News has emerged that the Chinese government has detained at least five bloggers from the United States for reporting on protests in favor of Tibetan independence. Included among the detained was the widely admired founder of the video blog series Alive in Baghdad, Brian Conley.

The detentions follow a wave of arrests of Chinese dissidents leading up to the Olympics. The US government pledged as the games began to engage the Chinese government concerning human rights – we wonder what those conversations look like now that China has detained journalists consistently critical of US policy as well.

Blogging is Powerful

New online media have opened the doors to people publishing on budgets that would never have supported journalistic efforts in the past. That new generation of publishers has a greater freedom to take risks because they aren’t as beholden to the interests of sponsors. That’s one way to describe the political impact on journalism of blogging – another way might be that these new media have opened up publishing to activists with less interest in objectivity than traditional journalists have aimed for.

Either way, the impact of blogging and video blogging on the world at large is widely recognized and it’s no surprise that the authoritarian Chinese government is taking steps to protect itself. We condemn the detention of any journalists, whether they strive for objectivity or tell stories from a particular perspective.

According to extensive coverage on BoingBoing, the following US journalists and/or activists are all currently missing:

– James Powderly

– Brian Conley

– Jeffrey Rae

– Jeff Goldin

– Michael Liss

– Tom Grant

We’re working on creating a widget displaying video, information and a button to call US Congressional representatives but for now we’ll leave you with the following video published by Conley in China last week. Update: doesn’t want to give us an account promptly, so we’ll just say – if you want to call the US Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee to register your concern about the 5 people above, they are at +1 202 225 5021 and they are waiting for you. We just called them a few minutes ago.

Beijing: Ethnic Park Protest – Aug. 13, 2008


Students for a Free Tibet