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HRIC Strongly Condemns the Formal Arrest of Liu Xiaobo by Chinese Authorities

June 24, 2009

On June 23, 2009, the Beijing Public Security Bureau formally arrested Dr. Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), a signer of Charter 08, on charges of “suspicion of incitement to subvert state power” (涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪). That Chinese authorities would take such an extreme measure exactly 100 days prior to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, along with the previously announced mandatory pre-installation of the “Green Dam” filtering software and the all-out attack on rights defense lawyers, sends a grave warning to the international community, signaling further deterioration of human rights conditions in China.

Liu Xiaobo is a prominent Chinese independent intellectual who has long been appealing for improvement in human rights conditions in China and promoting democratic change, for which he has been imprisoned many times by the authorities. Late on December 8, 2008, the eve of the release of Charter 08, he was placed in criminal detention (刑事拘留) by Beijing police and later placed under residential surveillance (监视居住).

Charter 08 is an open appeal to Chinese authorities to promote legal reform and political democracy and guarantee human rights. It was issued by 303 Chinese individuals from all walks of life, including writers, scholars, lawyers, journalists, workers, peasants, entrepreneurs, and retired Party officials, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It sets forth 19 specific recommendations, including constitutional reform; separation of administrative, legislative and judicial powers; freedom of association, expression, and religion; and civic education based on universal values and civil rights.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) strongly condemns the Chinese government’s conduct in punishing free speech and trampling on human rights. Such conduct not only violates China’s Constitution, but also deviates from international human rights law – including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed – and is causing strong protests both in China and abroad. Ding Zilin, a spokesperson for the Tiananmen Mothers, has entrusted HRIC with issuing a statement she has written to call for the release of Liu Xiaobo.

Below is the statement issued by Ding Zilin and Jiang Peikun, translated by HRIC:

A call to everyone to rescue Liu Xiaobo
Ding Zilin & Jiang Peikun

It has been over half a year since Liu Xiaobo lost his freedom. His family and friends have been anxiously awaiting his return every day. All kindhearted people feel that in this year of the 20th anniversary of June Fourth, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the government has acted in a weak, cowardly, and uncertain manner, and that not releasing Liu Xiaobo was just a pretext to intimidate public opinion. Who would have guessed that today, the government would go so far as to lose all reason and brazenly order his formal arrest.

It should be known that the Chinese government is arresting the most important of China’s writers of conscience; it should also be known that the Chinese government is arresting the most important of China’s moderate and rational writers. For so many years, Liu Xiaobo has been probing the issue of China’s future path, reflecting on it rationally, over and over, and eliminating various unreasonable and unrealistic obstructions with goodwill. This has been to some degree reflected in the recently-released Charter 08. However, this government has definite plans with all the decisions it makes, namely, to catch the big fish while letting the small fry go, because it is afraid that if it doesn’t catch the big fish, it will allow their ideas to quickly spread, and then it will be too late to do anything about it.

What “spreading rumors, slandering”? Isn’t it just that your truth is not the same as the government’s truth? What “inciting subversion”? Isn’t it just that the values you express are different from those stipulated by the government? It’s just like cars passing down two different roads. How can they be the same? How can they meet?

The arrest of Liu Xiaobo is a benchmark that shows yet another major contest between the forces of Chinese democracy and autocracy. Arresting Liu Xiaobo now demonstrates that in the contest between democracy and autocracy, the Chinese government has already resolved to take the latter path. But the choice of this path will allow the malignancy to continue to grow, and China’s democracy and constitutional government will meet with even greater ruin.

China currently believes that it has found a way to defeat the forces of international democracy through rapid economic development. If the often avowed “soaring” and “rapidly emerging” “great nation” and “superpower,” which has even adopted a so-called Human Rights Action Plan in 2009, cannot tolerate a mere scholar like Liu Xiaobo, this is a clear enough indication that the regime of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao has already shut tight the door to the so-called “political reform” and completely blocked China’s path toward democracy and constitutional rule, let alone freedom of speech.

The arrest of Liu Xiaobo is not just a matter personal to him, but an event that affects the direction of China’s future. We are calling on democratic forces at home and abroad to immediately take action and work to rescue Liu Xiaobo, on all human rights groups and organizations in the international community, and all governments and parliaments of democratic countries in the world, to show concern for Liu Xiaobo’s fate and make every possible effort for an early restoration of his freedom.

Ding Zilin & Jiang Peikun
June 24, 2009

For more information on Charter 08 and Liu Xiaobo, plus writings by him, see:

For more information on the Tiananmen Mothers, see:

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