Djokovic plans to play in French Open

Written by admin on 30/07/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿网

Saying his right wrist is not as badly hurt as he feared, Novak Djokovic plans to be back on the tennis tour in two weeks – and at the French Open later next month.


The right-handed Djokovic said in a statement on Tuesday he’s been “assured” by doctors that he will be ready for upcoming clay-court tournaments, starting with the Madrid Masters on May 5. He would head to Rome the following week, and then to Paris, where play in the year’s second grand slam begins on May 25.

“Fortunately, the situation with the injury is better than it first seemed,” said Djokovic, who is No. 2, behind Rafael Nadal, in the ATP rankings.

Djokovic has won six major singles championships and needs a French Open title to complete a career grand slam. He lost to eight-time champion Nadal at Roland Garros in the 2013 semifinals and the 2012 final.

Djokovic complained about pain in his right wrist last week while playing as the defending champion at the Monte Carlo Masters, and he wondered aloud whether he might have trained too hard on clay right after switching from hard courts, where he won Masters titles at Miami and Indian Wells.

He wore a thick white bandage on his wrist while losing 7-5 6-2 to Roger Federer on Saturday in the semifinals at Monte Carlo. After that match, Djokovic said he knew he did not need surgery but that he was going to have an MRI exam and get checked by doctors to see where things stood with the injury.

On Tuesday, Djokovic said he’ll “need to continue with the recovery process and full medical treatments.” He also said he “will have to take a short break in order to recover as soon as possible.”

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Leapai not distracted by Briggs sideshow

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Alex Leapai is adamant his focus on the clash with heavyweight boxing world champion Wladimir Klitschko hasn’t been diluted by the temptation to show some fistic fireworks a few days early.


Leapai was involved in a classic boxing sideshow when former WBO world champion Shannan Briggs gatecrashed a press conference in Dusseldorf on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old American who was put in hospital by Klitschko’s brother Vitali three-and-a-half years ago, stormed into the room and delivered an eight-minute tirade.

He called Klitschko a pretender and a fabricated champion and angered Leapai with demeaning comments about the Australian.

“You’re a bum, Leapai,” Briggs yelled.

“Let’s get it on right now. Matter of fact I don’t want you, you’re too small.

“I want him (Klitschko).

“I want nothing with you Leapai, you’re just here for target practice for him.”

Leapai moved forward on the stage and looked to be heading towards Briggs before being held back by Klitschko.

“I switched into Lionheart mode, I really wanted to fight him (Briggs),” Leapai told AAP.

“But Wladimir just told me ‘look, our focus is our fight, just leave it at that’, so I just left it at that.”

The vastly experienced Klitschko said he had never seen anything like it.

“I was a little worried of Alex because we have a fight coming up and he cannot start the fight before the fight,” Klitschko said.

“It’s important that he’s going to save his self and energy for Saturday night.”

Both Klitschko and Leapai dismissed any suggestion the incident would prove emotionally draining or distracting for the challenger.

“My main focus now is on Klitschko,” was Leapai’s succinct response.

Klitschko was excited by the Australian’s aggression.

“I think Alex is going to stay focused because that was just a moment and he was preparing for the fight for many weeks and months,” Klitschko said.

“I hardly doubt it’s going to throw Alex out of his balance or concentration.

“I like that Alex is very motivated and he’s very bold and he’s very confident. He’s very aggressive in certain ways.

“The energy that I could feel from him is great for the challenge that I’m going to face on Saturday night.”

Klitschko said Leapai definitely deserved his title shot on the weekend after becoming the WBO No.1 and dubbed him the Australian Rocky Balboa.

“The end of the fight, shouldn’t be like Rocky,” Klitschko joked.

“I’ve been doing homework for the past eight weeks so I’m ready for the exam.

“I’m looking forward to this fight, but I know that I have a great challenge on Saturday night.”

Unbeaten in ten years and 19 fights, Klitschko declared “failure is not an option”.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time, but trust me I’m not bored at all.”

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Eating habits that saved the cougar

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Unfussy eating habits may have helped the North American cougar survive the mass extinction that wiped out most of its big-cat cousins 12,000 years ago, scientists believe.


