Support Builds for Charter 08: Manifesto for Human Rights and Democratic Reform in China

    TORONTO, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - On February 11, 2009 at 7:30 p.m., PEN Canada is
sponsoring the China Right's Network panel discussion on Charter 08, a
manifesto for human rights and democratic reform in China. Author and honorary
patron of PEN Canada, John Ralston Saul; vice president of Federation for a
Democratic China and author, Sheng Xue; and professor Joseph Wong, Asian
Institute, University of Toronto, will lead a public forum discussing the
charter, signed by 303 writers, intellectuals, lawyers and government
officials throughout China and published on Human Rights Day, December 10,
    "This extraordinary document is China's best opportunity in decades to
renounce authoritarianism," said Michael Craig, Chair of CRN. "It is vital
that human rights advocates around the world support the thousands of Chinese
citizens who are using Charter 08 to call for a fundamental transformation of
their government and society."
    In 19 articles (3,200 words), Charter 08 calls for an overhaul of the
Chinese constitution, democratic elections at every level of government,
protection of human rights, independent courts and implementation of the rule
of law, freedom of the press, and a "federated republic" that would respect
the democratic wishes of Chinese minorities like Tibetans and Uyghurs. Over
100 of the original signatories have been interrogated and threatened, and the
Chinese government has largely erased Charter 08 from the Chinese internet.
    Dr. Liu Xiaobo, one of the Charter's organizers and PEN Canada Honorary
Member, has been under house arrest since December 8, 2008. Human Rights
organizations are deeply concerned about his welfare.
    "Charter 08 is an important document for freedom of expression, human
rights and democracy in China," says Isobel Harry, Executive Director of PEN
Canada. "It's critical that the world speaks out against the intimidation of
the Charter's signatories."

    Charter 08 - Panel Discussion and Public Forum
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
    Jackman Humanitites Institute
    170 St. George Street (at Bloor), first floor

    This panel discussion and public forum is sponsored by China Rights
Network; Asian Institute, University of Toronto; PEN Canada; Amnesty
International; Central Asian Society and Rights & Democracy, U of T.

For further information:

For further information: Josh Bloch, Outreach and Events Coordinator,
PEN Canada,, (416) 562-0982

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