21 Feb 2011

Few answer online call for Chinese protests

12:15 pm on 21 February 2011

Human rights activists in China are reported to have been detained after internet messages called for a "jasmine revolution" in China.

The messages, inspired by protests sweeping the Middle East, appear to have originated from a dissident Chinese-language website based in the United States.

Calls for people to protest and shout "We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness" were circulated on Chinese microblog sites.

Police in China showed up in force in several major cities after an the messages appeared, the BBC reports, but the call for mass protests was not well answered.

Police in Shanghai and Beijing dispersed small crowds who had gathered. There were no reports of protests in 11 other cities where people had been urged to gather on Sunday.

Several rights activists were detained beforehand and three people were arrested in Shanghai.

China's authorities blocked searches for the word "jasmine" on the internet. Protesters in Tunisia who overthrew President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January called their movement the Jasmine Revolution.