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Letter to U.S. President Barack Obama

November 17, 2009

Letter to U.S. President Barack Obama
Julie Harms
November 17, 2009, Beijing

Dear Mr. President,

As an American citizen, and a frequent visitor to China, with strong connections to both countries, I fully support your effort to engage China as a strategic partner and ally.
I hope that you will take this historic opportunity of direct, face-to-face dialogue with Chinese leadership to strongly urge the Chinese government to continue its progress towards universal rights for the Chinese people.

Successful, sustainable development is not merely economic in nature. And in recent years, the Chinese government has initiated many legal and social reforms. While expressing your support for these changes, please call upon the Chinese government to prioritize the wider, more standardized implementation of these reforms already approved and written into national law. Greater rights and legal protection for the Chinese people must come through first ensuring that all levels of government, beginning with local villages and counties, comply with the existing laws that had in principle been implemented, to provide for increased government transparency and justice.

My appeal to you, Mr. President, stems from a very personal incident in which my Chinese fiancé, Liu Shiliang (刘士亮), in June 2009 was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing of a private residence (非法侵入他人住宅罪) — unjustly based on a May 2007 incident in which Liu was the victim of a brutal attack from behind, beaten nearly to death while returning to his family home in Anhui Province.

The refusal by the Wuhe County authorities to administer law according to the principle of “equal justice for all” (一律平等) as set forth by the Chinese legal system resulted in Liu’s arrest and imprisonment for the past five months. Despite prevailing health problems that resulted from the original attack, all requests for bail have been denied. Numerous attempts to legally resolve the issue through county, city, provincial and national levels of the public security procuratorate and court, as well as the Party’s political and legislative affairs committees (政法委), to date have not resulted in any resolution of the illegal actions taken by the local authorities.

Therefore, I call upon you, Mr. President, to express to the Chinese leadership these concerns and to once again emphasize the importance of fully implementing China’s existing laws to provide basic legal protection and justice for all Chinese citizens.

Thank you for your kind attention.



Julie Harms

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