Can you imagine what John Lennon would have thought about a museum in his Liverpool home-town installing facial recognition technology to invade the privacy of visitors, in an act of big-brother surveillance? Maybe his son can write a song about that? Yet for sure that’s what has happened according to a report by the UK campaigners Big Brother Watch, and what lies behind the decision is a cause for real concern to anyone valuing human rights and the intrusion of the state upon civil and personal liberties.
The World Museum has admitted that such technology was operated, and in a curious twist stated that the decision to extract the bio-metric data of its visitors was taken during an exhibition on China’s ‘terracotta warriors’.
It seems the move was suggested by the local cops! Now what on this good earth would they be so concerned about? Details are scarce, a tight lid has been closed which makes us wonder what was going down behind the scenes. What facts are known show that several Chinese government and academic institutions were closely involved with facilitating the exhibition. That it was taking placed in England, for the first time outside off of London suggests that UK authorities such as the Foreign Office would have a key role.
While in the background would be lurking security agencies like MI5. Such monitoring and involvement would have the goal of ensuring matters proceeded without incident or controversy. After all like China’s ‘Panda Diplomacy’ these artifacts are used by the Chinese regime as soft propaganda, exhorting the cultural marvels of an ancient past, for very present political purposes.
Given the appeasement which runs through UK policy towards China there would have been an acute sensitivity surrounding the exhibition, the question is who requested that face-scanners be part of security measures? From what we know Britain has some legal restrictions and protocols on the deployment and operation of such technology, on what basis then did the cops press the museum to employ such an intrusion of personal privacy?
Did they have confirmed intelligence of a planned protest or criminal action? If so surely an increased police presence would have been an appropriate measure? Was this the result of a confidential accord reached between the UK and Chinese government? Meanwhile we should of course give thought to the use of the bio-metric data which was taken from all those who visited this exhibition. Who had responsibility for it? Was it shared with any other agencies, including the Chinese authorities? Just where is that digital record now?
Whatever dirty politics or anxiety saturated diplomacy may be behind this gross violation of citizens right to privacy, one fact remains the Chinese regime and its technological attack dog, Huwawei have implemented the world’s most oppressive facial-recognition systems against the people of China and indeed in occupied lands such as Tibet and East Turkistan.
That a supposed liberal democracy like the UK has authorized such surveillance against its own people, in probable collaboration with and appeasement of China’s totalitarian regime is a deeply disturbing development. One that should be thoroughly exposed and challenged!
Imagine sitting opposite a representative of the Nazi regime as he assured you that the conditions of the Polish people had, under German occupation improved. To witness your stated concerns on atrocities contemptuously dismissed as baseless accusations, the expressionless dismissal of what the world knew to be true.
This week US Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad is visting occupied Tibet, we wonder if the former Governor of Iowa, once described (Dec 11, 2016) by the Omaha World Herald as having a ‘light touch’ on China, will regard his Chinese hosts as brutal occupiers of Tibet. Selected by Trump for the Ambassadorial post he looks more like the man best placed to do business with China, as opposed to being a vigorous advocate of Tibetan cultural freedoms.
His trip is a follow-up to a law passed last December requiring the United States to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies which restrict access to Tibet for foreigners. A legislation that was denounced by China.
According to the US Embassy: “This visit is a chance for the ambassador to engage with local leaders to raise longstanding concerns about restrictions on religious freedom and the preservation of Tibetan culture and language,”.
Anyone concerned with the plight of Tibet’s people will welcome the US challenging the oppression of Tibetans. However, that should be measured against the political reality of a US State Department which endorses Chinese propaganda that Tibet is an inalienable part of China!
Look right from the get go we’re going to make it plain. We’ve little respect for academics specializing in Tibetan culture and history, who (usually for the purposes of career and research enhancement) collaborate with the Chinese regime. Why? Because there’s always a dangerous compromise on the facts, there has to be. Don’t forget it’s a totalitarian authority which demands compliance to its official narrative on any aspect of Tibet. Unless a scholar signs-off on that there’s no deal, applications for visas are denied, cooperation from Chinese universities and research bodies is not extended. So what do you do? After all you have a passion for your area of study? It would be a real shame not make progress on that project you’ve been considering, right?
