Beijing Construction Companies Maybe Hired To Rebuild
City Of D'Iberville

Open Letter To Mayor of D'Iberville


Visual Artists Guild
P. O. Box 861132, Los Angeles, Ca. 90086
Phone 310-539-0234 Fax 310-539-0234

                                                                  June 27, 2006

Mayor Rusty Quave
City of D'Iberville
10383 Automall Parkway
D'Iberville, MS 39540

Dear Hon. Mayor Rusty Quave,

        I read about your city looking into the possibility of engaging the services of Beijing Construction Engineering Co. Ltd and Beijing Urban Construction International Co for the rebuilding of your city after the disasters brought on by hurricane Katrina last year.

         As a fellow American, I am in sympathy with what the citizens of D’Iberville had suffered and can understand the need for your city to recover as soon as possible and the need to hire companies that can provide such services to you at a timely and cost effective manner. 

        Before you make any decision, I would like for you to please read the attached recent news clipping from
which detailed the failure of Beijing Urban Construction Groups’ to pay its worker after the workers have worked for a year building Beijing’s new subway line. 

        In your consideration of hiring any companies, please consider the following questions about the prospective companies:

  1. Is it owned or partially owned by the same government which ordered the massacre of its own young students during their pro-democracy demonstration of 1989 at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square?
  2. Is it owned or partially owned by the Peoples Liberation Army which carried out the massacre?
  3. Does the company have a history of abusing or exploiting its workers?
  4. Does the company have a history of not paying, underpaying, or delaying payment of its workers?

      I am sure that in your wisdom you will make your decision based on what will make the citizens of the City of D’Iberville proud. 

                                                                        Yours truly,
                                                                         Ann Lau
                                                                         Chair, Visual Artists Guild

 Cc: Hon. Brenda Broussard, Hon. Henry Toncrey, Hon. Teddy Harder, Hon. Bob Bellman, Hon Glenn Ellis


Joint Statement by CRD and Citizen Rights Defense Net

Joint Statement by CRD and Citizen Rights Defense Net

On Disappearance and Detention of Hunger Strikers

Subject: Date: From:
Joint Statement On Disappearance and Detention of Hunger Strikers
Fri, 24 Feb 2006 09:09:05 +0800
Yan Hai Wan <>
Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders

Website *NEW :

All Human Rights for All (The UN CRD Action 2006)

We are deeply concerned about the fate of several individuals who have disappeared and been detained after participating in the hunger strike marathon started by the Beijing lawyer Gao Zhisheng on February 8, 2006, to protest police violence and other abuses against rights activists . We fear they are likely to be subjected to ill-treatment or torture, while the irregular nature of their detention makes it even more difficult than normal to monitor their situation and the authorities take no responsibility for the disappearances.

In Beijing, HIV/ AIDS activist Hu Jia vanished on February 16 while he was being closely followed by police, who had escorted him on his way to a meeting at the AIZHIXING Institute on February 15. Another activist, Qi Zhiyong , who is a double amputee due to injuries from gunshots during the Tiananmen massacre , also went missing during the night of February 15. The artist and activist Yan Zhengxue has not been seen since his wife witnessed him being taken away by police from his home in Beijing on February 12 after he met with Gao Zhisheng. The officers were not from Beijing, but from Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, Yan¡¯s original place of residence,. One hunger striker who volunteered to assist Gao Zhisheng was taken away by police from Gao¡¯s office on February 16. Their families reported them missing to authorities, but were not given any information about their whereabouts. By the evening Beijing time, February 22, we have made inquiries and confirmed that these individuals remain missing or in police custody.

Also on February 16, police in Shanghai detained Chen Xiaoming, a housing rights activist, citing his participation in the hunger strike. Yesterday, activist Zhao Xin was taken in by police for questioning in the afternoon and still has not returned to his parents¡¯ house in Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, where he was recovering from injuries he sustained when he was beaten by unidentified men in December 2005.

On February 2 2 , Gao Zhisheng, the Beijing lawyer and hunger strike leader, received a summon from Beijing Municipal Bureau for Judicial Affairs for going to the Bureau to ¡°talk¡± to authorities at 10 am on the 23rd . Zeng Jing, Gao¡¯s wife, fears that Gao would be incarcerated. Gao has been constantly harassed by police who follow him everywhere and surveillance his residence.

Staging hunger strikes at their own residences is a legitimate exercise of these individuals¡¯ right to free expression, a right protected by the PRC Constitution and international human rights law. It is a serious violation of these citizens¡¯ civil rights and human rights when they are made to ¡°disappear¡± or secretly detained for this activity alone. If they are suspected of any illegal activities, authorities should handle their cases in accordance with Chinese legal procedures, producing the necessary legal documents and notifying their families of their whereabouts and the reasons for their detention. Their legal rights in police custody must be respected.

We urge the Chinese authorities to release immediately those detained for exercising their right to free expression in a hunger strike protest against ill-treatment of human rights defenders, or to inform families of the whereabouts of anyone detained on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence, to handle such cases according to proper legal procedures and respect the rights of the individuals concerned. Law enforcement officials and local authorities who violate the law by subjecting these people to arbitrary detention or torture must be investigated and prosecuted.


Hu Jia , male, 31, AIDS activist based in Beijing. Hu focuses on the health rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Henan province. Due to his criticisms of the government¡¯s failures in AIDS prevention and care, he has been repeatedly harassed, often put under house arrest, and beaten by police. He was placed under house arrest on May 28, 2004, after publicly stating his intention to light a candle in Tiananmen Square in memory of those who were killed during the June 1989 crackdown. He reported that he was beaten when he tried to leave his apartment building. He was again detained after he tried to participate a gathering to mourn the deceased leader Zhao Ziyang in February and in late August during the visit to China of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. More recently, Hu Jia was detained on November 7 by Zhengzhou police in Hunan, while he was assisting HIV/AIDS petitioners trying to bring their cases to the attention of officials attending an AIDS conference there.

