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China: Charter 08, to be free and fearless

At the Eve of the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Dec 10, 303 prominent intellectuals and human rights activists in China, jointly released Charter 08, demanding more political reform in China. However, the China government decided to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by repressing the peaceful and rational act. A number of intellectuals, some human rights lawyers and activists were arrested for investigation, among one of them, Liu Xiaobo was still under police detention.

A traitor declaration?

What is the reason for the Chinese government to repress the Charter? Of course there isn't any official explanation except the cliches that Liu Xiaobo has become a threat to the national security. Maybe we can read from the online pro-government opinions to make sense of the rationality. Sima Nan called the Charter a Chinese colour revolution declaration:

“中国颜色革命宣言”后签名的人,不少都是一侧颈椎增生扭脸右转死猪不怕开水烫的老面孔。那位林培瑞先生,大家也并很不陌生。早在1989年,他机智地一手策划了方某人的外逃;长期以来,他慷慨地出钱豢养着一批所谓的“民运”人士。当然,出钱的领钱的心里都明镜一般,无论策划逃人,还是出钱养人,均非林老一己之力所能为之,其后悉有庞大的后援支撑,无非年度计划必须完成,无非请人形象代言。

Those who signed after the release of “The Declaration of Chinese Colour Revolution” are a bunch of die hard pigs. The Mr. Perry Lin is not a stranger to many of you. Back in 1989, he has planned for the escape of a particular figure. For a very long period of time, he sponsor a bunch of people who advocate the so-called democratic movement. They all know that the huge amount of money doesn't come from Lin himself. There is a very strong backup, they only need a public face to manage the money.

Wu yu called the Charter 08 a Traitor Charter:

昨天在司马南先生的文章里看到了《零八宪章》的中文全文和英文译文,这个以美国普世价值观做意识形态凝聚力的《零八宪章》就是一个卖国汉奸思想导向。因为意识形态和民族文化是最强大的国家凝聚力,这个《零八宪章》宣扬的是美国的意识形态,就是为了建立美国的国家凝聚力,所以《零八宪章》就是卖国的汉奸宪章。

Yesterday I read from Sima Nan the Chinese and English version of the Charter 08. The whole charter upholds universal value represented by the U.S, is a traitor Charter. Ideology and national culture are the strongest binding force of a nation. Since this Charter 08 advocates U.S ideology, it is to uphold the binding force of the U.S, it is thus a traitor charter.

Even though, the Chinese government keeps repressing dissent voices, many bloggers in China still take the risk to sign the Charter and disseminate the information.

Overcome fear

Liberalist struggled for a few days and finally decided to sign the Charter with his real name:

今天终于签了名,签的真名、真职业,对签名活动来说可能有些晚,但对我来说意义重大。以前顾虑在于,我的职业虽然算自由职业,但时刻处在种种矛盾、旋涡之中,属于每年政府都要注册、年检的那种敏感行业,一个省也不过几千人,当局调查、和谐起来十分方便。

就这样折磨了自己几日,发现自己根本就是庸人自扰。既然内心对一件事深深认同,做与不做又都有可以理解的理由,剩下的就是选择的问题了。“为了正义,哪怕它天崩地裂”是一种选择,不争不鸣、独善其身也是一种选择,两种选择没有高下之分、只有利害之别。说到底,每个人仅对内心负责则矣。而我的权衡结果是:如果不做这件事,将来内心一定会不安。

Today, finally I have signed, with my real name and real occupation. This is probably late, but means a lot for me. I felt hesitated before, although a am a freelancer, but i have my own conflict as my work requires me to register with the government every year. If they decide to investigate, it is a piece of cake for them to harmonize me.

I have tortured myself for days, getting myself troubled. If I really agree with the issue, whether i do it or not, the reasons are all valid. It is a matter of decision. “For the sake of justice and leave the consequence behind” is a choice, getting myself away from the trouble water is another choice, there is no better choice. The only different is about how risk. Everyone has to be responsible for his or her own heart. And my final decision is: if I don't do it this time, I will be regret in the future.

Ran yunfei, a famous blogger and one of the 303 intellectuals co-signing the Charter, talks about counteracting the politics of fear in under the authoritarian state:

有人说,你就不恐惧吗?我恐惧,和大家一样。但我认为面对恐惧的方式可能有所不同,有人说,你的电话肯定被监听,我说他爱听不听(这不表明我赞赏他来听,我反对他来听,这只是我反对无效时的被动考量,但对他们这种窃听,我一直反对),事涉公众利益,我私下说与公开说的完全一样;有人说,你出来可能有人跟踪,我说我到不了那个级别,即令是有,我也欢迎他一起聊天喝茶,但茶钱你得自己给。官方最高兴的是,你完全按照他威胁性的旨意来生活,生活在恐惧不安中,活得越来越憔悴,生活越来越无趣,它最高兴。它会暗中说,…毋如完全尊重自己的规律与轨迹,这是对制造恐惧者的最大打击。

Some ask me, aren't you fear? Like everybody else, I do. However, my way of handling fear maybe different from others. Some say, your phone must be taped. I say, let it be (it doesn't mean that i appreciate the tapping. I oppose that, but my opposition won't make any different). When the issue touches upon public interest, what i say in the private won't be different from what i say in the public. Some say, someone may be tailing me. I say, I am not in that rank yet, even if that's the case, I don't mind having tea with the person, but he has to pay for his share. If you live according to their threat, you will please the state machine. They are most happy to see you live in fear, in anxiety without fun… Respect your principle and trajectory, that's the biggest hit to the fear creator.

