Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: “08 Charter” Signers Arrested and Questioned by Police

08 Charter, a collective statement drafted by non-official scholars, signed by hundreds of supporters, including famous writers, lawyers, professors and many other dissidents, sketches a blueprint for the democracy prospect in China.

It calls upon Chinese government for more positive response to people’s demand for human rights and political reform. It concerns issues such thw separation of power, better social security system, religious freedom, and election of public positions. Different from many past appeals, it doesn't stop simply at the call for anti-corruption action, but more into a deeper level of a constitutional change. In format, it emulates the anti-Soviet Charter 77 declaration of the Czechoslovak.

Catherine Sampson, writer on Guardian UK, commented the Charter as “one of the boldest calls for change to have emerged since the bloodshed of 1989 all but silenced dissent in China.”

The timing of its release is quite sensitive. 10, Dec is the World Human Rights Day, also the 60th anniversary of the United Nation’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a key human-right pact China as one of its signers. Moreover, 2008 is an uncommon year for China. Except for the glorious Olympics, the year is more gloomy than inspiring that the earthquake and snowstorm wreak havoc; the financial crisis impacts the daily life of Chinese, and along the year, riots, violence and protests frequents the country. The prosperity and stability brought by continual GDP growth and iron-handed ruling is undermined by the uneven distribution of wealth and justice.

Most of the problems point to the controversial political system of China, on which the 08 Charter criticizes in its prelude:

特别是官民对立激化和群体事件激增,正在显示着灾难性的失控趋势,现行体制的落伍已经到了非改不可的地步。

In particular, the intensification of hostility between government officials and the ordinary people, and the dramatic rise of mass incidents, illustrate a catastrophic loss of control in the making that the anachronism of the current system has reached a point where change must occur.(translated on Human Right in China)

And now the charter, itself, is likely to push the conflict to the culmination.

A high-handed response

Its birth and release to public is more than dramatic.

The Charter was planned to be publicized on exactly 10, Dec, the Human Right Day. 303 signatures have been collected, marking the first phase of the campaign. As soon as it is released, a public signature-collection movement will be launched.

However, on 8, Dec, Liu Xiaobo, one of the most prominent dissident in China, also an initiator of the campaign, was raided and arrested by secret police, along with another scholar, Zhang Zuhua, who was released soon. But their houses were ransacked, computers and other personal items taken away.

Interviewed by Deutsche Welle, Zhang recalled:

大约有20多名警员身着警服闯到我家中,出示了传唤通知书和搜查证,然后把我带到万寿路派出所进行讯问,长达12小时。同时留下11位民警在我家进行了一 个大搜查。把我家里的几台电脑,包括我妻子的电脑,还有我的很多书籍和私人物品–我和我太太的现金、存折、银行卡全部抄走,留下了很厚一沓的扣押物品文 件清单。

About 20 police in uniform rushed into my home, showing search warranty and summon notice, and taking me to the Wan-shou police station for questioning for 12 hours. The 11 police in my house searched through and took all the computers there, also some of my books, cashes, bank books, and bank cards away, leaving a thick pile of inventory.

Not as lucky as Zhang, Liu Xiaobo has been detained for all the week till now. No sign yet shows that he will be released in short time. Liu was born in 1955. After the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, he had been imprisoned as a major planner. After being released, he kept writing on to lash out at the anti-democracy deed of the authority, in and out of prison frequently.

On Telegraph UK, a detailed account of what happened is presented. As the article marked, one of the most politically sensitive demands in the Charter is for the western-style separation of powers – the legislature, the executive and the legal system – which has been publicly discussed but ruled out by Communist Party leaders. But more than that, item 18 in the Charter, which proposes China to shift into a federal republic, is what the authority cites the most to charge against the signers, because it is thought be a clear threat to the state regime.

Though signers have claimed they only want a reform within the current political framework, the authority is well unsettled. More questionings, home arrests and confiscations are going. Rumor says every single signer will be “treated” by police.

Independent Chinese Pen Center
, an association advocating the freedom of writing and publishing, which Liu-xiao used to preside over, is greatly affected because many of its members have signed the charter. They documented what happened to them in these days on the internet.