New research suggests the sabre-toothed cat and American lion were both more picky about their food, turning their noses up at carrion and the less tasty parts of prey.

As a result both perished along with the woolly mammoth and many other large “megafauna” that went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene era.

“Before the Late Pleistocene extinction six species of large cats roamed the plains and forests of North America,” said Dr Larisa DeSantis, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, US. “Only two – the cougar and jaguar – survived.

“The goal of our study was to examine the possibility that dietary factors can explain the cougar’s survival.”

The meals a large carnivore consumes during the last few weeks of its life leave tell-tale marks on the animal’s teeth.

Chomping on red meat, for example, produces small parallel scratches while crunching on bones adds larger, deeper pits.

The scientists compared the teeth of 50 fossil and modern cougars with those of sabre-toothed cats and American lions excavated from a natural tar pit site in Los Angeles.

A comparison was also made with the teeth of modern African carnivores, including cheetahs, lions and hyenas.

Previous research by the same team had shown the dental wear patterns of extinct American lions closely resemble those of modern cheetahs – extremely finicky eaters that mostly consume tender meat and rarely gnaw on bones.

Sabre-toothed cats were found to be similar to African lions, and chewed on both flesh and bone.

Analysis of ancient cougar teeth revealed that, unlike the other cats, its individual dietary preferences varied greatly.

While some animals appeared to be fussy eaters, others showed tooth wear patterns closer to those of the modern hyena, which consumes every part of its prey, including the bones.

“This suggests that the Pleistocene cougars had a more generalised dietary behaviour,” said Dr DeSantis.

“Specifically, they likely killed and often fully consumed their prey, more so than the large cats that went extinct.”

Tellingly, modern cougars – descended from ancestors that survived the mass extinction – are opportunistic predators and scavengers which fully consume the carcasses of both small and medium-sized prey, the scientists say in the journal Biology Letters.

Their forebears’ variable dietary behaviour may have been “a key to their survival”, they conclude.

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Egypt court hears new evidence in Jazeera

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Australian journalist Peter Greste has described the most recent evidence presented in an Egyptian trial of Al Jazeera journalists as “meaningless”.


Prosecutors allege that the journalists and their Egyptian collaborators had colluded with the Brotherhood movement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and falsely sought to portray Egypt as being in a state of “civil war” since his overthrow by the army last July.

But the defendants – eight of whom are in custody, including Greste – deny any link to the now terror-blacklisted Islamist group and insist they were merely gathering news.

At Tuesday’s seven-hour hearing, prosecutors presented audio recordings of three Egyptian defendants who allegedly provided video footage of pro-Morsi demonstrations to the network’s Egyptian arm, Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr.

Defence lawyers complained they were unable to hear the recordings due to their poor quality.

“If anyone understands the content, please inform us,” one of the lawyers told the judges.

One judge responded: “I can hear it from my side”.

Prosecutors also submitted photographs of maps said to be of the area around the embassy of the United Arab Emirates – the scene of several pro-Morsi protests, and leaflets calling for protests.

Greste said that it was another day of “meaningless” prosecution evidence.

“The case turns to be an abuse against journalism and freedom of speech,” he told AFP during a recess.

Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, who was Al-Jazeera’s Cairo bureau chief, told AFP: “If these are the evidences, we should see all journalists in the world on trial.”

The court set the next hearing for May 3.

Greste’s parents, who live in Brisbane, said the constant delays were difficult to accept.

“It’s tough, emotionally and spiritually too,” father Juris Greste told reporters.

“We are not trying to look over the horizon. We are living perhaps from one adjournment to the next.”

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MP sparks Croatia-Australia diplomatic spat

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(Transcript from World News Radio)

Croatia has issued a strongly-worded statement in response to a federal MP’s speech at a controversial Croatian community event in Sydney.


Liberal MP Craig Kelly is alleged to have conveyed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s best wishes at a gathering commemorating the establishment of a pro-Nazi Croatian government in the 1940s.

Kristina Kukolja has more.

The event at Croatian community centre ‘Sydney’ in Punchbowl earlier this month was to commemorate April the 10th — the foundation date of the so-called Independent State of Croatia during the Second World War.

