China press freedom campaign swells with new rally
AFPGUANGZHOU, China -- Protesters mounted a second day of rallies calling for press freedom in China Tuesday, as social media users and celebrities backed a campaign which poses a test for the nation's new leaders.
January 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
Scores of people, some carrying mourning flowers, gathered outside the Guangzhou offices of the Southern Weekly, a popular liberal paper which had an article urging greater protection of rights censored.
One man in a wheelchair held a banner reading: “Support the Southern Weekly, resist censorship, give back my freedom of speech.”
Some demonstrators wore masks depicting the British revolutionary figure Guy Fawkes, adopted as an anarchist symbol internationally after being popularised in the film “V for Vendetta” which was recently broadcast on state television.
Police stood by allowing the rally to proceed, but as it dispersed for the day, a lone woman demonstrator stood outside the building, holding a white rose and raising one hand, making a victory sign with her fingers.
The second day of rare public protests pushing for greater rights in China came after bloggers and celebrities — some with millions of followers — voiced support online for freedom of the press.
Yao Chen, an actress who has 32 million followers, posted the paper's logo on China's Twitter-like Weibo service and quoted Russian dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn: “One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.”
Southern Weekly used the same quote in its 2006 New Year message.
Fellow actor Chen Kun, who has 27 million followers, replied: “I am not that deep, and don't play with words, I support the friends at Southern Weekly.”
The popular blogger Han Han, named by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2010, lamented the pressure that journalists faced.
“I hope we can give it some small strength and accompany it to keep it going,” he wrote, referring to the Southern Weekly.
The row erupted after censors Thursday blocked the paper's 2013 New Year message calling for the realization of a “dream of constitutionalism in China” and replaced it with an article in praise of the Communist Party, according to journalists.
A protester displays a banner to support journalists from the Southern Weekend newspaper near the company's offices in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong province on Tuesday, Jan. ...