So the justification begins, and any concerns on partnering with a regime that you know is brutalizing the Tibetan people and eradicating their cultural and national identity, is rationalized away. With the support and encouragement of intellectual colleagues, the prospect of exotic field trips, and dreams of acclaim for that paper you will now be able to complete and publish, it becomes remarkably easy to ignore the harrowing reality endured by Tibetans. That’s the great thing about being inside the bubble; you are insulated the work becomes everything, while a remnant of concern may remain it’s pushed away into some neglected junkyard of your thinking.
The Chinese authorities will prove extremely helpful and generous, facilitating your research in Tibet, such support and cooperation comes with a price! The work you produce has to conform to standards expected and dictated by a number of government bodies including; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tibet Academy Of Social Sciences and China Tibetological Research Centre. You will be required to use certain phrases when describing Tibet, its culture, regions, place-names and people, these of course are propaganda constructions to emphasize China’s bogus claims that Tibet is part of China. At first including such terminology in your writing is awkward but that feeling soon passes and it becomes natural, it also ensures your visa gets renewed!
Image: Eric Baculinao
Field trips are arranged, monitored, controlled and carefully selected and approved, you will liaise on a regular basis with a Chinese academic ‘partner’, At a number of sites you will meet with Tibetans, who will no doubt inform you of the great progress being made in occupied Tibet, while addressing the subject of your researches. The monastery you have access to seems thriving, new buildings and unrestricted Buddhist practice, the perfect location for your study!
An experience no doubt encountered by Professor Agita Baltgalve (University of Latvia/Latvian Society for the Study of Religions). On May 8 she was a key speaker at the screening of a propaganda film shown at the Chinese embassy in the capital city of Riga, Latvia. Her comments clearly met the approval of Xinhua, the official mouthpiece of China’s regime, who reported her as saying: ‘..Latvia has seen visits of several Tibetan delegations, now the documentary films provides an opportunity to learn more about the land and people of Tibet by means of cinematography. ‘. Anyone watching a film on Tibet authorised by Xi Jinping’s regime will be educated with disinformation and falsehoods, not that this seems to trouble Ms Baltgave!
She is an active collaborator in endorsing and promoting Chinese propaganda, seemingly content with the engineered illusions presented to her during visits to a handful of selected Tibetan monasteries during 2018. Her report ‘Current Situation of Tibetan Monasteries in China’(note the title wording) no doubt fails to mention the paramilitary presence at such sites, the asphyxiating control from China’s ideological storm-troopers who dominate and control every aspect of daily life at Tibet’s monasteries. Missing too will be the transformation of once Buddhist centers of study into indoctrination camps, where the political thoughts of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are forced upon Tibetans.
We wonder how Ms Baltgave would have responded to news of a documentary film being shown at an embassy of the Soviet Union which portrayed Christianity as thriving in Latvia during the time it was under Soviet occupation? How would she have regarded a western academic’s willing participation in promoting such propaganda? Such ethical considerations appear to be of no importance to Tibet academics who choose to collaborate with the Chinese regime.
Across the water in a land where its government is often heard to boast of traditions of democracy and human-rights something is very rotten.
This week a Minister of the UK authorities, Gavin Williamson, wassummararilly dismissed from his post by Theresa May, the reason you may wonder?Well, there had been a leak of information to the media from a security star chamber called the National Security Council (NSC). This gathering is attended by Ministers, heads of MI6,GCHQ,MI5 and counter-terrorism police, they are all bound by what’s termed the Official Secrets Act. Which is effectively a state gagging order, violation of which is punishable as a crime.
A rapidly assembled inquiry was launched and within a couple of days the Prime Minister had laidresponsibility for the disclosure at the door of Mr Williamson. He had it was claimedbreached the security protocols and convention of supreme confidentiality under which the NSCoperates. What’s more there wastalk of him being open to prosecution. As it stands hecontinuesto vigorously denysuchcharges and has called for an inquiry into the affair.
What would be revealed if such an investigation was allowed to delve into events which lead to the release of press reports that Theresa May was considering allowing controversial Chinese communications and tech corporation Huawei a contract in constructing a 5G network within the UK?
In all probabilitysuch an examination is not likely as there may well be too many politically sensitive skeletons rattling around, which could prove damagingly embarrassing to the Prime Minister’s government and her Conservative Party. There’s already an indication that the matter is being slammed down with yesterday’s announcement by the Metropolitan Police thatthe disclosure did not constitute a criminal offence, Nor it was claimeddid the informationreleasedbreach the Official Secrets Act.
