(The HKJA co-signed with 17 organisations on the release of Liu Xiaobo and Tan Zuoren)
Today, three days before the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Beijing Municipal High People’s Court upholds the first instance sentence against the appeal by Dr. Liu Xiaobo, one of the drafters of the Charter 08. We, the undersigned, strongly protest against and condemn such a perversive act defying world trends and opinions.
On Christmas Day last year, the Beijing Municipal Number One Intermediate People’s Court severely sentenced Dr. Liu to eleven years imprisonment on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power” for a few sentences in the Charter 08 that he participated in drafting, and a few sentences in six articles he wrote several years ago. This has made a record of maximum penalty for this offence since its inclusion in the Criminal Code in 1997, which marks the beginning of the darkest and coldest winter of China’s contemporary literary inquisition in the last 30 years since the “spring of reform and opening-up”. Two days ago, the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province, sentenced Tan Zuoren, an environmentalist, to five years imprisonment on the same charge just for a long memo based on his dairy on June Fourth Event in 1989, setting up a new record of even severer sentencing per piece of publication than that of Liu’s case. This indicates that the situation of freedom of expression in China continues to deteriorate as the winter continues to become colder and darker.
However, we firmly believe that the world trends are irresistible and that the public opinions cannot be ignored for long. When winter has come, can spring be far behind? Light is there at the end of darkness.
The former President of Czech Republic Mr. Vaclav Havel, the former Prime Minister Mr. Mikulas Dzurinda of Slovakia, The President of PEN American Centre Prof. Kwame Anthony Appiah, Nobel Prize laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Ms. Herta Müller, and more and more statesmen, legislators, academics, professors, writers, human rights activists and other celebrities have announced their nomination of and support to Dr. Liu Xiao for the Nobel Peace Prize, which has got tens of thousands of the respondents, representing marks the irresistible warmth and bright in this darkest and coldest winter.
Therefore, we call on the international community to continue urging the Chinese authorities to recognize world trends, comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory, and immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo, Tan Zuoren and all others imprisoned for their opinions of conscience.