Chinese government must stop intimidating signatories of Charter 08

Liu Xiaobo MONTREAL (RushPRnews)12/20/08– Rights & Democracy (the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) is deeply concerned about the recent arrest of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and other Chinese citizens who signed a new statement on human rights called Charter 08.

Charter 08 was written on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its supporters call on China’s government to respect human rights, establish elections with universal suffrage and undertake the separation of powers. Charter 08 also calls for the establishment of a federal republic and the end of the one-party system in China. The statement drew its inspiration from the Charter 77 movement for human rights in the former Czechoslovakia that was signed by Vaclav Havel among others. A total of 303 Chinese citizens from all walks of life signed Charter 08: human rights defenders, university professors, farmers, workers and even members of the Communist Party. Such a number of supporters from such diverse backgrounds is likely to trouble China’s authorities deeply, as witnessed by the arrests of Liu Xiaobo and others in recent days.

Since the publication of Charter 08 earlier this week, public security agents have arrested and interrogated a number of its supporters. Liu Xiaobo, who has already been imprisoned numerous times for his activities in support of human rights, has been detained since Monday, Dec. 8. These arrests darken the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which China ratified when it joined the United Nations.

Rights & Democracy demands that the Chinese government honour its international obligations and respect Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by ensuring its citizens’ right to freedom of opinion and expression. Rights & Democracy also demands that the Chinese government release Liu Xiaobo without delay and end its intimidation of his fellow Charter 08 supporters.

Rights & Democracy employs a multi-pronged approach in China, with a wide spectrum of actors, each working in its own way to advance the cause of human rights. Liu Xiaobo’s fate is linked to our work in support of human rights defenders through workshops in international law.

Charter 08
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22210