Immediate unconditional release of dissidents

Zhang Kai

In 2004, under public pressure, the Chinese government firstly added the terms that ˇ§the Government should pay respect to and protect human rightsˇ¨ to the Constitution. It was merely on paper. In reality, people were repressed whenever they attempted to defend human rights. It repeated what Mao Zedong did in the 1950s, during which many people were purged due to their critiques of government policy. Nowadays, both central and local bureaucracies are corrupt, which leads to large numbers of people being wronged. The innocent people cannot have legal protection. Many lawyers and dissidents courageously stand up and fight for human rights. Unfortunately, they were illegally arrested, with the criminal charges of ˇ§creating troublesˇ¨, ˇ§disrupting social orderˇ¨, ˇ§and endangering national securityˇ¨. Many were sent to prison for several years and even more than a decade. For example, Liu Xiaobo, the founder of Chapter 08, was given a verdict of 11-year imprisonment. He is still in prison now.

        A lot of dissidents and lawyers of human rights have suffered in the prison. For example, in Sichuan Province, several people defending human rights have not been released yet, except Tan Zuoren who was previously sent to prison due to his investigation of jerry-built projects at Sichuan Earthquake on May Twelfth. Li Liqian, the leader defending human rights after Sichuan Earthquake, disclosed that officials misappropriated compensation for earthquake victims. He then was accused of ˇ§assembling a crowd to disrupt social orderˇ¨ with 3-year imprisonment. He is supposed to be released in 2015. Moreover, Chen Wei, who attended June-Fourth Democratic Movement and organized signature campaign for Chapter 08, was accused of ˇ§subverting the stateˇ¨ with 14-year imprisonment. He will be released in 2020. Liu Xianbin, who formed China Democratic Party and criticized the jerry-built projects, was accused of ˇ§subverting the stateˇ¨ and others. His imprisonment term is 25 years and 6 months. He will be released in 2020. Xu Zhiyong, the founder of New Civil Movement, who demanded officials to disclose the information of their properties, as well as Guo Feixiong, the famous human rights defender, were arrested in July and August 2013. Three supporting people who come from Xinyu City, Jiangxi Province, were sent to jail for 3 to 6.5 years. Pu Zhiqiang, lawyer of human rights, helped Tang Hui, woman who petitioned, and attended a seminar on June-Fourth, was arrested for ˇ§creating troublesˇ¨ in May. His defense lawyer and friend were also under arrest. Xie Wenfei, Luo Xiangyang, Xiucaijianghu, Yang Chong, Zhang Wanhe, who are human rights defenders from Guangdong province, were all accused of ˇ§creating troublesˇ¨ and detained. There is no latest information. On 20 June, Tang Jinling, human rights defender from Guangzhou, was arrested for ˇ§subverting the stateˇ¨. Jiang Yanfang, Tangˇ¦s wife, said that ˇ§the charge is like a bag which covers every crimeˇ¨.

Recently, in Beijing, Xu Youyu, Hao Jian, Pu Zhiqiang, Hu Shigeng and Liu Di had organized a seminar on June-Fourth in a private residential place, then they were all arrested for ˇ§creating troublesˇ¨. This caught international attention. Eight famous scholars such as Andrew James Nathan (USA), Perry Link (USA), Jean-Phillippe Béja (France) and Michel Bonnin (France), wrote an open letter to Xi Jinping, the President of China, urging the authorities to correct a mistake, and to release the recently arrested people. The letter said that when China has become a world power, some citizens are illegally arrested. This not only damages Chinaˇ¦s world image, but also causes unease and misunderstandings. In addition, the letter is concerned about the secret arrest of Gao Yu, independent senior journalist who was accused of disclosing state secrets. The letter said, ˇ§after the end of the Cultural Revolution, there was the basic rule of the separation of party and government. Why does a document of the party become a secret of the state?ˇ¨ (quoted from Mingpo, dated 16 May).

In recent years, the repression of Chinese government on dissidents and lawyers reveals its anxiety about the unstable political situation. Although a huge amount of money is spent on maintaining national security, conflicts between the governing and the governed escalate and erupt, such as the terrorist attacks by Xinjiang Independence Movement in Tiananmen Square and other places. The attackers attempted to resist ethnic repression and to fight for the autonomous rights of ethnic minorities through violence. There are lots of outbreaks of large-scale demonstrations, such as refusing the construction of chemical plants and furnaces, fighting for the improvement of workersˇ¦ conditions, against the demolishment of housing, land expropriation and displacement by local residents, hawkers opposing the unreasonable oppression and arrest by urban management.

Not long ago, freedoms of speech, publication and press are restricted. An unreasonable order of ˇ§Seven Forbidden Topicsˇ¨ is issued. On 18 June, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a notice to prohibit any branch or department of any media institution from news reports, on crossing their own area or boundary. Moreover, any journalist or branch is not allowed to make their own critical reports without any permission of the working unit. This has aroused controversy on the internet. To forbid a journalist to make criticism means to forbid his or her innate responsibility.

The State Council issues White Paper which curtails the freedom of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) which always enjoys ˇ§high autonomyˇ¨ and juridical independence. All these are new proofs of authoritative bureaucracy. No wonder there is hardly any trace of the principle of ˇ§putting people at the centreˇ¨ apparently promoted by former leaders like Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao  the new leader, instead, merely proposes the China Dream. This shows the toughness of the new ruler who occupies ten important positions at the same time. The law of physics and social movement tells us that where there is oppression, there is resistance; the more the oppression, the more resistance. It is an iron law.                               25 June 2014