Liu Xiaobo's So-Called Crimes

Yesterday, the Chinese government sentenced writer Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison and an additional two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power.” PEN American Center President Kwame Anthony Appiah released this statement when the verdict was announced early on Christmas day.

As we have frequently noted, Liu is not only one of China’s most important and acclaimed dissident voices, he is also a PEN colleague. Liu was one of the founding members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), and he served as the center’s president from 2003 to 2007 and afterwards continued to serve on its board of directors.

Yesterday afternoon, Liu’s colleagues at ICPC sent us the first bits of the official verdict of the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court—the exact passages from Liu’s writing that were judged to be subversive.

Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for seven sentences from five articles he posted on the Internet and two sentences from Charter 08—a total of 224 Chinese characters. Here they are:

From “Further Questions about Child Slavery in China’s Kilns” (2007):

Since the Communist Party of China (CPC) took power, generations of CPC dictators have cared most about their own power and least about human life.

From “The CPC’s Dictatorial Patriotism” (2005):

The official patriotism advocated by the CPC dictatorship is a fallacious system of “substituting the party for the country.” The essence of this patriotism is to demand that the people love the dictatorship, the one-party rule, and the dictators. It usurps patriotism in order to inflict disasters on the nation and calamities on the people.

From “The Many Aspects of CPC Dictatorship”:

Thus, all of the tricks used by the CPC are stop-gap measures for the dictators to preserve the last phase of their power and will not be able to support for long this dictatorial edifice that is already showing countless cracks.

From “Changing the Regime by Changing Society” (2006):

Changing the Regime by Changing Society

From “Can it be that the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” (2006):

For the emergence of a free China, placing hope in the ruler of a “New Deal” is an idea far worse than placing hope in the continuous expansion of the “new force” among the people.

From “The Negative Effects of the Rise of Dictatorship on World Democratization” (2006):

[Nothing was actually quoted from the article]

From Charter 08 (2008):

“One-party monopolization of ruling privileges should be abolished….”; and

“…to establish China’s federal republic under the structure of democracy and constitutionalism.”

I can't imagine a clearer violation of the right to freedom of expression as it is guaranteed under both international law and China’s own constitution, than to send someone to prison for 11 years for subversion on the basis of these sentences.

In a statement released yesterday in London, International PEN President John Ralston Saul responded this way to China’s claims that international protests over Liu Xiaobo’s trial amounted to interference in its internal affairs:

“Liu Xiaobo's case is about agreed international human rights standards, not merely the internal affairs of China. China is signatory to international treaties and conventions, and cannot be given a free pass when it acts against its own and international standards.”

He is absolutely right. We have entered a new phase in the fight to win Liu Xiaobo’s release; stay tuned for more information about what you can do to help in the days and weeks ahead. Meanwhile, one of the first things we all can do is read more of the essays these supposedly subversive words are taken from in their full context. Human Rights in China has excerpts, with links to the full original pieces in Chinese, here.

Then we should repeat the offending phrases over and over and send them around the world.


Tobias Wichtrey said...

"I can't imagine a clearer violation of the right to freedom of expression as it is guaranteed under [...] China’s own constitution"

You're right, but I recently heard about German judges who went to China in order to train Chinese judges. This training mainly consisted of telling the Chinese that, in a lawsuit, it might be a strange albeit good idea to look for relevant laws and to apply them.

bobby fletcher said...

Liu Xiaobo has received hundreds of thousands of US government funding via the NED in the past five years. Check NED's China grants for Independent Chinese Pen Center and Minzhu Zhongguo magazine, which Liu heads.

If Liu is American he would be in violation of FARA (Froeign Agent Registration Act).

bobby fletcher said...

Tobias, this is by no means a straight foward case of free expression. Liu took foreign money the Chinese government has every right to prohibit (as we do under FARA.)