Democracy Activist Xu Wenli Released

Shortly after the conditional release of Liaoyang labour activists Pang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming on December 20, 2002, prominent democracy activist Xu Wenli was released on medical grounds on December 24.

This cruel game of hostage diplomacy is not new to the international community. In its press release, Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese government to “genuinely improve its human rights situation rather than offer occasional gestures such as the release of dissidents to the international community.” It also urges the international community “not to become complacent in the face of the release of Xu Wenli and misread such releases as signals of major change in China's human rights situation.” (full text of HRIC press release)

Xu has spent 12 years in prison from 1981 to 1993 for his participation in the Democracy Wall Movement. On December 21, 1998, he was sentenced to 13-year imprisonment for his leading role in the China Democratic Party. One of the charges laid against Xu Wenli was his discussion on labour rights and independent trade union organising with CLB in early 1998. (see 'Related Article' for details)

Towards the end of 1997, Xu and others released an open letter to Chinese workers to organise independent trade unions. But even his moderate call to workers in order to facilitate the government's own policies is reduced to being a criminal act.

China Labour Bulletin


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