Chinese Officials Hounded by Activists as Dog-Eating Festival Nears

dog-eating-fest

Alyssa Abkowitz writes: The dog days of summer have arrived.

As locals prepare for the annual Yulin Dog Eating Festival in China’s Guangxi region, animal rights organizations are unleashing high-profile figures and waging global social media campaigns in an effort to bring the event to heel.

“An estimated 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual festival, which marks the traditional start of summer and will occur on June 22 this year. Festival participants typically pair dog meat with lychees and a bevy of grain alcohol.”

As of June 18, Animals Asia, a Hong Kong based advocacy group, said that within the past two weeks, around 70,000 people had signed a letterasking China’s dog meat traders to stay away from the festival. It’s the first year Animals Asia has run a petition, the group said.

British comedian Ricky Gervais has partnered with Humane Society International to campaign against the festival. Mr. Gervais recently tweeted out, “Please help our best friend. #StopYuLin2015.” He included a photo of a canine with lipstick rings on its face, along with the caption: “The only marks you should leave on a dog.”

Humane Society International also launched a letter-writing campaign and has bestowed the name “Ricky” (in Mr. Gervais’ honor) to a black-and-white pooch rescued from a Yulin slaughterhouse last month. According to the Humane Society, 400,000 people have used the organization’s websiteto send messages directly to Guangxi’s Communist Party secretary, Peng Qinghua. Mr. Peng could not be reached for comment, and Humane Society officials did not immediately respond to a request for further details on how the messages were delivered and whether they had successfully reached his office.

[Read the full text here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Raise UR Paw, a non-profit in Canada, said that as of June 15 its letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the petition website change.org had received more than 340,000 signatures. Read the rest of this entry »


CENSORSHIP: From Animal Cartoons to Opposition to the Death Penalty: Just About Anything Can Land You in Prison in Iran

Artist Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the system,’ ‘insulting members of the parliament through paintings’ and ‘insulting the Supreme Leader’ because of her cartoon.

 reports: It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.

“She was detained for three months in 2012 and eventually given a medical release because of serious health problems including seizures and temporary loss of vision, exacerbated because of the stressful and sub-standard conditions prevailing in Iran’s prisons.”

Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences.

[Also see – CENSORSHIP: She’s 28. She Drew a Cartoon. Now She’s On Trial in Iran. #freeAtena]

Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old artist and women’s rights activist. She drew a cartoon depicting some members of Iran’s Majles (Parliament) with animal heads, as a form of protest against bills that are in different stages of moving through the parliamentary process that, in an effort to boost child-bearing, would among other things, restrict access to contraception and establish preferences in hiring for married women over single women.

Free-Atena-Farghadani

“She has spent eight of the last ten months in prison since her original arrest last August; her trial in one of Iran’s notoriously unfair Revolutionary Courts started on May 19. She went on a hunger strike in February 2015 to protest her detention in poor conditions and suffered a heart attack.”

We just learned that she has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of “spreading propaganda against the system,” “insulting members of the parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” because of her cartoon. She is also being charged with “gathering and colluding with deviant groups” because she has met with the families of those killed by government agents in the unrest following the 2009 presidential elections and because of an art exhibition she held which was attended by members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.

“While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards.”

She has spent eight of the last ten months in prison since her original arrest last August; her trial in one of Iran’s notoriously unfair Revolutionary Courts started on May 19. She went on a hunger strike in February 2015 to protest her detention in poor conditions and suffered a heart attack.

“They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.”

While she was in prison last fall she was so anxious to express herself, even behind bars and deprived of art supplies, that she attempted to use small paper cups to create art. For this she was subjected to abusive treatment by prison guards. Read the rest of this entry »


Alyssa Abkowitz 沈丽莎: Sex Toys and ‘Er Nai’: Inside China’s Unfolding Sexual Revolution

buccone1

Alyssa Abkowitz reports: In 1989, sexologist Li Yinhe conducted a famous survey that showed 15% of Chinese respondents said they had premarital sex. Today, that figure is about 71%, according to local figures. “China is becoming more adventurous in the bedroom,” said Zhang Lijia, author of the forthcoming novel “Lotus,” which looks at prostitution in modern China.