Tie Liu a 76 year old writer explains why he signed the Charter:

我是个七十有六岁的老人,不顾疲劳戴着老花镜把”零8宪章”反反复复地看了三遍,最后毅然签上了自已的名字,位列57 位。”08宪章”写道:…制造了反右、大跃进、文革、六四、打压民间宗教活动与维权运动等一系列人权灾难,致使数千万人失去生命,国民和国家都付出了极为惨重的代价。”难道这不是事实吗?我是历史老人,各种灾难的见证者。

I am a 76 year old person, with my glasses on, I read the Charter 08 over and over for three times, then I decide to sign. I am number 57 in the list. In the Charter, it states: “…the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth (Tiananmen Square) Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled. ” All these are historical truth, I am a witness of the history, the witness of all the catastrophes.

Protest in Hong Kong, without report

Although Hong Kong enjoys the freedom of speech and press, the mass media has ignored the Charter 08. Yesterday, I joined a protest calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo, but there isn't any local Chinese media, at the same time, the online discussions are very limited. I writes a citizen report at inmediahk.net about the protest and the media conditions:

大部份網上媒體,都是主流的鏡子或回音室,從《零八憲章》的傳播看,論壇和 Blog 的獨立性都成疑,畢竟個人的意識、喜好都跟著主流來轉…;再且,個人或缺乏組織的聚眾,在缺乏資源與意識下,亦無法發揮抗衡的作用。香港的 Bloggers 相對國內的,因為缺乏自主的組織與意識,與國內和台灣相比,顯得隨波逐流,而沒有成為資訊傳播的行動者。

《零八憲章》在香港的傳播是一個警號,當我們的教育強調國民身份認同,而主流媒體(尤其是電視媒體)只談奧運、神七與中央救市,完全屏閉人民作為主體的社會改革力量;另一方面,網上/社會上獨立多元的聲音無法成為抗衡的力量,我們的下一代,只會變成國家搖藍下的娃娃。

我們需要更強、更有意識、更多元自主的獨立媒體運動。

For most online media, they just reflect the mainstream's interest. In the case of Charter 08, the independent nature of forums and blogs is in question. After all, individual liking and interest are affected by mainstream… Besides, individuals and individual aggregation without resources and conscious organizing cannot counter the mainstream. When compared with our Mainland counterpart, Hong Kong bloggers don't have autonomous network and awareness, they tend to follow the mainstream wave and fail to become information activists.

The dissemination of Charter 08 is a warning sign in Hong Kong. The government has been advocating patriotic education, and our mainstream media, especially T.V media, only talk about Olympics, space travel and central government's intervention on the financial crisis while cover up people's effort in promoting social transformation. On the other hand, online independent media has failed to grow strong and become counter propaganda force. Our next generation will become baby in the cradle of the State.

We need stronger, more diverse and autonomous independent media movement here.

Up till now, thousands of Chinese have signed the Charter and there are various online platforms for collecting signature, including: zola's google knol and inmediahk.net or you can send email to: 2008xianzhang@gmail.com or poonkarwai@gmail.com

English version of the Charter 08 can be found here, Japanese version here, and Chinese version here.

photos credit to hegelchong.

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  • richard long

    华盛顿邮报今日社论:《08宪章》意味着什么?

    China’s Charter

    A new movement offers a democratic alternative to the regime of the Beijing Olympics.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page A16

  • Bchung

    This is a Traitor Article wrapped with all those beautiful words like Human Rights.

    Proof:

    “18. A Federated Republic. A democratic China should seek to act as a responsible major power contributing toward peace and development in the Asian Pacific region by approaching others in a spirit of equality and fairness. In Hong Kong and Macao, we should support the freedoms that already exist. With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then, negotiating as equals, and ready to compromise, seek a formula for peaceful unification. We should approach disputes in the national-minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can flourish. We should aim ultimately at a federation of democratic communities of China.”

    A federation? Seriousily one just need to take a closer look to see what your ultimate purpose is…. I Myself is also from HK, and the reason why this is not a hit topic in HK its because u are not going to get support even in those camp who opposes the PRC. U are only going get radicals and people with naviety to sign this.

  • Jampa

    Hello my brother and sisters,

    Since being one of exiled Tibetan, I feel very glad when I heard about democratic revolution fever hotting up in China where large gathering of Student Democratic movement was occurred. It re-emergise me and entire Tibetans that there is hope for China in becoming democratic one.
    Keep up yours examplery movement!
    Yours truly,
    Jampa,
    Tibetan monk in South India.

  • knights

    Here we go with terrorist supported groups and fanatic radicals going crazy again. [sigh]

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  • http://chinayouren.com/eng Uln

    I am surprised to see some differences with the original in the translation by Perry Link. In particular in the very first paragraph of the preamble, where he incudes references to Tiananmen which are not in the Chinese version. Is he trying to attract attention to his own famous work on the Tiananmnen incidents? Or did I miss something?

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