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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

Human Rights Lawyer Enters Shanghai After 90-Day Stand Off With Chinese Government

Washington, DC, February 12, 2010.  Initiatives for China has received confirmation that Feng Zhenghu, a Chinese Citizen and human rights lawyer, safely entered Shanghai, China at approximately 11:30 am local time (11:30 pm EST).    This ends a remarkable test of wills between Feng and the Chinese government regarding his right to return home.

Chinese authorities refused Feng entry into China on eight separate occasions between June and November, 2009.  During his last attempt on November 3, Chinese police at Shanghai Airport forcibly put Feng on a plane back to Japan’s Narita Airport where he voluntarily surrendered his Japanese visa and vowed to remain at the terminal in front of the customs area until the Chinese government recognized his right to return home.  Feng is one of thousands of Chinese citizens who are victims of a policy, known as “blacklisting”, whereby politically incorrect Chinese are prevented from returning to China from abroad.

Sustained by “airlifts”  of food and supplies brought to him by supporters as far away as Australia, and a stream of encouraging communications through Twitter and Facebook, Feng remained at the Narita airport until November 3, when he received word through the Japanese government that Chinese authorities had agreed to his right to return to his home in Shanghai.  During the standoff of more than 90 days, Initiatives for China organized 10 airlifts to support Feng’s vigil.  Most recently, on December 24, Initiatives for China President, Dr. Yang Jianli, flew to Narita Airport to present Feng with Beijing Spring Magazine’s Freedom Pioneer Award.  During his visit to Japan, Dr. Yang engaged Japanese officials to help broker a agreement with the Chinese government that would allow Feng to return home.

On behalf of all the supporters behind Mr. Feng’s vigil, Dr. Yang Jianli issued a statement in which he said, “We should not forget that while Feng is finally united with his family in Shanghai, many Chinese citizens are still denied the right to return to their home country and many families are still separated by these “blacklists.”  This is unacceptable.” The statement went on to say that Mr. Feng’s brave stand should be an encouragement to other blacklisted citizens to follow in Feng’s footsteps until the illegal practice of blacklisting is completely stopped.  The complete statement is printed below.

Initiatives for China will continue to monitor the situation and asks the Chinese government not to enact any reprisals against Feng

Background Information:

1.  A complete brief on the Mr. Feng Situation can be found the Initiatives for China website: www.initiativesforchina.org

2.  LA Times article on Feng situation:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-japan-terminal-man19-2009nov19,0,29937.story

 

 

 

 

Statement Regarding Mr. Feng Zhenghu’s

Return to China

Feng Zhenghu, a Chinese citizen who was refused re-entry into China by the Chinese authorities, has finally won the right to return home after a three-month ordeal at Narita airport in Tokyo.  His return to China on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the most important traditional Chinese holiday, is a remarkable success in the struggle for human rights and freedoms in China.

This success shows again that, when faced with a seemingly powerful authoritarian government, even a cruel and deceitful government, it is possible for ordinary citizens to stand up and fight for their rights by peaceful resistance, and to drive social progress in doing so.  The hard work and sacrifice in peaceful resistance will not always be in vain.  Mr. Feng’s success will encourage Chinese citizens to protect their rights by peaceful and lawful means.  Such acts by individuals will aggregate and gradually promote fundamental changes in society.

Feng is an extraordinary Chinese citizen.  With his remarkable determination, stamina and wisdom, he demonstrated a unique path for a Chinese citizen to exercise his right to return to his home country.  His act moved China, and shows the world that tyranny can and should be defeated with persistent defense of truth.

Feng’s success is not just his personal success but a significant event in the history of the human rights movement in China.  Under an authoritarian regime, fighting for and protecting one’s own rights is a defense for the rights of all citizens.  Feng’s heroic but peaceful effort finally forced the Chinese government to compromise, In an authoritarian society that does not respect individual rights, he provides an example of what a citizen should and can do.

To return to one’s home country is an undeniable fundamental right of a citizen.  What Feng requested was simply to be able to exercise this right, and the Chinese government did not have any reason to deny such a right under its own laws.  The unfortunate fact is that Feng had to spend three months at Narita airport before he was permitted to return home.  This was unacceptable.  Nevertheless, compromising is a basic principle in politics, and we acknowledge that the Chinese government has acted to correct its error in this case.  Like Feng Zhenghu, we welcome this belated compromise on the part of the Chinese government.  We hope that this compromise is not simply because of a lack of an alternative in this particular case, but rather, we sincerely hope that, for a government that does not have a tradition of compromising with its citizens, this event will help start a trend toward a more positive political tradition.  At the same time, we are fully aware that, as the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government still permeates all levels and in all aspects — political, economic and social — of the Chinese society, even small advancements in civil rights often are obtained at great price.  The Feng Zhenghu incident reminds us again that civil rights will not be guaranteed if each citizen does not stand up for his or her own rights.

Further, we should not forget that while Feng is finally united with his family in Shanghai, many Chinese citizens are still denied the right to return to their home country and many families are still separated by these “blacklists.”  This is unacceptable.  We hope that the Feng Zhenghu case will prompt the Chinese government to review its “blacklist” practices.  We call on the government to abolish the blacklists, so that every citizen can exercise the right granted under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [footnote ] and the Chinese constitution to return to his or her home country.  We believe Feng Zhenghu’s successful return will encourage other Chinese citizens who are denied that right to, by similar or different methods, fight for their rights until the Chinese government gives up its arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal practice of denying Chinese citizens re-entry into China.

After Feng Zhenghu is reunited with his family in Shanghai, he may face retaliation by authorities.  We will continue to monitor the development of this case and will stand by Feng in his continued effort to protect his rights.

Every Chinese citizen who seeks rights, dignity, and internal peace should

learn from Feng Zhenghu.  Do not be an accomplice to evil by passively accepting the repressive policies of the government.  Stand up as a true citizen of China. As Feng Zhenhu has shown us, citizen power can overcome tyranny.  GongMinLiLiang.

 

The organizers, participants and supporters

of the “Tokyo Airlift”

February 12, 2010

 

[Footnote: “International Bill of Human Rights” or “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?  According to Wikipedia, “The International Bill of Human Rights is an informal name given to two international treaties and one General Assembly resolution established by the United Nations. It consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) with its two Optional Protocols and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).1 The two covenants entered into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them.”]

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