We have learned that on June 23, 2009, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Beijing Municipality approved the arrest of Dr. Liu Xiaobo, a well-known Chinese dissident writer and a signatory of Charter 08, “on suspicion of the crime of inciting subversion of state power.” This is another example of treating words as crimes, of trampling on human rights, and of violating the rule of law. We express our strong condemnation of it.
We, like Mr. Liu, signed Charter 08 as ordinary citizens. We share his view of the problems that face China and his sense of urgency about them; we also share his sense of responsibility for the ultimate fate of our country. He and we share, as well, with many who have gone before us, our nation’s long-standing pursuit of the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice.
It follows that the persecution of Mr. Liu is the persecution of all of us, as well as yet another wound to the ideals of freedom and democracy that our nation has been pursuing for a long time. If Mr. Liu goes to prison because he signed Charter 08, then he is serving time for all of us, and will be serving time for an ideal; we are at one with him, share a fate with him, and stand ready to take our own responsibility for that moment when we affixed our names to Charter 08.
Mr. Liu Xiaobo can be imprisoned, but the ideals he pursues, the spirit of charter 08, can hardly be confined. They are alive and well in the minds of us who signed the charter, and live on, too, in the aspirations of hundreds of millions of our fellow citizens.
We call upon the Chinese government make good on its “National Plan for Action on Human Rights,” to end its unconstitutional practice of treating words as crimes, and to release Mr. Liu Xiaobo immediately and without condition. To restore his freedom will be not only to free him personally, but to free all of us.