Zhao Xin , male, 38. Zhao has advocated for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and petitioners who travelled to the capital to complain about corruption and abuses by local government. He wrote articles online and offered legal aid. Zhao also assists victims of the 1989 massacre by collecting testimonies and evidence and raising funds for the support of the victims¡¯ families. He also campaigned for citizens¡¯ rights to political participation and participated in organizing the China Democratic Party.

Zhao was a student leader during the 1989 student protests and was arrested on June 17, 1989, and imprisoned at Qincheng Prison in Beijing for one year. Zhao was arrested again on February 2, 1992, for organizing an event to mark 1,000 days since the June Fourth crackdown. He was sent to Beijing Haidian Detention Center, where he was beaten. As a result he suffers from permanent memory loss and chronic pain in his lower back. After attempting to organize a memorial event for Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist Party Secretary who was sympathetic to the 1989 student protests, Zhao Xin was detained on January 21, 2005. Zhao is currently on probationary release awaiting possible trial.

Zhao Xin works for the Empowerment and Rights Institute in Beijing. He is currently the Executive Director of the group. On November 17, 2005, Zhao was severely beaten by unidentified thugs in Sichuan province, where he was visiting his parents, while plain-clothes police, who had followed him all the way from Beijing, looked on. He was beaten in the hotel where he was staying, in plain view of other guests and hotel staff. He was told by one of the attackers that they had sought him out for beating. He was severely injured with one broken leg, several fractured ribs, and needed 11 stitches on his head. He was hospitalized at the Chengdu Army 8.1 Hospital. In late November, Zhao Xin met with the visiting UN Special Rapporteur against Torture. Since then, local officials also visited Zhao in the hospital, promising to bring those who beat him to justice. But authorities have not agreed to help Zhao to pay his huge medical bills.

Qi Zhiyong , male, 50. He was a construction worker in 1989 when he was shot and wounded near Tiananmen Square, in the early morning of June 4 th . Both of his legs were amputated and he now lives on selling things in the streets. He has since become actively involved in the ¡°Tiananmen Mothers¡± group seeking justice and remedy for families of the killed and wounded in the June 1989 massacre, as well as other pro-democracy and human rights activities in Beijing. Due to his activities, he has been frequently put under house arrest, detained, or beaten by police

Yan Zhengxue , male, 61, an artist by profession, member of the Independent Chinese PEN, based in Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, and Beijing. He is a prolific Internet reporter of official corruption and rights abuses. For his outspokenness, he was sent to prison and the Reform-through-Labor camp in the 1990s and in 2002-3. Since his release, through exhibits of his paintings (which he painted at the RTL camp: http : // ) and online documentation of his own acts, which he described as ¡°performing art,¡± he has pursued a personal crusade to end the Reform-through-Labor Camp system.

Chen Xiaoming , male, in his 40s, is an activist against forced evictions in Shanghai. After himself being forcibly evicted from his home, he became active in petitioning for housing rights and has also been involved in collecting and publicizing information about official abuses of housing activists.

Ouyang Xiaorong , male, 32, is an software engineer and activist in Yunnan Province. He graduated from Beijing Aerospace University and went to work in Yunnan. In recent years, he has written political commentaries for online publications and signed protest letters. On February 14, he travelled to Beijing to volunteer to help Gao Zhisheng to coordinate the hunger strike. He was taken away from Gao¡¯s office less than 24 hours after his arrival.

For more information, contact:

Li Jian: Phone 86-411-87530776

Renee Xia:

The Chinese version of this statement can be found at:



Zero protection' for defenders of righty

Thailand: `Zero protection' for defenders of rights
Suspicions over probe into monk's murder

Source: Copyright 2005, Bangkok Post
Date: June 27, 2005

The murder of Phra Supoj Suvacano, the abbot of the Mettadhamma Buddhist centre in Chiang Mai, is the latest proof of the government's failure to protect conservationists and human rights activists, while suspicions have been aroused over the investigation into the attack.

Somchai Homla-or, chairman of the Law Society's human rights panel, told a press conference yesterday that Phra Supoj, who was savagely stabbed to death near the Mettadhamma Buddhist centre on June 17, was the 19th conservationist or human rights activist to be slain during the tenure of Thaksin Shinawatra's government, and this proved the government's anti-mafia policy had totally failed.

The government was unable to protect people who devoted themselves to national interests in terms of the environment and the promotion of human rights despite the fact that Thailand had ratified the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, he said.

Mr Somchai said Phra Supoj had fought to protect an 1,800-rai forest in Chiang Mai's Fang district despite threats from influential people who wanted the land and had connections with local and national political figures in the ruling Thai Rak Thai party.

He urged officials from the central government and the Special Investigation Department to investigate the murder, claiming that local police were unlikely to nail the influential people responsible.

Speaking on behalf of 14 non-governmental organisations, Mr Somchai said they would give the government some time to conduct the investigation. However, if the investigation does not bear fruit, they will complain to human rights organisations of the UN and international Buddhism organisations.

Chaiphan Praphaswat, adviser to the Assembly of the Poor, said the fight to protect natural resources and human rights had claimed the lives of many activists, but the murder of Phra Supoj was particularly serious since the victim was a Buddhist monk in Thailand, where the majority of people were Buddhists.

He urged the public to join forces to check on the activities of influential people in Chiang Mai's Fang, Chai Prakan and Mae Ai districts where influential people were fighting over natural resources and scaring the local population.

Phra Kittisak Kittisophano, of the Mettadhamma Buddhist centre, said investigators had not yet officially interrogated him or Phra Maha Cherdchai, another monk from the same centre, even though they were both close to Phra Supoj.

