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16-12-08, 16:36
Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)

Web: http://crd-net.org/ Email: networkcrd@gmail.com
Promoting human rights and empowering grassroots activism in China



Crackdown on Charter 08 Widens as More Activists are Interrogated and Intimidated
China Must Release Detained Intellectual Liu Xiaobo Immediately (Chinese Human Rights Defenders, December 16, 2008) – The crackdown onCharter 08 widens as more activists are harassed by the police for signing the public appeal. CHRD has documented the cases of at least 39 signatories who have been intimidated in two municipalities and eight provinces in China. One of them, Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), a prominent dissident intellectual, remains in police custody.

The Chinese government reacts nervously to Charter 08, a public appeal calling for bold reforms that promote democracy and human rights in China that has been circulated on the internet since December 9. Police in different parts of the country have been mobilized to investigate the organization of the Charter. Signatories in Beijing and Shanghai Municipalities and Liaoning, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Shaanxi, Hubei and Hunan Provinces have been questioned, summoned (chuanhuan), intimidated, closely followed or have had their movement restricted because of their endorsement of the Charter (see the map below). Since CHRD's network is working at reduced capacity due to the crackdown, it is highly likely that more individuals than those we are able to verify have been harassed for signing the Charter.

CHRD learned from those questioned or summoned that the police appear to be gathering evidences against several individuals whom the authorities believe to be the Charter's organizers. CHRD is concerned that as the holidays approach, the government might use the opportunity when most foreign embassies, journalists and human rights organizations are on vacation to arrest the alleged organizers. CHRD's fear is founded on the government's track record, such as the arrest of Hu Jia (胡佳) on December 27 last year, two days after Christmas.


One of the Charter's signatories, Liu Xiaobo, continues to be in detention. When the police took him into custody on December 8, they presented the detention warrant which stated that Liu was detained on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power". However, the police have not formally informed Liu's family about his detention, in violation of China's Criminal Procedure Law which stipulates that a suspect's family should be notified of the reasons for detention within 24 hours of his incarceration. On December 15, Liu's wife, Liu Xia (刘霞), visited Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) with Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), a fellow signatory. Police told Liu Xia that the decision to detain Liu was made at "a very high level" and refused to provide further information regarding his detention.

CHRD also learned that the government has blocked or deleted websites and blogs that carried Charter 08. CHRD conducted a Google search in China for Charter 08 on December 12. Out of the first twenty-one websites the search returned, 86% of them (18 websites) either "cannot be displayed" or their "content cannot be found". According to subsequent internet searches we conducted, although most of the thousands of listings of the Charter were subsequently blocked or deleted, the Charter continues to be posted on other blogs and websites in China. It appears that Chinese netizens have so far outpaced the government's internet censors.

Recommendations

CHRD calls for Liu's immediate and unconditional release.
CHRD believes that Liu has been detained solely for the peaceful activities of expressing opinions and organizing fellow citizens to voice their concerns and call for promotion of human rights and democracy. The authorities have abused Liu's rights to freedom of expression and association guaranteed in Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed. These rights are also enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.

CHRD also calls on the Chinese government to cease its harassment of signatories to Charter 08 and its censorship of the Charter.
For more information, please see:

CHRD, "Chinese Government Responds with a Crackdown on Activists for Commemorating 60th Anniversary of UDHR", December 9, 2008,
http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200812/20081210085443_12282.html
CHRD, "English translation of Charter 08 Now Available", December 10, 2008, http://www.crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200812/20081210142700_12297.html

Media contacts for this press release:
Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +1 3015479286
Wang Songlian, Researcher and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 81911660

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) is a non-political, non-governmental network of grassroots and international activists promoting human rights and empowering grassroots activism in China. CHRD's objective is to support human rights activists in China, monitor human rights developments, and assist victims of human rights abuses. CHRD advocates approaches that are non-violent and based on rule of law. CHRD conducts research, provides information, organizes training, supports a program of small grants to human rights activists and researchers, and offers legal assistance.