China cracks down on new set of political activists, writers and lawyers

January 4th, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 4 (ANI): China has launched a tough countrywide crackdown on a new network of political activists, writers and lawyers who have supported a bold new manifesto that presses for the end of one-party rule, The Observer reported.

The group of 300 or so people had all signed Charter 08, which called for democracy and the rule of law in China and was named after the famous Charter 77 dissident group formed in cold war Czechoslovakia.

Charter 08 has been hailed as the most significant act of public dissent against China’’s Communist party since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests were brutally crushed in 1989, The Observer reported.

It was posted online on 10 December, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It condemned recent economic modernisation efforts as having “stripped people of their rights”, and called for political reform and a new liberal, democratic constitution.

However, Beijing has reacted by jailing some of Charter 08′’s public supporters. At least 70 of the original signatories have been summoned or interrogated by the police, the paper said.

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo has been put under house arrest. The writer Wen Kejian has been detained in the resort city of Hangzhou, close to Shanghai.

Police have also ransacked the Beijing home of Zhang Zuhua, one of the main authors of the charter, confiscating his passport as well as his computers, books and notebooks.

Professor Xu Youyu, a leading philosopher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has been told by police to retract his signature.

The hard line of the Chinese authorities comes after the success of the Beijing Olympics last summer. But any hopes held by pro-democracy activists that the event would soften the ruling party’’s stance on dissent have now been crushed. (ANI)

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