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

Jasmine Revolution – Initiatives for China Appeals to State Department and Capitol Hill for Action

Dr. Yang Jianli, Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen, Dr. Han Lianchao, March 14, 2011

The Jasmine Revolution began in China in February, after domino effects of Middle East protests.  It started as a message posted on the world wide web by an anonymous person/group, listing the time and location that protests would take place in each major Chinese city.  Use of the internet – blogs, Twitter, and other online media – spread the message quickly among tens of thousands of people.

The actual Chinese Jasmine Revolution takes the form of simply walking at designated gathering locations, in a peaceful and non-violent manner, which does not violate any Chinese law.  However, the Chinese government, nervous and alarmed, took swift and serious action against the people participating, as well as against dissidents and lawyers who defend human rights. This wave of arrests has become the biggest since 1998.

On March 10-11, Initiatives for China met with U.S. Department of State officials and members of Congress to discuss the situation and present them with a list of names of Chinese citizens who have been arrested, detained or disappeared in this wave of crackdowns.  Initiatives for China was represented by a group headed by Dr. Yang Jianli, President, and Dr. Han Linchao, Vice-President.

“The crackdowns have caused serious trepidation among Chinese people,” Dr Yang stated.  “It is so prevalent that even local police are allowed to arrest anyone they suspect of ‘suspicious activity’ in relation to the protests.”   Due to the massive scale and on-going nature of the arrests, Dr. Yang urged the State Department to take immediate action.  Officials were already aware of the arrests and had expressed their strong concerns in a statement issued that morning by the State Department.  Initiatives for China commended their efforts and urged the US government to continue to show its moral support for China’s human rights and democracy and unequivocally condemn the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent.

The case of Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo’s wife, was also brought up during the meetings.  Liu Xia is believed to still be under house arrest, although no one has heard from her since October.  Initiatives for China expressed their deep concern about her safety and well-being, and requested that the out-going Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, pay a visit to her Beijing apartment to check on her.  It was also suggested that Initiatives write an open letter to the Ambassador on Liu Xia’s behalf to be posted publicly.

Congressman Chris Smith meets with Dr. Yang Jianli and Dr. Han Lianchao, March 14, 2011

Dr. Yang and Dr. Han delivered their message to Capitol Hill, meeting with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of House Human Rights Subcommittee.  Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, an influential human right defender, expressed her deep concern and regret over the Chinese government’s harsh actions against its citizens.  She agreed to publish the list of names of those arrested in the Congressional Record for other members of Congress to review and to pressure China for their immediate release. Congressman Chris Smith, a long time human right fighter, promised to hold a Congressional hearing related to Jasmine Revolution arrests in the coming weeks.

We are heartened by the support of the U.S. State Dept and the Congress.  Dr. Han Lianchao, with an Initiatives for China work team, will continue to monitor the arrests and the on-going revolution in China.  In the meantime, Dr. Yang Jianli will travel to Europe to attend the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting and speak at the Geneva Summit and to meet with UN officials and EU officials. Dr. Yang Jianli will directly confront Chinese delegates with issues on Chinese human rights, which include Jasmine Revolution related arrests.

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