In what has become a closely watched international diplomatic and human rights crisis, Chinese authorities said Friday they would consider allowing blind dissident Chen Guangcheng to leave the country to study abroad in the United States.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement that Chen could "apply through normal channels to the relevant departments in accordance with the law, just like any other Chinese citizen."
Chen, who is currently being kept at a hospital in Beijing, has been invited to study at New York University and has reportedly expressed no interest in seeking political asylum. The activist would reportedly be accompanied by his wife and child if his application is approved. more >>
Supporters worldwide breathed a moderate sigh of relief when word came early Wednesday that blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng had been transported to a hospital for treatment under the protection of U.S. diplomats. However, it was also revealed that Chen reportedly left the U.S. Embassy under duress from the Chinese government.
It initially seemed that an arrangement had been reached with Chinese authorities that would guarantee the safety of the human rights activist, who made international headlines last week after he escaped house arrest. After his escape, Chen had secured shelter in the U.S. Embassy in the Chinese capital, causing tension in U.S.-China diplomatic relations.
Despite vows of goodwill from Chinese authorities regarding the activist's case, skeptics had their suspicions confirmed later Wednesday, when Chen reportedly revealed that Chinese authorities had threatened to harm his family if he did not leave the American Embassy. more >>
Seattle-based sex-advice columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage chose to stand by his controversial remarks about the Bible that made a number of Christian students leave a recent seminar. Savage was severely criticized for saying people should "learn to ignore the bull**** in the Bible about gay people." He did not apologize for the comment, although he did apologize in a recent column for using the term "pansy-assed" against the students who took issue with his remarks.
"I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised," Savage, who was raised Catholic, wrote in the column. "I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against – and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying 'motivated by faith') – because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong."
Savage, who recently launched a sex advice show targeted toward college students on MTV and whose "It Gets Better" anti-bullying campaign is supported by the Obama administration, uttered the controversial remarks on April 13 at the Journalism Over the Edge/National Scholastic Press Association National High School Journalism Convention. In a room full of high school students, Savage said that "people [use] the Bible as an excuse for gay bullying." As many as 100 students left the room because of the remarks, witnesses said. Savage responded to the walk-out by saying, "It's funny to someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansy-assed people react when you push back." A video of Savage's profanity-laced remarks has been published online. more >>
Christian activists called on the Obama Administration Sunday during a prayer vigil to protect blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who managed to escape from confinement and is believed to be in hiding at the U.S. Embassy in China.
The conservative Christian Defense Coalition and about a dozen supporters staged a prayer and singing vigil in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., calling not only on the Chinese government to respect human rights and freedom of speech, but also on President Barack Obama and his administration to use this opportunity to show support for such rights.
"This is a watershed moment for President Obama and the United States," The Christian Defense Coalition's director, the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, said Sunday. "Will he bow to the pressure of an oppressive Chinese regime? Or will he stand strong and embrace human rights and freedom for all and not betray the principles that Chen Guangcheng has risked his life for?" more >>
Having dramatically escaped after four years in prison and 18 months under house arrest, blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng appeared in an online video and told his tragic story. Reports suggest he is under U.S. protection in Beijing.
"I finally escaped. All the stories about the brutal treatment I have received from the authorities, I can personally testify they are all true," activist and lawyer Chen, who exposed forced sterilization and other abuses by Chinese authorities, says on the video he posted online.
Chinese law requires families to have only one child. While rich Chinese can afford to pay fines for having more children, poor families are often treated brutally. Chinese authorities allegedly impose harsh punishments on the families of women who run away to save their babies. more >>
Gambia's president, apparently responding to demands from the U.K. and U.S. for acceptance of gay and lesbian rights, has stated that no amount of foreign-aid "bribing" was going to lead him to "insult God by doing something in the name of human rights."
"If you are to give us aid for men and men or for women and women to marry, leave it; we don't need your aid because, as long as I am the President of The Gambia, you will never see that happen in this country," His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh declared at the 2012 State Opening of the National Assembly on Friday.
The comments come only weeks after 19 people including Gambians, a Senegalese and a Nigerian were arrested in Gambia on suspicion of homosexual acts, and charged with two counts of attempts to commit unnatural offense and conspiracy to commit felony. more >>