In light of the recent resignations of a number of HRIC’s board members and the public controversy that has been sparked by their release of an open letter explaining why they left the organization, the current HRIC board members wish to make the following brief public response.
We – the members of HRIC’s current board of directors, as elected or re-elected at the organization’s annual board meeting in early January – are saddened that several of our longstanding fellow human rights activists have chosen to leave HRIC’s board, instead of continuing to work with us to confront the demanding task of advancing the cause of human rights in China today. However, we respect their decision, and we wish them the best as they continue their efforts to bring greater human rights to Chinese people through alternative channels and institutions.
Disagreements among board members of non-governmental organizations like HRIC arise from time to time and can generally be resolved without disruption so long as goodwill and patience are exercised on all sides. Unfortunately, at our latest board meeting, which took place in New York on January 6-8, a group of directors submitted a formal motion for the immediate dismissal of HRIC’s president, Liu Qing. After more than a day’s full and open discussion, the supporters of the motion remained convinced of its importance and insisted that it be voted upon. The motion was overwhelmingly defeated.
The controversy at the board meeting was dealt with in a manner that was democratic and transparent. No issue raised by the dissenting board members was left unaddressed. All arguments and evidence presented by the motion’s backers were extensively debated by the entire board in conformity with HRIC’s constitution and rules of procedure. The fact that all but two of the supporters of the motion to unseat Liu Qing failed, in the event, to turn up to vote on it on the meeting’s second day in no way diminished the democratic and open procedure by which the issue was resolved.
The HRIC board recognizes that the rapid growth of the organization makes it necessary continuously to improve administrative and policy-making procedures and to upgrade substantive programs. The board needs to play a more active role than it did when the organization was younger and smaller. We intend to increase the role of board committees and the frequency of board meetings. Efforts made in all these areas in the past two years will be continued and intensified.
We regret that the issues raised by the departed board members could not be harmoniously resolved. We look forward to continuing with even greater effectiveness our vital human rights work on behalf, and with the support, of ordinary Chinese people. We are strongly conscious of our unique mission – and above all, of the trust and expectations placed in us by countless Chinese citizens who stand in urgent need of HRIC’s firm and consistent support, as they struggle against formidable odds to reclaim and enforce internationally recognized rights and freedoms throughout mainland China today. The current board of HRIC will not waver in its collective resolve to uphold the organization’s longstanding role as the most outspoken, effective and dependable international ally of the Chinese people in this struggle. Above all, as we have done ever since our formation in early 1989, HRIC as an organization will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Chinese citizens in their historic and peaceful movement for basic human rights and freedoms, for however long this struggle may take.
Andrew J. Nathan
James Ottaway, Jr.