Democratic Petition Gains Support in China

Charter 08 first sustained human-rights campaign since '89 Tiananmen protests
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 11:42 AM CST
The 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square resulted in punishment for thousands who participated in or supported them.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – An online human-rights manifesto has been gaining support in China, the Washington Post reports. Charter 08 has gathered 8,100 signatures, from ordinary citizens as well as known advocates for democracy. The document, modeled after a document put together by intellectuals in the former Czechoslovakia, demands China’s constitution be rewritten to emphasize personal freedoms, end one-party rule and institute direct elections.

“This is the first time that anyone other than the Communist Party has put in written form in a public document a political vision for China,” one activist says; it’s one of the first sustained campaigns since 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests. The government has already moved to squash it through censorship and detention, with leaders calling for a “defensive line against interference by incorrect Western thinking.”