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An appeal for the release of Zhao Changqing

Zhao Changqing was given a 5-year prison sentence in July [2003] for subverting state power by advocating democracy in his native China. Domenico Pacitti and JUST Response urgently invite Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China, and Jiang Zemin, former President and now Head of the Central Military Commission, to release Zhao Changqing, comply with his demands and recognise the basic human right of  freedom of expression for all who live in China

An open letter to:-

Mr. Hu Jintao 
President of the People's Republic of China

Mr. Jiang Zemin
Head of the Central Military Commission and formerly President of the People's Republic of China

Mr. Zhao Changqing
Campaigner for democracy in China

The good people of China

RE: Request for: 1) the immediate release of Zhao Changqing; 2) compliance with Zhao's demands; and 3) the recognition of the basic human right of freedom of expression for all who live in China.
We are an international human rights journal concerned with the worldwide monitoring and promotion of the basic principles of truth, justice, freedom and democracy. We wish to express our full support for Zhao Changqing and our profound esteem for the unrelenting courage he has shown in his continuing fight for human rights and democracy in China.

We respectfully request your release of Zhao Changqing without further delay, your compliance with Zhao's democratic demands and the recognition of the basic human right of freedom of expression for all who live in China.

Zhao, 36, a history teacher and activist in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, was arrested last November and charged with "attempted subversion of state power". Zhao, who has suffered from tuberculosis, had collected 192 signatures to support his demands for China to observe basic human rights and had sent the petition to the 16th Communist Party Congress.

He was tried behind closed doors at the Xian People's Court on July 10 of this year. When news of the verdict eventually reached the foreign press in early August, it was due to the commendable efforts of the US-based group, Human Rights in China (HRIC).

Zhao's demands call for:

a re-assessment of the 1989 democracy movement;

the re-admission of all political exiles to China;

the restoration of former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang's political rights and his release from house arrest;

the release of all dissidents currently held in Chinese prisons;

the ratification by the National People's Congress of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

the conformity of Chinese domestic law to international treaties;

the extension to national level of democratic elections in villages and municipalities.

Zhao has previously spent three terms in custody and three years in prison. His essay, "Reform the political system and take the path to democratisation", and his uncompromising stand in defending fellow-workers against corruption and substandard working conditions resulted in previous charges of "endangering state security".

HRIC president Liu Qing said: "This trial was just another form of intimidation through an unfair legal process. It is especially objectionable that a trial over an open letter was held in secret on the pretext of protecting state secrets."

Note: JUST Response published this appeal on September 4 2003.