While the police were interested in the accounts of two community leaders in Fang district's tambon San Sai who had been charged with theft at the centre, they paid no heed to an influential person who had allegedly illegally sold a 70-rai plot belonging to the centre, he said.

Originally posted at:



Hurricane Relief
January 20, 2005  

Hurricane Relief

Dear Human Rights Supporters,

We are currently working with a high school in Houma, Louisiana which is facing the enormous task of taking in as many students as they can from the New Orleans area.   Vandebilt Catholic High School is located about 50 miles southwest of New Orleans and is struggling to provide some normalcy to their hurricane refugee students.  Currently they have taken in about 200 students and expect another 100 more.

Their immediate needs include:
Textbooks, desks and portable classrooms.  Many of the families of the refugee students are without employment and the students will need living assistance in terms of luncheons, school supplies, etc. 

If you can donate $5, $20, $50, $100, $500 or whatever you can to Vandebilt Catholic High School, it will be a life saver for those refugee students. 

The needs are immediate.  What you can donate will help them now and you can specify where you want the money to go.   Please do what you can and send your tax deductible donation now to

Vandebilt Catholic High School
209 South Hollywood Rd., Houma, LA 70360
Attn: Lisa Vegas

Please also help by re-sending this e-mail to your friends as well.


Ann Lau
Chair, Visual Artists Guild
Attachment: Letter from V
andebilt Catholic High School


The Internet under surveillance II
June 20, 2005  
New York Times Study Says Software Makers Supply Tools to Censor Web

By TOM ZELLER Jr. October 12, 2005

It should come as no surprise that the Internet in Myanmar, the southeast Asian state once known as Burma and in the iron grip of a military cabal for decades, is heavily filtered and carefully monitored.

But a new report from the OpenNet Initiative, a human rights project linking researchers from the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School and Cambridge University in Britain, once again raises tough questions about the use of filtering technologies - often developed by Western companies - by autocratic governments bent on controlling what their citizens see on the Web.

Myanmar "employs one of the most restrictive regimes of Internet filtering worldwide that we have studied," said Ronald J. Deibert, a principal investigator for the OpenNet Initiative and the director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto.

Myanmar now joins several nations, including China, Iran and Singapore, in relying on Western software and hardware to accomplish their goals, Mr. Deibert said. Microsoft, Cisco and Yahoo, for example, have all come under fire recently for providing technology or otherwise cooperating with the Chinese government to enable it to monitor and censor Internet use.

In the case of Myanmar, the regulations and customs are quite clear. The Digital Freedom Network, a human rights group based in New Jersey, notes that among things forbidden by Myanmar's Web regulations, introduced in January 2000, are the posting of "any writings directly or indirectly detrimental to the current policies" of the government. The rules also forbid "any writings detrimental to the interests of the Union of Myanmar."

As with their six previous reports, OpenNet researchers combined a variety of network interrogation tools and the cooperation of a volunteer in Myanmar "who remains anonymous as a safety precaution," the report noted, to test the accessibility of various Web sites.

Sites like Hotmail, which offer free e-mail services, were routinely blocked, forcing Myanmar citizens to use one of the two officially approved (and easily monitored) Internet service providers for their e-mail. And of 25 sites dealing with Burmese political information and content - from to - a full 84 percent were blocked.

"There's a cat-and-mouse game going on between states that seek to control the information environment and citizens who seek to speak freely online," said John Palfrey, the director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a researcher with the OpenNet Initiative.

"Filtering technologies, and the way that they are implemented, are becoming more sophisticated." Not surprisingly, repressive governments have been eager buyers of those technologies.

The OpenNet study suggests that Myanmar, which has long been under American sanctions, including the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, has recently migrated from an open-source filtering technology to a proprietary system called Fortiguard, developed by Fortinet, in Sunnyvale, Calif.
That upgrade, which appears to have taken place as the OpenNet researchers were conducting their analysis, may have made censorship even more efficient and widespread than reflected in the new survey.

For its part, Fortinet says that it uses "a two-tier distribution model," according to a company spokeswoman, Michelle Spolver, meaning that the company sells all of its products to resellers, who sell to end-users.
"Our intent is to fully comply with the law, and Fortinet does not condone doing business with U.S.-embargoed or sanctioned countries," Ms. Spolver said.

Yet the Fortinet system appears to be hard at work in Myanmar. "The Myanmar state has put out a Web page talking about it, we've procured a block page that has hallmarks of Fortinet's system, and have heard from people on the ground that it's being implemented," Mr. Palfrey said.
"It's related to the problems that Yahoo and Microsoft and others are facing in China," Mr. Palfrey said, "but here the issue is that these technology security companies are directly profiting from the censorship regime itself."


For a copy of the report, please click here: "Internet Filtering in Burma in 2005: A Country Study"


The Internet under surveillance
June 20, 2005  

The Internet under surveillance

Reporters Without Borders and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) make six recommendations to ensure freedom of expression on the Internet.

This declaration by Reporters Without Borders and the representative of the OSCE on Freedom of the Media aims to deal with the main issues facing countries seeking to regulate online activity.  Should the Web be filtered? Can online publications be forced to register with the authorities?  What should the responsibility of service providers (ISPs) be?   How far does a national jurisdiction extend?

Reporters Without Borders thinks the six recommendations go beyond Europe and concern every country.  It hopes they will provoke discussion in the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Full text of the Declaration :

1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. In a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the Internet. Filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. Filters should only be installed by Internet users themselves. Any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.

3. Any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. Unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. On the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the Internet.

4. A technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. A decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. Such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.

5. All Internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin ("upload rule") and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.

