hoping is that the mobile phone video services will take the virals, though. If we can get people sharing the films on their phones it’ll really help to spread the campaign message.

We’ve used the viral launch to highlight the case of Huang Qi, a cyber-dissident who runs the website and has been detained since 10 June. Huang Qi was having dinner at a local restaurant in Chengdu with two volunteers from his organisation, the Tianwang Human Rights Centre, when several men – believed to be plainclothes police – forced them into a vehicle and took them away. Since then no-one’s been able to see him or speak to him: which means he’s at real risk of torture.

Our sources believe that Huang Qi's detention was prompted by his work helping the families of five primary school pupils to bring a legal case against the local authorities. The five pupils died when the school buildings collapsed in the earthquake in Sichuan in May. The families believe that corruption, involving local authorities, resulted in poor construction standards of some of the public buildings that collapsed in the quake. You can find out more – and take action to demand his release – here.

Just as a postscript, I thought I’d point out why his website is preceded by the number 64. The number 64, or 6-4, is something of a bogey number for the authorities in China, referring to the 4th day of the 6th month – 4 June – the day that the authorities turned their guns onto peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. I’ve blogged before about the continuing persecution of people who try to discuss or commemorate that day; and there’s a good blog on CiF today about how that date remains taboo, but not forgotten.

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