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Rights Groups Confront Chinese Gov't in Unprecedented Letter

( [email protected] ) Apr 05, 2009 11:18 AM EDT
Eight human rights groups in China have issued an unprecedented open letter challenging the Chinese government to account for its rights violations against Chinese citizens.
Rings of uniformed and plainclothes police seal off Tiananmen and keep ordinary Chinese and the normal hordes of tourists away for the annual session of the National People's Congress final day in Beijing, China, Friday, March 13, 2009. (Photo: AP Images / Elizabeth Dalziel)

Eight human rights groups in China have issued an unprecedented open letter challenging the Chinese government to account for its rights violations against Chinese citizens.

Police in mainland China, the groups wrote in the letter Friday, have frequently used their power to “summon Chinese citizens, search their residences, seize their computers, bank books, paper notebooks, draft of their writings, etc.”

They also criticized the illegal detainment and searching of house church leaders and scholars, naming specific recent cases.

“We hold that all these acts are an illegal exercise of police power and a rude violation of the Chinese citizens’ personal freedom, right of properties, freedom of thought and other basic human rights,” they stated.

The rights groups highlighted a growing social crisis in China, which they contend calls for reforms in the political system, including promoting democracy and rule of law.

“They (Chinese government) should by no means get on the old path and turn the wheel of history backwards; they should also by no means trample the Chinese Constitution and the law at will in the name of social harmony and stability and get on a path on which they regard people, humanity and human rights as their enemies,” their letter read.

Chinese people have “awaken,” the rights groups warned, and are now willing to stand up and fight for their rights and freedom.

“When people are not afraid of death, how can you use death to make them afraid?”

Chinese authorities have responded to the open letter by taking some members of the rights groups in for police interrogation, according to U.S.-based rights group China Aid Association.

The eight rights groups that signed the letter are: China Rights Defense Alliance, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Chinese Christian House Church Alliance, Chinese League of Victims, Chinese Human Rights Forum, Association of Chinese Citizens for Monitoring the Government, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Provisional Committee of Chinese Farmers' Rights Defense Association.

“Fellow countrymen, let us create with our own efforts a beautiful future that really belongs to us and our children,” the letter concluded. “Let us build an honest Chinese society with love, righteousness, democracy and rule of law in which people share their wealth more evenly and let us look forward to a great renaissance of freedom and prosperity for the Chinese nation!”