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

Campaign For Prisoners of Conscience in China: I am Liu Xianbin

Liu Xianbin

(More articles on I am Liu Xianbin Campaign)

Washington, DC. July 5, 2010. Initiatives for China, the Boston-based movement for a peaceful transition to democracy in China, announced the I Am Liu Xianbin campaign to personalize the ongoing tragedy of imprisonment and intimidation by the Chinese government of China’s best and brightest citizens. Initiatives for China President Dr. Yang Jianli launched the campaign at a human-rights conference held July 1st at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC.  Flanked by NED President Carl Gershman and Vice President Louisa Greve, Dr. Yang removed his suit jacket to reveal a shirt with the message “I am Liu Xianbin” handwritten in English and Chinese.

“I was so upset, I wrote this on my shirt on the train down to D.C.,” said Dr. Yang. Paraphrasing the words of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., Yang added that the campaign calls on people to  “recognize that the injustice to these bright and brave men is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Liu Xianbin,  a highly respected voice for  political reform, was arrested by Chinese authorities on June 27, 2010.  He is one of the original signatories to Charter 08, a document signed by leading Chinese scholars calling for an end to government corruption and a restoration of the rule of law in China.  His arrest is particularly egregious because Liu was just released from prison in 2008 after serving almost 13 years for his activism. His arrest follows the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo on December 25, 2009.  Xiaobo is also one of the original signers to Charter 08.

(Left to Right), Initiatives for China Director Jim Geheran, Initiative for China Founder and President Dr. Yang Jianli, National Endowment for Democracy President, Carl Gershman, NED Vice President Louisa Greve

“What kind of government jails its citizens for trying to improve the political system?  What do they fear?  What are they hiding?” asked Dr. Yang. Is this the behavior we tolerate from one of our biggest trading partners and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Counsel?”  (A short bio of Liu Xianbin follows this release.)

According to Jim Geheran, Director of Initiatives for China, the I Am Liu Xianbin  campaign will be promoted through Initiatives for China’s website (http://www.initiativesforchina.org) and its network of democracy activists in Mainland China, its Facebook page, and through word of mouth.  “We feel that asking people to personally identify with patriots like Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xianbin will establish a fundamental bond that transcends geography or culture,”

Geheran said, adding that supporting I am Liu Xianbin groups have already been formed in six provinces and municipalities: Sichuan, Anhui, Shaanxi, Hunan, Guizhou, and Beijing.

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The Saga of Liu Xianbin

Liu Xianbin has spent 13 of the past 16 years in prison for his writings on democracy and political reform for China. he was born on October 2nd, 1968 in Suining city, Sichuan Province. In 1987, he enrolled in the School of Labor and Human Resources at Beijing’s Renmin University. In 1989, Liu actively participated in the pro-democracy movement that led to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The June Fourth crackdown didn’t deter him from advocating democracy. On April 15, 1991, he was arrested by Beijing Public Security Bureau and sent to Qiucheng prison. On December 28th, 1992he was sentenced to two and half years in prison for the crime of “counter revolutionary propaganda and inflammatory delusion”. He was released in October 1993.

After his release, Mr. Liu Xianbin continued to advocate for democracy.  In May 1995, he participated in a petition drive entitled “Drawing Lessons from Blood and Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law”. Due to that, the police raided his home and detained him again in July of the same year.

Years of toil wore Liu down and he was diagnosed with pneumonia in 1997 and had to stay home to improve his health.

In March 1998, Liu Xianbian wrote an open letter to the Ninth National People’s Congress, demanding that the Chinese government improve human rights conditions and signed the  Convention on Human Rights. In the same year, a group of dissidents in Zhejiang founded China Democracy Party (CDP). Liu Xianbin came to Chongqing to set up the Sichuan branch for CDP. On October 15th, 1998, Liu Xianbin, She Wanbao and other like-minded people went to Sichuan Bureau of Civil Affairs and registered “the Sichuan Organizing Committee of China Democracy Party”. Together with She Wanbao and Ouyang Yi, he also established the temporary headquarter of China Human Rights Watch and was appointed the acting director. He organized a nationwide rescue effort for Xu Wenli, Qin Yongmin and Wang Youcai.

In 1999, Liu was arrested in Beijing and was detained for a month in the Beijing Detention Center. Then he was sent back to Suining and was put under house arrest.  On July 7th, he was criminally detained by the Suining Public Security Bureau at the Lingquan Temple Detention Center in Suining city. On August 6th, he was convicted of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 13 year’s imprisonment . He was sent to Chuandong Prison on September 3rd for his sentence, and was released on November 6th, 2008, spending 9 years and 4 months in prison.

Soon after his release this time, Liu Xianbin, together with Chen Wei and Deng Yongliang published an open letter addressing the Suining government and Suining Municipal Party Committee, showing open support to dissident Deng Yonggu.  In December 2008, he signed Charter 08 Manifesto as one of the original signatories. In 2009, he published a series of articles in overseas Chinese magazines and journals such as Beijing Spring, Yibao and Democratic China etc. In June 2010, Liu organized an action entitled”Let Chen Yunfei Come Home” in support of the detained human rights activist Chen Yunfei.

On June 27th, 2010, Liu Xianbin was once again criminally detained by the Chinese authorities, this time for “inciting subversion of state power.” His home was raided and his wife and young daughter was threatened and harassed.

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