The Ustasha government of the Independent State of Croatia was affiliated with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany – adopting their policies, including the deportation and killing of Jews, Croatian Serbs, Roma and other non-Croats.

The federal MP for Hughes in New South Wales, Craig Kelly, attended the Croatian community commemoration in Sydney.

According to a Croatian language newspaper published in Sydney, he used a brief speech to the gathering to convey congratulations and best wishes from the Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Croatia has summoned the Australian Ambassador in Zagreb, Susan Cox, to demand an explanation about Mr Kelly’s appearance.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs issued the following statement to SBS:

“We have summoned Her Excellency Susan Cox to express our protest because it is absolutely unacceptable to commemorate 10th April and so-called NDH, or Independent State of Croatia. Today’s Croatia is founded on completely different democratic and civilization values which is also stated in our Constitution. We believe that the fact that the statement was attached to Prime Minister Abbott only weeks after successful visit of the Croatian Prime Minister to Australia is especially inappropriate.”

A spokesman for Craig Kelly says he attended the event for only 15 minutes, representing the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Concetta Fierevanti Wells.

Mr Kelly has been unavailable for interviews, but in a statement to SBS, Mr Kelly’s office denies he delivered any statement on behalf of the Prime Minister.

The statement refers to the fact that Mr Kelly stood at a lectern decorated with the Ustasha flag.

“Mr Kelly gave a brief speech in which he strongly condemned fascism and communism, both of which he described as ‘evil’. Mr Kelly further noted that through their lived experiences under both evil regimes few nations understand the importance of freedom and democracy as does Croatia, and is why the Croatian people so strongly cling to the virtues freedom and democracy today.The speech was not prepared, and was delivered off-the-cuff. Mr Kelly offers his apologies for inadvertently appearing to endorse an outdated version of the Croatian flag, which had been placed on the lectern.”

In an email to a concerned member of Serbian community in Liverpool, Mr Kelly said media reports claiming he had given a speech supporting the fascist Croatian state were not true.

“Firstly I am mortified with what has been reported, as my words were selectively taken out of context to convey the opposite meaning, and I’m personally upset that the reporting of this has have offended by many Serbian and Croatian friends,” he said in the email that was leaked and published on inSerbia Independent news.

Mr Kelly denies he delivered any statement on behalf of the Prime Minister.

“To explain the circumstances, I was requested by the Parliamentary Secretary Senator Fierravanti-Wells to represent her at an event at the Croatian Club which was described as ”celebrating Croatian Independence,” the email said.

It’s not uncommon for flags and other symbols from the Ustasha era to appear at Croatian community events in Australia, as it did in Sydney.

A large number of Croatian migrants arrived in Australia after the Second World War while Croatia was still a part of Communist Yugoslavia.

Some members of the Croatian community, particularly among older generations, regard the current social-democrat government in Croatia as a revival of Communist rule, and hold the view that Croatia was only truly independent in the 1940s.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs says Craig Kelly attended the Croatian community event in Sydney in good faith.

It also says Mr Kelly was not representing the Prime Minister.

In a statement to SBS, the Department says in meeting with Croatian officials Australia’s Ambassador Susan Cox stressed the relationship between Croatia and Australia.

“Australia’s Ambassador to Croatia met Croatian government officials at their request late last week to discuss comments attributed in the media to the Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, at a recent function in Sydney. During the meetings, the Ambassador underlined the warm relations between Australia and the Republic of Croatia, which Australia recognised on 16 January 1992 following its declaration of independence on 25 June 1991. She said that Australia looked forward to building on this relationship following the visit of Prime Minister Milanovic to Australia in March 2014.”

Also in attendance at the Sydney event were NSW Liberal MP for Riverstone Kevin Conolly, The Hills Shire Councillor Robyn Preston, Penrith City Councillor Marcus Cornish, and Nadia Namuren of the Ukrainian Council of New South Wales.

They have been unavailable for interviews.

In Croatia today, independence from Communist Yugoslavia in the 1990s is commemorated on June 25, designated Statehood Day.

Under Croatian law, it is an offence to use in public some expressions and symbols associated with the wartime fascist administration.


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Indian film awards arrive in the US

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The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London and now – Tampa, Florida?

