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France: Open letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit

France should call for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo before the award ceremony in Oslo

Below is the English translation of an open letter sent to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by Human Rights Watch's France Director Jean-Marie Fardeau, ahead of Chinese President's Hu Jintao's state visit (November 4-6).

Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy
President of the French Republic
Palais de l'Elysée
55 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris

Paris, November 2, 2010

Subject: Open letter on the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit

Mr. President,

We call on you to include the protection of human rights in China and the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo on the agenda of your talks with the Chinese president Hu Jintao during his upcoming state visit.

This is the first official state visit by the President of the People's Republic of China since the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, an eminent human rights defender detained since December 2008 as a result of his participation in the launch of Charter 08. Yet this remarkable text merely asks the Chinese government to respect China's own Constitution and its international commitments.

In our eyes it is essential that France remind China of its human rights obligations, and demand Liu Xiaobo's release, as well as an end to the house arrest to which his wife Liu Xia is subjected, before the official Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

We are pleased that France, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has in the past repeatedly demanded the release of Liu Xiaobo, and reiterated this call when Liu was awarded the Nobel Prize. We consider that a reminder of the French position at the highest level, during your talks with Hu Jintao, would demonstrate France's genuine commitment to promoting the respect of fundamental rights in China.

We believe furthermore that the Chinese government, in the interest of both the nation's stability and its international image, should end its practice of silencing critics through extrajudicial measures such as house arrests or through prosecutions based on charges of  "inciting subversion of state power."

In assuming the presidency of the G8 and G20, you will bear the heavy responsibility of leading the discussions in this forum. We urge you to place the respect of human rights at the heart of the principles which should guide the actions of all participating countries. The Chinese President's state visit will be an opportunity to demonstrate France's willingness to take a lead in this area.

We respectfully ask you to give this matter the most serious consideration, and remain at your entire disposal for a discussion in greater detail.


Jean-Marie Fardeau
France Director
Human Rights Watch

Cc : Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

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