Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 August 2009) . . Page.. 3631 ..
One particular story is highlighted in the Amnesty International report. On 25 January, Yu Zhou, a well-known folk singer, graduate of Beijing University, and reportedly a Falun Gong practitioner, was arrested in Tongzhou District, Beijing, along with his wife, Xu Na, a poet and painter. On 6 February, the authorities from Qinghe District emergency centre told his family that Yu Zhou had died from either diabetes or a hunger strike, although the family maintains he was healthy at the time of his arrest. The staff at the emergency centre refused the family’s request to view the body and for an autopsy. On 25 November, Xu Na was sentenced to three years in prison for “using a heretical organisation to undermine the implementation of the law”. She appealed against the sentence and is at risk of torture and other ill treatment in detention.
A recent story on the election results and protests in Iran demonstrated how countries where human rights are being breached are working together to bring their stories to the public arena. Computer software developed by volunteers from the Falun Gong movement to allow internet users to bypass Chinese government censorship was and is being used by pro-democracy activists in Iran.
The death of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was killed while watching post-election protests in the Iranian capital Tehran, may not have been known had it not been for the software. A passer-by recorded the scene and posted her dying moments on the YouTube hosting website, bringing global attention to a conflict the Iranian government was trying to suppress. Iranian authorities had started blocking certain websites in the lead-up to the presidential elections, but the software allowed Iranians to access information about what was occurring in their country. Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the consortium which developed the software, stated:
The reason that we created this service was mainly due to the suppression of the Falun Gong in ’99.
Many of us were Tiananmen students during the Tiananmen massacre time in ’89, so we knew how frightening state-controlled media can be, like in China, that can turn white into black overnight.
People want to know what’s going on, because people care about society, people care about other people and they want to know exactly what is happening.
They hunt for information over the internet because it has become an open platform, a multimedia platform, and the most powerful and widely used form of media.
I would like to quote from the Amnesty International report of 2009 foreword by Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, which points to the actions of human rights activists around the world:
History shows that most struggles for great change—such as the abolition of slavery or the emancipation of women—started not as the initiative of states but as the endeavour of ordinary people. Successes in establishing international justice or controlling the arms trade or abolishing the death penalty or fighting violence against women or putting global poverty and climate change on the