Starting Wednesday, hundreds of Indian film stars and thousands of Bollywood fans are expected to flood this city for the International Indian Film Academy’s awards extravaganza, four days of song-and-dance performances and movie screenings.


The event caps off with the awards ceremony Saturday.

Even though Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls and the 2012 Republican National Convention, its small Indian population makes it an unusual choice for the awards.

The event has been held in big cities across the globe as the success of Bollywood has grown, but it’s the first time in its 15-year history that the group has gathered in the United States.

About 800 million people will watch the ceremony on television or the internet, according to organisers.

Shades of Bollywood are everywhere in the area.

The top floor of the Tampa International Airport car park was transformed into a reception area for Bollywood bigwigs and fans.

Shahid Kapoor, an actor with four million Twitter followers, arrived to a small crowd at the VIP area Monday.

He is scheduled to co-host the awards ceremony.

Elsewhere, security was trained on how best to handle enthusiastic fans and service workers were taught how to accommodate Indian visitors (tip: “just because you don’t recognise them, doesn’t mean they aren’t famous”).

Tampa was chosen because city and tourism leaders were aggressive.

Sabbas Joseph, the director of the academy and entertainment company Wizcraft International, says Tampa officials even took a few jabs at the competition, telling him: “Orlando mice, Miami Vice and Tampa nice.”

Tourism leaders are thrilled and hope to draw more wealthy Indian tourists to the area.

Some 30,000 people are expected.

Hollywood superstar Kevin Spacey will teach a master acting class and John Travolta will be honoured at the awards show as the “Most Popular All Time International Star In India.”

Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, the area’s tourism arm, says a private donor gave about $9 million to help bring the awards to the area.

The county and state provided about $1.1 million to promote the event and market Florida.

The city has shown there’s an appetite for Indian glitter and glam, despite having a small Indian-American population.

Cheap seats at Raymond James Stadium, usually where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team plays, start at $93.

Pricier options run all the way up to $3,295.

Nearly all of 25,000 available tickets have been sold.

The average US moviegoer might not be able to name a Bollywood flick that isn’t called Slumdog Millionaire, which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Picture.

But that could change, with movies such as The Lunchbox, a quiet romance from 2013 set in Mumbai.

It won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes.

“We want to make people aware of Indian cinema,” says Deepika Padukone, an actor with more than 5 million Twitter followers who was named the “world’s sexiest Indian” by the Indian edition of FHM magazine.

That’s not to say Bollywood is struggling.

With a population of 1.2 billion people, Bollywood films can quickly become a box office smash based on sheer volume.

Plus, labor and marketing costs are cheap compared to US films.

The average US flick costs about $47 million, while the average film in India costs about $1.5 million to make, said Uday Singh, the chairman of the Los Angeles India Film Council.

Bollywood is the term for the film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay).

Although it is used mostly to refer to the lengthy song-and-dance movies in the Hindi language, it’s become somewhat of a catchall term for Indian films.

India is a large country with many different languages, religions and customs, and its films reflect those cultures – not every movie from India is a Hindi musical.

The Indian industry makes more than four times as many films as Hollywood, Joseph said, and sells 3.6 billion tickets a year.

That’s enough movie tickets to get more than half the world’s population inside a theatre, and about a quarter of those were sold in North America.

“That was a factor in choosing America for IIFA,” Joseph says. “It’s extremely important to us. It’s where we believe the future lies.”

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Saracens’ fears in European Cup rugby semi

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New Zealand’s Sitiveni Sivivatu is the dangerman Saracens must contain in their European Cup semi-final with Clermont at Twickenham on Saturday, according to coach Mark McCall.


Although it is nearly three years since Sivivatu won the last of his 45 All Black caps, the 32-year-old Fiji-born flyer remains one of the most-potent attacking threats in European rugby.

“You wouldn’t concentrate on one person but, if someone is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, it’s going to be Sivivatu,” McCall told reporters at Saracens’ training ground in St Albans, north-west of London, on Tuesday.

“He is amazing. He’s got the most metres and offloads in the Heineken (European) Cup and he pops up where you least expect him.

“If you switch off for just one second and you don’t stay alive and in the moment, he will hurt you.

“They (Clermont) have got a few players like that, but he’s the one who can hurt you big-time.”

