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Where’s the crime in Charter 08?

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Charter 08 is a man­i­festo that was orig­i­nally signed by over 300 Chinese intel­lec­tu­als and human rights activists to pro­mote polit­i­cal reform and democ­ra­ti­za­tion in the People’s Republic of China. The Charter calls for, among other things, greater free­dom of expres­sion, an inde­pen­dent judi­ciary, free elec­tions and human rights. Even though a num­ber of sig­na­to­ries have been intim­i­dated or placed under arrest, the Charter con­tin­ues to gain sup­port, with over 8,000 Chinese inside and out­side China putting their names to the doc­u­ment. Bao Tong, a for­mer polit­i­cal aide who has been under house arrest for nearly two decades said, “I call on the Chinese gov­ern­ment to answer me this: where is the crime in Charter 08?”

Professor Perry Link

Prof. Perry Link

The Charter was pub­lished on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniver­sary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 100th year of China’s Constitution. Its name is a ref­er­ence to Charter 77, issued by dis­si­dents in the for­mer Czechoslovakia.

Yangzom Brauen speaks with Professor Perry Link, one of the fore­most Western China schol­ars. He is an inter­na­tional expert on Chinese human rights issues and was one of the trans­la­tors of the “Tiananmen Papers,” which described the government’s response to the 1989 democ­racy protests. Blacklisted by China’s gov­ern­ment in 1996, he has since been denied entrance to the country.

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