Charter for Compassion

Friday, November 13, 2009

Letter to President Obama from Ding Zilin, a member of Tiananmen Mothers

from the Human Rights in China web site.

November 13, 2009

[Chinese / 中文]

In early November 2009, at the request of Ding Zilin, a member of the Tiananmen Mothers – a group of families of the victims of the June Fourth government crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement – Human Rights in China translated into English a letter by Ding Zilin, and delivered the letter in its original and translation to President Obama before his visit to China.

Ding Zilin: Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am a Chinese intellectual, a mother who lost her beloved son in the June Fourth Massacre in Beijing 20 years ago.

First, I would like to congratulate you on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize this year, and I look forward to your outstanding contributions to maintaining world peace, promoting the advancement of humanity, and putting America’s founding principles into practice.

On the eve of your trip to China in November, I am taking the liberty of writing to you with a request that you use your political wisdom and influence to save Dr. Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese independent intellectual.

To my knowledge, legislators and fighters for justice from several democratic countries and regions across the world have used various approaches and channels to demand that the Chinese government release Dr. Liu Xiaobo. In particular, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution demanding the release of Dr. Liu with an absolute majority of 410 votes on October 1 this year, the 60th anniversary of the rule of the Communist regime in China. I therefore sincerely hope that you will not disappoint everyone’s expectations and that you will join in the rescue effort. As the president of the largest democratic country in the world, your actions will play a decisive role.

Dr. Liu Xiaobo has not only pursued democratic principles with courage, passion, and persistence, but has also steadfastly fought to achieve these principles with moderation and reason. He has been arrested and jailed many times over the past 20 years. Most recently, he was detained for taking part in the drafting of, and being an initial signatory to, the famous Charter 08 at the end of 2008. However, the deeper reason for his current arrest is his longstanding “June Fourth Complex.” That is, Dr. Liu has kept trying to do something for those involved with the June Fourth Incident, whether out of ethical concerns or his good heart. His actions have propelled him onto an independent intellectual’s path of no return. But, in the final analysis, who is at fault?

The arrest of Dr. Liu Xiaobo is representative of a whole series of “speech crimes” that have occurred in the Chinese mainland in recent years. That the police can, by brute force, deprive a citizen of his rights to freedom of speech and liberty of the person, and that this can happen in the glare of the public eye in the 21st century in a great country like China, must be intolerable to the leader of any civilized nation, especially the leader of the United States of America! I hope, Mr. President, that you will relay a strong message to the Chinese leaders: the United States does not support regimes that suppress the freedom of speech.

During your visit to China, numerous Charter 08 signatories and millions of those who love freedom and pursue democracy will eagerly watch your every move. If you think that one can overlook the Chinese government’s trampling of human rights and choose not to raise the issue during your visit, you will not only be ignoring the rights and interests of China’s political prisoners and their families, but will also seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Hasn’t the human experience provided enough painful lessons in the past?

This is why, with the conscience of an intellectual and as a grieving, victimized mother, I’m writing this letter to you today. Whether you agree with my views or not, please let careful consideration inform your actions.

Wishing you a successful visit,

Ding Zilin

November 3, 2009






据 我所知,世界上一些民主国家和地区的正义之士、议会人士,都先后以不同方式、通过不同途径要求中国政府释放刘晓波博士;尤其是在10月1日中共建政60周 年当天,美国众议院以410票的绝对多数票通过了要求释放刘晓波博士的决议案。在此,我热切地期盼您不负众望,加入到这个营救行列中来。作为当今世界最大 民主国家的总统,您的举措,将起到举足轻重的作用。

一向以来,刘晓波博士不仅勇敢、热情、执着地追求民主的信念,而且始终不渝地以温和、 理性的态度去争取实现这种信念。在已经过去的二十年中,他数度遭中国政府当局逮捕入狱,最近一次是他於2008年底参与起草并发起签署着名的“零八宪 章”。然而,导致此次拘捕的更为深层的原因,是他始终怀有一种“六四情结”,对於涉及“六四”的人和事,无论从道义上还是良心上,一直想争取做点什么,致 使他走上了一条独立的自由知识分子的不归路。但这究竟是谁之罪?

逮捕刘晓波博士是近年来中国大陆所发生的一起最典型的 “以言获罪”。以警察之暴力去剥夺一位公民的言论和人身自由,此类事情竟众目睽睽地发生在二十一世纪的泱泱大国——中国,这恐怕是任何一个文明国家的首脑 ——尤其是美国的首脑无法容忍的!我期望总统先生向中国的领导人传达这样一个强烈的讯息:美国不支持压制言论自由的政权。

在您此次访华期 间,中国广大的《零八宪章》签署者、千百万热爱自由、追求民主的人们,将以热切的眼光注视着您的一言一行,如果在您的这次访问中认为中国政府对於人权的践 踏可以忽略,不必提及,那将不仅是对中国所有的政治羁押者及其家人权益的漠视,也将严重伤害中国公民的感情。以往人类所经历过的惨痛教训难道还少吗?


丁子霖 2009.11.3

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