Dang Guangsheng, a poet, posted that he got a taste of how efficient the secret police are:

去附近的“步瑞祺电脑城”,正在柜台看耳机时,有人拍了拍我的肩膀。我一看,是个陌生的30多岁的穿着休闲服的人。他问“ 老管吗?”我说“是”。他说“借一步说话。”我有些诧异,又有些想笑,心想:这人还比较文明。我问道“你认识我吗?”他说“你不是管党生吗?”我说“是 ”,他扶着我胳膊说“没有找错”。然后把我带到门口,说“我是市公安局的,想找你了解些事情,请配合一下”,并掏出来“人民警察证”给我看了一下,里面名 字还没有看清楚,他就收了起来。说实话,我当时的第一个念头就是想跑。但是,一方面他强“扶”着我胳膊,一方面感觉跑也没有什么意思,何况以前也有过类似 的事情。

I was there in the computer store looking for a set of earphones. Some patted on my shoulder. I turned around and found a 30-year-old man in sportswear. He asked, “Mr. Guan?” “Yes,” I replied. “May we go out for a talk?” asked he. I got surprised, while feeling funny meanwhile, thinking, “he is a well-mannered guy.”…. he carried my shoulder, saying “you are who I want”, and then took me to the gate.
“I am from the city Public Security department”, he said, “I just want to make sure of something, please work with me.”…..honestly, the first idea came to me is to escape. But first, he clutched my shoulder, and second, I don't think running would be of any help. Moreover, this is not unfamiliar to me.

The author was then taken outside the door, and invited to a guest box in a restaurant. A talk, apparently friendly but actually tit-for-tat and strained, followed.

“我们开门见山吧。最近你比较活跃啊。”
“哪些方面?”
“最近签名比较多啊”
沉默……
“零八宪章看过没有?还有那个《营救刘晓波博士告全国人民书》?”
“看过”
“签名了没有?”
“签名了”
“好,谁让你签名的?”
“自己”
“在哪里看见的?”
“网上”
“哪个网?”
“到处都有”
“你知不知道问题很严重?”
“不知道”
“你怎么和刘晓波搞到一起去了?怎么认识他的?”
“我没有和刘晓波搞到一起去,也基本不认识他。”
“那为什么要声援营救他?”

“Let’s make it open. You are active recently.”
“In what way?”
“Make a lot of signatures.”
I remained silent.
“Have you seen the 08 Charter? And the Letter to People on Rescuing Liu Xiaobo?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Signed them?”
“Yes.”
“Who made you to do so?”
“Myself.”
“When did you find the Charter?”
“On the internet.”
“Which website?”
“Everywhere. “
“Do you know it is a big problem?”
“No.”
“How did you get connected with Liu Xiaobo?”
“I didn’t. I don’t know him a lot.”
“So why support him?”

The author gave a long reply this time,

“因为从80年代起我就喜欢他的文章,还有我认为零八宪章只是表达当代民主政治的基本原则和价值追求,对促进中国民主法治有很大促进作用,代表着很大一部分人的政治理想,为这个抓人是没有道理的。从法律上讲,宪法明确规定保障每个人的言论自由权利”
“你怎么知道抓他是因为零八宪章的?”
“那是因为什么?

Since 1980s I have been fond of his essays. Also, I think Charter 08 is just advocating some basic principles and pursuit of certain values of democracy. It will facilitate the progress of the Chinese legal system. The charter speaks for the political ideal of many of us. To arrest people for its sake makes no sense. The constitution guarantees our freedom of speech.

“How do you know that Liu was detained for the 08 Charter?”

“Then for what?”

He was silent this time.

Finally, after making sure that the author knew little about who are running the movement and how it was done, the detective let him go. The author commented at the end of the blog entry:

出来以后,我想中国的公安有时工作效率还是比较高的。譬如对“零八宪章”。如果把这效率用在反腐败上多么好。
也许是杞人忧天。为了防止我突然“消失”,我还是把今天的事情写了出来。
现在外面是晴天,还是老话:我坚信乌云遮不住太阳。

Coming out, I have been thinking how efficient the Chinese police could be. If such efficiency could be used for anti-corruption, what a wonderful world will it be.
Maybe it is a needless worry, but in fear that I suddenly “disappear”, I write down what happened to me today.
It is sunny outside. And it goes as the old saying tells: I believe the cloud can never block out sunlight.

