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    » 01/28/2009, 00.00

    CHINA

    New year begins with arrests of Charter 08 signers



    Ahead of the celebration, the police put writer Liu Di under house arrest, and prohibit Zhao Dagong from leaving the city to celebrate with his elderly parents. Bao Tong: Charter 08 is a good opportunity for the country to "unite and resolve the problems" that cause conflicts and social protests.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Ahead of the new year celebration, Liu Di has been put under house arrest and Zhao Dagong may not return home. Both are signers of Charter 08.

    Liu, a well-known Beijing writer, has told her friends that shortly before the new year, the police "told me they were putting me under house arrest, and they threatened to detain me in a cell." She was previously arrested in November of 2002 for publishing satirical articles on the internet, about how the government and the communist party do not protect freedom of expression.

    The author signed Charter 08, a document signed by thousands of Chinese intellectuals and citizens, calling upon Beijing to provide more democracy and respect for human rights.

    At the same time, the police have "told" the writer Zhao Dagong, another signer of the Charter, not to leave the city of Shenzhen where he is living, not even to visit his family to celebrate the holiday.

    He tells Radio Free Asia that "both my parents are over 80, so I am furious that they aren't letting me return home to see them. But there's nothing I can do. If I tried to leave they would probably detain me," he said. "They were very emphatic about this, saying it wasn't an order that had been made in Shenzhen but one that had come down from higher up."

    Many of the authors and signers of Charter 08 are under detention or surveillance. Liu Xiaobo has been detained for over a month, without any news of his whereabouts or his being permitted to see his wife. Demonstrations of solidarity with him have come from all over the world (in the photo: a demonstration for his release, in front of the Chinese consulate in New York). Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, one of the signers of Charter '77, which inspired Charter 08, has also called for his release, and has warned the Chinese government that "intimidation, propaganda, and repression cannot replace reasonable dialogue."

    But Bao Tong, a former communist party leader who has been under house arrest for years, has called for confidence in a telephone interview, because "the rights that [Charter 08] asserts are as fundamental to existence as wearing clothes, or as food and drink, or as breathing. This is a very good opportunity for the whole country to unite and solve the problems that its people are facing. Chinese society is full of conflicts and clashes right now, and Charter 08 would be a way to alleviate that pressure."

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    See also

    17/02/2009 TIBET – CHINA
    People arrested for not celebrating Tibetan New Year, showing Dalai Lama photo
    Monks and ordinary citizens protest peacefully, shouting “Free Tibet” and “No Losar Celebrations” to mark their opposition to Chinese rule. Police beat them and take them away. Nothing has been heard about them since.

    27/01/2009 CHINA - TIBET
    Tibetans not celebrating new year, in memory of massacres in 2008
    Instead of celebrations, there will be silence and prayer vigils in memory of the Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces in 2008. An appeal to Tibetans all over the world.

    13/03/2009 CHINA
    Human rights award for Liu Xiaobo and for Charter 08
    The prize for Liu, under house arrest since December, is intended to recognize his struggle for human rights and freedom of speech. Meanwhile, the family of the activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng has fled to the United States, and is denouncing constant intimidation and torture.

    01/04/2009 CHINA
    Party official issues urgent call for democratic reforms
    Within the Communist Party itself, a growing number of voices are calling for political reforms, less censorship, and room for dissent. They are applying pressure to the leaders, who want to talk only about the economy. The police "sequester" a signer of Charter 08 for hours.

    25/02/2005 CHINA
    Chinese dissidents call on UN to intervene over human rights




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