Beijing: "Alive in Baghdad" videoblogger among US citizens detained in pro-Tibet protests

Following up on two previous posts today about the detention of tech-art protesters in Beijing, we now have word that videoblogger Brian Conley of "Alive in Baghdad" has also been taken in by authorities.

Conley and others previously announced as having been detained were working with the group Students for a Free Tibet to document pro-Tibet protests in Beijing.

Here is SFT's statement:

Beijing - Brian Conley, creator of the well-known videoblog, Alive in Baghdad, was detained with his friend, Jeffrey Rae, early Tuesday, August 19th in Beijing. Their detention appears to have taken place at the same time as that of international artist James Powderly, whose detention was reported Tuesday. Three other bloggers and activists, Jeff Goldin, Michael Liss, and Tom Grant, have also been missing since Tuesday morning. Conley, 28, Rae, 28, Goldin, 40, Liss, 35, Grant, 39 are all American citizens.

The five “citizen journalists” and activists were in Beijing to support and promote human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom for the Tibetan people. They and numerous others have acted as an independent media centre for the dozens of pro-Tibet activists in Beijing who have sought to draw attention to the Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet during the Olympics. Rae and Conley shot and released online high-resolution photographs and footage of the recent protest by Students for a Free Tibet supporters at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park.

Beijing: Citizen Journalists, Videoblogger, Activists Detained (SFT)

Previously:
* Beijing: Five US activists detained after lighting up "Free Tibet" LED Throwies banner near Olympics site
* GRL's James Powderly detained in Beijing for planning pro-Tibet "L.A.S.E.R. Stencil" art protest

Below: Video shot by Detainee Brian Conley of “Ethnic Park” Protest on August 13th, 2008.

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  1. What a mess. I mean the Chinese are detaining American Citizens left and right. They should be really happy they are American Citizens because if they were Chinese they would probably get a sentence of 10 years or something.

    The Chinese are horrible and sure they can put on a nice show…but they are a totalitarian regime with no respect for human rights.

    Just see how they have suppresed tenemen square.

  2. Brian is an amazing human being. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less threaten the security of an authoritarian regime with his bare hands. China can’t continue to stifle freedom of expression just because they don’t like the message. Something has to give.

  3. #3:

    An actual totalitarian regime does what actual totalitarian regimes do and the best you can offer is to sputter “but just wait the US might do the same?” Laziest rhetoric ever.

  4. I support human rights. I support a free Tibet. I support free expression in China.

    But honestly, this was a boneheaded way of going about it. This is not the least bit shocking. What the hell did they think would happen?

    China can do whatever the hell it wants in China. Going there and putting on poorly-conceived protests is not the way to bring about change. It’s the way to get arrested.

    With any luck, China will put them on the first plane back home as soon as the games are over, and when they get back, everybody can give them a warm welcome and be glad they’re home safe. Also, with any luck, every person they know will say to them, “what the hell were you thinking?!

  5. #4:

    What the hell did they think would happen? …

    Going there and putting on poorly-conceived protests is not the way to bring about change. It’s the way to get arrested.

    As I said in the thread about James Powderly:

    Has it occurred to you that they knew exactly what was likely to happen?

    Has it occurred to you that getting arrested may in fact be a way to bring about change?

  6. There’s often a fine line between nobility and stupidity. If I saw a grizzly bear attacking my neighbor’s dog, the noble thing might be to walk over there try to rescue the dog. Knowing the consequences of that action prevents me from doing so.

    Seriously, these people should have known what they were getting into. On top of that, traveling abroad and breaking the laws of the host country feeds the “ugly American” stereotype and makes it difficult for the rest of us who are gracious and courteous when we travel.

  7. Really? Has it ever worked?

    Doesn’t it just harden the opposition?

    The protests in Chicago in 1968 got Nixon elected.

    They didn’t stop the war in Viet Nam.

    These protesters are probably very nice people, but their effectiveness? Maybe not zero, but close to zero than effective.

