China: New viral calls for online action as Amnesty demands release of cyber-dissident who helped victims

Amnesty International today (30 June) launched a new, animated viral film to urge people in the UK to take action online for human rights in China. The new film was released as Amnesty called on the Chinese authorities to release a cyber-dissident who was snatched by plainclothes police at a restaurant earlier this month.

Huang Qi, a 45-year-old human rights activist from Chengdu who runs the www.64tianwang.com website was detained on 10 June. He is held on suspicion of "illegally acquiring state secrets", a vague charge that is often used against Chinese human rights defenders. No one has been able to visit him in detention, and Amnesty believes he is at risk of torture.

Local 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. Their families believe that corruption - involving local authorities - resulted in poor construction standards of some of the public buildings that collapsed in the quake. They are demanding compensation.

Amnesty International hopes the online film will encourage people in the UK and around the world to join their campaign at www.amnesty.org.uk/china for much needed human rights reform in the country.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“Huang Qi is one of many human rights activists who have been locked up for protesting about human rights ahead of the Olympics.

“Amnesty is not against the Games going to China but we want people to know what is really going on in the country. The Chinese authorities promised when bidding for the Olympics that hosting the Games would improve human rights. But things have got worse, not better, in the run-up to Beijing 2008.

“We want people here in the UK to speak up – online and in letters and faxes to the Chinese authorities – and demand human rights for China.”

Yasmeen Ismail of Sweetworld TV, the animator behind the films, is half Chinese and spent many summer school holidays in Hong Kong. She said:

“With animation you can create a lot of emotion. Working on this project with Amnesty has really opened my eyes to China's situation. I feel angry, fired up and helpless all at the same time. I feel sad for the Chinese people and disturbed by their government.”

See the film and join Amnesty's campaign at www.amnesty.org.uk/china br />

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