“I am satisfied that what was disclosed did not contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act,”said Neil Basu, head of the Met’s specialist operations. “I have considered all the information available to me andI have takenlegal advice.I am satisfied that the disclosure did not amount to a criminal offence either under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or misconduct in a public office. No crime has been committed and this is not a matter for the police.”(Source: The Guardian 5/4/2019)
This statementraises an interesting possible legal defense for future whistle-blowers who couldargue that it‘s not the action itself which defines if the OSA has been breached but the nature of information. From the government‘s perspective it does something more important, eliminates the risk of exposure within a court, it also returns complete control to them. Who can now bury this controversy deeply away from what could be dangerous further scrutiny. Before exploring further some interesting connections between the UK government, former Ministers and officials with Huawei let‘s change the focus.
While the UK government struggles to justify it’s reported approval of allowingHuawei to engineer the 5G network across Britain, or reassure its allies that any potential security risk can be contained the Chinese corporation is a key facilitator in the oppression of the Tibetan people. Not that the political establishment in London extends any substantial concern towards the plight of Tibet, especially when engaged in lucrative commercial partnerships with Chinese corporations!
Yet if they bothered to carefully assess the role of Huawei in occupied Tibet they would soon realize that its insistence on being an independent business, not influenced or constrained by China’s regimeis palpable nonsense. Like all major corporations within China Huawei is deeply and actively enmeshed with the political machinery of the Chinese state, without the sanction of the authorities it would not exist. It cannot operate without the approval of Xi Jinping and his regime. We are not though talking of a well intentioned company that happens to be under the control of China’s totalitarian tyranny, Huaweiis an engaged player, fully subscribed to the extreme politicalideology which aims to expand Chinese political, military and national interests.
This is shown by its suffocating presence in Tibet where it has been constructing a range of communication and security networks, the purpose of which is to monitor Tibetans, intruding into every aspect of their daily living.Establishing an extensive CCTV coverage, creating facial recognition systems and security barriers at Tibetan monasteries and other public locations.Working in collusion with other Chinese communication providers it has engineered a surveillance network which monitors social-media and telephone systems to identity any dissent against China’s regime.
In this regardit is partnering in the repressive assault against Tibetan cultural and national identity, a collaboration which should be of serious concern to governments, including of that of the United Kingdom, which claim to place the highest value upon human rights and freedoms. Yet it‘sinterest is directed towards strengtheningties with Huawei, even to the extent of jeopardizing security alliances with the USA and other countries.
The prospect of trade and the significant profits which flow from collaborating with the Chinese technology giant are presented as being in the interest of the nation, enablingeconomic and performance benefits fron the latest network platform. Such claims, of course, are open to debate and should be measured against handing over control of communications infrastructure to an arm of the Chinese state.
While the advantages of 5G are promoted as offering a digital revolution such technology also affords a totalitarian state disturbing levels of increased social control and surveillance. That is already happening within China, facilitated by Huawei, while there are now three 5G base-stations operating inside occupied Tibet. One, at the LhasaPost and Telecommunications School, the other two are installed at the office of the TibetPost Group in Lhasa, and in China Mobile’s Tibet branch building.
It‘s said that power corrupts, in realityitprobably reveals an inherent capacity for venality, is such self-interest at the heart of this controversy? Have prominent figures linked to the UK Government and Conservative Party profited from Huawei? Was it coincidental that fairly senior people associated with former Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration were offered and accepted prominent executive positions onto the board of HuaweiUK? Clearly finance has dominated the scene since Huawei promised in 2012 that it would be investing £1.3 billion in the British economy.!
Whatever the facts, which look set to be confined indefinitely to the archives, in defending its partnership with Huawei and risking the integrity of its communications network and national security the UK authorities are collaborating with a corporation which is enabling the violent oppression and 24/7 surveillance of the Tibetan people!
Note: This video from Bitter Winter has been featured in the context of its exposure of a major abuse of human rights perpetrated against Uyghur families and children by the Chinese regime. We have no affiliation with Bitter Wind nor share or endorse any particular religious belief which may or may not be associated with that organization.