9 comments

  • […] China 08 Charter Signers Arrested [global voices] Read the text of 08 Charter [human rights in china]  This was written by admin. Posted on Monday, December 15, 2008, at 8:44 pm. Filed under images. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Post a comment or leave a trackback. […]

  • […] From GlobalVoices: “08 Charter” (blueprint for the democracy prospect in China) Signers Arrested and Questioned by … […]

  • […] Global Voices Online » China: “08 Charter” Signers Arrested and … […]

  • wangjian

    Change or collapse,the choice is in the hand of chinese authorities.Quite a lot of them are vested-interests,the love money instead of democracy.In case of collapse quite a lot of them already have sent their families to abroad,leave average chinese people to take the possible results!

  • abc

    徐友渔:我为什么在零八宪章上签名?
    from 中文独立媒体「文摘」 by 文摘编辑部
    12 月29日下午,我接到单位领导的电话,谈零八宪章的事。他首先问我是在什么时候,以什么方式在零八宪章上签名的,然后问我为什么要在上面签名,我回答说,我看了宪章的内容,觉得不错,符合现行宪法精神,与中国已经签署的联合国宣言、公约一致,我签名是在履行得到宪法保障的权利。他说,零八宪章违反了现行宪法和法律,我直截了当地呵斥:”胡说八道!我可以在任何时候,和任何人辩论这个问题。”我问他看过这个宪章没有,他说没有,我说,那你应该先看看再作自己的判断,不要跟着上面瞎说。他要求,不能在宪章上签名,如果已经签了,要声明退出,我说绝无可能退出。

    过了两天,有朋友告诉我,上面已经对零八宪章作出定性,说是国内敌对势力勾结海外民运的活动,图谋颠覆政权。这些天来,不断有消息称,全国各地都有签名者被警方以涉嫌颠覆国家政权的罪名被传唤。

    这样的定性和罪名是荒谬的,但在中国并不新鲜。虽然这种指控在法理上完全站不住脚,不值一驳,但考虑到当局已经用这种口实对签名者施压,极有可能用这样的罪名对刘晓波定罪,我还是要从法理的角度说明我为什么在零八宪章上签名,为什么签名是合法的,而威胁、阻止和镇压是非法的。

    当我面临一份零八宪章的草案并被请求签名支持时,我做的第一件事是阅读文本,我以下列标准衡量、判断:一、它是否符合我的价值观,即符合中国人民的利益,符合人类文明的公认准则;二、它是否与中国现行宪法的精神和条文一致,与中国已经签署的联合国宣言、公约一致,与中国已经承诺的国际义务一致;三、它是否有即刻提倡的当下必要性。

    我在零八宪章上签了名,这是一个公民理性的、负责的决定,这个决定一旦作出,任何威胁、警告、惩罚都不能改变,不论它们表现为赤裸裸的暴力,还是以国家和法律的名义。

    在零八宪章上签名的合法性无可质疑地有宪法和法律依据。中华人民共和国宪法第二章第三十五条规定:”中华人民共和国公民有言论、出版、集会、结社、游行、示威的自由。”公民以”零八宪章”这样的言说形式表达自己的价值立场、对国家政治生活的建言、对未来的期盼,正是在运用宪法保障的正当权利。

    在中国,历来有一种违宪地剥夺公民言论自由的借口,”欲加之罪、何患无辞”的手法,如果在言论、文本中挑不出毛病,就说背后另有图谋和用心,毛泽东”反右” 时”天下大乱、取而代之”的说法就是典型例证,但这在法理上是站不住脚的,因为这种主观臆想或蓄意诬陷缺乏法律上有效的证据。

