Charter 08 "Brave Achievement" for Chinese Rights Defenders | Freedom House

Charter 08 "Brave Achievement" for Chinese Rights Defenders


Freedom House praises the courage of 300 Chinese citizens who marked International Human Rights Day by issuing a major political statement calling for China's one-party rule to be replaced with a democratic system that respects human rights. The online version of the New York Review of Books published an English translation of the statement, known as Charter 08.

The statement is modeled after Charter 77 in the former Czechoslovakia—in which more than 200 Czech and Slovak intellectuals criticized their government for failing to uphold national and international covenants on human and civil rights. In addition to democracy, the Chinese document calls for a new constitution that does not privilege the Communist Party, separation of powers and an end to the influence of the party in judicial decision-making. 

"Charter 08 inspires us all to press for freedom on behalf of these brave Chinese citizens, just as many Americans—including members of Congress, the labor movement and NGOs—did for dissidents inside Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director.

China's communist authorities responded to the charter by arresting leading dissident Liu Xiaobo and harassing other signers. Liu was taken into custody on Monday, just two days before the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Another leader of the effort, Zhang Zhuhua was detained and released, although his apartment was searched and many items confiscated.  There are reports of other signers undergoing police interrogation. 

"The brave achievement of these 300 Chinese citizens stands in sharp contrast to the Chinese government's disgraceful behavior in detaining Liu Xiaobo and harassing other signers of the charter," said Windsor.

China is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.

For more information on China, visit:

Freedom in the World 2008: China
Freedom of the Press 2008: China
Mass Media Control in Contemporary China
China and the Olympics

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in China since 1972.

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