Having just witnessed a video shot covertly inside East Turkistan (so-called Xinjiang Province) of a hugely overcrowded dormitory containing Uyghur infants (whose parents have been incarcerated into Chinese run indoctrination camps) a question came to mind. What action has the organization Save The Children taken on this issue? Surely it would be deeply concerned at thousands of children being forced from their families into what are effectively prisons, traumatized and abused, and suffering a miserable existence under a daily regime of enforced Chinese language lessons and political brainwashing?
Yet on running an online search we’re finding it hard to locate any concern or word of opposition from the world’s premier organization dedicated to relieving the suffering and abuse of children. What’s going down here? Uyghur families being torn apart, children removed from their parents, sent off to brain-washing centers and detained in ‘orphanages’. Why the deafening silence from Save The Children?
The organization is deeply embedded within China, and has been collaborating with the Chinese Regime for some years. It runs projects not only in occupied East Turkistan but in Tibet also. To do so it clearly has been required to comply with the dictates of China’s totalitarian government, which perhaps explains its reticence to comment on human rights violations. Could be also that a value judgement within their executive has concluded that in the balance its presence in China is worth such ethically worrying compromise and compliance when viewed against any progress it brings.
Such a rationalization, however well intended, cannot conceal the reality that in remaining silent on the trauma and abuse inflicted upon the children of occupied East Turkistan and Tibet it is guilty of complicity. Furthermore it’s enthusiastic partnership with China sends a powerful signal to the Chinese Regime that Save The Children cares little enough of human rights abuses not to cooperate with the same authority and political ideology responsible for such violations! It’s an example of double-think, a cognitive dissonance and process of denial, selectively ignoring the cultural genocide waged against the people of East Turkistan and Tibet.
Meanwhile the self-congratulatory claims regarding their projects in East Turkistan should be viewed against the following curiously contradictory admission:
“It is not easy for Save the Children to support the development of bilingual education in Xinjiang, where there is increasing use of Mandarin as the principal or only language of instruction in schools. While this is seen as a way to improve the standard of Mandarin among minority graduates entering the work force, the emphasis on teaching Mandarin in schools has reduced the status of mother tongue, and raised concerns among ethnic minorities about its effect on the sustainability of mother tongue and local culture…..”(emphasis added) Source: The Challenges of Bilingual Education in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People’s Republic of China David Strawbridge Education Advisor, Save the Children
Having conceded that reality and revealed its acute awareness of such cultural oppression the same report goes on to make the following delusional claim: “However, by working within the boundaries of government policies and ‘bilingual’ education practices, we have helped improve the quality of mother tongue and Mandarin teaching in minority schools.” emphasis added) Source: Ibid
There’s a worrying inconsistency at work there, and a tacit admission that the organization, although cognizant of the eradication of the Uyghur language and imposition of Chinese upon children, is an active and willing partner in such a process!
This collaboration and endorsement will trouble anyone who values human rights and opposes cultural destruction. That Save The Children continues to maintain a silence on the plight of Uyghur and Tibetan children, traumatized by a forced separation from their parents and brutally indoctrinated in what are effectively detention centers, justly denies them any moral credibility.
If like us you wish to express your concern on this situation and would like to call upon Save The Children to make public its position on the persecution and oppression suffered by Uyghur and Tibetan children then please contact any of the following:
Twitter: President-Elect Ms Janti Soeripto @jantiso and/or CEO Carolyn Miles @carolynsave
What’s going down with Herbert Diess the head of Volkswagen (VW)? On March 13 he offered a clarification regarding a remark he’d made earlier that week which created a storm across German public opinion. Due to its troubling similarity with the Nazi slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (work makes you free) which adorned the entrance to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
It seems Diess used the phrase “Ebit macht frei” during a presentation to an audience of VW managers.’Ebit’ is reported to be an accounting acronym which refers to earnings before interest and taxes, a phrase linked to an accountancy examination of a company’s quarterly financial report.
“At no time was it my intention for this statement to be placed in a false context,” Diess stated on his LinkedIn page March 13. “At the time I simply did not think of this possibility.”.
Well these things happen right? A misunderstanding, but let’s jump to the present and Herr Deiss looks to have attracted understandable concern and controversy. From what we read he appears to have asserted during an interview with the BBC on April 16 that he was unaware of China’s treatment of Uyghurs or the use of ‘re-education’ camps in occupied East Turkistan.