6. The Internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.


Julien Pain
Bureau Internet et libertés / Internet Freedom desk

Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
TEL: ++ 33 (0) 1 44 83 84 71
FAX: ++ 33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

Read our annual report on the state of online freedom in more than 60 countries - The Internet Under Surveillance


Microsoft helps China to censor bloggers
June 15, 2005  

Microsoft helps China to censor bloggers

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Wednesday June 15, 2005

Original Article from The Guardian

Civil liberties groups have condemned an arrangement between Microsoft and Chinese authorities to censor the internet.

The American company is helping censors remove "freedom" and "democracy" from the net in China with a software package that prevents bloggers from using these and other politically sensitive words on their websites.

The restrictions, which also include an automated denial of "human rights", are built into MSN Spaces, a blog service launched in China last month by Shanghai MSN Network Communications Technology, a venture in which Microsoft holds a 50% stake.

 Users who try to include such terms in subject lines are warned: "This topic contains forbidden words. Please delete them."

Even the most basic political discussion is difficult because "communism", "socialism", and "capitalism" are blocked in this way, although these words can be used in the body of the main text. Many taboo words are predictable, such as "Taiwanese independence", "Tibet", "Dalai Lama", "Falun Gong", "terrorism" and "massacre". But there are also quirks that reflect the embryonic nature of net censorship and the propaganda ministry's perceived threats.

The word "demonstration" is taboo, but "protest" is all right; "democracy" is forbidden, but "anarchy" and "revolution" are acceptable. On MSN Space, Chinese bloggers cannot use the name of their own president, but can comment on Tony Blair. "Tiananmen" cannot be mentioned.

A Microsoft spokesman said the restrictions were the price the company had to pay to spread the positive benefits of blogs and online messaging.

"Even with the filters, we're helping millions of people communicate, share stories, share photographs and build relationships. For us, that is the key point here," Adam Sohn, a global sales and marketing director at MSN, told the Associated Press news agency.

For the Chinese government, which employs an estimated 30,000 internet police, the restrictions are an extension of a long-standing policy to control the web so that it can be used by businesses but not by political opponents.

For Microsoft, it appears to be a concession to authoritarianism on the net. It comes only months after Microsoft's boss, Bill Gates, praised China's leaders, who have mixed market economics with rigid political control. "It is a brand new form of capitalism, and as a consumer it's the best thing that ever happened," he said.

Along with a throng of other net giants, Microsoft is trying to make inroads into China's fast-growing internet market, expected to top 100 million users this year. Only the United States has more people online, but Mr Gates admitted this year that his company was underperforming in China.

Microsoft is not alone in accepting censorship requests from China. The free-speech group, Reporters Without Borders, says Yahoo has a similar policy. The group said any justification for collaborating with Chinese censorship based on obeying local laws did "not hold water". The multinationals must "respect certain basic ethical principles" wherever they operated.

China's information industry ministry, meanwhile, has ordered owners of blogs and bulletin boards to register their sites by the end of this month or have them shut down.

The ministry's website said: "The internet has profited many people, but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned people's spirits."

Japan is considering censoring the internet after an 18-year-old boy, who was arrested for throwing a homemade bomb into his classroom, said he had found instructions on how to make it from a website. A government taskforce is expected to target sites that offer advice on making explosives, sell drugs and other illegal items, or encourage people to arrange group suicides.

Ken Aaron
President, Visual Artists Guild



Visual Artists Guild demonstrated
April 15, 2005  

Visual Artists Guild demonstrated in front of the Los Angeles Peoples Republic of China Consulate

LOS ANGELES, On Friday, April 15, 2005,  Visual Artists Guild, together with Amnesty International Group 471 of San Diego, UNA (United Nations Association) San Diego Chapter and Falun Gong demonstrated for human rights and release of prisoners of conscience in front of the Los Angeles Peoples Republic of China Consulate.  There were calls for the immediate release of Dr. Yang Jianli and Dr. Wang Bingzhang.


PRC Releases Cyber Dissidents
December 1, 2003 (New York Times)  

China Releases 3 'Cyber Dissidents'

by Jim Yardley

BEIJING Dec. 1 — The Chinese government released today three jailed "cyber dissidents." Among the three was a young college student nicknamed "Stainless Steel Mouse," whose arrest a year ago had brought international condemnation, a Hong Kong human rights group said.

The release of the college student, Liu Di, 23, and two other dissidents comes as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is preparing to visit the United States in just over a week. The Chinese government has often released high-profile dissidents in advance of such trips.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Hong Kong, reported that Ms. Liu was bailed out of a Beijing prison on Friday, a move tantamount to release. The Information Center suggested that the decision had been made at the highest levels of the government, with personal intervention by President Hu Jintao.

"The case of Liu Di had received the attention of Hu Jintao, and the release of the three appeared to be linked to the attention he paid to their cases," a statement from the Information Center said.

Editor's Note: Liu Di was significantly noted in Ann Lau's Presentation to Cisco Stockholders on 11 Nov 2003, see below.

Presentation to
Cisco Stockholders
by Chair of Visual Artists Guild
11 Nov 2003

Presentation of Proposal to
Annual Meeting of Cisco Stockholders
San Jose, California
by Ann Lau
Chair of Visual Artists Guild

“Cisco Systems' vision is to change the way we work, live, play and learn. Our mission is to shape the future of the Internet in ways that empower individuals to participate fully in our vision.”

“The Internet economy is creating a level playing field for diverse companies, countries, and individuals around the world. It is characterized as inclusive and as having low barriers to entry. We value the Internet as an open ecosystem that encourages new and diverse members to fully participate and collaborate.”

“Although we all tend to individually judge ourselves by our intentions, the rest of the world will always measure each of us by the impact of our behavior. Each of us must own our behavior, and the impact it has on others.”

