Chinese Communist elders issue free speech appeal
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 15:54
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.


First Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 15:54

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