A region where Volkswagen operates a large manufacturing plant. Given the years of reportage on China’s brutal oppression of Uyghur culture and international concern regarding the forced indoctrination of Uyghurs at these camps it’s difficult to understand how the head of VW would be so ignorant.
Or are we witnessing a selective denial at work here? Would it be too cynical to wonder if a corporation chose to collaborate with a tyranny, actively overlook any odious realities in the pursuit of profit?
Perhaps Herr Diess should contemplate upon his country’s dark history, the denials and refusal to accept responsibility for the existence of concentration camps, often located nearby German villages and towns. As Captain Sol Nichtern, an American soldier who took part in the liberation of those held at Dachau noted: “The concentration Camp at Dachau is built right up against the side of the village; the houses go right up to the outer wall…And the German people who lived on the other side of the street claim that they didn’t know what was going on in the [very] next street”. Source: testimony of Sol Nichtern, 44, Ast Project, (Physician with Medical Corps, 517th Special Clearing Company).
The stench from such places was nauseatingly intense, no doubt reaching unbearable levels when the crematoriums were burning masses of bodies.Yet local citizens insisted they knew nothing, and were struck by temporary blindness during the regular occasions when slave-labor units were marched in and out of such camps.
That the Chinese regime has waged a cultural genocide against the Tibetan and Uyghur people is well known and documented. As is China’s grisly record concerning human rights violations, forced-labor camps, censorship and a program of forced sterilizations. Now if we allow that Herbert Diess is being truthful when insisting he is unaware of such oppression or the existence of camps which brutalizes and indoctrinates Uyghurs, a major question remains.
Having been informed of, and able to assess the wealth-of detailed reports, eyewitness testimony and media accounts that document China’s totalitarian excesses against Tibet and East Turkistan, what action will the head of Volkswagen be taking?
Will he choose to maintain ignorance and on that basis seek to justify his company’s lucrative collaboration with China’s regime? If so, as looks likely, he will be guilty within the court of world opinion, not simply of ignorance, but complicity!
Image: courtesy of Xinhua (China’s propaganda mouthpiece)
If you want an indicator of the venal condition of international politics then look no further than today’s visit to France of China’s dictator, Xi Jinping. Currently enjoying the many pleasures of French hospitality and hosted by President Macron. Whose developed sense of ‘pragmatism’ and devotion to globalized economics facilitates a nauseating appeasement of the Chinese regime.
Amid the photo-opportunities and spray-on smiles it’s contracts which are firmly on the table, prominent is the 300 jet deal signed off by Airbus. No doubt some folks are set to make a killing on the markets as France’s elite wine and dine the man who authorizes the state-inflicted terrorism against the people and culture of Tibet.
The principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité have no place within the negotiations and hand-shakes offered to China, those values are an inconvenience to an open and profitable engagement with the Chinese authorities.
Such principles however are very much alive within the hearts of France’s people, as displayed by ongoing protests waged by the des gilets jaunes (the yellow vests). A grassroots movement that arose during November 2018 to demand social, economic and political justice.
These legitimate demonstrations have on numerous occasions been met with police violence, baton charges, tear gas and rubber bullets. The streets of France are home to armored personal carriers, armed paramilitary, body-armored police and most recently units of the French army have been deployed.
All this against its own citizens, measures however which Xi Jinping would heartilly approve of, although he would counsel Macron to authorize the use of live rounds, electric batons, mass detentions and incarceration in ‘re-education’ camps!
Such a totalitarian nightmare is not likely to be imposed upon France yet in his elitist zealotry for globalization, and salivating hopes of securing trade agreements with China, President Macron forgets the history and guiding spirit of his nation. As he countenances a military response to ongoing unrest, orders police to forcefully break public opposition to his policies, and tramples over citizens rights he’s dishonoring the principles upon which the French Constitution was founded.
Those values of freedom, justice and human rights, so brutally denied when France itself experienced a brutal occupation, are the very same aspirations of the Tibetan people, who endure a miserable existence under an illegal and suffocating rule by China! There is a shared experience between France and Tibet, both have known immense suffering under foreign rule, equally their respective peoples value greatly and seek freedom, justice, political and civil rights.