In China, microblogs are transforming the way activists draw attention to human-rights cases. Despite strict Internet controls, netizens are using Chinese Twitter as a powerful tool.
Two recent cases show just how effective microblogs can be in shaping the debate over human-rights abuses and driving citizen activism.
One case involves a chilling video that was recently released online. In it, a man lies under a green quilt, apparently naked. His left eye and right ear are covered with bandages; the skin on his feet is discolored and peeling.
The bearded face of the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is spray-painted on a nondescript gray wall overlooking the steep lanes of Hong Kong's nightlife capital, Lan Kwai Fong.
Given his real-life circumstances — summarily disappeared at the hands of the Chinese authorities with no charges yet laid — the furrowed forehead and hooded, tired eyes of the image now seem a representation of suffering. Underneath his face is one simple question, "Who's afraid of Ai Weiwei?"
Thousands of truck drivers in the Chinese city of Shanghai staged a third day of protest Friday over rising fuel prices they say are crippling their businesses. Truck drivers blockaded part of the city's port — China's busiest — disrupting the flow of goods.
The protests that began on Wednesday are the latest sign of rising public anger over surging inflation that the country's leaders have failed to tame. They come amid a government crackdown on intellectual and political dissent of any sort.
As China presses on with its harshest crackdown in years, one of its most famous artists has been blocked from leaving the country. Artist Ai Weiwei is best-known for helping design Beijing's Olympic stadium, known as the Birds Nest. He was taken into detention at Beijing airport yesterday morning, as he tried to travel to Hong Kong – and onto to Taipei - and has not been heard from since, the highest profile victim yet of Beijing's latest clampdown.