On March 22, more than 500 activists for human rights and democracy in China, many of whom reside inside the People’s Republic of China, sent an open letter to EU Secretary General Javier Solana and President of the European Commission Jos√© Manuel Barroso. In the letter, they urge the EU to maintain its postponement of lifting the arms embargo on China until the Chinese government meets three human rights conditions.
In today’s Financial Times, signatory Wang Dan wrote an op-ed titled “History tells us to keep the arms ban on China.”
March 22, 2005
Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat, 175
Jos√© Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
The European Commission Headquarter
Dear Secretary-General Solana and President Barroso:
Sixteen years ago, the European Union set specific human rights conditions when it imposed a set of sanctions on China for its military crackdown on pro-democracy protest in June 1989. Despite continued human rights abuses, and specifically, the Chinese government’s refusal to be accountable for the crackdown, the EU is considering lifting the arms embargo, the last and most significant of these sanctions. While the EU has temporarily postponed its decision, it should not resume the discussion until China meets specific conditions of human rights.
We, the former leaders in the 1989 pro-democracy movement and families of victims of the Tiananmen massacre, would like to respectfully remind the EU of the enduring relevance of the events of 1989 to the Chinese people. We request that any future discussion about ending the embargo be conditioned on improving human rights in three particular areas:
1. A general amnesty of all prisoners of conscience, including those imprisoned in connection to peaceful protest in 1989, and public trails by independent court for those charged with “criminal” acts.
2. A reversal of the official verdict on the 1989 movement as “counter-revolution riot,” allowing an independent “truth commission” to investigate and provide a comprehensive account of the killings, torture, and arbitrary detention, and bringing to justice those responsible for the violations of human rights involved.
3. Adoption and implementation of the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights, taking concrete actions to enforce other international human rights conventions and treaties that China has joined.
Contrary to the claims made by some European leaders recently, the human rights situation in China has not undergone any fundamental change since 1989. The regime’s position – that peaceful demonstration to demand democracy and freedom was “counterrevolutionary,” hence justifying brutal suppression and even use of deadly force – remains unchanged. Public commemoration and demands for re-evaluating this official verdict remain punishable offenses. In the last few months alone, police detained, beat and put under house-arrest several dozen people, including members of the Tiananmen Mothers and former student leaders, who openly demanded the government to reverse its verdict on June 4th and release the more than 250 political prisoners jailed for their roles in the1989 movement.
Sixteen years after Tiananmen, the Chinese state remains highly repressive despite its calculated token gestures to avoid international censure. Rapid economic growth has not been translated into improvement of social economic rights and has resulted in new patterns of rights abuses. The state continues to incarcerate people for expressing their ideas or organizing to defend their own rights, detain people in Re-education Through Labor camps without judicial review, persecute practitioners of officially unsanctioned religions, use torture to extract evidence, and engage in widespread and arbitrary use of the death penalty. The Chinese government has made use of sophisticated technology to infringe upon freedom of expression and information.
In 1989, the imposition of the arms embargo and other trade sanctions sent a clear message to the Chinese government to censure its bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters. They demonstrated Europe and other democratic nations’ strong commitment and firm support for the arduous struggle of the Chinese people for human rights and democracy. While the impact of easing non-military trade sanctions is ambiguous due to possible distress of such sanctions on the life of ordinary Chinese, lifting arms embargo is unjustifiable on similar ground due to its impact on regional security.
Given the EU’s commitment to promoting human rights, democracy, and rule of law in China, we hope the EU will not let business interest stand in the way of advancing its “core values.” We believe it is imperative that the EU make concerted efforts to pressure the Chinese government to meet the three minimal conditions specified above before reconsidering whether to lift the embargo. Doing away this sanction without corresponding improvements in human rights would send the wrong signal to the Chinese people, including especially those of us who lost loved ones, who are persecuted, and for all Chinese who continue to struggle for the ideal that inspired the 1989 movement.
“The Tiananmen Mothers” in China:
Ding Zilin‰∏ÅÂ≠êÈúñ, Zhang Xianling Âº†ÂÖàÁé≤, Zhou ShuzhuangÂë®Ê∑ëÂ∫ÑÔºåLi Xuewen ÊùéÈõ™Êñá,
Xu Yu ÂæêÁèè, Xing Min ÈÇ¢Êïèand one hundred twenty five others (who lost family members in the June 4th massacre)
Student leaders and activists of the 1989 Tiananmen movement:
Wang Dan Áéã‰∏π, Liu Gang ÂàòÂàö, Jiang Qisheng Ê±üÊ£ãÁîüÔºåTong Yi Á´•Â±π, Wang Youcai ÁéãÊúâÊâçÔºå
Li HengqingÊùéÊÅíÊ∏ÖÔºåPan QiangÊΩòÂº∫ÔºåYu Houqiang ‰ΩôÂéöÂº∫ÔºåYao Yongzhan ÂßöÂãáÊàò,
Zhang Lun Âº†‰º¶, Shao Jiang ÈÇµÊ±üÔºåYi DanxuanÊòì‰∏πËΩ©, Wang Chaohua ÁéãË∂ÖÂçéÔºå
Liu Junguo Âàò‰øäÂõΩÔºåChen Pokong ÈôàÁ†¥Á©∫ÔºåLixin Tuo, Yan Jin.
And other pro-democracy and human rights activistsÔºö
Liu Binyan ÂàòÂÆæÈõÅ„ÄÅFang Lizhi ÊñπÂä±‰πã„ÄÅSu Xiaokang ËãèÊôìÂ∫∑ÔºåGao Han È´òÂØíÔºåChe Hongnian ËΩ¶ÂÆèÂπ¥,
Xu Wenli ÂæêÊñáÁ´ãÔºåZhang Weiguo Âº†‰ºüÂõΩÔºåYuan QiangË¢ÅÂº∫ÔºåGuo Luoji ÈÉ≠ÁΩóÂü∫ÔºåDeng Huanwu ÈÇìÁÑïÊ≠¶„ÄÅ
WangYuÁéãÊ∏ù„ÄÅLin XinshuÊûó‰ø°Ëàí„ÄÅFan Ziliang ËåÉÂ≠êËâØ„ÄÅLi XianÊùéÈî°ÂÆâ, Guan Pingfei ÂÆòÂπ≥Èùû„ÄÅDu Zhifu ÊùúÊô∫ÂØå„ÄÅ
Za XiÊâéË•ø, Zhang Qing Âº†ËèÅ, Mao GuoliangÊØõÂõΩËâØ,Pan Qing ÊΩòÊô¥, Chen Weijian ÈôàÁª¥ÂÅ•, Mo LiËåâ Ëéâ,
Chen Weiming ÈôàÁª¥Êòé, Ding Qiang ‰∏ÅÂº∫, Li XiaorongÊùéÊôìËìâÔºåSun FengqiÂ≠ô‰∏∞ÂêØ, Marie Holzman Áéõ‰∏Ω,
Huang HeqingÈªÑÊ≤≥Ê∏Ö, Wei Lin Á∫¨Áê≥„ÄÅZhu XueyuanÊú±Â≠¶Ê∏ä„ÄÅPerry LinkÊûóÂüπÁëû
As well as about four hundred activists on the “Zhao Ziyang Memorial Committee.”
(The above is a partial list of supporters to this letter. Many names are withheld for the safety of those living in China.)
Josep Borrell Fontelles
President of the European Parliament
Secretary-General of EU Parliament
Ambassador Julien Alex
Ambassador Martine Schommer
Principal Administrator, Committee on Foreign Affairs
For information, please contact: