BEIJING--Forty-two Chinese reformist intellectuals on Dec. 4 began urging support for an online petition for the release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and other political prisoners.
The petition confronts China's new leadership under Xi Jinping with a question: whether it has truly resolved to implement political reform and the rule of law. "Compliance with the Constitution" is a slogan used by the new leadership.
The petition's 42 high-profile backers include human rights activists Hu Jia and Cui Weiping. Another is Ding Zilin, a founding member of a group representing families of student activists slain in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Liu Xiaobo was the architect of Charter 08, a manifesto released in 2008 that called for democratic reforms.
The petition addresses Charter 08, saying it "called for observance of the clause in the Constitution that protects human rights; it was an appeal for the establishment of constitutional democracy."
Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power," a penalty the petition organizers call unconstitutional.
They are calling for Liu's release from prison and his wife from house arrest, and the additional release of other political prisoners.
"Our appeal is based on positive expectations for the new Communist Party leadership," one of the petition organizers said. "We emphasize that the Constitution guarantees us—and Liu—the right to make arguments."
Separately, the Reuters news agency reported that 134 Nobel Prize laureates on Dec. 4 released an open letter calling on Xi to release Liu and other prisoners.
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