Charter 08 is a manifesto
initially signed by 303 Chinese dissident intellectual
s and human rights
activists. It was published on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
, adopting name and style from the anti-Soviet Charter 77
issued by dissident
s in Czechoslovakia
. Since its release, more than 10,000 people inside and outside China have signed the charter.
In 2009, one of the authors of Charter '08, Liu Xiaobo
, was sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment for "inciting subversion of state power" because of his involvement. A year later, Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize
by the Norwegian Nobel Committee
. Seven years later in July 2017, he died of terminal liver cancer in the prison after having been granted medical parole.
Many of the original signatories were prominent Chinese citizens inside and outside the government, including lawyers; a Tibet
an poet and essayist, Woeser
; and Bao Tong
, a former senior Communist Party
official, who all faced a risk of arrest and jail.
[ The Charter calls for 19 changes including an independent legal system, freedom of association, the elimination of one-party rule and privatization of all enterprises and farm land. "All kinds of social conflicts have constantly accumulated and feelings of discontent have risen consistently," it reads. "The current system has become backward to the point that change cannot be avoided." China remains the only large world power to still retain an authoritarian system that so infringes on human rights, it states. "This situation must change! Political democratic reforms cannot be delayed any longer!"]
Specific demands are:
#Amending the Constitution.
#Separation of powers.
#An independent judiciary.
#Public control of public servants.
#Guarantee of human rights.
#Election of public officials.
#Abolition of the hukou system.
#Freedom of association.
#Freedom of assembly.
#Freedom of expression.
#Freedom of religion.
#Free markets and protection of private property, including privatizing state enterprises and land.
#Financial and tax reform.
#Protection of the environment.
#A federated republic.
#Truth in reconciliation.
The opening paragraph of the charter states:
Protest in Hong Kong against the arrest of Liu Xiaobo
The Chinese government has said little publicly about the Charter.
[China aims to silence reform call] On 8 December 2008, two days before the 60th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Liu Xiaobo was detained by police, hours before the online release of the Charter. He was detained and later arrested on 23 June 2009, on charges of "suspicion of inciting the subversion of state power."
, ''BBC News'', 12 January 2009.
[A Manifesto on Freedom Sets China’s Persecution Machinery in Motion]
, ''New York Times'', 3 May 2009.
Several Nobel Laureates wrote a letter to President Hu Jintao asking for his release;
" (Liu Xiaobo Formally Arrested on 'Suspicion of Inciting Subversion of State Power' Charges), China Review News, 24 June 2009.
[ in response, the Chinese government suppressed them:] [Beijing acts to stifle dissident call for reform] at least 70 of its 303 original signatories were summoned or interrogated by police while domestic media were forbidden to interview anyone who signed the document.
" ''Financial Times'', 3 January 2009.
[ Police also searched for or questioned a journalist, Li Datong, and two lawyers, though none were arrested.] [ State media was banned from reporting on the manifesto. A blogging website popular with activists, bullog.cn, which may have had ties to the Charter, was shut down.
On 25 December 2009 Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" activities by the court. On 8 October 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".
Outside of China
A number of governments, including those of the United States and Germany, as well as the opposition in Taiwan,
[Taiwan should heed "Charter 08" message] have condemned the harassment of supporters of Charter 08 as well as hailing the Charter. Western press has generally covered the Charter positively, and international NGOs have supported its message. Other international figures, including the Dalai Lama, have also voiced their support and admiration of the Charter. There were also protests in Hong Kong demanding the release of Liu Xiaobo and other signatories. The organization that Liu led to pursue Charter 8, received financial support from the US government's National Endowment for Democracy.
, Taiwan News, 25 December 2008.
Selected signatories and supporters
* Bao Tong
* Dai Qing
* Ding Zilin
* Liu Junning
* Liu Xiaobo
* Mao Yushi
* Pu Zhiqiang
* Ran Yunfei
* Fang Lizhi
* Ha Jin
* He Weifang
* Su Xiaokang
* Yu Ying-shih
* Wang Dan
*Charter 77 (Czechoslovakia)
*Charter 97 (Belarus)
*Human rights in the People's Republic of China
*Law of the People's Republic of China
*Fifth Modernization (Wei Jingsheng)
*Full text of Charter 08
Original Chinese (pdf)
English translation by Perry LinkEnglish translation with postscript by Perry Link
English translation by Human Rights in China
Charter 08 main site
(Chinese) -- includes updated news and signature lists
Charter 08 main site
(English) -- includes updated news and ability to sign the charter online
News about Charter 08
" China Digital Times
Chinese Support Charter 08
" History News Network
Over 300 sign 'Charter 08', a manifesto for human rights in China, but some are already arrested
" ''Asia News''
Category:History of human rights
Category:2008 in China
Category:Constitution of China