12/16/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing responds to U.S. and EU: Liu Xiaobo remains in jail

The Chinese government rejects requests from United States and European Union for the release of the author of "Charter 08". Trial to begin next week, if convicted, the dissident risks 15 years in prison.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese government rejected requests advanced by the United States and European Union for release of prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, author and promoter of "Charter 08". The day on which Brussels awards Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression, Beijing has called "unacceptable" the request for the release of Liu, formally accused of "subversion against the state" a year after his arrest.

Liu, a well known university professor, presented to the government along with 300 other signatures a public petition known as "Charter 08", a reference to "Charter 77" of the dissidents of Eastern Europe - It asks the country to realize the wishes of democracy and freedom present in the recent history of China. The "evidence" against him, submitted in recent days by the Procurator-General of the Republic of China, includes a draft of the "Charter" and six other pro-democracy articles he posted on the Internet.

Immediately after the announcement of the trial, 200 personalities of Chinese dissidence - 165 of which still live in the country - have asked Beijing to be tried along with Liu. The Professor has been known to authorities since the years of democratic protests that culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre: To express his solidarity with the students in the square, in fact, Liu began a hunger strike that cost him 18 months in prison and three years in a forced labour camp.

The EU executive has asked the Communist regime for the "unconditional release" of the dissident, while the United States has urged China "to respect the rights of all citizens who, in a peaceful way, express the desire for universally recognized freedom. The U.S. government is concerned about the arrests and detentions of people like Liu, who have suffered this fate only for expressing a desire for freedom".  

"Charter 08", in fact, asks the Chinese government to respect human rights, political reforms and ensure the independence of the judiciary. The document was published on the occasion of the 60 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and has collected over 10 thousand signatures on the Internet. Many of these are from the Chinese Diaspora, especially in the United States and Australia.

Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokesman, responded today to these requests: "These accusations are unacceptable. China is a nation governed by the rule of law and fundamental rights of citizens are guaranteed by law. I want to emphasize that the Chinese judiciary deals with each case independently: those outside have no right to interfere".

The official's statements show that the government has no intention of giving in to pressure on the case, which should begin next week. If found guilty, Liu faces up to 15 years in prison.

 

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