  8. There are two children tied to the railroad track. The train is coming. You have only time to save one. What do you do?

  9. Seems they achieved what they knew what would happen and whether it is stupid or not, it has brought attention to an issue. No sure I agree with the ugly stereotype since their actions are about human rights and done in a non violent manner.

    Change can’t happen if people don’t confront laws and issues that are wrong.

  10. #9:

    The protests in Chicago in 1968 got Nixon elected.

    What about the protests in Selma, Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s?

    What about the protests in India in the 1940s?

    Protests are not the only way to bring about change, and their effectiveness may vary depending on circumstances. But they can work, and often do.

  11. Lt s ll ps nd tk stck. dt prvctrs g t thrtrn cmmnst rgm t str p trbl (whch s synnyms wth pcfl prtst n tht cntry) nd r prdctbly dtnd.

    Srsly, hw s th Bng-Bng wrthy?

  12. Amazing how, when The Dalai Lama comes to speak in the USA, no matter what the context, pro PRC-in-Tibet protesters are not rounded up and detained if they keep to peaceful protests.

    The Chinese government seems to think protesting elsewhere is fine, but no protesters, foreign or domestic, are allowed in China.

    Hypocrites.

  13. @#13 why is it boingboing worthy? because Brian is an amazing guy who gives a sh*t about people other than himself… who was seen his friends shot because they dared to capture truth on video… who took a risk to go to China for people he doesn’t know, simply because it was the right thing to do, knowing that the likes of NBC and other mainstream media would only cover one side of the story.

    Tell me @Tehrab more about who you are, and what you do with your life, that makes you so capable of disregarding Brian?

  14. #13 For “idiot provocateurs”, substitute “journalists”. Of course, where dissent is concerned, the Chinese government doesn’t necessarily distinguish the story from those who report it, or peaceful protest from armed insurrection. So I’m sure that the simple act of reporting things that the government would prefer to remain undiscussed is ‘provocation’ enough.

  15. What about the protests in Selma, Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s?

    What about the protests in India in the 1940s?

    Protests are not the only way to bring about change, and their effectiveness may vary depending on circumstances. But they can work, and often do.

    Let’s take a look at how those protests “worked”. People were killed. Is that what these protesters are hoping for? That they will be martyrs?

    I don’t think so.

    Idiot provocateurs? Stir up “trouble”? Spoken like a Chinese government agent.

    Spkn lk prsn wh hts ll thngs Chns.

  16. @ #13 – Tehrab.

    It’s Boing Boing worthy because Xeni thought it was. You want to set policy here? Convince whoever is in charge to let you join up. Or, if you’re living in the free world, start your own blog, without fear of government repression.

    Amazing how the free world works, isn’t it? Of course, if you’re living in China, you’ll have to restrict yourself to government approved speech, or possibly be carted off to jail.

  17. Right, folks are concerned about the human rights of Chinese because they hate the Chinese.

    You PRC agents need to become better acquainted with outside culture if you hope to effectively troll for your tyrannical regime.

  18. Yeah, Moon because the Chinese Communists under Mao really did such a fine job of keeping things peaceful during the People’s Revolution.

  19. Takuan, if the idiot provocateur @13 were a sympathizer of the Chinese government, s/he probably wouldn’t have called China an “authoritarian communist regime” or noted that peaceful protest is a crime. So while the poster is definitely a mouth-breathing troll, s/he’s probably not a pro-China mouth-breathing troll.

  20. So, if the sin here is that the protest is ineffective, what would an effective protest be?

    Very few cold-heartedly calculate that a change must be made and weigh the number of hours that must be spent in a jail-cell and the lives that must be extinguished to bring about the change. One protests because one’s heart cannot withhold the protest.

  21. Yeah, Moon because the Chinese Communists under Mao really did such a fine job of keeping things peaceful during the People’s Revolution.

    I don’t get it. What’s your point?

  22. <>

    Rght, flks r cncrnd bt th hmn rghts f Chns bcs thy ht th Chns.

