Citizens issue statement on Xu Zhiyong detention

Participants of China’s New Citizen’s Movement, a grassroots social campaign launched by lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong (许志永), issued a statement today objecting to Xu’s recent detention and calling for greater attention to his case.

The letter, apparently drafted by Chinese investor Wang Gongquan (王功权) and veteran journalist Xiao Shu (笑蜀) (the author of a petition earlier this year calling on China’s National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), called the New Citizen’s Movement a “movement of social renewal and reform led by citizens themselves,” its objectives to promote constitutionalism and civil society.

“There is no amount of intimidation or bribery that can divide us,” the statement said.

A full translation follows:

Our Statement on the Xu Zhiyong Incident

We, the participants in the New Citizen’s Movement, compelled by a sense of duty, must stand up and make our views known as the initiator of the New Citizen’s Movement, Xu Zhiyong, faces detention:

1. First, we must object to [the actions of] the authorities concerned. Before he was taken into custody, Xu Zhiyong had already been under house arrest for three months, and there were no judicial procedures whatsoever involved. This is a classic example of the illegal deprivation of personal liberty. Even when [this issue] was beyond the limits of our tolerance, we continued to exercise restraint. Now, we can no longer tolerate [these actions], because our restraint was not answered by restraint on the part of the authorities. Looking back now, it seems we were complicit in the abuses of power perpetrated by the relevant authorities [in this case]. In order to protect the human rights and civil rights of Xu Zhiyong, in order to prevent authorities traveling even further down this path of error, we must say NO to this sabotage of the legal system and especially to this violation of human and civil rights by the authorities. Otherwise, we have not done our utmost to assist Xu Zhiyong and uphold our responsibility as citizens to check public power. And how then can we face our own consciences?

2. We believe the authorities are in error in placing Xu Zhiyong under house arrest and subjecting him to criminal detention. But as citizens we have the utmost respect for the law, and we hope this problem can be resolved through legal channels. We encourage the authorities to act with the fullest respect for the laws they have themselves advanced, and not to trifle with the law. To this end, it is our hope that every aspect of the Xu Zhiyong case accords with modern legal standards of fairness, openness and independence, that it not be subject to political interference or the application of any invisible rules. Xu Zhiyong’s legal rights must be protected. His lawyer’s right to act in his defense must be protected. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to free reporting must be thoroughly protected. We call on the public at this juncture to exercise the greatest possible degree of supervision of the relevant authorities, and we call on media outside China to report all aspects of this case with the utmost sense of journalistic professionalism. Attention is power; a united gaze can transform our destiny.

3. Xu Zhiyong was the initiator of the New Citizen’s Movement, but freedom and equality are defining characteristics of the New Citizen’s Movement – and though the initiator, Xu Zhiyong is only an equal participant in the New Citizen’s Movement. The New Citizen’s Movement will not lose momentum due to Xu Zhiyong’s misfortunes. We will continue to push ahead with the New Citizen’s Movement within the Constitution and the law, drawing on the fragile power we have as ordinary citizens.

4. The New Citizen’s Movement and its historic mission have two aspects. The first is political, promoting through peaceful means the transition of our country to constitutionalism. The second is social, which means promoting the modern transition of our society from a “people’s society” – in fact, a society of feudal subjects – to a civil society. The keystone of constitutionalism is the protection of human rights and the limiting of power. To this end, we have already called on the National People’s Congress to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. And we have pressed through petition for the open declaration of property and assets held by public officials. In the arena of social reform, we have promoted equal rights in education, beginning with better access to college entrance examinations by migrant youth. We will continue to push ahead with the New Citizen’s Movement in both of these arenas. We understand that the road is long, but we will not give up our beliefs, and we will not slacken our efforts.

5. It is our firm conviction that the New Citizen’s Movement is well intentioned, not hostile – that it is constructive, not destructive. This positive and constructive attitude is something China is in most urgent need of right now. In China today it is not only the natural environment that has been recklessly destroyed. China’s social environment is being pushed to the limits of destruction and pollution, and protecting society is now of utmost urgency. The ultimate value of this positive and constructive [attitude] lies in protecting society. That is to say, the New Citizen’s Movement is a social gexin yundong, a movement of social renewal and reform led by citizens themselves. While its significance is of a revolutionary nature, it is not a traditional revolution – even less is it a Leninist-style revolution in which “the core question of revolution is the question of regime.” The goal is not political power, but rather a fuller public life [for China's citizens], fostering a citizen mentality, promoting citizen cooperation as a means of training and fostering citizenship. On the basis of this goal, we encourage more of our brothers and sisters to shake off fear, to join our ranks – beginning with ourselves, beginning now, and beginning with the exercise of citizenship in whatever space is available to us. In this way, drop-by-drop, we can push change, creating a better social environment for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren. We call especially on the authorities to desist in their suppression of the New Citizen’s Movement, because you live not only in the temples of power but also in the midst of society. Protecting our society equally concerns your interests and those of your children and grandchildren.

6. We believe we stand on the right side of history. But we also understand that our own reason has its limitations, that we cannot claim a monopoly on the truth. We believe social progress must be the product of many forces coming together, and so we respect all efforts to promote peaceful change, wherever they arise – regardless of whether they emerge from within the system, or outside of it. At the same time, we understand that we cannot be rigid in our beliefs, that we must always ask whether we have gone too far and lost sight of original intentions, or whether our goals and methods are at odds. This is why we invite the scrutiny of society, understanding that criticism is the best form of counsel. But we will never yield in the face of despotic power. Despotic power, in fact, will only steel our determination. Persecution and suffering will only galvanize our fighting spirit. We are not prophets. We are not heroes. We are not sages. We are ordinary human beings, flawed like the rest, but more than that we are citizens awakened. The decisive power of peaceful change lies with the millions of citizens who have awakened. We are content to be individuals among them, to be a part of the New Citizen Movement, to stand with Xu Zhiyong. There is no amount of intimidation or bribery that can divide us.