“Cisco takes the responsibility as a global citizen seriously. It's the right thing to do and our success depends on it.”

Mr. Chambers (Cisco Systems President and CEO), the statements I just read are the statements you made and what you believe in regarding Cisco Systems. I cannot agree with you more and I applaud you for your leadership and clear vision for Cisco Systems.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Board, fellow stockowners, I am here to ask you all to help Mr. John Chambers in fulfilling those mission statements by voting for proposal #4.

“The stockowners recommend that the board prepare a report to the stockowners on Cisco hardware and software products that can (a) allow monitoring, interception, keyword searches, and/pr recording of the Internet, or (b) act as a ‘firewall’ by which selected Internet traffic can be prevented from raching its addressee outside the country of origin or by which downloading of information from selected sites outside the country of origin is prevented. This report would be limited to hardware and software provided to government agencies and state-owned communications/information technology entities in any country.”

One country that has used technology effectively to monitor its citizens is the Peoples Republic of China. China has increasing cracked down on internet dissent and has imprisoned many internet writers on subversion charges. Allow me to introduce you to two people. The first person is Huang Qi. Huang Qi could be anyone of us. In May this year, Huang Qi, who has been detained since June, 2000 was sentenced to five years in prison. Huang Qi is a computer engineer who started a missing person web site and reported on official corruptions. Another person is Liu Di. Liu Di could be your daughter, your sister or the girl next door. Liu Di was a 22 year old Beijing University student when she was reported missing in November last year. Using the pseudonym "Stainless Steel Mouse", she has written several online essays criticizing the Chinese government. In one essay, Liu wrote that "my ideals are the ideals of an open society... In my view, freedom does not just include external freedom, but freedom within our hearts and minds."

In rejecting my proposal, Cisco claims that it sells through resellers and thus is ignorant of its end users. Yet, Mr. Greg Dixon, Chief Information Officer at Cisco China specifically said, “We, also work with local, provincial and national government organization at various levels and this year, we, were named ‘Recommended E-government Solutions Providers’ by the Chinese Ministry of Information.” In fact, Cisco, in its press statements, announced in October, 2002, a key contract to supply China Telecom with routers for its northern ChinaNet IP backbone network expansion covering 10 major provinces. In December, 2002, Cisco announced that it will provide networking equipment for China Unicom upgrade for 15 cities and provinces. In September, 2003, Cisco won a contract with China Telecom to cover 2 southern provinces and 10 northern provinces.

Cisco is concerned about what effect this proposal would have in terms of customer relations. However, the broadness of the proposal’s language allows Cisco leeway to interpret it more narrowly and to omit proprietary information. Regular financial reporting for publicly traded companies has long been accepted as a way to hold companies accountable to their shareholders. Similarly, reporting on human rights, while not required by law, could provide the same sort of accountability.

On August 31, 2002, after 89 years in business, Arthur Andersen LLP announced that it ends its role as auditor of public companies. When he established his company in 1913, Arthur Andersen had the vision that members of his firm possess "the knowledge to probe deeply into corporate operations and the courage to tell management what changes must be made." Arthur Andersen, the man, died in 1947. Arthur Andersen, the company, continued his vision. It flourished, it grew, remaining the leading accountancy firm through the decades. But somehow, omething went wrong. The vision and the mission of the company fell on the wayside.

Ladies and gentlemen, we do not want Cisco to follow the same fate. In voting for this proposal, you are in fact asking Cisco to take a serious look on who Cisco is selling its products to and how its products are being used for repressive purposes. You, as stockowners, have the right to know. You, as stockowners have the responsibility to motivate management to be more vigilant about the end result of Cisco’s business practices. You, as stockowners will be the catalyst in making into a reality Mr. Chamber’s stated mission that Cisco takes the responsibility as a global citizen seriously. As Mr. Chambers had said, it is indeed the right thing to do and Cisco’s success does depend on it.

In voting for this proposal you are helping to fulfill the vision of this corporation to allow people like the young lady, Liu Di, to fully participate and collaborate in the internet. As Mr. Chambers has articulated so well: we must each own our behavior, and the impact it has on others. The long term success of Cisco Systems depends on everyone associated with this company to live up to the its vision.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Cisco will achieve its vision and a long term profitability when you vote yes on Proposal #4.

Thank you.

New Proposal to CISCO
from Chair of
Visual Artist Guild

Resolution on Government Stifling
of Worldwide Internet

Supporting Statement
Cisco Statement

Submitted by Ann Lau - November 2003


The stockowners recommend that the board prepare a report to the stockowners on Cisco hardware and software products that can (a) allow monitoring, interception, keyword searches, and/or recording of the Internet, or (b) act as a "firewall" by which selected Internet traffic can be prevented from reaching its addressee outside the country of origin or by which downloading of information from selected sites outside the country of origin is prevented.

This report would be limited to hardware and software provided to government agencies and state-owned communications/information technology entities in any country. The countries shall be identified, but only a total of each such product in each country shall be reported. The report shall cover each fiscal year of Cisco, starting with fiscal 2004. The first report shall include a cumulative provision of such products from 1995 to the date of the report.

If Cisco has entered into any contracts by which it has pledged to keep secret from its stockowners the existence or content of such contracts for the above hardware or software products to the above customers, then the required reports shall not need to include those products for those countries, but shall need to note that secrecy-against-stockowners contracts exist and list the products which they cover.

