Two New York Times articles in a row about China's crackdown on rights activism & foreign funding for NGOs:http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/27/world/asia/china-raids-offices-of-rights-group-as-crackdown-on-activism-continues.html?ref=world&_r=0
China Raids Offices of Rights Group as Crackdown on Activism Continues
BEIJING — Chinese security agents raided the offices of a leading human rights organization, according to its employees, the latest sign of the authorities' mounting hostility toward nongovernmental groups, especially those that receive foreign funding or promote civic activism.
Employees say about two dozen police officers on Tuesday raided theBeijing Yirenping Center, which champions gender equality and employs litigation to fight discrimination against people with H.I.V., hepatitis and physical disabilities. Lu Jun, a founder of the group, said the raid was probably related to the group's efforts to publicize the recent detentions of five female activists that have prompted international criticism.
The activists, who all have ties to Yirenping, had planned to hand out stickers and leaflets in Chinese cities to highlight the problem of groping of women on public transportation. They were taken into custody just ahead of International Women's Day and are being held on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles," a charge that has been used with increasing frequency against those the government considers potential threats to social stability.Lu Jun, a founder of the Beijing Yirenping Center, which publicized the detentions of five activists.
Mr. Lu said the authorities carted away files, computers and laptops, and briefly detained one of the center's employees before changing the locks on the doors.
"We can't even get into the offices, and the police won't give us any information," said Mr. Lu, speaking from New York, where he is a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute atNew York University. He said the center's five employees, fearing for their safety, had left the Chinese capital.
It was unclear if the authorities intended to close the offices for good.
Since President Xi Jinping came to power more than two years ago, scores of rights defenders have been jailed as part of a crackdown on social activism and political dissent. But the detention of the five activists — young, social-media-savvy idealists — has struck a chord among women's rights advocates around the world, prompting rallies, petition drives and support from Western diplomats. Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, has been especially vocal about the case, demanding on Twitter that the Chinese government free the women.
Lawyers for the detained women said some of them had been mistreated and subjected to lengthy interrogations and sleep deprivation. One woman, Wang Rongrong, has been denied critical hepatitis medication and has been spitting up blood, her lawyer said.
The Beijing Public Security Bureau did not respond to requests for comment, and the Foreign Ministry has dismissed expressions of concern from overseas. "No one has the right to ask China to release relevant persons, so we hope that relevant people will stop interfering in China's judicial sovereignty in such a manner," Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the ministry, said during a regular news conference on Wednesday.
Communist Party leaders have long been suspicious of independent organizations, but under Mr. Xi, the authorities have come to view such groups as potential conduits for subversion — with help from those they perceive as China's enemies in the West. "Even though these organizations have tried to stay within the red lines of normally tolerated activism, the government still sees them as fomenting color revolution," said Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong, using one of the party's preferred terms for foreign-backed insurrection.
In recent months, the authorities have closed a network of rural lending libraries, harassed labor advocates and dismantled a well-regarded think tank, the Transition Institute, detaining several of its employees. "A lot of NGOs are facing tough times right now," said Anthony J. Spires, associate director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "The government is intent on shutting down perceived troublemakers."
Most at risk are groups that rely on foreign support, which describes the vast majority of Chinese organizations dedicated to social justice. Mr. Lu said it was nearly impossible these days to raise money domestically despite the group's record of accomplishment.Correction: March 28, 2015
An earlier version of this article misquoted Maya Wang, a Human Rights Watch researcher. She said the Chinese government sees some nongovernmental organizations as "fomenting color revolution," not "fomenting counterrevolution."
The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL
China's Fear of Women With Pamphlets
China's growing crackdown on political dissent is stirring global protests and demands for the release of five women's rights advocates arrested this month as they sought to hand out leaflets as part of a campaign against sexual harassment on China's public transportation.
The women were taken into custody ahead of International Women's Day, March 8. They have been held on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles" — a classic authoritarian premise for crushing free speech.
In truth, the five activists are affiliated with the Beijing Yirenping Center, a dedicated nongovernmental organization that focuses on discrimination suffered by various groups, including women, the disabled and people with H.I.V., hepatitis and other illnesses. As the government faced mounting international protests, the situation grew worse this week with a raid on the offices of Yirenping by Chinese security agents, who confiscated files and computers and locked workers out of the center.
The arrests have prompted global rallies and petitions as well as diplomatic complaints. Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, has called for the women's release and a commitment from China to face up to their grievances, not muzzle them.
Since President Xi Jinping took power two years ago, scores of human rights defenders have been jailed in a crackdown across the spectrum of legitimate protest, from academia to the Internet to organizations like Yirenping. Rights groups say the attempt to throttle government criticism and other speech has been the worst since the deadly Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
President Xi should see that there is no place for such government thuggery in his campaign to modernize China. He has the chance to build a legacy embracing the advancement of human rights. Instead, he appears to be succumbing to the history of Communist Party leaders who fear citizens' protests as a prelude to subversion. The Yirenping women stand as a noble opportunity for China, not a threat.In India last week, a protest against the detention of five women in China.Altaf Qadri/Associated Press
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