Liu Xiaobo: Vaclav Havel Confronts Chinese on Sentencing of Dissident
Marquand, Robert, The Christian Science Monitor
Former dissident and Czech president Vaclav Havel visited the Chinese Embassy in Prague this week in support of Liu Xiaobo, a Charter 08 author and democracy activist who received an 11-year prison sentence last month. Mr. Havel was a principal author of Charter 77, which targeted suppression in the Soviet East Bloc.
Czech dissident playwright-president Vaclav Havel, a principal author
of East Europe's Charter 77, rang the door bell at the Chinese
Embassy in Prague this week to support another charter author, Liu
Xiaobo. Mr. Liu, co-author of a manifesto called Charter 08 and a
well-known democracy advocate, received an 11-year prison sentence on
Christmas Day by Beijing authorities.
But after three rings, Mr. Havel had to "post" a protest letter
to Chinese President Hu Jintao in an outdoor embassy mail slot.
Coming out of a relative seclusion, Havel has described frustration
along with other European human rights advocates at the relative
Western silence on the hefty sentence given Liu in Beijing.
"We are here now because we are asking the Chinese president and
Chinese government not to repeat what happened to us 33 years ago
,where fighters for freedom were pursued and persecuted," he
The Charter 08 manifesto in China, similar to the Charter 77
document, calls for major democratic reforms, including freer speech
and an end to China's one-party rule, and was signed online by
hundreds of ordinary Chinese, intellectuals, and even some mid- level
party officials when it first appeared on the Internet in China a
Havel's letter called on Mr. Hu to "secure a fair and genuinely
open trial for Liu Xiaobo when the court hears his appeal."
After Charter 08 was published, Liu was immediately placed under
house arrest and later detained in an undisclosed location until his
sentence two weeks ago. European diplomats trying to attend his trial
in Beijing were not allowed in, though Liu's lawyer said his client
was imprisoned on subversion charges unrelated to the controversial
According to China's state-run news agency Xinhua, "Liu has been
engaged in agitation activities, such as spreading of rumors and
defaming of the government, aimed at subversion of the state and
overthrowing the socialism system in recent years," citing Chinese
Last summer, several hundred signers of Charter 08 wrote an open
letter on his behalf, asking the state to "make good on the
'National Plan for Action on Human Rights,' to end its
unconstitutional practice of treating words as crimes, and to release