Supporting Statement

    Anything that stifles the Internet can discourage its use. Cisco should be promoting the use of the Internet to the maximum, so that its hardware and software sales can reach the largest market possible. Government monitoring, control, or censorship of the Internet can chill public enthusiasm toward Internet and computer use. Freedom of speech is threatened by such practices, not only in the country involved but for the rest of the world.
    Based on published reports, I believe that one country that has used technology effectively to monitor its people is the Peoples Republic of China. The objectives of the PRC apparently are:
    1. To prevent people of the PRC from accessing certain political and/or religious sites.
    2. To monitor the discussion of certain political and/or religious topics by people of the PRC, especially in their e-mails.
    3. To block or delay the transmission of information or e-mail that the government disapproves of.
    4. To inhibit the growth of Internet discussion groups.
    We stockowners deserve to be informed if Cisco's sales policies are promoting or inhibiting Internet use and its potential for growth.

Opposition by Cisco 2003

The Board of Directors believes this proposal does not serve the best interests of Cisco or its shareholders and recommends a vote AGAINST it.

Cisco and its Board of Directors are committed to freedom of speech. Furthermore, we are a proponent of the vast potential of the Internet to advance and propel the dissemination of information among people throughout the world. Nonetheless, we believe that the proposal will not further these social principles, will unnecessarily expend Cisco resources and could interfere with our customer relations.

The product capabilities described in this shareholder proposal meet fundamental and legitimate needs to protect the integrity of Internet communications networks. Cisco products, whether used by a private business, a telecommunications service provider or a government agency, have these capabilities, as do the products of our competitors. These capabilities are legitimately used by network operators and by governmental customers for those purposes and are also used by the United States and other countries for law enforcement, national security purposes and to protect their citizens against the threat of terrorism. In the United States and other countries whose governmental systems are based upon the rule of law, the exercise of these powers is subject to constitutional and legal protections and respect for individual rights.

This shareholder proposal would require the proposed report to cover all hardware and software sold to any government agencies and state-owned communications or information technology entities which allows monitoring, interception, keyword searches, and/or recording of the Internet, or which acts as a "firewall." Because the capabilities listed are inherent in a wide range of products that we sell to anyone, and because we sell our products to government agencies and state-owned communications or information technology entities in most of the countries of the world, this proposal is seeking a report that would list most of the countries of the world and would require us to list a substantial portion of our products. The report sought would result in substantial expenditure of company resources, in both funds and staffing, without furthering the freedoms that Ms. Lau addresses in her supporting statement.

Outside of the United States, we sell our products almost exclusively through resellers, with direct sales to some telecommunications service providers (both government owned and otherwise) but rarely if ever directly to governmental agencies or entities. In some cases, we do not have visibility into the names of, and products purchased by, particular end-users. We believe that this shareholder proposal would require us to set up inquiry procedures with our distributors and resellers to determine those countries in which sales are made to government agencies and state-owned communication or information technology entities and which products are so sold. The board is concerned that the mere gathering of this information could have an impact on our relations with reseller customers.

In the supporting statement to this shareholder proposal, Ms. Lau discusses the actions of the Government of the People's Republic of China. In the past few years, we addressed our activities in the People's Republic of China as they relate to freedom of speech and association over the Internet with the U.S. China Security Review Commission. As we informed the Commission, the products that we sell to any customer in the People's Republic of China, government or otherwise, do not contain any detection or monitoring capabilities which are different from the products we sell to anyone anywhere else in the world.

While we understand the cause Ms. Lau espouses, and vigorously support freedom of speech and association and the role of the Internet in providing opportunities to all the peoples of the world, the Board of Directors believes that this proxy statement and the meeting are not proper forums for this debate.

Recommendation of the CISCO Board of Directors

      For all the reasons set forth above, the Board of Directors recommends
      a vote AGAINST Proposal No. 4.

Related articles about the Great Firewall in China

Dissing Dissent
October 26, 2003.  


    The following article appeared in the Opinion Section of the Sunday Los Angeles Times on October 26, 2003.

    We feel that it is of great importance to listen to those who have directly experienced oppressive governments that creep up on a nation and choke off any dissent. These are the times when it takes courage to speak out with the voice of reason.

    No people were ever bettered by hopeful lies or hypnotic propaganda.

    Dissing Dissent
      In White House actions, a troubling echo of life in communist China

    By Liu Baifang
    Liu Baifang, who emigrated from China in 1977, lives in Berkeley.

Lately, I find myself worrying about my adopted country, the United States. I'm alarmed that dissent is increasingly less tolerated, and that those in power seem unable to resist trying to intimidate those who speak their minds. I grew up in the People's Republic of China, so I know how it is to live in a place where voicing opinions that differ from official orthodoxy can be dangerous, and I fear that model.

Like so many others, I arrived in the U.S. enormously relieved to have left my "socialist" homeland. During Mao Tse-tung's "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," intellectuals were persecuted, physically intimidated, imprisoned and, all too frequently, killed. Educated people, known as "the stinking ninth category," were terrified into political silence after witnessing the dire consequences of voicing any suggestion of dissenting views. My parents were engineers, educated people, and so my family was separated and then "sent down" to labor among peasants in the countryside. We were punished merely for being educated.

During this time, there was a dizzying succession of "correct political lines" and an endlessly changing kaleidoscope of labels used by the Communist Party and the state to isolate anyone who disagreed with official thinking. People who criticized the government were dubbed "counterrevolutionaries," or "capitalist roaders" or "running dogs of American imperialism." They were "bourgeois liberals" or "wholesale Westernizers." People tarred with such labels lost friends, jobs and reputations — even spouses. Families were destroyed. When it came to politics, no room was left for ambiguity, doubt or disagreement. We had to pretend to believe that our leaders always knew best, and to toe the political line. With all criticism stifled, China lost the ability to examine and correct even its most abjectly self-defeating policies.

As students, we had to endlessly study the works of Marx, Lenin, Engels, Stalin and Mao. One of the main tenets of this totalitarian system was what Lenin called "democratic centralism," which prescribed "full freedom in discussion, complete unity in action." The Party hierarchy embraced the "unity in action" portion of the message, but true free discussion was out of the question. As Mao said: "The minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level to the higher level, the part to the whole, and the entire membership to the Central Committee ….We must combat individualism and sectarianism so as to enable our whole party to march in step and fight for one common goal."

