What you need to know
"Poland should develop economic relations with China, but these relations cannot be healthy and predictable if there is no legal reform in China, and if freedom of expression and of religion continue to be severely violated."
June 4, 2016
To: President Andrzej Duda
Prime Minister Beata Szydło
In regards to the visit of President Xi Jinping (習近平) of the People’s Republic of China to Poland June 19-21, we urge you, Mr. President and Madam Prime Minister, to raise the issue of China’s human rights and civil liberties violations.
China's drive toward economic reform and modernization over the past 25 years has brought enormous changes to Chinese society and created a better environment for individuals to assert and protect their rights. The voice of China’s civil society is getting louder and firmer. However, during the tenure of president Xi Jinping, China has experienced significant violations to rights unseen in the past two decades.
In the Middle East and Africa, ISIS forces have been liquidating churches and killing believers in the most barbaric ways. At the same time, Christians in China fear their faith is facing the biggest threat since the Cultural Revolution. Once again churches are being demolished, crosses are being removed from churches (in some cases even burnt) and Christians are being arrested and oppressed.
China’s human rights lawyers are also being detained. In July and August last year, around 250 lawyers and legal assistants were detained in China. Also, journalists and NGO workers, including foreigners, face repression.
Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and Wang Bingzhang (王炳章), called the godfather of China’s opposition, are still being imprisoned by the Chinese government. Wang was abducted by Chinese secret agents during his visit to Vietnam in 2002 and brought to China for trial. The abduction of Wang is not a unique case in the People’s Republic of China. In recent months, five Hong Kong publishers, known for books critical of Chinese communist regime, were also abducted.
Why should we, the Polish people, stand up for the oppressed and prisoners in China?
For decades, Poland and its Solidarity Movement have been an inspiration for the Chinese. In 1983, Chinese dissident Li Wangyang (李旺陽), influenced by the Solidarity Movement, organized the Shaoyang Workers Cooperative. For this endeavors, among others, he was prosecuted by the Chinese authorities and spent 23 years in prison. Four years ago his body was found hanged in a hospital room. The family and friends suspect that he was murdered by the communist regime. Li believed that China needed Solidarity, needed the spirit of Poles who, in the face of tyranny and oppression, chose freedom and democracy and changed their country and the course of history.
China still needs Solidarity. The prosecuted Chinese people — the groups engaged in building civil society, the Christians, the lawyers, the journalists, Falun Gong practitioners, minorities (Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongolians) and many others — need your, Mr. President, Madam Prime Minister and Polish people’s, support. In the spirit of Solidarity, we should speak out on behalf of the persecuted in China.
We hope that the main purpose of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Poland — strengthening the economic cooperation between Poland and China — will not stop you from raising the issue of China’s human rights and violations of civil liberties. Poland should develop economic relations with China, but these relations cannot be healthy and predictable if there is no legal reform in China, and if freedom of expression and of religion continue to be severely violated. It is in Poland’s best interests to partner with countries that share our values of rule of law, human rights and justice. We believe that during President Xi Jinping’s visit in Poland, Chinese authorities should receive such a public message from you.
Olga Alehno, journalist
Adam Borowski, former activist of anti-communist opposition, honorary consul of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in Poland
Elżbieta Brzozowska, DIALOG Academic Publishing House
Jadwiga Chmielowska, journalist, former activist of anti-communist opposition
Piotr Dubicki, entrepreneur, translator, sinologist
Andrzej Gwiazda, Vice President of the Founding Committee of Solidarity and Vice President of Solidarity in 1980 and 1981
Joanna Duda-Gwiazda, member of the Regional Board of Solidarity in 1980 and 1981
Piotr Hlebowicz, former activist from the anti-communist opposition
Piotr Jegliński, former activist from the anti-communist opposition, executive director of the publishing house Editions – Spotkania
Adam Kozieł, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Irena Lasota, President of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE). Washington, USA
Michał Orzechowski, WORLD SOLIDARITY
Katarzyna Sarek, sinologist, editorial board member of Kultura Liberalna
Łukasz Sarek, consultant, Chinese market analyst
Hanna Shen, journalist
Marta Tomczak, linguist
Krzysztof Wyszkowski, former Solidarity activist, one-time managing editor of Solidarity's weekly paper
CC: Mr. Jarosław Kaczyński
Chairman of Law and Justice party (PiS)