Chinese Activists Urge EU to Postpone Lifting of Arms Embargo

On March 22, more than 500 activists for human rights and in China, many of whom reside inside the People’s Republic of China, sent an open letter to Secretary General Javier Solana and President of the European Commission Jos√© Manuel Barroso. In the letter, they urge the 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

Javier Solana
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
B-1048 Brussels

José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
The European Commission Headquarter
B-1409 Brussels

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 , 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 and former student leaders, who openly demanded the government to reverse its verdict on 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.

Respectfully yours,


“The Tiananmen Mothers” in China:
Ding Zilin丁子霖, Zhang Xianling 张先玲, Zhou Shuzhuang周淑庄,Li Xuewen 李雪文,
Xu Yu 徐珏, Xing Min 邢敏and 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 王丹, Liu Gang 刘刚, Jiang Qisheng 江棋生,Tong Yi 童屹, Wang Youcai 王有才,
Li Hengqing李恒清,Pan Qiang潘强,Yu Houqiang 余厚强,Yao Yongzhan 姚勇战,
Zhang Lun 张伦, Shao Jiang 邵江,Yi Danxuan易丹轩, Wang Chaohua 王超华,
Liu Junguo 刘俊国,Chen Pokong 陈破空,Lixin Tuo, Yan Jin.

And other pro-democracy and human rights activistsÔºö
Liu Binyan 刘宾雁、Fang Lizhi 方励之、Su Xiaokang 苏晓康,Gao Han 高寒,Che Hongnian 车宏年,
Xu Wenli 徐文立,Zhang Weiguo 张伟国,Yuan Qiang袁强,Guo Luoji 郭罗基,Deng Huanwu 邓焕武、
WangYu王渝、Lin Xinshu林信舒、Fan Ziliang 范子良、Li Xian李锡安, Guan Pingfei 官平非、Du Zhifu 杜智富、
Za Xi扎西, Zhang Qing 张菁, Mao Guoliang毛国良,Pan Qing 潘晴, Chen Weijian 陈维健, Mo Li茉 莉,
Chen Weiming 陈维明, Ding Qiang 丁强, Li Xiaorong李晓蓉,Sun Fengqi孙丰启, Marie Holzman 玛丽,
Huang Heqing黄河清, Wei Lin 纬琳、Zhu Xueyuan朱学渊、Perry Link林培瑞

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

Julian Priestley
Secretary-General of EU Parliament

Ambassador Julien Alex
COHOM President

Ambassador Martine Schommer
COPS President

Jacques LeCarte
Principal Administrator, Committee on Foreign Affairs

For information, please contact:

Wang Dan: [email protected]
Liu Gang: [email protected]
Wei Quan: [email protected]
Li Xiaorong: [email protected]
Marie Holzman : [email protected]


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