    <>Y PRC gnts nd t bcm bttr cqntd wth tsd cltr f y hp t ffctvly trll fr yr tyrnncl rgm.

    Yh, nd myb y Lm fns cld d bttr jb f ffctvly trllng fr yr tyrnncl thcrcy.

  23. NELSON C., that’s a good point. The answer would be that we live in an information society. It’s time to stop listening to extremists any paying attention to these showboating actions, even if we think they have a good cause.

    1. The answer would be that we live in an information society. It’s time to stop listening to extremists any paying attention to these showboating actions, even if we think they have a good cause.

      Because, of course, China allows free and unfettered access to information via print, television and the media. Not. Come up with a real argument or withdraw.

  24. For example, what would you think of a person who goes into a grade school and disrupts classes because he was upset that they were teaching evolution?

  25. first of all, these protesters knew exactly what was going to happen to them.

    secondly I think I am the only person I know who doesn’t support a Free Tibet.

    You might as well support any group that wants their own country, see how much global chaos would ensue then.

    Tibet has historically been a part of China since the 1700’s. The Communist regime didn’t exist then so it makes sense they would send troops in the 1950s to keep the region within the fold.

    China’s stance on Tibet is a matter of their national security.

    China is not America. They do not have a Bill of Rights. Maybe they should, but its their country not ours. Why don’t you fight for a cause a little closer to home where you can actually make a difference.

    1. Attention, please

      Boing Boing and BBTV have hosted numerous posts on the current situation in Tibet. Those comment threads have touched on many issues related to the current and past situation there. Here’s a list of some of the livelier discussions about this issue:

      Protest inside Tibet captured on tourists’ cameras

      Police attack peacefully protesting monks in Tibet

      Tibet: more deaths, injuries in Lhasa as crackdown grows

      Tibet: China blocks YouTube, protests spread, bloggers react

      Tibet: nearly 1,000 jailed in Lhasa, Dalai Lama offers to resign

      To do in SF – Tibet rally on April 8, Richard Gere, Desmond Tutu

      Photo of pro-Tibet protest on Golden Gate Bridge

      And of course, the two posts that are currently on BB:

      Beijing: Five US activists detained after lighting up “Free Tibet” LED Throwies banner near Olympics site

      GRL’s James Powderly detained in Beijing for planning pro-Tibet “L.A.S.E.R. Stencil” art protest

      From our Moderation Policy:

      7. Failing to notice that there are other people in the conversation. Posting a remark that’s already been made five times and answered six. Coming back and re-posting essentially the same material after a twenty-message thread has discussed your previous comment. Trying to forcibly wrench the conversation onto one of your own pet topics. Posting a stale, canned rant you’ve posted a dozen times before at other sites. Not coming back to see how others have responded to you.

      Before posting in this thread, please familiarize yourself with the territory of this ongoing discussion. Repetitive arguments, unsupported claims, cut-and-paste posturing or disingenuous concern for the plight of any and everyone except the subject of the post will be removed. Links to the same articles that have already been linked a dozen times will be removed. Links to up-to-date, reputable news sources are, naturally, most welcome.

      Thank you for making this a lively, civil and compassionate discussion about the plight of the Tibetan people.

  26. Moon @ # 25 (and onwards…) –

    I don’t get it. What’s your point?

    That there’s a profound irony to you criticizing peaceful protesters in China, when China’s own communist rebellion was incredibly bloody.

    For example, what would you think of a person who goes into a grade school and disrupts classes because he was upset that they were teaching evolution?

    Did one of the Americans arrested in China actually walk into a classroom

  27. I think the assertion that they’ve failed is an unfounded assumption.

    Absolute failure would be to be chinese or tibetan, and get caught protesting when the world’s eye isn’t on you. Nice never knowing ya.

    Significant failure would be to subtly flash a message that everyone’s heard, that the media would edit out, that wouldn’t reach anyone. Waste of time.

    Success would be to get the media to talk about how a totalitarian regime adversely affecting a popular well-liked figure who’s protesting totalitarian regimes during a huge PR event where the regime can’t afford to disappear said figures.

