Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Advocates voice support for Chinese democratic efforts

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Given the complex and close ties between Taiwan and China, the Taiwanese public and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) have a heavy mandate to defend democratic movements in China and urge the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to immediately release prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), a group of human rights advocates said in Taipei yesterday.

Liu was the lead drafter of “Charter 08,” a document initiated by more than 300 Chinese academics, social activists, lawyers, writers and others calling for substantial legal reforms within the Chinese government as friction increases between ordinary citizens and the authorities.

Even prior to the release of the document on Dec. 10, some signatories of the manifesto were harassed by the Chinese police with unwarranted searches, detentions, close surveillance and arrests. Liu has been held incommunicado since his arrest two weeks ago.

The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 5,000 people have added their names to the manifesto since the document was released.

“The demands of the manifesto are not extreme. They are basic human rights that should be enjoyed by all people in the world. The Charter 08 movement is both reasonable and peaceful,” said Huang Mo (黃默), a Soochow University professor, at Liberty Square yesterday.

The advocates demanded that Beijing respond to the manifesto and urged Ma to stand up to Beijing.

“During the Tibetan uprising prior to the Olympics, Ma stood in this place and called for a boycott of the games if the CCP continued to suppress the Tibetans. Now he has become the president, he does not dare say anything [against Beijing] and in fact, has refused to let the Dalai Lama visit Taiwan,” said Yang Chang-cheng (楊長鎮), executive director of the Deng Liberty Foundation.

Cai Lujun (蔡陸軍), a Chinese dissident who was smuggled into Taiwan three years ago, warned Ma that “kneeling subservience will not win you dignity or equality” when dealing with the Chinese totalitarian regime.

The US government issued a statement on Thursday last week calling on Beijing “to release Liu and cease harassment of all Chinese citizens who peacefully express their desire for internationally recognized fundamental freedoms.”

A similar refrain was made by the EU on Wednesday when it called on the Chinese authorities to reveal the reason for Liu’s arrest and the conditions of his detention.

“It also calls for Mr Liu’s fundamental rights and those of the other people arrested in the last few days to be respected and for the principle of freedom of expression to be observed in China in all circumstances,” the statement said.

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