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Take Action Checklist

June 4, 2009

Take action on this 20th anniversary in support of June Fourth prisoners, victims of the crackdown and their families, and rights defenders. Human Rights in China is grateful for your support.

  • Write a letter to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), urging the NPC to grant special pardons to June Fourth prisoners. A sample letter in Chinese and English can be found below; copy, sign, and send to the address provided.
  • Support the Tiananmen Mothers!
    • Visit their website, tiananmenmother.org.
    • Visit Human Rights in China’s “Fill the Square” website to sign an e-petition supporting the demands of the Tiananmen Mothers and their efforts to end impunity for human rights abuses in China.
    • Organize a screening of “Portraits of Lives Lost and the Quest for Justice” (working title), a video documentary by the Tiananmen Mothers. (See back cover for more information.)
  • Wear white the week of June 1–7, 2009, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary and in memory of those who were killed. (Campaign organized by the Coordinating Committee for the 20th Anniversary of June Fourth Commemorative Activities.)
  • Visit Human Rights in China’s updated website.
Sample letter to the NPC

Chairman Wu Bangguo
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
Lane 23, Xijiao
Beijing 100805

Legal Committee
Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
Lane 23, Xijiao
Beijing 100805

Tel: (86) 10 6309 3389
Email: icc@npc.gov.cn

Dear Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,

For China, 2009 is a year of celebrating anniversaries, including the 90th Anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and 30th anniversary of Reform and Opening Up. A series of magnificent celebrations will be conducted for the “October First” National Day. At that time, the whole nation will celebrate together, and every Chinese citizen ought to be allowed to enjoy this great occasion. For this reason, I send this letter to urge the National People’s Congress (NPC) to exercise the powers conferred by the Chinese Constitution and grant special pardons to those who are still imprisoned for June Fourth-related activities before “October First” National Day. The reasons are listed below:

  1. The special pardons conform to Chinese traditions and international convention.
    China has always had the tradition of granting universal pardons at the time of grand celebrations in order to demonstrate the benevolence of the rulers, win the people’s hearts, and maintain governance. At the same time, granting special pardons at the time of national celebrations is also a common practice among many countries of the world. Even China’s neighboring countries, Vietnam, North Korea, and South Korea, granted special pardons during times of celebration in 2005, and Thailand did so as well in 2007.
  2. There are precedents for special pardons and special pardons are in accordance with the law.
    Since the founding of the PRC, there have been seven special pardons during the era of Mao Zedong but none since the era of Deng Xiaoping. The June Fourth Incident of 20 years ago is a serious, bloody tragedy in the history of the PRC and has caused deep bitterness in the people. Many innocent lives were lost, and the Incident created grave antagonism between the people and the government.As the late President Yang Shangkun said, “This was the gravest mistake in the history of our party.” At present, the Chinese government is vigorously advocating governance by law and constructing a harmonious society. If the authorities can pardon all those who are imprisoned for June Fourth-related activities on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the nation, it would soothe the hearts of the people, reconcile the standoff between the government and the people, and create a good beginning for the construction of a genuine harmonious society.

    Articles 67 and 80 of the Chinese Constitution revised in 2004 stipulate that special pardons are decided by the National People’s Congress (NPC), and the decree of the special pardons is issued by the President. For the sake of continuous political stability and lasting peace in the nation, the Standing Committee should fulfill the wishes of the people and exercise this right in accordance with law. If this comes to pass, the fourth generation leadership of the Communist Party of China will be praised in history.

  3.  June Fourth prisoners have already served 20 years of their sentence thus far, their punishment has far exceeded the reasonable sentence for their “crimes.”
    The June Fourth prisoners who are still being held, regardless of whether they should have been given such severe sentences, and also regardless of the crimes for which they were imprisoned, have already served almost or more than 20 years in prison.At the same time, the 1979 Criminal Law used in determining their sentences has been replaced by the new 1997 Criminal Law. Most of the statutes allowing for the severe sentences no longer exist. Also, during that time, many people did not receive the most basic legal procedural protection (such as the right to counsel and defense, etc.) before they were hurriedly given heavy sentences. Even though we cannot go back and use our current Criminal Law and rules of criminal appeal to reassess their sentences, the fact is that, factoring in sentence reductions and paroles, even those who had received suspended death sentences should actually serve only a dozen or so years. By contrasting the two approaches, one can see that a sentence of 20 years for June Fourth prisoners is excessively severe.

In conclusion, I earnestly request the honorable Standing Committee of the NPC to exercise the right conferred them by the Chinese Constitution and reach a decision as soon as possible to grant special pardons to all those still serving sentences related to the June Fourth Incident.

Thank you,

 

Chinese citizen / ____________ citizen who loves and cares about the future of China

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