Dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGO) yesterday called on the Chinese government to free jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), praising the political dissident for his non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy in China.
The remarks came one day after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) publicly urged Beijing to release Liu and “solve major human rights incidents with honesty and confidence.”
Chinese dissidents should be treated with more tolerance, the Presidential Office said in a statement.
The former literature professor was given the award on Friday after the Nobel committee lauded the dissident for his “long and non--violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
In a joint statement, the groups wrote that the award sent a clear signal to Beijing that the “world stands in solidarity with [the] Chinese people who share Liu’s vision for a strong, prosperous and above all, democratic, China.”
Any future cross-strait exchanges, the group wrote, should abide by democratic principles and include mention of human rights and personal liberties.
Among the 48 NGOs that signed the two-page statement were groups representing lawyers, educators and doctors, as well as government watchdogs, human rights associations and an organization that monitors cross-strait exchanges.
The statement said they “shared the very same common and fundamental values [Liu] fights for.”
“Political change starts with fundamental human rights like freedom of speech,” said Lee Tien-tsai (李天財), an attorney working with the Chinese Association for Human Rights.
Taipei, he said, must play a bigger role in helping accelerate the democratic movement in China.
Pointing to recent comments by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) that the need for democracy and freedom in China was “irresistible,” Taiwan Labor Front director Chang Feng-yi (張峰益) said there was optimism that Beijing could carry out political reforms.
In a rare interview aired on CNN last Sunday, Wen talked about his belief that freedom of speech was “indispensable,” adding he would “advance political restructuring within the realm of my capabilities.”
He said there was freedom to criticize the Chinese government on the Internet.
“His comments were in the right direction, but the first step to the [necessary] reforms begins with releasing Liu,” Chang said.
Liu Chin-wen (劉敬文), a representative for Society Reform Frontline, said he wanted to thank the Nobel committee for making a decision to award the Chinese dissident. Beijing had warned that the move could hurt China-Norway relations.