Amnesty International Blog: Signatures for Martin Jahnke?

A number of activists wrote an open letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (Subcommittee on Human Rights), according to an Amnesty International blog post of February 27. The letter criticizes the prosecution’s allegations against Martin Jahnke, who threw a shoe at China’s prime minister Wen Jiabao at Cambridge University on February 2. Its comparison of the case against Jahnke with that of a man who slapped former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the face and got away with four months probation is interesting.

But most interesting to me are the apparent suspicion of the undersigned that  England’s Cambridge Magistrates’ Court might bring a disproportionate verdict, before the trial has even started. This kind of activism is untimely. What the prosecution asks for isn’t necessarily what it will get from the court.

Where does this lack of trust stem from?

One of the signatories is Mrs Wang Rongfen (王蓉芬). An NY Times article of three years ago tells her story.

Such stories should be listened to. But during the past year with the Olympic-Games activism, it dawned on me that the European establishment and many European institutions haven’t had a real policy on interaction with China for decades. That’s why an open letter was able to catch the Voice of Germany flat-footed. For too long, the focus had been on the power that be – the CCP -, and not on dissenting voices from China.

The signatories of the open letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee are right: China’s political system is totalitarian. The CCP has only eased its grip on the country, because modernization helped the stability of its rule. For sure, the CCP also tries to compromise political systems abroad. [1] [2]

But not every statement by the CCP is wrong, and not every statement by the dissidents is correct. To judge where we should heed either side’s advice, and where we should not, we need information, and a position of our own. Without that, we are easy targets for campaigns from all sides.

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