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    » 12/12/2008, 00.00


    Arrests continue for signers of Charter 08

    More signers of the document calling for respect for human rights are in jail, or under house arrest. But President Hu says that China will promote human rights only according to "the basic situation of the country."

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Arrests continue for signers of "Charter 08," the document calling upon the government for greater democracy and respect for human rights, including religious freedom. Since yesterday, Zheng Enchong, a lawyer from Shanghai known for his help for citizens against abusive expropriation by the authorities, has been under house arrest.

    One of his relatives tells the newspaper South China Morning Post that on December 10, Zheng was summoned by the police, interrogated for more than four hours, and then sent home, where he will not be permitted to go out or use the telephone.

    Also on the night of the 10th, the police in Guangzhou searched the home of Professor Ai Xiaoming (in the photo) and took her away. Xiaoming teaches Chinese studies at Sun Yat-sen University, and makes documentaries about the plight of the poor and disadvantaged groups.

    Before this, on the night of December 8, dozens of police officials searched the homes of Liu Xiaobo and Zhang Zuhua, confiscating documents and information on the 303 signers of Charter 08, the document sent to the authorities on December 10, for the 60th anniversary of the declaration of human rights. Liu, who participated in the protests in Tianenmen Square in 1989 and spent three years in prison for criticizing the Chinese communist party, was taken away, and has not been heard from since. His wife says that she is waiting for communication from him, and the police are replying that they "have no news."

    Wang Juntao, also arrested for the protests in 1989, now in exile and a professor at Columbia University (United States), comments that "corruption, social unrest and other injustices on the mainland have been aggravated by the lack of checks and balances because of the halt to political reform after the bloody suppression of the 1989 democracy protests." For this reason, he expects public protests to become more widespread and more severe.

    Meanwhile, yesterday President Hu Jintao affirmed the country's desire to work with the international community for the promotion of human rights. But he clarified that China must "base its human rights development on the basic situation of the country." He also reiterated that the priority is to raise the standard of living.

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    See also

    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.

    24/02/2009 CHINA
    Party divided over arresting all (or some) Charter 08 signers
    Some in the Politburo would like to repress the entire democratic movement; Hu Jintao is thinking only of blocking the core group of original signers. Party elders have published an open letter asking for political reforms - in the style of Charter 08 - to stop corruption and abuse of power.

    28/04/2009 CHINA
    Falun Gong members commemorate 10 years of persecution in China
    Public demonstrations in Asia and the world against the Chinese Communist Party. In 1999, the group had more than 70 million members in China, and conducted a protest demonstration. Since then, the group has been banned and its members punished with imprisonment 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.

    25/09/2009 CHINA
    Give power back to the people, says Bao Tong on the PRC’s 60th anniversary
    A former aide to Zhao Ziyang, held by the authorities for 20 years, talks about how Chinese leaders are preparing to celebrate their so-called power, whilst hiding the country’s real problems: corruption, lack of freedom and civil rights, and pollution. He insists that all the people of China want is more democracy and freedom.

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