Crackdown at a Syrian college: The Syrian government’s security forces launched a series of violent raids into dormitories at Damascus University, where strongman Bashar al-Assad gave a speech earlier this week. Opposition members and witnesses claim that the violence, which reportedly injured 21 and killed 3, was in response to the students at Damascus failing to participate in pro-regime rallies. Also not to be forgotten — 130 students arrested by security forces, now under the harrowing care of Bashar al-Assad’s government. source
[It is my] understanding the public security authorities are investigating Ai Weiwei according to law on suspicion of economic crimes… This has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression.Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei • Seeking to dismiss claims that his government arrested famed artist and dissident Ai Weiwei for political reasons, at a news conference. Weiwei’s family (in addition, frankly, to most everyone else) isn’t buying it. Chinese law states that officials must notify the family of an arrested citizen within 24 hours of the detention, and Ai’s wife has heard nothing: “As of 8 A.M. today, it has been 96 hours since Ai Weiwei was taken away from Beijing airport, and I haven’t heard a single word about him.” source (via • follow)
Western capitals are failing to understand the magnitude of what is happening now. The Chinese authorities are actively seeking to try to redefine the boundaries of which opinions are tolerable, and which are not.Nicholas Bequelin, researcher for Human Rights Watch in China • Speaking on the grim state of Chinese affairs, in the wake of the arrest of famed artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. He argues that the Chinese’s tightening grip over the citizenry indicates a meaningful shift towards more abject totalitarianism. Bequelin added: “We know for certain that there are lawyers who haven’t been arrested, but have been clearly threatened. They’ve been told ‘the gloves are off, we can do anything we like now’. One was informed that ‘the party has special ways to deal with people like you’.” source (via • follow)
» Remember why journalism is a courageous job? Because every now and then, you risk getting arrested by forces loyal to a tinpot, crackpot dictator, in a country embroiled in violent revolution. Stephen Farrell, Anthony Shadid, Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks were all released today, reportedly unharmed, a full six days after they had been scooped up by pro-Gaddafi forces while covering the rebellion on the ground. Never a bad time to appreciate the risks that journalists, especially those reporting from war zones, take in order that we can be more informed.
This is a story you should follow, not least of all because amidst all the brew-ha-ha about Rep. Peter King’s radical Islam hearings, people seem to be overlooking a near-miss attempt at domestic terrorism of a chilling sort. Last January, a backpack was left at a bus stop alongside an MLK Day parade route, inside which was a bomb. And not just any bomb; it was packed with shrapnel designed to ricochet out towards the expected crowd, and would have caused massive casualties. The FBI has now announced the first arrest associated with this case, though the suspect’s identity has not yet been released. The Seattle Times reports that the person may have ties to white supremacist groups – which matches earlier speculation that Aryan Nations, which makes its home in the region, may have been involved in the attack. source