    显而易见,判断人们在宪章、宣言、呼吁、公开信等等文件上签名是否合法的唯一根据是文本的内容,签名者必须,也只需要对文本负责。从言论自由的原则出发可知,这类签名天然就是合法的,言论涉嫌犯罪只发生在极少数例外情况,即言论涉及煽动以暴力推翻现存的政府或社会制度,危及国家或公共安全等,必须注意,这样的危害必须是直接的、清晰可见的,而不是七弯八拐、间接又见接地”分析”和”推论”出来的。

    只对文本负责,意味着签名是否合法与签名组织者和其他签名者的身份、背景无关,与他们在其他场合表明的观点、活动无关,也与掌权者是否喜欢无关。而我们历来熟悉的做法是,先把签名活动的组织者或其他一些签名者抹黑,从而把整个签名活动抹黑,达到吓退其他人的目的。通常的口实是”有组织”、”有预谋”、”有海外背景”,但拿不出证据。其实,从法理上严格说来,”有组织”、”有预谋”、”有海外背景”等等只是政治宣传的说辞,它们并不等同于非法,需要其他过硬的证据,才能证实”有组织”、”有预谋”、”有海外背景”的活动也是非法活动。法治社会中,不能靠虚声恫吓定罪。

    很长时间以来,一种吓唬人的方法是,任何事情只要弄得和国内或海外”民运份子”沾边,似乎其非法性就不证自明。从宪法和法律的角度看,这种靠名称或标签定罪的手法极其可笑。我们不必说海外呼应零八宪章的人士以余英时先生领衔,而余先生是享誉全球的华人学者。我们需要辨析的是,不论”民运份子”是带褒义还是贬义的称谓,他们是不是合法公民,他们有没有权利与其他公民一道表达共同的观点?在我的心目中,刘晓波是文学博士、学者,如果他本人不反对,称他为”民运份子”也可以,但是,”民运份子”并不天然就是”敌对势力”。再说了,把格外关注中国民主前途的人说成是敌对势力,除了说明自己的立场是反民主的以外,不说明任何问题。

    在一个法治国家,判断合法还是非法,唯一的根据是宪法和法律,以及该国认可的国际公约,撇开这些标准,另行发明一个”民运份子”的标签作为是否合法的根据,这本身就是一种违宪行为。

    最后,聚焦到核心问题,称零八宪章的签名者”涉嫌颠覆国家政权”,有什么法理上的根据?零八宪章的哪一条、哪一款,哪一段文字包含有图谋”颠覆国家政权”的内容?零八宪章的哪一条、哪一款,哪一段文字的内容超出了言论自由的范围,可以等同于”颠覆国家政权”的行动?

    零八宪章在表达了自己的价值立场和政治诉求之后,在结语中总结自己的意图和要求时说,”政治民主化变革不能再拖延下去”,请问,这是非法的吗,这是在煽动在”颠覆国家政权”吗?这是在和执政党不时许诺的”推进政治体制改革”对着干吗?

    我要问那些滥加罪名的人:重申宪法、《世界人权宣言》和《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》中载明的人权和公民权,就是”涉嫌颠覆国家政权”,你们把这个国家政权的性质看成是什么,这就是你们的价值观和政治立场吗?

    因为零八宪章而拘押刘晓波是非法的,传讯和恐吓众多签名者是非法的,一经比对中华人民共和国宪法第二章第三十五条,其非法性显而易见。而诬称或定性零八宪章非法,则找不到任何法理依据。目前严重的、大规模的非法行为不会因为行动由穿着警察制服的人员实施,不会由于使用了国家的名义而改变性质。

    这是一场合法与非法的较量,有人在明目张胆地侵犯、践踏公民的言论自由权,从而违反宪法。

    这是一场真正的爱国者与反对国家的人的较量,有人想把中国的合法公民变成唯唯诺诺、俯首帖耳的臣民,妄图强加给他们可怕的、莫须有的罪名,有人要把祖国忠诚的儿女打成国家的敌人。