“China is becoming more adventurous in the bedroom.”

Ms. Zhang was speaking to a mostly younger crowd at Beijing’s Bookworm Literary Festival on Sunday. She was joined by Jemimah Steinfeld, author of “Little Emperors and Material Girls,” which focuses on China’s sex and youth culture, and Faramerz Dabhoiwala, who has been called the Stephen Hawking of sex for writing “The Origins of Sex,” which looks at the western sexual revolution of the 18th century.

Pictures that an Internet poster on China's Weibo microblogging site went viral when it was suggested they were of officials in Lujiang County.

“Chinese women gingerly began to unbutton Chairman Mao’s jacket. For a long time kissing on a bus was something we only saw in foreign films.”

— Zhang Lijia

Only several decades ago, “Chinese women gingerly began to unbutton Chairman Mao’s jacket,” Ms. Zhang said, referring to the 1980s, when women started to wear makeup and shorter skirts. “For a long time kissing on a bus was something we only saw in foreign films.”

china-mistresses

“Er nai, as modern-day Chinese mistresses are called, are deeply entwined in business practices, because having multiple mistresses is a sign that a man has the pull to seal a deal.”

Today, sex is everywhere in China, from adult stores on nearly every corner in Beijing to young entrepreneurs, such as one interviewed by Ms. Steinfeld, who wants to import quality sex toys because he thinks Chinese sex toys are faulty. (This could be a tough road, as the majority of sex toys are made in China and exported around the world, Ms. Zhang said).

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“There are women who have lovers just for fun too. Male prostitutes are far more expensive here because they have more work to do.”

Judging from the panel discussion, progress is mixed. As Beijing looks to pass its first domestic violence law, cleavage is being banned on television. One of the most popular items sold at roadside sex shops is hymen repair kits. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] The Reluctant Patriot: how George Orwell Reconciled Himself with England

George Orwell illustrated by Ralph Steadman

George Orwell illustrated by Ralph Steadman

Orwell discovered the values of a practical, gentle, empirical people who didn’t kill each other because they disagreed over politics.

George Orwell: English Rebel
Robert Colls
Oxford University Press

David Aaronovitch  writes:  Since whoever we are (save for a few sad Leninists) we all agree with George Orwell, it usually follows that Orwell must agree with us. Whatever our 21st-century predilections, Tory or leftist, conservative or progressive, we discover blessings and endorsements somewhere in Orwell’s words. We grab him for ourselves.

In English Rebel, Professor Robert Colls grabs Orwell for an idea of national affiliation. Colls offsets his attempt by disclaiming any such ambition. “There is no ‘key’ to Orwell,” he writes at the end of his introduction, “any more than he is a ‘box’ to open. His Englishness, though, is worth following through.” A modest grab, then – and, as we shall see, a good grab. But a grab nonetheless.

George Orwell was, argues Colls, “deracinated”. He went to Eton but he was not of the ruling class. He served as a colonial policeman in Burma but he was alienated from the Raj. He became an intellectual who disliked intellectuals, and a socialist who distrusted almost all forms of socialism. He belonged nowhere.

Except, eventually, to England – not Brit­ain, says Colls, which was too abstract an identity, but England. Between coming back from Burma in the late 1920s and the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, Orwell came to understand, and wanted to defend, the peculiar virtues of Englishness as understood and practised by “ordinary” English people. Bluff wisdom resided in the folk of England – whose gentleness and stoicism presumably distinguished them from alien intellectuals and alien peoples. The socialism of Orwell can be moot, Colls suggests, but his Englishness is the most real part of him.

Read the rest of this entry »