WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2011) – Oregon Congressman David Wu (D-1st) statement last week that he has sent a letter to Peoples Republic of China Ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui, urging that his government release renowned artist Ai Weiwei.
Wu said the release of Mr. Ai, who has been held in incommunicado detention since April 3, 2011, when he was stopped by authorities at the Beijing airport and taken into custody, should also mark an end to a widespread crackdown on activists, writers, and human rights lawyers following calls for a Jasmine Movement in China.
“Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo, and countless others demonstrate that Chinese society is no exception to the universal migration of civilization toward democracy, human rights, and the rule of law,” said Wu. “The Chinese government’s current crackdown on dissent – the largest crackdown in more than a decade – violates its own constitution and feeds the underlying social instability that the government seeks to prevent.
“I call on the Chinese government to release Ai Weiwei and the dozens of other individuals who have simply exercised their constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech,” he added.
In 2009 Congressman Wu sponsored a resolution in support of Sichuan activists Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren, who, like Ai Weiwei, spoke out on behalf of the parents whose children were killed as a result of school building collapses during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Last year Congressman Wu nominated Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize and attended the award ceremony in Olso, Norway.
Huang Qi, Tan Zuoren, and Liu Xiaobo all remain in prison.
Congressman Wu is first Chinese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. He co-founded the House Global Internet Freedom Caucus and is a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which monitors human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.
Wu said that it is not his intention to interfere in China’s internal affairs, but that he truly believe that it is in China’s own interest to act in accordance with the rule of law and China’s own constitution.
Article 37 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides that unlawful detention or deprivation or restriction of personal freedom of citizens by unlawful means is prohibited. Article 64 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law states that authorities are generally required within 24 hours of a detention to notify the suspect’s family members of the reasons for detention and the place of custody.
“Mr. Ai and all Chinese citizens should be afforded the rights guaranteed to them under Article 35 and Article 41 of China’s Constitution: freedom of speech and association and the right to make suggestions to officials free from suppression and retaliation,” Wu stated in the letter.