    零八宪章的合法性不言而喻,其遭遇雄辩地证明了它的必要性和意义。

    ――《纵览中国》首发

  • Howard

    08宪章, 不会是像戈尔巴乔夫那样的”改革新思维”吧? 当时巴式的新思维确实还挺有市场的,经济上提出不少新点子,政治上,多党制,民主选举,司法独立,媒体自由,一切都看起来很美。

    可是每每回想历史, 一个大国在”改革新思维”中短短数年就解体, 却让人扼腕。东欧各国在新思维的感召下以各种方式演变,过上了所谓的自由生活,演变成欧盟下的政治经济新附庸,俄罗斯老派官僚和新生精英权贵们的争权夺利甚至用上了大炮, “全民选举”名义下叶利钦上台,以休克疗法的快速私有化, 快速培养出一批暴富官僚和资本大鳄,使俄罗斯人民生活地更加屈辱。乌克兰、格鲁吉亚等伙伴纷纷抱上了美国和北约的大粗腿,甚至蒙古也让亲美派掌了权。俄罗斯穷得连库尔思克核潜艇也救不上来,航母或出租或卖废铁换钱,芭蕾演员沦落到东欧或远东跑场子打工。。。这时的西方媒体一方面感叹俄罗斯的没落,一方面额手称庆和平结束冷战,不战而屈俄罗斯之兵。

    普京上台执政后改革除弊大刀阔斧,10年时间又重塑了一个新俄罗斯,以致于西方感叹:“俄罗斯的民主和人权以及政治改革都在倒退!”尽管普京的改革改变了俄罗斯,使之加入金砖四国令世人刮目相看,但还是遭受西方民主人士的攻击,因为他们更欣赏前面叶利钦时代的仰美国鼻息的“新政”。

    08宪章到底会把中国带上一条什么样的发展之路?会使中国变成怎样?有识之士不妨认真思考一下,看看前东欧国家,看看苏联的解体,看看泰国、肯尼亚、菲律宾、希腊,想想中国的未来。在此仅先提出几个大胆的预想问题,算做抛砖引玉:
    – 08宪章会不会让达喇实现“大藏区”的“真正自治”?如何对付“疆独”?
    – 08宪章下如何对待台独势力?中国大陆能实现和台湾的和解实现和平统一吗?
    – 08宪章会不会加快中国经济转型,从而实现可持续的发展,有效应对金融危机和出口困境?
    – 08宪章会如何进行农村、农业和农民的改革,使低收入人群得到实惠,实现长期脱贫?
    – 08宪章下中国如何举办奥运会?还会举办吗?
    – 08宪章下多党政治下的中国会不会加入WTO?很多重大决策会不会因而长期议而不决?
    – 08宪章下各级地方与中央的关系和利益如何协调?
    – 08宪章下如何消除和避免行政腐败?如何避免“反腐”变成党派权力之争的工具?
    – 08宪章下是不是FLG又会复活了?甚至变成一个“某某党”?
    – 08宪章下军队听谁指挥?怎么发展现代国防来保障国家利益和国土安全?
    – 08宪章下如何解决中印、中俄、南海、东海、克什米尔、越南的领土、领海纠份?

  • Howard

    Listen to another voice about lessons of democracy from The Philippines

    From Manila Standard Today
    Monday, November 17, 2008

    SUBJECT: No cheers for democracy, as outlook for Philippines worsens

    By Juan T. Gatbonton, Editorial Consultant

    Filipinos are increasingly pessimistic about our country’s prospects. And the reason is that they see no easy way of resolving the basic flaw in our national condition— which lies in the way people with political influence are able to extract wealth without effort from the economy.

    Even the most patient and most hopeful among us now seem to regard the imposition of an authoritarian regime as a workable alternative to our anarchic democracy. Meanwhile, more and more families are voting with their feet: Migrating “for the sake of the children.”

    Shoddy showcase

    Our shoddy “showcase of democracy in Asia” does have a measure of constitutionalism; a free and easy press; what passes for a political opposition; and periodic elections. But the system is unable to generate coherent public policies; corruption is brazen and mass poverty continues to perpetuate itself.

