Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Request from Taiwan - Liao Xiaobo and the Charter 08 Manifesto

We do requests. We've posted and enjoyed some of the Taiwan Next Media Animation efforts in the past, and that got us on their e-mail list. Usually just a notification of the their latest and greatest effort, today's email was a little different:
I am writing to you from Next Media Animation, the media company known for producing animated videos about Tiger Woods, Steven Slater from Jet Blue, and, recently, the TSA body scanners and our "feud" with Conan O'Brien. Although we enjoy doing fun and quirky animations, today we have produced a serious news animation that is near and dear to our hearts. Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, however, instead of traveling to Oslo to receive the award, Mr. Liu will be spending the day in jail. He is serving 11 years on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for his part in the writing of Charter ’08, a document that called for greater freedom of expression, human rights and free elections in China.

We at Next Media Animation maintain a strong democratic voice in Taiwan and Hong Kong in defiance of such oppression in our region of the world, and would appreciate your help in making Liu Xiaobo's story of courage more well known. On behalf of all of us here at NMA and Mr. Liu, I would appreciate it if you could post this video to your site."
Why not. For anyone interested in a translation of the incendiary Charter '08 Manifesto that landed Mr. Liu in jail for eleven years, the complete document is published at Foreign Policy Magzine.

An excerpt:

"At this historical juncture that will decide the future destiny of China, it is necessary to reflect on the modernization process of the past hundred and some years and reaffirm the following concepts:

Freedom: Freedom is at the core of universal values. The rights of speech, publication, belief, assembly, association, movement, to strike, and to march and demonstrate are all the concrete expressions of freedom. Where freedom does not flourish, there is no modern civilization to speak of.

Human Rights: Human rights are not bestowed by a state; they are inherent rights enjoyed by every person. Guaranteeing human rights is both the most important objective of a government and the foundation of the legitimacy of its public authority; it is also the intrinsic requirement of the policy of “putting people first.” China’s successive political disasters have all been closely related to the disregard for human rights by the ruling establishment. People are the mainstay of a nation; a nation serves its people; government exists for the people.

Equality: The integrity, dignity, and freedom of every individual, regardless of social status, occupation, gender, economic circumstances, ethnicity, skin color, religion, or political belief, are equal. The principles of equality before the law for each and every person and equality in social, economic, cultural, and political rights of all citizens must be implemented.

Republicanism: Republicanism is “joint governing by all, peaceful coexistence,” that is, the separation of powers for checks and balances and the balance of interests; that is, a community comprising many diverse interests, different social groups, and a plurality of cultures and faiths, seeking to peacefully handle public affairs on the basis of equal participation, fair competition, and joint discussion.

Democracy: The most fundamental meaning is that sovereignty resides in the people and the government elected by the people. Democracy has the following basic characteristics:(1) The legitimacy of political power comes from the people; the source of political power is the people. (2) Political control is exercised through choices made by the people. (3) Citizens enjoy the genuine right to vote; officials in key positions at all levels of government must be the product of elections at regular intervals. (4) Respect the decisions of the majority while protecting the basic human rights of the minority. In a word, democracy is the modern public instrument for creating a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is the principle of guaranteeing basic freedoms and rights of citizens as defined by the constitution through legal provisions and the rule of law, restricting and defining the boundaries of government power and conduct, and providing appropriate institutional capability to carry this out. In China, the era of imperial power is long gone, never to return; in the world at large, the authoritarian system is on the wane; citizens ought to become the true masters of their states. The fundamental way out for China lies only in dispelling the subservient notion of reliance on “enlightened rulers” and “upright officials,” promoting public consciousness of rights as fundamental and participation as a duty, and putting into practice freedom, engaging in democracy, and respecting the law.

Thus, in the spirit of responsible and constructive citizens, we put forth the following specific positions regarding various aspects of state administration, citizens’ rights and interests, and social development:

1. Constitutional Amendment: Based on the aforementioned values and concepts, amend the Constitution, deleting clauses in the current Constitution that are not in conformity with the principle that sovereignty resides in the people, so that the Constitution can truly become a document that guarantees human rights and allows for the exercise of public power, and become the enforceable supreme law that no individual, group, or party can violate, establishing the foundation of the legal authority for democratizing China.

2. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances: Construct a modern government that separates powers and maintains checks and balances among them, that guarantees the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers. Establish the principle of statutory administration and responsible government to prevent excessive expansion of executive power; government should be responsible to taxpayers; establish the system of separation of powers and checks and balances between the central and local governments; the central power must be clearly defined and mandated by the Constitution, and the localities must exercise full autonomy.

3. Legislative Democracy: Legislative bodies at all levels should be created through direct elections; maintain the principle of fairness and justice in making law; and implement legislative democracy.

4. Judicial Independence: The judiciary should transcend partisanship, be free from any interference, exercise judicial independence, and guarantee judicial fairness; it should establish a constitutional court and a system to investigate violations of the Constitution, and uphold the authority of the Constitution. Abolish as soon as possible the Party’s Committees of Political and Legislative Affairs at all levels that seriously endanger the country’s rule of law. Prevent private use of public instruments. [MORE]"

We can't do much to help Mr. Liu, but we can at least help distribute the words that are the reason he is incarcerated today. This also serves as a good reminder of the true nature of the autocratic leadership in the People's Republic of China.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.

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