As of this week, dozens of others across China who have also signed the declaration have been interrogated by authorities, according to rights activists.
Charter 08, initially signed by over 300 intellectuals including lawyers, academics, writers and artists, appeals to the Chinese government to launch widespread political reform, such as granting its citizens speech and religious freedoms, respecting human and civil rights and establishing an independent judiciary, as well as ending its one-party rule.
And thousands of others have added their names to the petition since then, with signatures soaring beyond 5,000 as of this week, according to China Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign human rights activists.
According to his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, Liu was probably detained because authorities considered him a chief organizer of the signature campaign.
See also an editorial from the Kansas City Star about Charter 08:
Many of those who signed have already paid a price for their activism. One prominent signer, Liu Xiaobo, has been arrested. Others have been detained. Yet according to Chinese bloggers, thousands more have signed on since the charter’s publication.
China won’t drop one-party rule anytime soon, and the signers of Charter 08 today may seem isolated and foolhardy.
Yet they have solid principles on their side, which have proved valid and successful in countries around the world. And they just might have planted one of the most important seeds for China’s future freedoms.