    Of course, the Philippines is not alone in its disillusion with representative processes. In Thailand, the big-city middle class, too, is frustrated by its inability to prevail against the rural masses, who keep returning the party of the populist Thaksin Shinawatra to a majority in parliament. But at least the Thais have in their revered monarch a moral arbiter of last resort.

    Washington SyCip, who’s a kind of Makati elder statesman, calls ours a “premature democracy.” We have the minimum political entitlements without also having the economic entitlements that enable us to exercise those political rights with responsibility.

    Below a certain individual income level, SyCip argues, constitutionalism and multiparty electoral competition do not work. People sell their votes: the rich dominate the state, extracting from it rents and privileges that enable them to make more money to buy even more votes the next time around.

    At the local level, the law is what the political boss says it is. And while the tolerance for state abuse is higher in the poor countries, it is not limitless. Eventually something’s got to give—and our country’s close to the breaking point.

    Our neighbors did it differently

    The difficulty arises from the way we’re trying to develop contrary to the East Asian model, which puts economic development first and political development later.

    States that liberalize their economies before they open up their political systems—by insulating their technocracies from political interference—have a better chance at building durable and resilient democracies. As the open economy develops, it begins to impose its own restraints on the political system—raising the political costs of arbitrariness and the abuse of power.

    The concept of private property and free markets together creates a private realm—civil society—outside the state’s domain. And it is this initial act of separation between the public and private realms that initiates the evolution of limited government.

    Nostalgia for the strongman

    We had two chances at setting these “economy-first-politics-later” priorities during this last generation—first under the strongman Ferdinand Marcos (1972 to 1986) and then under the EDSA revolutionary, Corazon Aquino (1986 to 1992). But both times the weakness of the Philippine state prevented it from carrying out its own dirigiste policies.

    Marcos modelled his economic policies after those of the Korean strongman, Park Chung Hee (1961 to 1979). But the austere Park’s disciplined state did not allow its own enrichment to derail its development effort. He demanded from the Korean conglomerates export growth equal to the privileges he granted them. The Marcos technocracy became little more than a fig leaf for crony capitalism.

    Mrs. Aquino ruled by decree for over a year. She might well have carried out a radical land reform program (as she had promised during the “snap-election” campaign), which is best undertaken in one rapid and comprehensive package that denies reactionary interests time to mobilize opposition. But she waited for the new Congress to do so. Dominated predictably by landlord interests, the post-EDSA legislature passed a land reform law riddled with loopholes that remains uncompleted even after 20 years.

    No alternative to slow reform

    Our longing for a benevolent authoritarian has a basic flaw. How are we to find—and install—this selfless individual who would kick-start our country toward prosperity and social justice?

    All our neighbors who turned to “soft” authoritarianism were spurred by outside threats. Taiwan and South Korea were engaged in civil wars. Thailand faced a Communist Indochina; Malaysia ethnic and Indonesia ideological conflicts. Singapore was a Chinese island in a sea of potentially hostile Malays.

    Our relative isolation—and the American umbrella—spared us similar fears (and reasons for unifying). Our political elite had abandoned nationalism early on to the radical Left—so that it recognizes no public motive save self-interest. Consider how quickly strongman rule degenerated into profligacy.

    The weakness of the Philippine state itself limits our authoritarian option. Park Chung Hee, paragon of authoritarian development, himself warns that, in the absence of a strong state, we will find it difficult to carry out even nationalistic goals.

    My own feeling is that because of the downright incoherence of the Philippine State, we Filipinos have no alternative to developing little by little over time. Building state capacity must become our first priority. And already there are civic groups organizing a “People Power” movement to elect a good president, instead of bringing down a bad one. Their model is the Pampanga “electoral miracle” of 2007, when an aroused Kapampangan middle class nominated a parish priest for governor against two dynastic politicians.

  • […] by blogger gokenin168: as its title suggests, this is a post about Charter 08 drafted by Chinese intellectuals last December: […]

  • […] oleh blogger gokenin168: sebagaimana dinyatakan oleh judulnya, ini adalah sebuah pos tentang Piagam 08 yang disusun oleh kaum cendekiawan Tionghoa bulan Desember lalu: […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.