Archive for the ‘Liu Xiaobo’ Category

Petition Urges China to Free Dissident

December 23, 2008

More than 160 prominent writers, scholars and human rights advocates outside mainland China have signed an open letter to President Hu Jintao asking him to release a well-known intellectual and dissident who was detained earlier this month. The letter was posted on the Internet on Tuesday.

The letter to Mr. Hu indicates that the case of the intellectual, Liu Xiaobo, is quickly turning into the latest human rights cause célèbre in China and could further embarrass the Communist Party at a time when Chinese leaders are celebrating the 30th anniversary of its policy of “reform and opening up.”

By Edward Wong
The New York times

Among the writers signing the letter are three Nobel laureates in literature — the South African novelist Nadine Gordimer, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian novelist — as well as other writers who regularly champion freedom of expression, including the Italian novelist Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie.

Just as notable is the fact that an array of foreign China scholars also signed the petition, possibly risking their access to the country. Academics specializing in Chinese studies are often cautious about taking stands on political issues deemed sensitive by the Communist Party because the Chinese government has a track record of denying visas to people who publicly oppose the party’s views. Some of the scholars who signed the petition are already on the Chinese government’s blacklist, while others still have regular access to the country.

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China Promises Human Rights Based “The Basic Situation of the Country”

December 12, 2008

President Hu Jintao has vowed that China will work with the international community in promoting human rights, state media said Friday, but the promise follows recent arrests of leading activists.

Hu said China would “base its human rights development on the basic situation of the country,” Xinhua news agency said, a caveat used by China to apply its own human rights standards.

Hu’s comments came in a letter to the China Society for Human Rights Studies to mark Wednesday’s 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Several Chinese dissidents have been detained in the lead-up to the anniversary, including prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, a leading figure in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

The detentions drew criticism from the United States on Thursday, with the State Department expressing “deep concern.”

Hu’s letter said China would “strengthen international cooperation, as it has always done, in the human rights field,” Xinhua said.

However, he indicated China would prioritise raising living standards for its people.

Faced with criticism over its human rights record, China typically replies that lifting people out of poverty through economic development is its key human rights priority.

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