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China vs. ExWeb: internet attacks to silence climbers' free speech

Posted: May 06, 2008 04:32 pm EDT

(ExplorersWeb.com) It began with a simple story at MountEverest.net: "Tibet watch: Mass executions in Lhasa on March 16th?"

Following the March 14 unrest, an eerie silence was reported from the blacked-out city. Over 200 military vehicles and an estimated 10,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers entered Lhasa. Door-to-door searches commenced.

Media was kicked out, reporters' hotel rooms were searched, memory cards were confiscated and pictures were deleted from their computers.

The first batch of spam

Former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, warned that the attempt to seal off Tibet from the rest of the world was the most dangerous situation yet. A letter from Nepal arrived, sent by a western woman to a western blog. The woman, with family in Tibet, stated that all her relatives there had been arrested:

"Tibetan families in Lhasa were arrested on March, 15th and 16, nevertheless if they participated in the revolt or not," she wrote. "March 16 at night, half of all the persons arrested on March 14-15-16 were shot - they were took out at night secretly, 60 persons per one closed lorry, and dug a communal grave in the fields outside Lhasa and then shot. In villages Tibetians are being shot in place without court...Tibetans have been already promised the total 'cleaning' after [the Olympic] Games..."

After we published the story, the first batch of spam arrived. It was different from our regular "crop." This spam all seemed of the same type, it found its way around firewalls and anti-virus protections. These were not your regular Viagra and cheap watches subjects - this virus was massive and fast.

To ExWeb from "Wendy"

Then the emails arrived. Some polite, some threatening, some abusive. We had illustrated the story with images from an execution posted at freerepublic.com. According to the source, the Kyunghyang Daily images showed shootings of Tibetan Prisoners on January 27, 2005. "The sign on this woman's neck reportedly accuses her of murder," we wrote.

The senders stated that the execution showed a Chinese woman convicted of three murders. They offered no explanation on the other young prisoners shot in the image. The emails had Chinese addresses, most were anonymous or signed with American names.

The heat meter

When the Chinese gagged the Everest climbers also on the South Side, we decided to use our editorial resources for a couple of China special stories instead. We wrote about the slave workers who built the Olympic village, and the organs carved out of live "prisoners" and then sold to westerners.

Each time we published such a story, a new wall of spam arrived in our mailboxes. It was almost like a meter on which stories were the most important. Some slipped through without much fuss; others created a virtual mass attack.

The money

Following the organ transplant story, orders began to arrive from China at the HumanEdgeTech (ExWeb's sponsor) online store. Emails from Hong Kong posed a host of questions about the products.

When team HET refused to sell to them, yesterday, an email from China arrived stating that the domain HumanEdgeTech was to be registered in various forms in China, Taiwan and HongKong.

The new age of wars

These attacks are an eye opener into China's rulers' mentality. It's pretty incredible that a big country would involve itself in this kind of "internet-terrorism." ExWeb has often written critical stories about individuals, business and entire countries - but never before experienced this kind of aggression.

The Chinese authorities are clearly using the web in attempts to root out their opponents. Already following the Lhasa crackdown, German Der Spiegel wrote how the Tibet crisis had sparked a unique online war of expression between China and their opponents.

Regular people from all over the world exchanged info - with Chinese infiltrating them. Youtube videos, blog postings and commentaries were frequently busted for being made by Chinese sources.

US State Department, "ongoing for years"

A conspicuously large number of users established accounts on English speaking Youtube March 17 or later and seemed interested in nothing other than Chinese propaganda videos.

Also forums such as Spiegel Online recorded an unusually high number of new registrations since the "black weekend," many of which were vehemently defending the Chinese in Tibet. Over only a few days, the English-language Wikipedia entry about Tibet had been changed over a hundred times, most with insults against the country, Buddhist monks and the Dalai Lama.

As for directed attacks, ExWeb is far from alone. FBI is looking into attacks on Save Darfur domains and the US State Department states that such attacks by Chinese authorities have been ongoing for years.

The One question

The prisoners shot in the images could well be criminal Chinese. But they could also be Tibetans, Falun Gong, other minorities or just the best of China; the few individuals who dare to stand up and protest the violation of human rights that the Olympics seemingly will celebrate.

China continues to lie to reporters, to climbers, online to the world and to its own people at home.

Some pundits have said that the next world war will take place on the World Wide Web. Yet perhaps a free word, refusing to be intimidated, is our biggest chance for justice.

As we wait for the torch to summit Everest; behind the spams, the emails and other attacks - one question must never stop to be repeated: what exactly is going on in Tibet?

#Mountaineering #Polar #Mountaineering #Oceans

ExWeb's "regular" spambox (click to enlarge).
China tried to curb freedom of speech not only on Everest and in Nepal, but also right here in US. During its coverage of Everest and Tibet, ExWeb was spammed...
...harassed in emails...
Emails arrived, some polite... (click to enlarge)
...most anonymous or with fake names (click to enlarge)
...to be continued (click to enlarge).
Behind the spams, the emails and other attacks the question still remains: what exactly is going on in Tibet?
Following certain stories, ExWeb was spammed minute by minute. The spam was different from the "regular crop."
With the spams, followed emails. (Click to enlarge).
Messages notified that ExWeb's domains were to be registered in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.