01/13/2010, 00.00
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Hong Kong, songs and vigils for Liu Xiaobo. Legco rejects a motion in favour of the dissident

by Annie Lam
The motion demanded the release of the Charter 08 activist and was presented in parliament by the Democrats. The government of the territory justifies its decision. Yesterday 500 people dedicated songs and poems to the writer sentenced to 11 years in prison. Established a prize named after Liu Xiaobo. A seminar at the University of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The parliament of Hong Kong (LegCo) has this morning rejected a motion to "Free Liu Xiaobo”. The motion was presented by the Catholic Parliamentary Fred Li Wah-ming, a member of the Democratic Party and supported by other pro-democratic legislators.   Liu Xiaobo, one of the authors of the Charter 08, was sentenced December 25 last to 11 years in prison, accused of "subversion of state power."

Charter 08 is a document published in December 2009 which calls on China to respect human dignity and human rights, as preached by the Chinese Constitution and called on the Communist Party give up its monopoly of power.

 The Hong Kong government, in a statement released this morning, says that in the name of the "one country, two systems" it would be "inappropriate" for local government to comment on a decision made within the Chinese legal system.

 Last night, to push for the approval of the motion, at least 500 people held a candlelight vigil outside the Legco building in Central, to express solidarity with the imprisoned activist.  

Participants sang songs related to the theme of human rights and read two poems written by Liu Xiaobo, as well as several poems dedicated to him. One song in particular, "Refuse to forget", composed originally for the Mothers of Tiananmen, was dedicated to Liu. The Tiananmen Mothers is an association of parents and relatives who are asking the government for justice for the massacre of their loved ones, killed by tanks June 4, 1989. Former professor Ding Zilin, one of the founders of the group, is also one of the signatories of Charter 08.  

Among the rally organisers was Patrick Poon Kar-wai, Vice-Chairman of the Independent Chinese Pen Center. AsiaNews was revealed that the secretary of the association in Shenzhen (China), Zhao Dagong, another signatory of Charter 08, was seized by police the evening of 11 January. Poon, a Catholic, said he does not know where Zhao is being held.

Nearly half of 10 thousand signatories of Charter 08 live in China. Many of them are under house arrest or continuously monitored. Some signatories have expressed their willingness to share responsibility with Liu and are prepared to be the next harassed.

Poon said the Pen Center, of which Liu Xiaobo is the honorary president, will launch an award in his honour in 2010. The Chinese Pen Center has about 200 members including writers, journalists and others. Half are of mainland China. The Pen Centers of over 70 countries have asked China to release Liu Xiaobo.  

Mak Yin-ting, president of the Association of Journalists of Hong Kong, speaking at the rally said that Hong Kong “cannot turn a blind eye while witnessing such clampdown on restricting the right to speech”.  

The vigil was organized by 13 associations. These include: the Hong Kong Christian Institute, the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Hong Kong,  Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.  

On 30 January, the Faculty of Law University of Hong Kong will host a seminar on the theme "The trial of Liu Xiaobo and beyond”, exploring the reasoning of China’s prosecution and court judgement on Liu’s case.

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