On December 10, 2008, more than 2000 Chinese citizens released a signed petition they called Charter 08 to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The name, Charter 08, came from the famous Charter 77 dissident group formed in cold war Czechoslovakia. The Chinese document calls for an end to one party rule, to be replaced by a system based on human rights and democracy. In addition to prominent dissidents and intellectuals, middle level Party officials and rural leaders wee among the signers. Their hope was that Charter 08 would serve as a blueprint for fundamental political change in China. Unfortunately a few days before December 10, the government got wind of the petition and began threatening signers with prison if they released it. Despite the warnings, the document was posted online. Beijing reacted immediately by jailing some of the public supporters and interrogating many more.
Charter 08 is probably the most significant act of public dissent against the Chinese Communist Party since the student democracy movement of 1989 which ended in a massacre of probably hundreds, if not thousands of peaceful demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4.
Sadly despite the fact that since 1989, the government has tolerated economic freedom- even encouraged it with the claim that “to be rich is glorious”, it has done so in order to maintain central control – not to promote democracy. With this new countrywide crackdown, it is clear that that stance will not change any time soon. Any mention of Charter 08 has now been banned from e-mails, websites and search engines. Apparently Beijing considers it to be “a counter-revolutionary platform” and is using the opportunity to crack down not only on supporters of Charter 08, but on those who have protested other government abuses including the recent dissent against tainted milk. Parents of children who died in the Sichuan earthquake have been told to stop talking to foreign journalists.
Ironically, since clamping down, there have been several more thousand signatures added.
Yet the government clearly feels it can not ignore this new challenge to its power. After decades of phenomenal growth, China is facing an economic downturn with rising unemployment and manufacturing decline, making the senior Party leaders anxious about any dissent. With a series of significant political anniversaries in 2009 (October 1- 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China; May 4- 90 years since the May 4 movement; June 4- 20 years since the Tiananmen massacre), one can only assume this hard line will only get harder for those who yearn for reform.
Read the actual text (as long as the Chinese government doesn’t remove it)http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/press?revision%5fid=89851&item%5fid=85717
Causes Deborah Shlian Supports
All royalties from my book, Rabbit in the Moon are contributed to to medical charities including Remote Area Medicine, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and...