Thursday, December 18, 2008

Petition in Support of Charter 08

[Circulated through the human rights listserv:]

Dear colleagues,

We, the undersigned, are writing to ask your help.

Appended below is an appeal letter to China's president, Hu Jintao, expressing "deep concern with the ongoing arbitrary detention of literary critic and former professor of literature Liu Xiaobo" and urging for his immediate release. The letter notes that "For the international community to take seriously China's oft-stated commitment to respect human rights and the rule of law, and for China's own citizens to trust the judicial system to redress legitimate grievances, it is urgent that China's central leadership ensure that no one be arrested or harassed simply for the peaceful expression of his or her views."

Please note, we are not seeking signatures from the general public but are confining our request to academics, lawyers, and recognized members of the international human rights community. In short, we want to send a clear message from prominent individuals around the world concerned with the impeded growth of civil society in China. After the appeal is sent to President Hu, it will be made public.

May we add you to the list below of those who have already signed? If so, please send an e-mail to petition.lxb@gmail.com stating your willingness to do so and including your academic affiliation and your post or other identifying information relevant to your profession.
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December 17, 2008

President Hu Jintao
People's Republic of China
Zhongnanhai, Xichengqu, Beijing
People's Republic of China


Dear President Hu Jintao,

We, the undersigned scholars, writers, lawyers and human rights advocates write to share our deep concern with the ongoing arbitrary detention of literary critic and former professor of literature Liu Xiaobo.

Mr. Liu, a prominent and highly-regarded intellectual both in and outside of China, was taken away from his home in Beijing by public security officers on the evening of December 8. During the accompanying search of his apartment, which lasted for several hours, police seized his computers, mobile phones, and most of his personal papers.

No official reason has been given for Mr. Liu's arrest. In violation of China's own laws and regulations, the police have failed to inform either his relatives or his lawyer of his whereabouts or the reasons for his detention.

Because of the fact that Mr. Liu's arrest came half a day before the publication of a public appeal to promote human rights and democracy in China entitled "Charter 08," and because the police detained and questioned several other "Charter 08" signatories at the same time, the presumption is that Mr. Liu has been arrested solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed under China's constitution and international law.

Mr. Liu's activities have always been peaceful and according to law. Although he was twice arbitrarily detained for several years for writing articles criticizing the government, he has never been convicted of any crime. In recent years, Mr. Liu's reputation grew as his essays on current affairs in China and his principled defense of human rights and democracy circulated widely. Mr. Liu has consistently opposed recourse to violence. In his articles, he has lauded the amendments to the constitution that stipulate respect for human rights and property rights. He has written strongly in favor of the development of a free civil society in China.

As President of the People's Republic of China, you have yourself often pledged to strengthen China's legal system, stressing recently that "the rule of law is important for the promotion, realization and safeguarding of a harmonious society." We urge you to honor your commitment to ensure the civil rights of citizens who peacefully express their views on public affairs.

For the international community to take seriously China's oft-stated commitment to respect human rights and the rule of law, and for China's own citizens to trust the judicial system to redress legitimate grievances, it is urgent that China's central leadership ensure that no one be arrested or harassed simply for the peaceful expression of his or her views.

It is equally urgent that judicial authorities throughout China cease to use China's anti-subversion law to prosecute peaceful critics such as Mr. Liu Xiaobo, who should be released immediately without conditions.

Sincerely,

The signatories


For more information, please contact:
In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French, Mandarin): +852-8198-1040 (mobile)
In Paris, Jean-Marie Fardeau (English, French, Portuguese): +33-6-45-85-24-87 (mobile)
In London, Brad Adams (English) +44-79-0872-8333 (mobile)
In New York, Minky Worden (English, Cantonese): +1-917-497-0540 (mobile) or wordenm@hrw.org

Related Links
For the full text of the letter and signatories, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/22/letter-consortium-release-liu-xiaobo-chinas-president-hu-jintao

For an English translation of Charter 08, please visit:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22210

Human Rights Watch news release, "Nobel Laureates, China Scholars Call for Liu Xiaobo's Release," please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/22/nobel-laureates-china-scholars-call-liu-xiaobo-s-release

Human Rights Watch news release, "China: Retaliation for Signatories of Rights Charter," please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/10/china-retaliation-signatories-rights-charter