The Protesters

Christopher Hayes

The biggest protests happening here in Boston aren't the work of blac bloc radicals or peace activists. No, the spiritual group Falun Gong has brought thousands of its members to Boston to call awareness to the Chinese government's systematic persuction of the group. In a public plaza right outside the major hotels the Falun Gong folks are assembled in yellow t-shirts passing out literature with a smile, meditating, and even, borrowing a page from the other protesters book, singing folks songs about Tiannemen Square. The most affecting part of their protest is a set of grisly staged tableaus on the sidewalk of just some of the abuse and torture that members of the group are subjected to in Chinese prisons -- four foot high cages, water boarding, electric shocks. The images are shocking, even more so because at a time when China is called a "partner" by members of both parties, the human rights abuses in there seem to drift off of the front page. China is a perfect example of the way the language of human rights has been so thoroughly perverted by both the Bush administration in particular and corporate globalization apologists in general. It has become fashionable to discuss China only in terms of its unrelenting economic growth, but the fact of the matter is that China remains a brutally repressive state and right now Falun Gong is the focus of the entire machinery of repression. When no one else will speak up for Falun Gong, it's vital that the Left does.

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Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.
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