In the midst of Xu Zhiyong’s difficulties, this is our statement. For Xu Zhiyong, for all of our brothers and sisters, and for ourselves.

SIGNED by the following Chinese citizens:

Wang Gongquan (王功权) — Beijing, investor
Xiao Shu (笑蜀) — real name, Chen Min, Guangzhou, media professional

我们对于许志永事件的声明

我们,新公民运动的参与者,在新公民运动发起人许志永博士被有关当局刑拘之际,必须站出来声明我们的立场,义不容辞。

第一, 首先必须抗议有关当局。此次拘押之前,许志永博士已经被软禁达三个月之久,而未经任何司法程序。这是非法限制人身自由的典型案例,我们忍无可忍但仍保持了最大克制。现在,我们再不能忍受,因为我们的克制并没能换来有关当局的克制,回头反思,恰恰纵容了有关当局滥用权力。为了捍卫许志永博士的人权与公民权,为了不再纵容有关当局在错误的道路愈走愈远,我们必须对有关当局破坏法制尤其侵犯人权与公民权的错误行为公开说不。否则我们就没有尽到我们对于许志永博士守望相助的责任以及我们作为公民监督制约公权力的义务,我们就对不起自己的良心。

第二, 我们认为有关当局非法软禁乃至刑拘许志永博士是错误的,但是作为公民,我们充分尊重法律,愿意在法制的轨道上解决问题。也提请有关当局充分尊重自己制定的法律,而不是玩弄法律。为此,我们希望许志永案件得到每个细节上都完全符合现代法治标准的公平的、公开的、独立的审理,而不受政治干预以及任何潜规则的支配。许志永博士的法定权利必须得到充分保障,律师的辩护权必须得到充分保障,公众的知情权尤其媒体的自由报道权必须得到充分保障。我们呼吁公众在此环节最大力度地关注和监督有关当局,呼吁中外媒体基于新闻专业主义的立场负责任地报道一切。关注就是力量,围观改变命运。

第三, 许志永博士是新公民运动的发起人,但新公民运动的特点之一是自由的,平等的,作为发起人的许志永博士也只是新公民运动的一个平等的参与者。新公民运动不会因为许志永博士遭受厄运而丧失动力,我们会在宪法和法律的范围内,尽我们作为普通公民的微薄的力量,继续推进新公民运动。

第四, 我们理解的新公民运动,其历史使命不外两点,其一是政治的,即推动整个国家通过和平之途朝向宪政转型;其二是社会的,即推动整个社会从所谓“人民社会”即实质上的臣民社会,朝向公民社会的现代转型。所谓宪政,其要旨无非保障人权和约束公权,为此,我们已经推动了呼吁全国人大批准《人权与公民权利国际公约》之公民联署,以及敦促官员财产公示之公民联署;而在社会层面,我们则推动了以争取随迁子女就地高考为内容之教育平权运动。我们之继续推动新公民运动,仍基于这两点。我们知道路阻且长,但我们不会背弃自己的信念,放弃自己的努力。

第五, 我们坚信,这样的新公民运动不是敌意,而是善意;不是破坏,而是建设。而这样的善意和建设,正是当下中国最需要的。当下中国被破坏被污染的不只是自然环境,社会人文环境之破坏和污染更逼近极限,保卫社会更刻不容缓。这样的善意和建设,终极价值即在于保卫社会。也就是说,新公民运动是一场民间主导的社会革新运动,具有革命性意义但不是传统的革命,尤其不是“革命的根本问题是政权问题”之列宁式革命;不以政权为目的,而以健全公共生活、培育公民气质、促进公民合作为内容之持久的公民训练。基于这一立场,我们呼吁更多同胞告别恐惧,加入我们的行列,从我做起,从现在做起,从所有可能的空间来扩大公民训练,以点滴之善推动改变,为我们自己也为子孙后代,营造一个宜于人居的社会人文环境。我们尤其呼吁有关当局停止对新公民运动的打压,因为你们不仅身居庙堂,你们也在社会之中,保卫社会也与你们自己和你们的子孙后代的福祉攸关。

第六, 我们相信我们站在历史正确的一边,但我们更清楚自己理性上的有限,并不认为自己垄断了真理。我们相信社会进步是合力作用的结果,所以我们尊重推动和平转型的所有努力而无论其来自哪个方向——无论来自体制内还是体制外。我们同时更愿意时刻检讨自己,随时准备纠正自己的错误,决不固执己见、偏于一端,随时警惕自己是否走得太远而忘了初衷,是否目的与手段相悖。为此我们欢迎社会监督,我们承认批评就是最好的提醒。但是我们决不屈服于强权。恰恰相反,强权的压迫只会使我们更坚韧,迫害和磨难只会更激励我们的斗志。我们不是先知,不是英雄,不是圣贤,我们是有毛病甚至是有严重缺点的常人,但我们更是觉醒了公民。千千万万觉醒了的公民才是和平转型的决定性力量,我们愿做其中的一分子,愿做新公民运动的一分子,愿跟许志永博士站到一起。任何威胁利诱,都不能把我们分离。

在许志永博士危难之际,我们谨此声明如上。为许志永博士,为所有亲爱的同胞,更为我们自己。

中国公民:王功权(北京,投资人)
笑 蜀(真实姓名陈敏,广州,媒体人)

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