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China, Cuba, Other Authoritarian Regimes Censor News From Iran

"This time, the dark dictatorship has won, but I don't feel hopeless," Ho said of Iran. "On the contrary, I see more clearly that there is hope. I used to think, in such a totalitarian country, people had no hope for democracy. But I can see not only students but people from all different classes, even very low-class men and women, all have such a strong will for democracy, and they fight together for taking down the cheated election."

In contrast, Li Datong, a Beijing-based pro-democracy writer who was fired from his job in China's state media after publishing a piece on censorship on the Internet, said democratic change will come more gradually and peacefully in China.

"Young people might be excited about what happened in Iran now, but not me -- a 57-year-old one who has witnessed dramatic change in China. I think the cultivation of democratic elements within a society is more important and practical," Li said, mentioning the increased acceptance of public accountability and the growth of civil society groups in recent years.

Some democracy advocates in China said that even if the Iranian protesters fail in their calls for legitimate elections this time, their fight will inspire others, as similar uprisings -- in Burma in 1988 and at Tiananmen Square the next year, for example -- have done in the past.

The iconic image of the Iranian protests may be the chilling video, filmed on a cellphone camera, of Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who died on the streets of Tehran minutes after being struck by a bullet.

"Democracy won't come by the charity of the governing class," someone from the city of Suzhou, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, wrote about Agha Soltan on an online message board. "Fighting is the only way to gain democracy. . . . People are doomed to be slaves unless they are willing to sacrifice their blood."

Correspondent Juan Forero in Caracas, special correspondent Karla Adam in London, a staff writer in Washington and researchers Zhang Jie, Wang Juan and Liu Liu in Beijing contributed to this report.


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