A group of more than a hundred Chinese citizens, including prominent academics, economists, lawyers, journalists and former officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) - has addressed an open letter to the Chinese government in which you are asked to ratify such immediately the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, its acronym in English). The treaty, adopted by the UN in 1966 and launched in 1976, commits signatories to respect civil and political rights of its citizens, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. Beijing initialed the pact in 1998, but the Chinese parliament never ratified.
Among the signatories of the letter, which has been placed on some Chinese websites and blogs include law professor He Weifang, economist Mao Yushi, lawyers Pu Zhiqiang and Xu Zhiyong, environmental activist and journalist Dai Qing Wang Keqin recognized for his research on corruption in China.
Publication of the document comes on the eve of the start next week of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the Parliament, in which Xi Jinping, current general secretary of the CPC and vice-president, will succeed as president Hu Jintao, and Li Keqiang, Vice Premier, ascend to the leadership of the Government, to replace Wen Jiabao, which will close the power transition that began in the 18th party congress in November.
"At the time when the new Chinese government is preparing to go on stage, so we propose the following solemn public as Chinese citizens: it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to promote and establish more principles of human rights and constitutionalism in China, "the letter begins.
The document, addressed to the NPC Standing Committee, follows last December signed by many of the same intellectuals who called political reforms, including an independent judiciary and democratic changes.
This letter is written in a more conciliatory and constructive, and recognizes the difficulties of carrying out political reforms, but argues that ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is "a step forward feasible." At the same time, a warning: "Because as a society we lack a proper sense of human rights and basic protections lack of freedom, rights and dignity, we fear that the whole society is at risk of sliding into chaos of hatred and violence and move toward separatism and division hostile if we face a crisis wide ".
China Media Project, a project of the University of Hong Kong, which analyzes the media in China, said that the letter would be made public on Thursday by "a major Chinese newspaper," but that authorities learned of its existence late Monday and the authors have had no choice but to make it known two days earlier. China Media Project has translated the document into English.
The petition for reforms emerged within China coincides with the publication abroad of another letter in which more than 140 Nobel prize winners, led by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize, 1984), calling on Beijing to release the writer and dissident Liu Xiaobo (Nobel Peace Prize 2010), reports France Presse. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "inciting subversion of the state" because of his political essays and his participation in the drafting of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for peaceful political reform. The petition of the Nobel prizes, also signed by 400,000 people in over 130 countries, Xi Jinping urged to release the writer and his wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest since the award was announced to her husband, even though no formal charge against it.