Google seizes up before any results appear in a search for ‘Celil,’ ‘Canada’ (in Chinese) and ‘2007,’ fitting given that a proxified search turns up no Chinese language media reports from websites that can be readily viewed within China. It's a different story, as usual, for a Google search which includes the word blog. The controversy surrounding the identity and fate of Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil, originally from China's largely muslim northwest, was revived this past week when he was sentenced to life in Chinese prison.
Celil's previous stint in Chinese prison ended in 2000 when he broke out and fled West, soon landing in Canada where he went on to gain citizenship. Two questions around which the controversy revolves: does the Canadian government not worry about granting citizenship to Chinese criminals, or is the Chinese government making these charges up?
Speaking strictly by percentage, rabid nationalistic discourse tends to dominate online discussion in China, but the reason so little of this is reflected here at Global Voices Online is that one hopes to engage in balanced conversation, but in the Celil incident, this week at least, all the bloggage this blogger was able to find leans heavily in the Chinese government's favor. For example, random comments on blogs found in the first two pages of results in the search described above:
From the military bbs at China.com, netizen Son of the South on April 20:
From the Dragon's Dream Sina blog whose readership jumped to over 1,700 with his post on the affair, netizen East China Sea Scholar on April 21:
加拿大 混蛋国家 赖昌星为什么不引渡 .实际还不是为了带去的 600多亿 不给中国 还有脸来说话 …加拿大 应该被中国人鄙视的国家.最好让他闭嘴.
If they don't shoot him, it's because the state's being too merciful…and what will be left?!
Canada, bastard country, why don't they extradite Lai Changxing? Even if hadn't taken off with sixty billion RMB they should still give him back…and they still dare speak to us…Canada should be a country Chinese people despise…at best make it shut up.
From the military affairs blog at China.com, which had sixteen pages of comments, netizen Bright Point of the Sun on April 22:
MSN Spaces blogger and Chinese law student WY Aaron, currently studying in the United States, took the time to put more substance behind a somewhat similar argument in his post ‘Utterly Shameless‘:
As a practicing lawyer, I'm used to hearing completely different versions of a story from each side, and am not quick to believe one side's statements over the other. So, when I got up today, first I went over some of the earlier information sources, and then thoroughly familiarized myself with the the stances taken by the two countries’ governments, China and Canada, and especially the information put up on the website set up by the accused's family (hereby referred to as “the Celil site”). After having read all this, I can say I'm brimming with fury as I write this blog entry.
被告玉山江，英文名Huseyin Celil, 英文名中译侯赛因塞利尔，生于中国新疆，维吾尔族人。自称生于东突厥斯坦，系突厥族人，为东突厥斯坦伊斯兰运动成员。东突厥斯坦伊斯兰运动，即”东突”，为联合国正式认定的恐怖主义组织。”东突”谋求分离新疆，在”塞利尔网站”上毫不掩饰。中国政府称”东突”与”基地”组织有千丝万缕的联系，在新疆和内地制造了众多爆炸事件和流血冲突，故依照中国国内法，对其打击不遗余力。
The accused, Huseyin Celil, was born in Xinjiang, China, and belongs to the Uighur racial minority, but declares himself as having been born in East Turkestan, belonging to the East Turkic people, and as a member of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, is considered by the United Nations as a terrorist organizaion. The ETIM strives for Xingjiang separation, as the Celil site makes no effort to hide. The Chinese government maintains that the ETIM and Al Qaeda organizations are inextricably connected and have both in Xinjiang and further inland created numerous explosions and bloody conflicts; thus, according to mainland Chinese law, no effort is being spared to strike down the ETIM.
加拿大政府以被告为加拿大公民为由，要求为其提供领事保护。中国不承认被告的加拿大国籍，严词拒绝。加拿大政府总理说，他的政府相信，没有明确的证据证明，作为少数民族权利的主张者，被告犯有或参与任何被指控的罪行。（Harper said his government believes there's no clear evidence that Celil, a minority rights activist, has committed any crimes or participated in alleged terrorism.）加拿大政府以中国政府侵害人权等理由，把”人权”、”自由”的口号喊得整天响，在外交层面对中国政府施加种种压力。
On the grounds of seeing the accused as a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government requested to provide him with consular protection. As China does not recognize dual nationality, the request was sternly rejected. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government believes there to be no clear evidence that Celil, a minority rights activist, had committed any crimes or participated in alleged terrorism
The Canadian government, seeing the Chinese government as violating human rights, wailed slogans of ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom’ until the sky shook, exerting various pressures on the Chinese government at the diplomatic level.
Now, the Canadian side's strongest reasoning is that Chinese nationality law doesn't recognize dual citizenship, that after the accused gained Canadian citizenship he automatically renounced his Chinese citizenship and for this reason, the Chinese side has no jurisdiction in this case.
For a balanced overview of the development of the dispute between the Chinese and Canadian governments, journalist-blogger Susanna Ng in Vancouver, Canada has been tracking the story on her Chinese in Vancouver blog, and her most recent post on the subject, dated April 21, ‘Embarrassing Canadian foreign policy,’ looks at the Canadian government and particularly its current leader's response to the Celil incident in comparison with that of another Canadian citizen also recently in diplomatic hot water, which reads:
This Egyptian case has so much in common with Celil:
* both are alleged of harming their home countries’ security and integrity
* Israel is the Harperites’ good friend whom should be supported “unconditionally”; and Harper's China policy might have been dictated by people who lobby for an independent Tibet (ironically, the Dalai Lama has announced that he's not interested in an independent Tibet any more)
* both men say they're innocent and are tortured into confessions; Canada has no way to prove it but jump to hoist the human rights flag
* Arab countries do not like to be criticized in public
* China is more ready to cooperate if talks are behind the scene