Statement Regarding Mr. Feng Zhenghu's Return to China

Feng Zhenghu, a Chinese citizen who was refused re-entry into China by the Chinese authorities, has finally won the right to return home after a three-month ordeal at Narita airport in Tokyo. His return to China on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the most important traditional Chinese holiday, is a remarkable success in the struggle for human rights and freedoms in China.

This success shows again that, when faced with a seemingly powerful authoritarian government, even a cruel and deceitful government, it is possible for ordinary citizens to stand up and fight for their rights by peaceful resistance, and to drive social progress in doing so. The hard work and sacrifice in peaceful resistance will not always be in vain. Mr. Feng's success will encourage Chinese citizens to protect their rights by peaceful and lawful means. Such acts by individuals will aggregate and gradually promote fundamental changes in society.

Feng is an extraordinary Chinese citizen. With his remarkable determination, stamina and wisdom, he demonstrated a unique path for a Chinese citizen to exercise his right to return to his home country. His act moved China, and shook the world.

Feng's success is not just his personal success but a significant event in the history of the human rights movement in China. Under an authoritarian regime, fighting for and protecting one's own rights amount to defending the rights of all citizens. Feng's heroic but peaceful effort finally forced the Chinese government to compromise, In an authoritarian society that does not respect individual rights, he provides an example of what a citizen should and could do.

To return to one's home country is an undeniable fundamental right of a citizen. What Feng requested was simply to be able to exercise this right, and the Chinese government did not have any reason to deny such a right under its own laws. The unfortunate fact is that Feng had to spend three months at Narita airport before he was permitted to return home. This was unacceptable. Nevertheless, compromising is a basic principle in politics, and we acknowledge that the Chinese government has acted to correct its error in this case. Like Feng Zhenghu, we welcome this belated compromise on the part of the Chinese government. We hope that this compromise is not simply because of a lack of an alternative in this particular case; rather, we sincerely hope that, for a government that does not have a tradition of compromising with its citizens, this event will help start a trend toward a more positive political tradition. At the same time, we are fully aware that, as the authoritarian nature of the Chinese government still permeates all levels and in all aspects -- political, economic and social -- of the Chinese society, even small advancements in civil rights often are obtained at great price. The Feng Zhenghu incident reminds us again that civil rights will not be guaranteed if each citizen does not stand up for his or her own rights.

Further, we should not forget that while Feng is finally united with his family in Shanghai, many Chinese citizens are still denied the right to return to their home country and many families are still separated by these "blacklists." This is unacceptable. We hope that the Feng Zhenghu case will prompt the Chinese government to review its "blacklist" practices. We call on the government to abolish the blacklists, so that every citizen can exercise the right granted under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [footnote ] and the Chinese constitution to return to his or her home country. We believe Feng Zhenghu's successful return will encourage other Chinese citizens who are denied that right to, by similar or different methods, fight for their rights until the Chinese government gives up its arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal practice of denying Chinese citizens re-entry into China.

After Feng Zhenghu is reunited with his family in Shanghai, he may face retaliation by authorities. We will continue to monitor the development of this case and will stand by Feng in his continued effort to protect his rights.

Every Chinese citizen who seeks rights, dignity, and internal peace should

learn from Feng Zhenghu. Do not be an accomplice to evil by passively accepting the repressive policies of the government. Stand up as a true citizen of China. As Feng Zhenhu has shown us, citizen power can overcome tyranny. GongMinLiLiang.

The organizers, participants and supporters
of the "Tokyo Airlift"
February 12, 2010

[Footnote: "International Bill of Human Rights" or "Universal Declaration of Human Rights"? According to Wikipedia, "The International Bill of Human Rights is an informal name given to two international treaties and one General Assembly resolution established by the United Nations. It consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) with its two Optional Protocols and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).1 The two covenants entered into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them."