12 May 1997
Amnesty International USA
Human Rights in China
Human Rights Watch
The International Freedom to Publish Committee of the AAP
The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
PEN American Center
Physicians for Human Rights
and Viking Penguin
invite you to
"Stand in for Wei Jingsheng"
An event in support of Wei Jingsheng and to mark the publication of his book
THE COURAGE TO STAND ALONE:
Letters From Prison and Other Writings
Tuesday, May 13, 1997
The New York Public Library
Celeste Bartos Forum
Fifth Avenue & 42nd St.
(enter on 42nd St.)
Speeches and Readings from the letters by:
Robert Bernstein, Liu Binyan, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, Peter Gabriel, David Henry Hwang, Paul LeClerc, Michael Lynton, Arthur Miller, Andrew J. Nathan, Xiao Qiang, Liu Qing, William Schulz, John Shattuck and Rose Styron
MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Message by President V?lav Havel
on the presentation of
the Letters from Prison by Wei Jingsheng
in the New York Public Library
on May 13, 1997
Prague, May 9, 1997
I am sorry to be unable to attend the gathering where you will present the Letters from Prison by Wei Jingsheng, a Chinese human rights champion who spent years in prison before and is now serving, under harsh conditions, another long sentence for his political beliefs.
I have spoken out in defense of Wei Jingsheng a number of times already. Believing that his courage deserves recognition, I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Chinese and, more generally, the Asian civilization -- the environment that forms the background of Wei Jingsheng's fate -- is one of the roots and inseparable components of the global civilization. I have a profound esteem for the legacy of Asia's culture, philosophy and thought that remains a source of inspiration for the world today. These ancient traditions are, however, distorted in certain Asian countries through the application of totalitarian practices, and the distorted view is then presented as a specific quality of the Asian circumstance. Many countries in Asia as well as on other continents share a commitment to individual human rights and to the advancement of democracy. The stand taken by these nations and the struggle of people like Wei for the human rights cause demonstrate that human freedom cannot be divided by national frontiers or unacceptable interpretations of local traditions or conditions.
When I express my solidarity with those who engage in non-violent action on behalf of human dignity and democracy anywhere in the world and face persecution because of their love for freedom -- with people like Wei Jingsheng whose Letters from Prison are now presented to the world public -- I do not encroach upon a no-trespassing zone regarding internal affairs; I simply do my duty.
(signed) V?lav Hav