Two years ago, Clermont arrived at Saracens’ then home ground in Watford and thrashed their opponents 22-3 in a lopsided European Cup quarter-final.

McCall was also in charge of the side for that match and hasn’t forgotten the experience.

“We would hold our hands up and say that day was a little ‘men against boys’,” he recalled.

French clubs have proved something of a thorn in the side of Saracens, currently nine points clear at the top of the English Premiership.

Last season, they lost 24-12 to eventual European champions Toulon in the semi-finals, with England great Jonny Wilkinson kicking all of the French team’s points.

And this term, they were twice beaten by Toulouse in the pool stages.

However, defiant former Ireland centre McCall said: “The Toulon semi last year, they didn’t score a try that day, and we had an opportunity after halftime.”

Clermont have won an astonishing 76 consecutive home games but have been far more fallible away from their Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin fortress, having lost nine away matches in the French Top 14 alone this season.

Like Saracens, Clermont, who lost by a point to Toulon in last season’s final, have yet to win the European Cup.

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Nepal government to set up relief fund for Everest sherpas

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Nepal’s government agreed on Tuesday (April 22) to compensation demands for Mount Everest sherpas, after the single deadliest avalanche on the world’s highest mountain killed at least 13 guides.


Expedition leaders said tension was running high at Everest base camp after last Friday’s incident, which has rekindled debate on the disproportionate risks that sherpas take helping foreign mountaineers reach the 8,850-metre summit.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told Reuters that although some sherpas had proposed suspending work for the rest of this climbing season, they had now agreed to resume expeditions on Saturday.

The government said the minimum insurance cover for sherpas on Everest would be raised by 50 per cent to about $US15,000 ($A16,000) and it would establish a relief fund for the welfare of bereaved families and also pay for the education of their children.

“We will also take steps to prevent such incidents in the future,” Tourism Minister Bhim Acharya told Reuters.

“On the question of all demands being met, yes it has been decided to meet with all the demands and the government is assured that climbing will be continued on Everest,” Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary, Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, said.

The Associated Press reported the Ministry of Tourism had agreed to the following:

— A relief fund to help Sherpas injured in mountaineering accidents and the families of those killed, and to pay for rescue during accidents on the mountain.

— The government said it will stock the fund every year with 5 percent of its earnings from Everest climbing fees – well below the 30 per cent the Sherpas are demanding. Nepal earns some $US3.5 million ($A3.73 million) annually in Everest climbing fees.

— Nepal will increase the insurance payout for those killed on the mountain to 1.5 million rupees ($A16,438), up from the current 1 million rupees. The offer falls short of the Sherpas’ demand for 2 million rupees ($A21,916).

— The government will build a memorial to the men killed in Friday’s avalanche.

— The government also will pay additional money to help rehabilitate the injured.

In addition to the 13 sherpas killed on the Khumbu Icefall, one of the most dangerous parts of the climb to Everest, three are missing and at least three more are being treated for serious injuries in the capital Kathmandu.

The men were trying to fix ropes and crack snow and ice to carve out a route for foreign climbers through the icefall, located not far above Everest Base Camp, when they were caught in the avalanche.

The government initially announced an immediate payment of 40,000 Rupees or $A438 to the victims’ families to cover funeral costs.

Until now there has been no provision for government compensation for sherpas hired by international expeditions to carry gear, and in the past these groups have provided financial assistance on their own in the case of accidents.

Guiding foreign climbers is the main livelihood for sherpas, helping them make up to $US7,000 ($A7,471) – and some even more – each year in a country with an average annual income of just over $US700 ($A747).

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Antarctica a dream destination

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As the sun sets, the cloudy sky melds with the glaring white of the frozen terrain.


Tourists trudging in single file marvel over blue glaciers in Antarctica.

The group paid a small fortune – $US3,000 ($A3,213) per head – for a quick five-hour visit to the frozen continent, arriving by plane.

“Coming to Antarctica was a dream for me and my wife,” American John Reiss, 81, said as he stood beside his wife Sharon, 73.

“We signed up a couple years ago, but we couldn’t get on it, so we went on a waiting list. This year we signed an year in advance and we made it.”

The couple caught a two-hour flight to Antarctica from Punta Arenas in the south of Chile.

