Lu Nan (鲁难), Wu Xiaojun (吴小军), Qin Wei (秦渭), Tian Zhongxun (田仲勋), Zhang Qianfan (张千帆), Xu Zhangrun (许章润), Xiao Shu (笑蜀), Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), Wang Xichuan (王西川), February 7, 2020
On February 6, 2020, Dr. Li Wenliang (李文亮), the 2019-nConV whistle blower, died in the midst of epidemic in Wuhan. He is also a victim of speech suppression. The people of China are heartbroken and deeply saddened.
The novel coronavirus has been able to ravish in Wuhan and across China is a result of the authorities suppressing speech and the truth. Millions and millions Chinese are enclosed and fall into fear under a state of de facto house arrest during what is supposed to be the most festive season. The society at large and the economy have been grinded to a halt. So far at least 637 of our compatriots have lost their lives, and up to millions in Wuhan city and Hubei province are being discriminated, expelled, having no place to go in the cold and unable to find help.
At the onset of this tragedy in early January, Dr. Li Wenliang and seven other medical professionals were reprimanded by police, and their dignity as doctors were trampled by the wonton suppression on freedom of speech. For thirty years the Chinese have been made to surrender their freedom in exchange for safety, and now they fall prey to a public health crisis and are less safe than ever. A humanitarian disaster is upon us. The speed with which the rest of the world is repelled by China is faster than the spread of the virus, leaving China in an unprecedented global isolation.
All of these are the price for giving up freedom and suppressing expressions. The China Model is becoming foams. Still, the authorities are bent over more on shutting off people’s mouths than preventing an epidemic, the Supreme People’s Court and the administrative organs have implemented the state of emergency extralegally and without making public announcement. They have used disease control as a pretext to illegally deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, right to freedom of movement, and the right to private property.
It’s time to end it all. Where there is no free speech, there is no safety. In the name of citizens, we hereby make five demands as follows:
1. We demand that you make February 6 the “National Freedom of Speech Day (Li Wenliang Day).
2. We demand that, starting today, the NPC implement the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 35 of the Constitution.
3. We assert, starting today, that no Chinese citizen should be threatened by any state apparatus or political group for his or her speech, and that no political force or state apparatus should harm citizens’ freedom to assemble and to communicate. The state must immediately cease censoring social media and deleting or blocking accounts.
4. It is our hope that citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province are treated equally, and all patients of 2019-nConV across the country receive timely, proper, and effective medical care.
5. We call on the NPC to immediately convene an emergency meeting on how not to have this year’s scheduled meetings cancelled illegally by any political force. It should also discuss the issue of how to immediately begin to protect citizens’ freedom of speech. Beginning from freedom of speech, beginning from today, implement the Constitution!
We welcome anyone to sign on this letter, which will be updated continuously and open permanently.
Renmin University alumni: Lu Nan (鲁难), Wu Xiaojun (吴小军), Qin Wei (秦渭), Tian Zhongxun (田仲勋)
Peking University law professor Zhang Qianfan (张千帆)
Qinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun (许章润)
Independent scholars Xiao Shu (笑蜀) and Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄)
The China University of Geosciences alumnae Wang Xichuan (王西川)