We are deeply pleased that Dr. Liu Xiao Bo has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we believe many in Hong Kong share our joy at the international recognition of a man who has dedicated himself to bringing about a more democratic China. We applaud the Nobel Peace Committee for resisting the pressures exerted on them by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and would like to thank all those who nominated and supported Dr. Liu as well as those who have helped bring his plight to international attention.
On Christmas Day last year, Dr. Liu was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. Dr Liu’s writings and public speech, including the Charter 08 that he initiated and participated in drafting have no words about subversion of state power, but merely call for a more democratic China under constitutional rule, in which human rights are protected, everyone is equal, and government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”.
His freedom of speech should be protected under the People Republic of China’s Constitution and the article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was signed but not implemented by China for twelve years.
Furthermore, in recent weeks, Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao himself has been calling for greater political reform since “without the safeguards of political reform, the fruits of economic reforms would be lost and the goal of modernisation would not materialise”. He explained that his idea of political reform meant “to safeguard the freedoms and rights as provided under the constitution and the law”. In a recorded interview, broadcast earlier this month, he added it is important to create “conditions for (the people) to criticise the government” and that freedom of speech was “indispensable to any country”.
Premier Wen’s words will remain hollow, so long as Dr Liu, and many more who have expressed reasonable criticism of the Chinese government or who co-authored Charter ‘O8, face harassment, censorship or imprisonment.
We call upon the Chinese government to rectify its mistakes and release all imprisoned dissidents immediately and unconditionally. We urge the Chinese government should amend the unreasonable terms of the Chinese criminal law, abolish the blanket nature of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ and let Chinese people truly enjoy the freedom of speech protected by the PRC constitution.
Hong Kong Journalists Association