Those courageous or foolish enough to dissent were marked and then ruthlessly hounded into submission. The suffocation of discussion and debate — never mind the suicides and killings — crippled every realm of life, from science and literature to politics, economics and even the most basic human interactions. Noted astrophysicist Fang Lizhi told me that he had been unable to teach the big-bang theory of cosmology during the Cultural Revolution because the notion of an expanding universe was a manifestation of "bourgeois idealism" that did not fit with Engels' idea that the universe must be infinite in space and time. There were myriad other examples everywhere around us of the ways in which the nation's ability to find the truth were affected by this savage intolerance.

So why are these 40-year-old stories of political rigidity in a faraway land relevant in America today? I'm certainly not suggesting an equivalence between the political climate in America now and China then. But I am getting a whiff of the Leninism with which I grew up in the air of today's America, and it makes me feel increasingly uneasy.

I could not help but think about China recently during the flap over former State Department envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, who angered the White House with his finding that documents suggesting Iraq had tried to acquire nuclear material from Niger were in all likelihood forged. The administration went ahead anyway in citing the documents as part of its justification for invading Iraq. After Wilson wrote an article for the New York Times calling attention to the deception, someone in the administration allegedly leaked information to the press that Wilson's wife was an undercover CIA agent. In China, it was not just one official like Wilson who was targeted for retribution but countless individuals, many of whom spoke unwelcome truths about their country, only to be rewarded with public shaming or prison sentences.

When I hear our president, in this time of soaring deficits, continue to insist that tax cuts are the key to national prosperity, even though countless economists have warned against them, I cannot help but remember how Mao used to say that China didn't really need "experts," only people who were Red. Mao's inner circle attacked anyone who questioned whether "class struggle" would ultimately solve all China's problems.

I also worry about what I see happening to our media and freedom of the press. The Bush administration has repeatedly made clear that it does not welcome skeptical, penetrating questions. White House spokesmen have made it clear that they view the Washington press corps as a corrupting "filter" on the news. Reporters and publications seen as unsympathetic to the administration's goals find it harder to get access to officials. Recently, Bush made an end run around the entire White House press corps by going directly to regional television outlets in the hopes of being better able to spin the news at the local level.

Indeed, Bush press conferences, which I enjoy watching, seem to me to have become more and more like those held by the Chinese Communist Party: Nothing but the official line is given, and probing questions from reporters, which are crucial to advancing the public's understanding of the government's actions, are often evaded or ignored. Moreover, as Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas, dean of the White House correspondents, recently learned, too-persistent questioning on sensitive issues means that the next time you are ignored, even relegated to the back row of the briefing.

Open inquiry, freedom of expression and debate are essential parts of a well-functioning democracy. When leaders disdain debate, ignore expert advice, deride the news media as unpatriotic and try to suppress opposing opinions, they are likely to lead their country into dangerous waters. Even China now seems to have learned how dangerous it is to completely control the press — witness the attempted cover-up of the SARS epidemic — and to be loosening up a bit.

Thus, it makes me all the more discouraged to find the U.S. moving backward. When honest government officials and outspoken citizens are ignored or, worse, marked for intimidation, it begins to seem that the Bush administration is acting more in keeping with Lenin's notion of democratic centralism than with the founding fathers' notion of the necessity for a sometimes inquisitive citizenry and a free press.

I am grateful to have become an American and to now belong to a country that has had an inspiring and enduring and true commitment to letting "a hundred flowers bloom," as Mao, hypocritically, once said. What has made the U.S. such a beacon to people like me is that it has always been principled, confident and strong enough to let its people debate and criticize government policies without suggesting that the critics are somehow less than patriotic.

When our government loses its tolerance for a full range of views on national and world affairs, it is veering toward the authoritarian world that speaks in one voice, the very political model it has so often stood against — even fought against. I hope I will never again have to live in such a world.


Chinese patriotism, Yanyong and Charles Li

May 2, 2003


Readers of the Daily Illini might have been puzzled by letters to the editor from two Chinese students responding to "Local Lawmakers Question Conviction of Overseas Alumnus" (Friedman and Schencker, April 8).

One letter ("Taking Sides With Falun Gong," by Guoliang Zhang, April 15) accused the Daily Illini of having "served as the spokesperson of Falun Gong," of having in effect printed a "paid advertisement," and of "accumulating hatred" toward China. The other letter ("Unfounded Prejudice" by Yuan Liu) accused the DI of a "very negative prejudice toward China." Both writers, in effect, accused the DI of being "anti-China."

In order to understand these responses to the story about the views of local lawmakers over China's recent conviction of U of I alumnus, U.S. citizen and Falun Gong practitioner Dr. Charles Li, one needs to know a little about the role of propaganda in today's China.

Jiang Zemin became head of the Communist Party immediately after thousands of students were slaughtered on Tianamen Square in June 1989. Government propaganda suddenly took on a new focus, which some China watchers claim is modeled on the "blood and soil" propaganda used by the fascist states of Europe in the 1930s to secure their own legitimacy. Jiang sought to re-establish the legitimacy of the Communist Party on extreme appeals to patriotism and nationalism and attacks on enemies both at home and abroad who were said to be "anti-China."

This new patriotism has no principle beyond what is said to serve the needs of a "great China," and can be used to support or demonize anything the Communist Party desires.

The Communist Party has complete control over the information that reaches the people of China, which gives their propaganda an ability to determine what people think.