The tourists visited the island of King George, in the South Shetlands archipelago and the neighbouring Russian station of Bellingshausen with its out-of-place Orthodox church.

They also saw the small Chilean hamlet of Villa Las Estrellas home to just 64 people and colonies of penguins.

Another option is to tour Half Moon Island, a habitat of seals and penguins that is home to the Argentine base of Teniente Camara.

There they can sip a hot cup of coffee, send a postcard and get their passport stamped with a picture of a krill, the symbol of the base.

“It was a fantastic experience. The first thing that makes this trip special is being able to visit such a well-preserved, untouched continent,” said Canadian Maureen Malone, 69.

“The second is being able to see the penguins. Everybody loves the penguins. Also, I was able to see around the bases, see how the different countries are sharing the region.”

Tourism is one of the few economic activities allowed by the Treaty of the Antarctic and the Madrid Protocol, which bans mineral extraction on the white continent.

The Antarctic draws more than 30,000 tourists per year, from November to March, when there is no problem landing on the frozen sea.

Most arrive on ships that cross Drake Passage in the Southern Ocean, which has some of the world’s worst weather, setting off from Ushuaia in southern Argentina and from Punta Arenas.

“Ninety per cent of the tourists from around the world who come to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia. The cruises last an average of 11 days. The cheapest ones cost $US5,000. The most expensive, which last 15 days and go to the South Pole, cost $US12,000,” Brazilian Gunnar Hagelberg, owner of Antarctica Expeditions, say.

More than 35,350 people will have visited Antarctica by the end of this year – 1,000 more than last season and 8,000 more than in 2011-2012, according to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.

“We carry from 120 to 130 people per season. We have seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of tourists who want to see the continent,” said Nicolas Paulsen, deputy commercial director of the Chilean airline Dap, which offers logistical and tourist flights.

Paulsen said tourism in Antarctica is rising three per cent more per year than tourism to Chile, which is up seven per cent. Most visitors come from the United States, Australia, China, Russia and, more and more, from Brazil.

“Antarctica is vital for us. It affects the climate, the sea currents. Tourism is important because the more people get to know it, the more they will want to protect it,” said Paulsen.

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Welcome to the Uighur web

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China’s Internet is vast, with millions of sites and more than 618 million users.


But nest-egged within that universe is a tiny virtual community comprising just a few thousand websites where China’s Uighurs, the country’s fifth-largest ethnic minority with a population of approximately 11 million, gather online to communicate in their own language and script.

This is the Uighur web. The space can be defined as the Internet as it exists within the borders of China’s far western autonomous region of Xinjiang, the homeland of the Turkic-language-speaking, mostly Muslim Uighur minority. It can also be seen as the Uighur-focused Internet perused by Uighurs across China. In both cases, content and access are tightly controlled.

Because of sporadic violence that the Chinese government blames on a simmering separatist movement, authorities are vigilant about scouring the Uighur web for material that they think could incite unrest. After ethnic riots in the regional capital of Urumqi left at least 197 people dead in July 2009, Xinjiang’s web was unplugged for 10 months, stranding 22 million people of all ethnicities offline.

Xinjiang has “gained independence on the Internet, separated from the Internet world,” wrote journalist and blogger Wang Dahao wryly a few months into the shutdown. “It was absolutely unbearable,” Zheng Liang, a lecturer at Xinjiang University in Urumqi, who researches media and ethnic minorities, told Foreign Policy. “I had to fly to another province to get to my emails.”

Authorities in Xinjiang continue to reach for the Internet kill switch when violence flares, though the shutdowns now are more targeted.

When a reporter for The New York Times visited the remote oasis town of Hotan in southern Xinjiang in August 2013 to report on a violent clash between Uighurs and police on June 28, 2013, he found that cell-phone service in the area had been cut for weeks following the incident and that residents still had no Internet access.

Given all that, the Internet penetration rate in Xinjiang appears surprisingly high. According to statistics from the government-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), Xinjiang is the 11th-most connected region in China out of 31 ranked, with 43 percent of its population online, and an annual penetration growth rate of 9.1 percent. Zheng says smartphone use is the dominant form of access and that his Uighur students and friends are “addicted” to the Internet. Especially popular is WeChat, a Chinese homegrown messaging app that has become a common way to stay in touch and share news.

