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An Appeal for Wang Dan

Dear Premier Li Peng:

We are writing to protest your government’s re-incarceration of Wang Dan.

Wang Dan was sentenced to a prison term of eleven years in a secret trial; no evidence was given to justify the charge that he “conspired to subvert the Chinese government.” His appeal was also rejected in a closed court proceeding. We infer from these actions that he has in fact committed no crime, but that the sole purpose of his punishment is to serve as a warning to other dissidents in China.

The People’s Republic of China has a long history of recklessly persecuting its best people according to the ideology of the moment, only to eulogize them later for their valor and their dedication to the cause. Too often the eulogy had to be delivered posthumously. Examples of this kind from the Cultural Revolution alone would fill a volume.

Wang Dan will be another person your government will be eulogizing ten or twenty years from now. He is already among the ablest leaders China has produced: witness the way he commanded a turbulent situation for two months back in 1989. He has also demonstrated his deep commitment to China by refusing to leave the country when he was offered the opportunity. A government with a genuine interest in the future of China would actively promote someone of his caliber, not jail him.

We are calling on you to break this cycle of persecute-now-and-eulogize-later by immediately freeing Wang Dan.

Richard Askey
Professor of Mathematics,
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Wolfgang Fuchs
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
Cornell University
Roger Howe
Professor of Mathematics
Yale University
Robion C. Kirby
Professor of Mathematics
University of California, Berkeley
J.J. Kohn
Professor of Mathematics
Princeton University
Serge Lang
Professor of Mathematics
Yale University
Hung-Hsi Wu
Professor of Mathematics
University of California, Berkeley