Most Americans are unaware of the hatred for the United States China's propaganda has stirred in China's young. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Chinese language chat rooms frequented by Chinese students living here in the United States were filled with whoops of joy at the destruction of the World Trade Center's towers and at the deaths of 3,000 innocent Americans. This year, when the U.S. space shuttle broke up over Texas, Chinese language chat rooms described the event as "the best fireworks of the New Year."

I point out these excesses as examples of the state of mind the Chinese government has succeeded in inculcating in the young. I feel compassion for the way in which the young people of China have been so deluded and have written this piece to explain, not to accuse.

A few weeks ago Dr. Jiang Yanyong told the truth about the number of SARS cases in Beijing, and so the world learned the truth about this deadly epidemic, concealed by the government for five months. Dr. Jiang Yanyong courageously saved lives. He is a true Chinese patriot.

Dr. Charles Li is accused of trying to tell the Chinese people the truth in an effort to save the lives of millions of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners. I hope that, in the future, all will agree that telling the truth is the act of the true friends of China.

Stephen Gregory
Chicago resident



Chinese Consulate Vigils
February through April

Los Angeles, The Visual Artists Guild has been participating in a weekly protest and vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles. Each week is dedicated to a specific individual dissident being held by the Chinese government for political crimes or merely for expressing an opinion unfavorable with the regeime. Click here for details.

Members visit Hong Kong
December 2002

Hong Kong in Transition, followup    In 1997, Visual Artists Guild produced a documentary, titled "Hong Kong in Transition" in probing the views of the Hong Kong people towards the impending return to China of the British colony of Hong Kong. The documentary interviewed a number of Hong Kong politicians, both pro-democracy and pro-Beijing, as well as journalists, businessmen and ordinary citizens. Last December, the documentary's executive producer Robert Branch, and the director, Ann Lau, visited Hong Kong to gauge what changes have happened since their last trip there and to prepare for a follow-up documentary. Article 23 (please see other article in this newsletter) was the topic of the day. While many young people are against Article 23 and joined in the world-wide protest, the pro-Article 23 government team worked hard to conduct a rally a week later. Using the tactics of authoritarian governments, busloads of retirees were promised a field trip and lunch if they attended the pro-government rally. Many of the senior citizens interviewed could not identify what they were there for.

The revisionist historic kung fu film "Hero" by famed director Zhang Yimou was playing in Hong Kong at the time. It was disheartening to see the usually boisterous Hong Kong audience came out of the theater deadly somber. The message of "Hero" was to submit to tyranny for the sake of a China ruling all under the heavens. Yet the film was nominated by the Academy for best foreign film this year. One wonders why an Academy that celebrates the human spirits of films like "Life is Beautiful" and "The Pianist" would find a film that endorses submission to tyranny as worthy of their attention. Did China's propaganda machine totally fooled Miramax which bought the film for 30 million U.S. dollars?

Article 23
Cable TV Show
20 December 2002

Los Angeles, Visual Artists Guild president, Ken Aaron interveiwed Norman Quan of the Hong Kong Forum concerning the background and current consequences of Hong Kong Article 23. This half hour show was broadcast over Adelphia cable in the Los Angeles Area.

The passing of Article 23 would be the nail in the coffin in respect to Hong Kong's relative free press and enjoyment of civil liberties; Hong Kong would become just another city within the PRC.

Article 23 Protest
15 December 2002

Los Angeles, VAG joined the protest of Hong Kong's Article 23 On December 15, 2002, Visual Artists Guild joined Hong Kong Forum and a dozen other human rights and pro-democracy organizations in Southern California on a world wide protest against Hong Kong's impending anti-subversion law, called Article 23.    Representing Visual Artists Guild was our president, Ken Aaron.

Five years after Hong Kong's handover, Article 23 is due to be adopted by the government on the issues of treason, subversion, sedition and secession. The Peoples Republic of China's have relied on such laws to justify the imprisonment of journalists, internet writers and others who have expressed views of which the government does not approve.

Any publication of "unauthorized" news would be considered as giving out state secret. Similar laws that have been passed in the PRC have initially targeted the Falun Gong practitioners and have been used subsequently to suppress underground Catholics and house church Christians. Since many financial and commercial institutions are owned by the government, even the reporting of financial news would be suspect.

Various local press covered the event.

Wan Yanhai Freed from Detention
20 September 2002.

BEIJING, Sept. 20 China's most prominent advocate for AIDS patients, Dr.Wan Yanhai, was unexpectedly released today after nearly a month's detention by China's State Security apparatus.

The release came after an international outcry over his arrest, with anextraordinary range of voices, including the State Department, United Nations officials, and Act Up, the protest group concerned with AIDS issues, expressing their concerns.

Historic Stock Vote
on proposal by
Chair of Visual Artist Guild
20 November 2002.

Freedom of Expression as Corporate Responsibility

In October, 2002, shareholders Cisco Systems, Inc, the world's major manufacturer of internet routers, were asked to vote on the proposal to make Cisco examine whether its products are being used to stifle free expression in repressive countries. It is a historic vote because no shareholder proposal had ever been put to a vote to Cisco stockholders before. In presenting the proposal to the stockholders in Silicon Valley, Visual Artists Guild's chair, Ann Lau, told the stock owners, "As a global company, Cisco needs to act responsibly as a global citizen." Although her proposal failed by a 25-to-1 ratio, her proposal garnered enough votes so she can re-submit it again.

Cisco Shareholders also turned down a proposal that would have required the company to list equipment sold to governments or state-run companies that can block, record or monitor Internet traffic. Shareholder Ann Lau of Los Angeles wrote the proposal to make Cisco examine whether its products are being used to stifle free expression in repressive countries.

"As a global company, Cisco needs to act responsibly as a global citizen," she told stock owners. Her proposal failed by a 25-to-1 ratio.    (taken from click here )

Related articles about the Great Firewall in China