02/27/2013, 00.00
CHINA

Open Letter: China must ratify human rights in line with UN Charter

Intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, activists demand respect of individual rights: freedom of religion, freedom of speech and association. This letter is published a few days ahead of the National People's Congress, which concludes the transition of power from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping. In 2008, for writing Charter 08, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Intellectuals, journalists, activists have made public an open letter asking the new leadership to implement political reforms and ratify the UN Conventions on Civil and Political Rights.

Among the petitions' signatories, about 100 in all, are the economist Mao Yushi, jurist He Weifang, the journalist and writer Dai Qing. The letter was published on various websites and blogs, its release comes a few days before the start of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, which meets every year in early March.

During the NPC, Xi Jinping, who was elected Secretary of the Communist Party of China will also become president instead of Hu Jintao, Li Keqiang will officially become prime minister, instead of Wen Jiabao.

The open letter calls for the NPC to ratify the UN International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998 but never ratified, nor included in its legislative body. The Convention requires respect for individual human rights, including freedom of religion, speech and association.

Last December, an open letter from a smaller group of intellectuals did not have any effect.

This latest appeal is a final attempt to push the new leadership to take the path of reform. Since November, when he became Party secretary, Xi Jinping has continued to send mixed messages: on the one hand he is proclaiming an era of reform and to fight against corruption and on the other he is reaffirming the power monopoly of the Party, the real cause of corruption and of human rights violations.

The petitioners have not revealed who drafted the letter for fear that the person would be jailed. In 2008, at least 300 intellectuals and ordinary people published the Charter 08 document, which also called for the respect of human rights. Its author, the intellectual Liu Xiaobo (pictured), was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The document Charter 08 was then taken down from all websites. Even this latest open letter, disappeared from most web pages a few hours after its publication.

 

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