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

February 9, 2009

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, 2008.

"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 more information contact:
Josh Bloch
Outreach and Events Coordinator
PEN Canada
Phone: 416-562-0982

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