Beijing (AsiaNews) – One month after it was issued, Chinese authorities continue to put pressure on people who signed Charter 08, summoning them for questioning at police stations or arresting; threatening dire consequences if they do not withdraw their signature. Altogether at least 101 individuals are known to have been called in by police in 17 provinces and three municipalities.
According to the China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), the number of people involved is greater by a long shot because many of those who have been harassed are too afraid to come forward with their stories.
Some 7,300 people have signed this Charter, which calls on China to transform society along democratic lines and serve the people as well as respect international treaties on civil and political rights that it signed but never implemented.
Police interrogators are trying to get individuals to reveal who wrote the charter and how it is disseminated. Some academics who signed have also been told they could lose their job if they did not retract.
Interrogations often end with the authorities demanding an individual publicly withdraw support for the Charter. Those who refuse can be accused of joining “an illegal association,” “suspected of plotting to overthrow the regime.”
One important signatory, Prof Liu Xiaobo (pictured), has been under "residential surveillance since 8 December at an undisclosed location.
Chinese authorities have been especially eager to prevent the charter from circulating online. Since 26 December searching on google.cn, Yahoo! and Baidu has returned no results. Yet the text is being passed around via the Internet, blogs, messaging, etc.