Chinese Communist elders issue free speech appeal

An influential section of Chinese society, including Communist party elders, are now demanding lifting of curbs on free speech and media censorship.

Beijing: Nobel Peace Prize to a jailed
activist fighting for democracy seems to have spurred an influential section of Chinese society, including Communist party elders, who are now demanding lifting of curbs on free
speech and media censorship.

In an open letter to the main legislature National
People`s Congress posted online, the retired officials termed
the censorship on the media as unconstitutional, saying the
lack of free speech, enshrined in the 1982 constitution, is a
"scandal of the world history of democracy".

In particular, the group of 23 well-known individuals
condemned the Communist Party`s central propaganda department
as the "black hand" with a clandestine power to censor even
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao`s repeated calls for political
reform and to deprive the people their right to know about it.

The letter published by the Hong Kong-based South
China Morning Post called for media to be delinked from the
control of the ruling Communist party and was signed by Li
Rui, ex-deputy head of the Communist party Central Committee
Organisation Department and former secretary for Mao Zedong.

Li was sacked for disagreeing with Mao`s "disastrous"
economic programme.

Others included Hu Jiwei, former editor-in-chief of
Communist Party mouth piece People`s Daily, Yu You, former
deputy editor-in-chief of the state-run China Daily, Li Pu,
former vice-president of the state-run Xinhua News Agency and
Zhong Peizhang, former chief of News Bureau of the CCP Central
Propaganda Department.

In addition, Jiang Ping, former President of China
University of Political Science and Law, Zhou Shaoming, former
deputy director of political dept of Guangzhou Military
Command, and Zhang Zhongpei, former head of Palace Museum;
head of council of Archaeological Society of China also signed the letter.
The letter apparently indicates a conflict within the
Communist party as it mainly questioned the censoring of the
remarks of Wen Jiabao made in August at Shenzhen calling for
political reform to be accompanied by economic reform.

"For the last few weeks, well-connected professionals
in Beijing have been talking about the party propaganda
authorities` almost open insult to the Premier by deleting his
points on political reform the day after he made his speech in Shenzhen," the Post said in its report.
Though constitution guaranteed the freedom of speech,
of publication, of assembly, of association and of
demonstration, these rights have existed only in words but
never really in practice, it said.


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