If Policemen Are Posted Outside My Door ...
Here is the most reliable weather indicator: if my arthritic fingers are aching, then it is going to rain soon.
The comparable saying for Liu Xiaobo, president of the Independent Chinese PEN, is: "If there are policemen posted outside my door, then some international bigwig must be in town."
(Observe China) Human Rights official comes, and the police are on duty. By Liu Xiaobo. August 29, 2005.
[in translation] In March this year, United States Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice make a whirlwind visit to China. The police stood guard downstairs before and during her visit. Therefore, I wrote the short essay: "Rice is here, and the police are on duty." My purposes were (1) to expose the discrepancy between words and deeds of the authorities on human rights; (2) to protest the police restricting my personal freedom; (3) to urge the authorities not to play this type of game.
This government is strong and powerful, but it is slapping itself in the face by being so hypocritical and weak.
Regrettably, on August 29, United Nations high commissioner on human rights Louise Arbour came to Beijing and the government slapped itself in the face again.
According to media reports, Ms. Arbour came not only to meet with Hu Jintao, but she also intends to sign a "Memorandum of Understanding between the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNHCHR Concerning the Agreement to Cooperate on the Formulation and Establishment of a Technical Cooperation Program." This memorandum will help China to implement the detailed recommendations from the United States.
Beijing received Ms. Arbour, and they obviously wanted to deliver the message to the international community that the current government intends to improve the human rights condition. This will present an image of open-mindedness for Hu Jintao internationally, and it will offer some human rights bargaining chips for his upcoming trip to the United States.
Logically and practically speaking given that the subject is improving the human rights condition, then the situation ought to be improved during the five-day stay of Ms. Arbour, if only to present a nice picture to the guests! Even if they won't allow dissidents to meet Ms. Arbour, at least they shouldn't lock all the dissidents up.
Yet, following the governing logic of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, they will defy commonsense and contradict their words with their deeds: even as they speak to the guests about improving human rights conditions, they will trample on the human rights of some of their citizens. Every time that an important American politician or a European Union or United States human rights representative comes to visit, the government needed to insure that there won't be 'accidents' and so 'sensitive people' like myself usually receive attention from the totalitarian apparatus.
More than that, for while Hu Jintao was discussing human rights with Ms. Arbour in the National People's Congress hall, the personal freedoms of dissidents was restricted outside. Downstairs from my home, there are five to six police officers on duty, and police car parked there. I know that I was not the only one. I know at least that Zhang Zuhua and "Stainless Steel Mouse" Liu Di had police posted outside their residence. Zuhua told me: "Same with me. The police and the district security people have been on duty for several days. They are taking it seriously." Liu Di made fun of herself: "The mouse has been locked up inside the hole."
Didn't they say that China was in a golden moment of historical peak, and that the state of human rights is at the very best?
Didn't they that China is an emerging world power that even the United States have to take notice?
Didn't they say that the present government wants to treat "the people as the foundation" in order to build a "harmonious society"?
Then why is the government which has build the golden and almighty China so panicky? Why in this "harmonious society" in which "the people are the foundation" that I and other dissidents were treated by trash to be stomped upon? Why must the "harmonious society" be constructed only with police officers posted at stations.
Everybody knows that they should not exhibit military force too readily. But China, which is a permanent member of the United National Security Council, preferred to exhibit its "totalitarian apparatus" while the United Nations high commissioner for human rights was visiting.
I don't understand and I don't think Zuhua and the "Mouse" understand either: I am just someone who sits home to read and write every day. How can I and other dissidents who have the same lifestyle be a threat to the handshaking, photographing and chatting inside the National People's Congress hall.
Do people like us have "supernatural powers"?
I can only offer the explanation: China's "harmonious society" needs "terroristic politics" for cosmetic surgery, even if the surgery ends up making it look must uglier; China's "human rights improvement" needs trampling upon human rights for decoration, even if the decoration makes it look much uglier.
The Chinese government had no choice but to receive United Nations high commissioner Louise Arbour; it has no choice but to talk about human rights with western nations; it had no choice but to write the words like "the nation will protect and respect human rights" into the constitution. This proves that international pressure is effective and the ideas about human rights are evolving.
But the key to improving Chinese human rights is for the people of China is straighten up their own moral backbones and bravely protect their own human rights and oppose any form of suppression of human rights by authorities. As the pressure from the civilian sector grows, international pressures will be more compelling and effective, and then then China will have universal human rights.
Unless we do this, no amount of international pressure or loud slogans will help us!
Here is Reporter Without Borders:
On 29 August, the police told Liu Di not to leave her home until further notice and three policemen were later posted outside her home. "Many people are being forced to stay at home during Louise Arbour's visit, in violation of their civil rights," she said. "Isn't it paradoxical that a human rights commission's visit causes more human rights violations ?"
At least five policemen were posted outside Liu Xiaobo's home on 29 August and, although allowed to leave his home, he was followed everywhere. When he asked the police if they had an official document authorising this surveillance, they refused to reply. The surveillance was "completely illegal," he said.
Amidst all this, the story about the meeting should not be lost. From UNCHR:
According to the agreement, the programme of cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) and China will include projects to assist China find alternative penalty measures to imprisonment; help the country revise its Criminal Procedure Law, its lawyers Law, and any other related laws and regulations, and facilitate capacity building of civil society. It should also assist the incorporation of human rights education into the curricula of primary, secondary schools, universities and the education for public servants, and help authorities as they study the establishment of a national human rights institution.
The problem here is not about getting the right laws. Under the present or any future criminal procedure law, preventative house arrest without probable cause is not allowed. The problem is the will to enforce the laws in the books already.
For the sake of being fair and balanced, here is the other side of the story (via News24.com):
Tang Jiaxuan, a state councillor and former foreign minister, said at the Asia-Pacific human rights symposium being held here that every country should be allowed to deal with the matter in its own way.
"On the one hand, we should uphold the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN charter and international human rights instruments, and unswervingly promote and protect human rights to meet the fundamental interests of the people," he said. "On the other hand, every country should choose its own way to promote and protect human rights in line with its national conditions. There is no uniform standard with regard to national human rights action plans, national human rights institutions or human rights education."
Tang linked human rights abuses to poverty and said this had to be addressed first since economic development would stem rights abuses.
"For the people of many countries in our region, poverty and backwardness remain the biggest hurdle to surmount before they can enjoy human rights fully," he told the symposium. "Under such circumstances, we have no other choice but to make the realisation of the right to development and the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights our most pressing task. We should focus on development, using it as a way to promote human rights and address relevant difficulties and problems in this process so that our people will be able to enjoy fundamental human rights at a higher level."