China cracks down on call for `Jasmine Revolution`

Last Updated: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 00:04

Beijing: Chinese authorities cracked down on
activists as a call circulated for people to gather in more
than a dozen cities tomorrow for a "Jasmine Revolution."

The source of the call was not known, but authorities
moved to halt its spread online. Searches for the word
"jasmine" were blocked today on China`s largest Twitter-like
microblog, and the website where the request first appeared
said it was hit by an attack.

Activists seemed not to know what to make of the call to
protest, even as they passed it on. They said they were
unaware of any known group being involved in the request for
citizens to gather in 13 cities and shout "We want food, we
want work, we want housing, we want fairness."

Some even wondered whether the call was "performance art"
instead of a serious move in the footsteps of recent protests
in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya.

China has limited reporting on the protests in the Middle
East and quickly shuts down most protests at home.

Authorities appeared to be treating the protest call
seriously. Families and friends reported the detention or
harassment of several activists, and some said they had been
warned not to participate tomorrow.

Police pulled Beijing lawyer Jiang Tianyong into a car
and drove away, his wife, Jin Bianling, said. She told The
Associated Press by phone she was still waiting for more
information tonight.

Su Yutong, an activist who now lives in Germany, said
that even if Chinese authorities suspect the call to protest
wasn`t serious, today`s actions showed they still feared it.

"If they act this way, they`ll push this performance art
into the real thing," she said in an e-mail.

The call for protest came as President Hu Jintao gave a
speech to top leaders today, asking them to "solve prominent
problems which might harm the harmony and stability of the
society."

The ruling Communist Party is dogged by the threat of
social unrest over rising food and housing prices and other
issues.

In the latest price increase, the National Development
and Reform Commission announced today that gasoline and diesel
prices would be raised by 350 yuan ($53) per ton.

The call to protest was first posted on the US-based
Chinese-language website Boxun.com. "Boxun has no way to
verify the background of this and did not participate," it
said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, February 20, 2011 - 00:04

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