China just released a report on the (lack of) human rights over the past year in the U.S.A. Are we living in an authoritarian society without knowing it? Via China Daily, when you put things this way, it sounds pretty bad:
The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the United States to people across the world and urge the United States to face up to its own doings.
In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights is severe. It is lying to itself when the United States calls itself the land of the free (The Washington Post, Jan 14, 2012).
Claiming to defend 99 percent of the US population against the wealthiest, the Occupy Wall Street protest movement tested the US political, economic and social systems. Ignited by severe social and economic inequality, uneven distribution of wealth and high unemployment, the movement expanded to sweep the United States after its inception in September 2011. Whatever the deep reasons for the movement are, the single fact that thousands of protesters were treated in a rude and violent way, with many of them being arrested – the act of willfully trampling on people’ s freedom of assembly, demonstration and speech – could provide a glimpse to the truth of the so-called US freedom and democracy.
While advocating press freedom, the United States in fact imposes fairly strict censoring and control over the press and “press freedom” is just a political tool used to beautify itself and attack other nations. The US Congress failed to pass laws on protecting rights of reporters’ news sources, according to media reports. While forcibly evacuating the Zuccotti Park, the original Occupy Wall Street encampment, the New York police blocked journalists from covering the police actions. They set cordon lines to prevent reporters from getting close to the park and closed airspace to make aerial photography impossible. In addition to using pepper spray against reporters, the police also arrested around 200 journalists, including reporters from NPR and the New York Times (uschinapress.com, Nov 15, 2011). By trampling on press freedom and public interests, these actions by the US authorities caused a global uproar.
Poll by Pew Research Center indicated that in the second week of the movement, reports on the movement only accounted for 1.68 percent of the total media reports by nationwide media organizations. On Oct 15, 2011, when the Occupy Wall Street movement evolved to be a global action, CNN and Fox News gave no live reports on it, in a sharp contrast to the square protest in Cairo, for which both CNN and Fox News broadcast live 24 hours.
The US Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content “harmful to national security.” Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 stipulates that the federal government has “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency.
According to a report by British newspaper the Guardian dated Mar 17, 2011, the US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas, and will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The project aims to control and restrict free speech on the Internet (The Guardian, Mar 17, 2011). According to a commentary by the Voice of Russia on Feb 2, 2012, a subsidiary under the US government’ s security agency employed several hundred analysts, who were tasked with monitoring private archives of foreign Internet users in a secret way, and were able to censor as many as five million microblogging posts. The US Department of Homeland Security routinely searched key words like “illegal immigrants,” “virus,” “death,” and “burst out” on Twitter with fake accounts and then secretly traced the Internet users who forwarded related content.
Read the rest at China Daily