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Charter 08 Signers urged to join Liu Xiaobo’s Trial
Phayul - December 19, 2009 15:39
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, December 19: In an interview with Human Rights in China (HRIC), an international monitoring and advocacy non-governmental organization based in New York and Hong Kong, Tiananmen Mothers’ representative Ding Zilin called for a peaceful collective action to support Liu Xiaobo.

A protestor holds a picture of Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong (Photo: AFP/file)
Liu is facing imminent trial on charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” in connection with six essays he wrote and his role in initiating Charter 08, a widely circulated petition calling for more civil rights in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance that was released in December last year.

The Charter 08 was launched online on December 9, the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and draws its inspiration from the "Charter 77" document demanding political reform in Czechoslovakia in January 1977.

Police took the 53-year-old Liu, a former university professor who spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, away on December 8, 2008, one day before the publication of the document.

The document has been subsequently signed by some 10,000 people intellectuals lawyers, journalists, writers, scholars, artists including Tibetan writer Woeser.

Last month Chinese authorities reportedly extended Liu's detention for another two months. China on Tuesday rejected as "unacceptable" US and EU’s calls to release him.

In the interview with HRIC on Wednesday, December 16, Ding urges the signers of Charter 08 to gather outside the court on the day of Liu’s trial as a symbolic protest against the discretionary acts of Chinese authorities.

“We want them to reckon with the will of the people, to know that the will of the people cannot be cowed,” she adds.

“At least, we have to let Liu Xiaobo know that he is not alone, that his wife Liu Xia is not alone. Their friends, the signatories to Charter 08, will face the trial with him outside the court. This idea came from my heart,” Ding says.

When asked by HRIC how she came up with the appeal, Ding says that the online appeal titled, “We Are Willing to Share Responsibility with Liu Xiaobo,” was actually the idea of some other prominent signers of the Charter.

Ding says one of her friends sent a copy of the appeal to her and asked her and her husband, Professor Jiang Peikun, to sign it as well.

When she received the copy, Ding says, the signatories already included elderly Charter 08 signers such as Yu Haocheng, Zhang Sizhi, Mao Yushi, and Bao Tong.

“As signatories to Charter 08, we are willing to share responsibility with Liu Xiaobo. That was why we signed our names on that document,” Ding says.

She says she is not a kind of person who likes empty talk. “When we say, ‘share responsibility’ …. We cannot simply state our position – sharing responsibility requires action,” she insists.

On the trial day, Ding says, she is determined to go to the court and hopes as many people will do the same to show that they are all part of the trial.

"The more people who go, the better. I made the appeal, but I don’t know how many people will be able to go," she says, adding "Whatever it is, it is. Even if it were just me, I would still go."

“When the time comes, I’ll put on my warm clothes and take along a wooden stool,” Ding says.

“While they’re trying Liu Xiaobo, I’ll be sitting outside the court. Liu Xia urged me not to go, saying that I’m too old and that my health isn’t good. But I want to go. I don’t have any heart conditions, and I will not be making any sharp movements. I’ll just be sitting there,” she adds.

Ding insists Charter 08 was not drafted and initiated by Liu Xiaobo alone.

“So why arrest and try only him? Perhaps they didn’t dare arrest more people,” Ding says.

“But this is a tyrannical government, so what can one do?,” she says of the Chinese Communist Government.

“Twenty years ago, during June Fourth, they relied on murder. These past twenty years, they’ve relied on the police. And there’s their propaganda mouthpieces, which tell nothing but lies and rely on deceit.”

“By murder, arrests, deceit – this is how they govern. They say that Liu Xiaobo ‘incites subversion of state power’, I say that they are subverting themselves,” she add.

“The princelings take the lead in corruption, and then there are corrupt officials everywhere. This country is already rotten to the core. Just who is the one subverting state power?,” says Ding.

Ding says she is only worried that the Chinese authorities would make a surprise attack to stop the dissidents from going to court ahead of Liu’s trial or if they conduct the trial without anyone knowing. "If this is the case, then we won’t be able to go. But as long as there’s a sliver of hope, we will certainly go," she says.

Signing Charter 08, Ding says, reminded her of the 1989 Democracy Movement and the spirit of the intellectuals at that time whom she she says were concerned about the country and the people.

Charter 08 itself is the embodiment of China’s conscience,” Prof. Ding says in the interview.

On March 22, 2008, in the wake of anti-China unrest in Tibet, Ding along with 29 other prominent Chinese dissidents signed an appeal containing "Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibetan Situation".

Among other suggestions, they urged Beijing to open direct dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and called on the Chinese authorities to refrain from making defamatory statements against the exiled Tibetan leader.

The appeal letter also suggested the Chinese government to invite UN investigators to Tibet to change the international community's distrust of China and urged the government to give open and fair trial to those arrested during protests in Tibet.