- Documents on Democracy
On March 10, protests broke out in Tibet against Beijing’s treatment of the Tibetan people. After these protests were harshly suppressed, 29 Chinese intellectuals, including writers Wang Lixiong and Liu Xiaobo, wrote a petition containing “Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibet Situation.” Excerpts appear below:
1. At present the one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up interethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation. This is extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of safeguarding national unity. We call for such propaganda to be stopped.
2. We support the Dalai Lama’s appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of goodwill, peace, and nonviolence. We condemn any violent act against innocent people, strongly urge the Chinese government to stop the violent suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people likewise not to engage in violent activities.
3. The Chinese government claims that “there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” We hope that the government will show proof of this. In order to change the international community’s negative view and distrustful attitude, we also suggest that the government invite the United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights to carry out an independent investigation of the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc. . . .
8. We urge the Chinese government to allow credible national and international media to go into Tibetan areas to conduct independent interviews and news reports. In our view, the current news blockade cannot gain credit with the Chinese people or the international community, and is harmful to the credibility of the Chinese government. If the government grasps the true situation, it need not fear challenges. [End Page 181] Only by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international community’s distrust of our government.
9. We appeal to the Chinese people and overseas Chinese to be calm and tolerant, and to reflect deeply on what is happening. Adopting a posture of aggressive nationalism will only invite antipathy from the international community and harm China’s international image.
10. The disturbances in Tibet in the 1980s were limited to Lhasa, whereas this time they have spread to many Tibetan areas. This deterioration indicates that there are serious mistakes in the work that has been done with regard to Tibet. The relevant government departments must conscientiously reflect upon this matter, examine their failures, and fundamentally change the failed nationality policies.
11. In order to prevent similar incidents from happening in future, the government must abide by the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government’s nationality policies.
12. We hold that we must eliminate animosity and bring about national reconciliation, not continue to increase divisions between nationalities. A country that wishes to avoid the partition of its territory must first avoid divisions among its nationalities. Therefore, we appeal to the leaders of our country to hold direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, spoke at the formal launch of the European Foundation for Democracy through Partnership (EFDP) in Brussels on April 15 (see pp. 188–89 below). Excerpts from his speech follow:
The launch of this foundation in the context of European support for democratisation and respect for human rights is very good news. . . .
I am . . . delighted that your foundation will be reinforcing Europe’s visibility still more in our converging activities to promote democracy.
. . . Today, the main region in which democratic regimes are still in a minority is the Middle East. We are convinced that if this region took greater steps towards democracy, it would one day cease to be a hotspot of tension and conflict. In some regions of Asia and Africa, too, democracy is under threat, fragile or still absent.
Democratisation is a complex task which can only be achieved if numerous factors...