10/24/2007, 00.00
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Party should end religious persecution, says Bao Tong

Zhao Ziyang’s former political secretary, ousted because of his opposition to the Tiananmen crackdown, asserts that respect for what the constitution of the People’s Republic protects can help build the ‘harmonious society’ the Communist leadership wants.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Bao Tong, Zhao Ziyang’s former political secretary who was ousted from the Communist party in 1989 for his opposition to the Tiananmen crackdown, wrote to AsiaNews. In his letter, he said that “[f]reedom of religion is one of the civil rights unequivocally stated in the constitution of the People's Republic of China. As such, it should be respected by the government. I wish the 17th Party Congress would prominently display its respect for the constitution and respect for every Chinese citizen. This would include the end of all religious persecution and the release of religious leaders from custody or house arrests. No pretexts should be given to allow the mistakes of past unlawful persecutions to continue.”

He goes on to say that “[t]ruly respecting freedom of religion is an important step towards the construction of the ‘harmonious society’ which the Chinese leaders have claimed to strive for. The 17th Party Congress needs to take these concrete steps if it hopes to build the trust of the people.”

Bao Tong also wrote about the lack of freedom in the 17th congress on some Chinese-language blogs.

“What is most important is that all citizens have the right to speak freely and walk their own path within a legal framework,” he said in one commentary.

“I think it is not only not frightening for a party to voluntarily abandon dictatorship, but (the move) will also bring the dying (party) back to life and a future without limits,” he wrote in another.

Last but not least, stressing the growing contradictions in Chinese society, he asked why many “multi-millionaires have cropped up but manual workers who sweat and sacrifice the most are unable to free themselves from the mud pit of poverty.”

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