    So who’s failed here? We’re still talking about what they’re trying to highlight.

    You think they went to china so they could watch some sports? Pfeh.

  28. You know, ALL the westerners who were detained (whether they were part of a protest, making a film of protests, or just bystanders) will eventually be released. . . SO perhaps the best way to make a documentary film of this is to interview them all after they leave China. Whatever filmmakers were there working on documentaries should pool their experiences and (hopefully) footage for one grand documentary.

  29. I got burnt badly on the China-Tibet situation forty years ago. I’ve been as wrong on China more times than I care to remember, and I’ve been right more times than my friends care to remember; but there is one thing I absolutely learned:

    never to go near that debate again.

  30. I can’t speak for everyone arrested, but as a good friend of Brian and Jeff I can say for sure that they both went to China knowing full well that their actions would likely put them in a jail cell.

    You can argue the politeness, success, or showboating nature of these actions all day long. But there is a clear advantage to internationals protesting in China. As Americans Jeff and Brian have far better odds of coming out of a Chinese prison then a Tibetan monk would.

    Why did my friends feel the need to go to China? Well, even though it’s from Jeff, this quote summarizes both of their opinions.

    “For me this is not just about Tibet but, about a greater movement of liberation and the self-determination of all oppressed people throughout the world.”

    Come home soon Fellas,
    Steve

  31. “There are two children tied to the railroad track. The train is coming. You have only time to save one. What do you do?”

    light a fire, because dead babies are good eating ;)

    sum.zero

  32. m sr wll gt flmd fr ths, bt frng Tbt s n dffrnt thn thn f th Mxcns wr t sk th ntd Stts t fr “Clfrn”….

    Thr r lt f myths bt frng Tbt tht r t thr nd t sms tht bngbng s cntnng th myths.

  33. Wait a minute. Takuan can call somebody a “Chinese government agent” and that’s allowed, but calling him a person who hates all thing Chinese is not allowed? Wow.

  34. Did one of the Americans arrested in China actually walk into a classroom

    No, but the person who walked into the classroom wouldn’t have been arrested for his belief that evolution was wrong, but because he disrupted the classroom. Pretty much the same reason these guys were arrested. Not because of some Chinese suppression of free speech, but because they were disrupting the Olympics.

    My guess is that you would favor the guy getting arrested for disrupting the classroom to impose his beliefs on the school (I know I would). But you don’t think these guys should have been arrested?

    1. But you don’t think these guys should have been arrested?

      To the contrary. I’ve been a political activist. If you’re not willing to take the consequences of your action, you shouldn’t do it. However, the fact that Beijing has not approved a single demonstration, and has arrested and is re-educating those who applied is malicious.

      The bottom line is that you take it personally when anyone criticizes China. If you read my comment history (which would take you several days), you will see that I am gravely concerned for China’s ethnic minorities, women and female fetuses, gays and lesbians, bloggers and journalists, migrant workers, earthquake victims and their survivors and all the other victims of the repressive regime. I lived in San Francisco for 25 years. I have Chinese friends. I don’t hate China or the Chinese people. But China’s government is an abomination.

      You are not China. China is not you.

      1. hkkmrri,

        You seem to be astroturfing. If you feel that I’m in error, you may contact Teresa and explain to her why she should reinstate your account.

  35. Because, of course, China allows free and unfettered access to information via print, television and the media. Not. Come up with a real argument or withdraw.

    So, this is like Little Green Footballs? Either you agree with our politics or leave?? All right, I’ll pass it around.

  36. @ moon, # 44 –

    Maybe Boing Boing shouldn’t run political posts if they can’t handle the opposing arguments?

    Are you seriously taking the side against peaceful protesters in China, and then turning around and complaining about censorship on Boing Boing?

    If you’re OK with China arresting protesters, why are you complaining about censorship?

  37. JJasper @50, if his arguments and phrasing sound familiar, it’s because they are.

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