On the afternoon of September 30 in Washington DC (October 1 in Beijing), the Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) human rights group, Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), World Rights’ Timothy Cooper, and other human rights activists met to protest the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the Communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) at the Washington DC PRC embassy. (See Web link to DC Embassy protest photographs.)
Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)‘s Jeffrey Imm began the protest by offering the PRC embassy a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Chinese. As it did during R.E.A.L.’s address to the PRC embassy on June 4, the PRC embassy refused to accept the copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, telling him to “take it away.”
R.E.A.L.’s Imm first spoke at the protest challenging the PRC to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), reading it aloud and holding up signs with the UDHR in Chinese. He noted the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including its drafting by P. C. Chang of the Republic of China, and the adoption by the Republic of China on December 10, 1948. Imm stated “the words in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not just the words of the West, these are the words of Chinese government leaders.”
Imm recognized the subsequent October 1, 1949 proclamation of the Communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) as “a black day for Chinese freedom.” He read from Mao Zedong’s October 1, 1949 proclamation that “the people in the country have been liberated,” and Imm stated that “in fact, October 1, 1949 was the beginning of the Communist imprisonment of the Chinese people’s human rights, and we stand here at the PRC embassy today in solidarity with those who continue to seek freedom in China today.”
Imm paused after reading key aspects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pointing out how the PRC has refused to recognize democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, among other human rights violated by the PRC. Imm also challenged the PRC on the Laogai “forced labor camps” as equivalent to slavery also prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (an estimated 1,100 Laogai camps imprison 6.8 million Chinese).
Imm focused on Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,” stating that our conscience is a fundamental part of our human identity. Imm challenged the PRC to recognize that just as the PRC cannot keep the birds from flying in the sky, so also the PRC cannot shackle, chain, enslave, imprison, or kill the conscience of the Chinese people, or the conscience of humanity. Our conscience, Imm stated, was what differentiates us from other beings – and nothing any government or organization can do can silence the human conscience. Imm challenged Western governments and Western people to recognize that our “mutual interests begin with universal human rights,” and that no matter how much “easier it would be to ignore our conscience on Communist China, it is not a choice that humanity can afford.” Imm stated that “we must heed the call of our conscience regarding our 1 billion brothers and sisters in humanity whose human rights are denied under Communist China’s oppression. Our conscience must never be for sale, barter, or exchange. Our conscience is what allows us to have a human society of dignity, freedom, and human rights.”
Imm further noted Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reading that “everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” He stated that in the PRC, those seeking democratic reforms have continued to be oppressed, jailed, and killed for the past 20 years in the PRC. But Imm stated, this Article 21 was part of the same human rights declaration that Chinese government leaders agreed to and helped draft in December 1948. Such democratic freedoms, Imm argued, are “not a Western idea, but a fundamental part of the universal human rights shared by all people.” Moreover, Imm pointed to even the PRC’s former premier Zhao Ziyang’s support for democracy as shown by the recently published “secret journal” of Zhao Ziyang entitled “Prisoner of the State.”
Imm stated that many nations have made mistakes in their history on such human rights, including the United States. But for all of its mistakes, Imm continued, the United States has sought to recognize such universal human rights as truths that its people find inalienable, not disregard universal human rights as inconvenient international standards as the PRC government continues to do today.
Imm stated “Our protest today is to send a message to our brothers and sisters in humanity in China. You are not alone. We stand with you in your struggles for freedom. Have courage! We will continue to pressure our government and urge our people to make your human rights our first priority in dealing with China, not our last priority. We will continue to demand that the PRC recognize and support universal human rights for all Chinese people. We send our support and our prayers for you today, standing here in solidarity with your struggle for freedom. Free China Now!”
Responsible for Equality And Liberty also urged their fellow Americans to contact their government representatives to demand that such basic human rights are key aspects of our negotiations and relations with PRC in the future.
Timothy Cooper stated “If there is one fundamental right we should enjoy, it is the right to self-determination, that is the will of people must be freely expressed in the government of the country. For the Chinese people, they have never known the right to self-determination. They have never known the right to free expression of their own political interests. As such, the growth of China as a democracy, as a palace of human rights, has been thwarted and the people suffer. ”
Timothy Cooper continued: “Who are these people? The Falun Gong, the Christians, the Catholics, the Tibetans, the Uighurs, the Chinese Democrats, all of these people suffer because they are denied a fundamental human right. So we are here today to call on China, even in the midst of its rising economic power, to ascend to another level – to ascend to a place where the will of the people is fundamentally respected and regarded as the principal source of power and governance of the nation. These people must be free, free to express their own political will, create their own political destiny and fortune. So we stand in solidarity with them, we call for the end of human rights abuses in China, we call for the respect of rule of law in China, and we call on the Chinese government in particular, to step away from its past, and embrace a new future, a future that has about it the wholesale reflection of the wants and needs of the people of China – as embodied in their voices and by their consent. It is no easy thing to stand against a government as powerful and as all-pervasive as the Chinese government is. With our voices added to countless thousands of voices both inside China and outside China, we hope to see the day when democracy rules, self-determination rules inside China.”
Lisa Tao of the Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) also was a part of the protest at the Washington DC embassy. Lisa and other Falun Gong supporters held banners in the park gates across the street from the PRC embassy where the protesters were allowed to gather.
Lisa spoke of the PRC abuses against the Chinese people, the oppression of the Falun Gong and others, and pointed to PRC’s despicable practice of organ trafficking of prisoners. Lisa stated that she and other protesters have been coming to the PRC embassy every day. She will not call the PRC as “China,” saying “China is my home… the PRC is not China.” Lisa and her fellow activists vigilantly post banners challenging the Communist PRC government and its denial of human freedoms and freedom of religion.
During the protest, a long-pending rainstorm finally came. The Falun Dafa activists and R.E.A.L. protesters continued their protest in the rain, patiently and vigilantly. They sought to mark their solidarity on this day, September 30 in Washington DC, October 1 in Beijing, by standing together with the Chinese people fighting for freedom – no matter what challenges will come.
As R.E.A.L.’s Jeffrey Imm concluded in his message to the Chinese people, “Have Courage! Know that you are not alone! We stand with you in solidarity!”
(NOTE: News reporter Vladimir Kara-Murza, Washington Bureau Chief for Overseas Media Production (Russian Television), interviewed R.E.A.L.’s Jeffrey Imm regarding today’s protest at the Washington DC PRC embassy. If a weblink to that interview becomes available, we will update this posting with that interview.)