In February 2014, Zheng was at a Uighur song-and-dance performance in Yopurga county near the Silk Road trading town of Kashgar. He saw Uighur farmers lifting their phones to take photos of the show. Zheng says he “didn’t notice such popularity of smartphones two years ago.”

On the other hand, CNNIC’s numbers also show that there are relatively few registered websites and IP addresses in Xinjiang. Xinjiang had only about 6,000 websites in 2012, compared with almost 400,000 in the capital, Beijing, in the same year. The disparity likely means that people in Xinjiang want to be connected but are loath to set up their own sites.

The small number of Xinjiang-based sites shouldn’t be surprising given the government crackdown on webmasters and online journalists following the violence of July 2009.

In the immediate aftermath, authorities blamed exiled Uighurs for using the Internet to organize the July 5, 2009, protest in Urumqi that turned violent, with Uighur mobs attacking and killing majority Han Chinese in the streets. Han Chinese then retaliated, leading to more deaths. Dozens of Uighur website founders, editors and writers received lengthy prison terms, including Gulmira Imin, a moderator and contributor to the now-defunct Uighur-language Salkin website, which featured news and cultural discussion as well as a discussion forum. Imin was sentenced to life in prison for “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration.” Dilshat Perhat, webmaster and owner of Diyarim, which was similar in content to Salkin and also had a lively forum, was sentenced to five years in prison for “endangering state security.” The Washington, D.C.-based Uyghur American Association says hundreds of other sites were also shut down.

A few months after the Urumqi violence, Xinjiang approved a law that made it a crime to post comments about independence or separatism online (the regional law reinforced already existing national legislation that bars seditious talk in cyberspace). The law also required Internet service providers and network operators to monitor and report any lawbreakers. This has put “intense political pressure” on webmasters and dissuaded people from opening new sites, said Alim Seytoff, president of the Uyghur American Association, in an interview with FP. “It can be very risky to open a website,” Seytoff said. “If you have a chat room and in the middle of the night somebody posts something seditious, the next day the webmaster will have a big problem.”

Researchers have found that China’s “restive” regions — areas bubbling with ethnic hostilities and plagued by poverty — have the most stringently censored social media environments. A Carnegie Mellon University study published in 2012 found that more than half of social media posts surveyed from Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang were deleted, while only about 10 percent of those in Beijing and Shanghai were erased.

The consequences for posting anything vaguely political can be chilling. In December 2011, when Uighur undergraduate Atikem Rozi complained on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, about not being able to get a passport, police brought her in for questioning. Even Chinese state media appeared aghast at Rozi’s treatment and said the case smacked of ethnic discrimination.

More troubling is the case of Rozi’s boyfriend, Mutellip Imin, a Uighur from Xinjiang who has been studying in Turkey. He also worked as a moderator for Uighur Online, a bilingual website founded by detained Uighur economist Ilham Tohti. The site has been blocked in China since 2008 and is hosted in the United States. Tohti was detained in January and has been charged with inciting separatism, a charge that could carry a life sentence.

Several weeks before Tohti was detained, 26-year-old Imin posted a disturbing account of his detention and harassment by Chinese government authorities. Imin said he was detained at the Beijing airport in July 2013 while trying to fly back to Istanbul after a summer holiday. He was held for 79 days in three different Xinjiang hotels. He said he was never arrested or charged.

Imin wrote on his personal blog that authorities forced him to give over the passwords to his mobile phone, computer, and email, chat and social media accounts. He wrote that he was also forced to read a statement in Uighur and Mandarin Chinese — one penned by authorities — while police videotaped him. It included statements that Imin’s “eyes were blinded by Ilham Tohti” and that Imin had “played a very bad role on the Internet.” Imin wrote that police were concerned that he was linked to Uighur independence groups overseas, something he denied. Imin was detained again in January 2014, according to Radio Free Asia, and has not been heard from since. Henryk Szadziewski, a senior researcher with the Washington, D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, says Imin’s case is “quite emblematic of the restrictions facing Uighurs” and “the dire consequences for freely expressing your opinions online.”

© 2014, Foreign Policy

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