Open letters call for protests in more Chinese cities

Open letters call for protests in more Chinese cities

Open letters circulated online Wednesday called for weekly anti-government protests from Sunday in 18 Chinese cities, adding five cities including the capitals of two volatile western regions, DPA reported.

The letters originated from the US-based Chinese pro-democracy website Boxun.com and urged people to gather at designated places in the 18 cities from 2 pm each Sunday.

Chinese rights activists circulated links to the letters on Twitter, which is blocked in China but accessible via proxy servers, and some references also appeared on Chinese-based micro-blogs despite strict government controls.

"If the Chinese government is sincere about solving problems such as corruption and public supervision, we will send out a notice stopping the action," said one letter addressed to the Chinese people from the "China Jasmine Rallies organizers."

No individuals or groups have claimed responsibility for the recent protests calls, and Boxun said only that one letter was "posted by a friend of one of the organizers."

The cities included Beijing and Shanghai, where a handful of protesters and hundreds of onlookers gathered last Sunday.

The letters said the planned protests would have the code name "two meetings," a reference to next month's annual sessions of the National People's Congress and its advisory body.

The government has censored searches for terms including "Egypt" and "jasmine" and could be forced to censor news of the "two meetings" if it follows a similar practice.

The letters urged protesters to shout slogans including "Long live freedom! Long live democracy!" and call for an end to the one-party political system under the Communist Party.

Among the five new cities listed were Lhasa and Urumqi, the capitals of the Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions, respectively.

Anti-government protests by members of the Uighur minority led to ethnic violence that left at least 197 people dead in Urumqi in July 2009.

Violent protests by Tibetans also rocked Lhasa in early March 2008 around the anniversary of a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

The Lhasa violence left at least 21 people dead, according to the government, and the protests grew into widespread demonstrations against Chinese rule in many Tibetan areas.

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