The night of February 6, 2020, saw the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, a Wuhan physician who alerted others about novel coronavirus a month ago. He then contracted the virus when working on the front-line treating patients. There was an outcry among intellectuals within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) establishment. They cried out for freedom of speech.
Citizen News, a social diversity advocate news outlet based in Hong Kong, published an open letter signed by leading Chinese intellectuals with five demands:
- The Designation of February 6 as National Freedom of Speech Day (Dr. Li Wenliang Day).
- Starting now, fully implement the Chinese people’s right to freedom of speech granted by Article 35 of the Constitution.
- Starting now, no political forces or state machine should infringe on the Chinese people when they form associations or communicate among each other. The state organs must immediately stop censoring or blocking the content of social media.
- Grant equal rights to citizens in Wuhan city and Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus. All coronavirus patients should be able to receive timely, proper, and effective treatment.
- Call for the National People’s Congress to convene an emergency assembly to discuss how to protect citizens’ freedom of speech and do not allow any police force to stop the planned meeting (China holds the National People’s Congress in early March every year).
Scholars associated with China’s leading universities, including Renmin University, Peking University, and Tsinghua University, have signed the open letter. South China Morning Post reported on February 12 that hundreds of Chinese, led by academics, have signed the petition.
China’s Human Rights Attorney Association also called for designating February 6 as “National Truth Day.”
On February 7, a “Notice to All Chinese” was sent out from “a group of Tsinghua University Alumni” with five appeals:
- Resolutely oppose putting political security above all else; that is the goal of an extremely selfish group.
- Resolutely oppose blocking discussion groups and individual accounts on social media.
- Resolutely oppose the current maintenance of the stability mentality and practice; oppose treating the people as the enemy.
- Resolutely oppose making this disaster a grand party to praise the party; going after the accountability of the officials and the system is a must.
- Resolutely oppose going backward; adhere to the abolition of the lifelong term of leaders that Deng Xiaoping started.
Related postings on Chinascope:
- Public Opinion: Mourning for Dr. Li Wenliang
- Public Opinion: Outpouring of Grief and Anger upon Death of Chinese Doctor Who Warned Others About Coronavirus