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Party divided over arresting all (or some) Charter 08 Signers

ICC Note:

Though the Chinese government is opposed to Charter 08, the decision of how to respond to the signatories is reportedly dividing the leadership. While some are calling for “strict repression” of all involved, the President Hu Jintao would only repress the first 300 signers and leave the rest alone.

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2/24/09 China (AsiaNews) Charter 08’s proposals for more democracy and protection for human rights in China have the Party leadership at an impasse, divided between those who want radical repression and those who want long-delayed political reforms.

Launched last December, Charter 08 calls for the implementation of the civil rights included in China’s Constitution and undersigned by the UN, together with the end of the single party system, in order to save China from corruption and environmental and social disasters.

According to sources cited by the South China Morning Post, the Chinese leadership is divided over how to address this challenge. Some members of the Permanent Committee of the Politburo – including Li Changchun (Political Office) and Zhou Yongkang (former minister of public safety) – call for “strictly repressing” all of the signatories. President Hu Jintao, however, wants the repression to focus on those who began the campaign, the first 300 signers, leaving alone the thousands of other supporters.

So far, only the intellectual Liu Xiaobo, who may have drafted the document, is under arrest, in an unknown location. Others are under surveillance day and night, and suffer interrogation and threats if they dare to show or distribute copies of Charter 08. The text of the document disappeared from the internet a few days after its publication, although it continues to circulate around China and the world in clandestine form.

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